Having experimented with quite a few different heart rate monitors over the years, I wasn’t expected a whole lot from 4iiii’s take on it. That being said, I have been more than pleasantly surprised and given the price point and its flexibility its definitely a strong contender. If you take nothing else away from this, then just know that the Viiiiva is well designed piece of hardware and if you are someone who uses both their phone as well as a watch to run with, then this may just be the device you have been looking for.
The Viiiiva is really a direct replacement for any other band you may have tried or have considered trying. Physical dimensions are identical to similar versions offered by Polar or Garmin and it uses a snap button enclosure attaching at the center of the chest. This is important to many people as occasionally over time some users will notice a bit of rust develop on the fasteners, just do a good job wiping it down and ensuring these are dry after each use and you shouldn’t have a problem. Overall the fit is solid, has not lost tension after months of use, and has no real noticeable signs of wear.
HOW ITS DIFFERENT
This big differentiator here is the fact that the Viiiiva supports both ANT+ and Bluetooth. It seems like such a minor thing, but it increases the flexibility of the device exponentially. So you really have two devices in one:
1. The device is a typical ANT+ Heart Rate Monitor. Connect it to your Garmin, Suunto, etc and it does the job just like any other monitor.
2. It is also a Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Bridge and this means two things. First, it can broadcast via Bluetooth 4.0 to compatible devices and this includes iOS and Android smartphones. As an example, hooking the Viiiiva to Strava and Runkeeper on an iPhone 6 took less than a minute and it maintained a strong and stable connection throughout.
As a Bluetooth bridge, it is also capable of taking additional ANT+ signals and re-broadcasting them as Bluetooth devices. So if you have another ANT+ device (like a footpod) that you want to hook to your mobile device for instance, it can help with this. Its much more compelling for triathletes and cyclists where you can have a network of ANT+ devices managing cadence and power and need them all re-broadcast as Bluetooth devices.
THE 4IIII IOS AND ANDROID APPS iPhone
The 4iiii app is available in the iTunes Store for free. Connecting the Viiiiva itself is incredibly simple, if your Bluetooth is on it pretty much picks it up instantly. The real cool part is the second part of the setup where the Viiiiva can capture ANT+ devices and then try and offer them up to be rebroadcasted as Bluetooth devices or integrate directly into the Viiiiva app. Note, this only works with the Viiiiva app running but the feature works well if this is important to you.
The actual workout screen is pretty much like every other workout tracker and reminds me directly of both Polar and Wahoo’s interfaces. It basically is a tear down of a hardware screen and is great if you are sticking this in a holder on your treadmill. Other than that, its pretty anti-climactic. Here you can see we have the heart rate registering and then also calories are being calculated as well (green = good to go). If you had an ANT+ cadence or power monitor on a bike then it would get consumed and displayed here as well.
One real drawback with the app is thats its showing its age. 4iiii has a new app for cyclists called Cliiiimb that definitely feels a little more polished, but the most recent update for iOS was only in November of 2014, so they are still actively working on it.
4iiii just recently launched into the Google Play store with their Android version. Reviews are light, but functionally it seems like its a direct counterpart to its iOS version. Exact same functionality for both. One note, some Android devices actually support ANT+ directly, so make sure you check for this before checking out the Viiiiva. Your regular monitor may actually work for you depending on hardware and software versions.
The bottom line is unless the additional ANT+ rebroadcasting is important, I preferred to just hook directly to other mainstream services that support heartrate like Strava, Runkeeper, MapMyRun, etc. The Viiiiva does a perfect job there and connectivity was flawless.
SO WHAT DOESN’T IT DO?
This is pretty simple, its a digital Bluetooth 4.0 heart rate monitor so you should get the gist from the name alone. Its not analog, so it won’t work with the majority of fitness equipment. If you have a personal treadmill that supports Bluetooth, then you may be okay but for most gym-goers its a non-starter. Next, its BT 4.0 so if you have an old mobile device its not going to work. The iPhone 4S was the first device to have this protocol implemented, so most people will be safe. On Android, support has been around since 2012 so figure phones like the Galaxy S3 and higher are fairly safe.
PRICING & AVAILABILITY
The MSRP on the unit is $79.99 USD and more information can be found on 4iiii’s website.