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Motorola MOTOACTV In Depth Review

(Please Note: This product has been discontinued by Motorola Mobility, which is now owned by Google.)

As I noted two days ago, the Motorola Motoactv has completely and totally changed the face of sports watches…literally overnight.  Upon its initial release it has managed to offer an immense suite of features and functionality, as well as offering new sensor types and connection methods.  But with a first generation product also comes growing pains.  Does the Motoactv have these pains?  And how does it stand up to an endurance athlete?  Well, I set out to find out.

Like all my reviews, they tend to be pretty in depth (perhaps overly so) – but that’s just my trademark DC Rainmaker way of doing things.  Think of them more like reference guides than quick and easy summaries.  I try and cover every conceivable thing you might do with the device and then poke at it a bit more.  My goal is to leave no stone unturned – both the good and the bad.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews – Motorola sent me a trial unit to experiment with.  However, at the same time I also went out and just bought my own at the store.  So at the moment I actually have two units.  Ultimately the unit Motorola sent me to try out will go back to them. Simple as that.  Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints.  If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Amazon links from this page to help support future reviews.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there.  I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can.  But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out.  Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

So – with that intro, let’s get into things!

Unboxing:

The Motoactv comes in a relatively small box – with the contents perfectly organized.

(Oh, and before I forget, if you happen to go to Best Buy to find the unit, the store may not realize where the actual units are located – despite the giant display.  You can assist the folks in letting them know that the boxes are stored in the locked cabinet slightly behind and below the display.  Sounds silly, I know, but they just aren’t familiar with where they are.  Also, if you call to ask about availability – it’s in the ‘Mobile’ department (where cell phones are), not with the rest of the sport watches.)

Anyway…the box:

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Once you crack it open, the Motoactv will be staring you in the face:

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Move him out of the way and you’ll find all his accessory friends below him:

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Take them all out of the pool and here’s what they look like:

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First up is the unit itself:

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Then we’ve got the little metal/plastic clip that you can attach to…well…just about anything you’d like.  Probably your shorts though.

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Then we’ve got the charging block, which, is probably the coolest USB charging block I’ve seen – it includes TWO ports!

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They’ve then included a micro-USB charging cable – just like what you use to charge most non-Apple phones these days:

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You can charge the Motoactv from either the wall or your PC.

Then we’ve got the headphones with microphone:

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They come with a second set of earbuds as well:

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And finally, the user manual:

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After you’ve first powered it on, it’ll walk you through some quick configuration steps – mostly around your age & weight – which helps is to better track calorie usage.  It also asks you some basic location and preference questions so that it can give you the information you expect in the format you want:

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After that, you’ll be almost ready to start using it.  While you’ll be able to record activities and use the watch day to day, in order to upload it to the site you’ll need to install the desktop software, which will create a pairing between the Motoactv web service, and your Motoactv watch.  I’ll talk about that later.

Comparison Shots:

As is always the case, I find the kitchen roller is a really good place to compare different watch sizes – since it puts all of them on equal footing.  So, here’s a few different rounds of the kitchen roller:

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(Left to right: Garmin Forerunner 210, Nike+ GPS Sportwatch, Timex Run Trainer, Motorola Motoactv, Garmin FR910XT)

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Given the comparisons to the iPod Nano, I decided to do a bit of a quick double-shot between the two of them.  The iPod Nano is attached to this wrist strap, so it looks almost identical to the Motoactv – well, unless you compare sizes anyway:

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Obviously, the two units have dramatically different capabilities when it comes to fitness – with the Motoactv making the iPod Nano look like a kids hot wheels car in comparison.  But, we’ll get into that later.

 

Running/Walking:

There’s no doubt that amongst the different sports the Motoactv supports, its best fit is probably running.  In addition to both the optional arm band for running, you can also use either the included clip, or the optional wrist strap.  For myself, I opted for the wrist strap – since that’s most like a normal running watch.

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You’ve got a slew of configuration options that you can set, either for a given run, or across all runs you do.  This includes everything from auto lap to auto pause.  I talk about all of the unit’s common features later on in the configuration settings area.

During my runs, I found the display super easy and clear to read while illuminated.  Very similar to if you were reading the screen on an iPhone/iPod…except a quarter the size.  No matter how hard I was running there were no problems glancing down to see it.

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At night is where the display really shines though – quite literally.  Brilliant color and readability.

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Note that while running you can always tap a given portion of the display screen to see that particular metric in full screen.  For example, see below the four-item quadrant, and then I tap one of the items to display that in full screen.

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While running (or any other sport), you can pause a workout by tapping the upper Start left button.  You’re then given the choice to either end the workout, or just re-tap the button to resume:

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Just be careful not to swipe the unit against yourself if you pause at a stoplight or bathroom break.  I did that during my long run Monday night and inadvertently ended the workout, thus I had to start a new one.  The data was saved of course, it’s just broken into two workouts instead.  Both workouts uploaded just fine to the online site.

In addition to running outside, you can also run inside just as easily.  The watch supports both an inside and outside mode.  Inside the watch can use either an ANT+ footpod, or it can use the units internal accelerometer to estimate distance.

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In other words, using the internal accelerometer you can just jump on a treadmill without any additional accessories and get speed and distance.  Note that you’ll want to calibrate beforehand for the most accurate paces.  This only takes a few minutes though and is super easy.

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Or, even cooler is that if you’re in a rush you can actually do the calibration after your run.  Yup, it asks you to enter in the final treadmill distance afterwards, allowing it to do all the math for you and adjust the calibration settings.  This is a feature I’d love to see other watches do, with respect to footpod calibration.  On the Motoactv, this portion only refers to the accellerometer piece.  Really cool.

For fun, here’s a quick tour around the user interface using the touch screen UI:

Touch Screen Overview

Cycling:

The Motoactv works equally as well for cycling as running.  This is in part assisted by the handy little bike mount that you can buy.  Perhaps my favorite part of this mount is that there’s no wrong way to mount it.  That my sound silly, but if you’ve ever mounted some of the zip tie mounts only to realize it’s on backwards – you have to start all over.  But with the Motoactv mount, it’s merely a industrial strength rubber band system that pulls it tight.

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Once on there, you can mount the unit any of the four directions – meaning that should your bike require mount placement in a certain area you don’t have to mount it sideways:

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As for cycling from a software standpoint, the unit offers a dedicated cycling mode.  The cycling mode tailors the data fields to be specific to cycling, thus the inclusion of fields like power – supporting power meters.

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Once in cycling mode you’ll have access to essentially all the same data pages as if you were running or doing any other sport.  I list all the exact data parameters you can select later on in the review.  While cycling, the display is incredibly easy to see – crystal clear visibility:

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And should you want to change fields you can easily swipe.

Though, as I found out – it doesn’t appear to work with gloves. I went into my winter bucket to grab a handful (no pun intended) of different gloves.  Unfortunately, none of them worked with the Motoactv.

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On the bright side, since using the touch display is really only needed for changing the view (buttons control functions) – you can use the auto scroll setting instead.  Not ideal – but at least worth noting.

When you want to trigger a lap change, you can merely tap the unit to start the next lap.  Laps can be used to differentiate parts of the workout – such as warm-up or cool-down.

Finally, note that just like running inside – you can also bike inside too on a trainer.  In this case, the GPS is turned off and the unit will use the ANT+ sensors on your bike to gather speed/distance data, as well as any power meter or heart rate data you have.

Bike Profiles:

The Motoactv allows you to setup multiple bike profiles tied to different bikes.  While the configuration options are slim here, you can specify both a wheel size as well as a weight.  The names of the bikes are not customizable, but you can select from some generic names – such as triathlon, road, hybrid, mountain, etc… I’m hoping in the future you’ll be able to rename the bikes, though Motorola has told me they don’t have any plans to do so.

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It should be noted that you can’t associate ANT+ sensors with a given bike profile, but at the same time – the need to is diminished.  This is because when you go to bike, it’ll actually just scan through all ANT+ sensors that you’ve previously paired, and re-connects to those that are now active.  This is good in one sense in that you don’t have to have different profiles, but it’s less ideal if you’re with a riding partner where their sensors may be previously paired.

Power Meters and Data Recording Rates:

As noted above, the Motoactv supports ANT+ power meters.  The recording rate interval for the Motoactv is fixed at 1s intervals. For the exact listing of all data fields displayed when a power meter is connected, see the ‘Data Fields’ section a bit later in the review.

Finally, you can indeed calibrate a power meter – either via auto zero or manual zero:

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Pretty nice to include that, a clear understanding of the power meter market.

Other Sports (Elliptical, Step Machine, etc…):

In addition to running, cycling and walking – the unit actually features to other unique modes: Elliptical and Step Machine.  Using the units internal accelerometer it’s able to track your activities on these two known machine types, from distance to time to steps (or strides).

In fact, if you look later on at the data field section below, you’ll see that each of these sports has different data field values that you can configure.  This is another area where the Motoactv has set itself apart from the typical GPS running watch crowd – by catering to those who may not just be running or cyclists, but rather folks looking to keep healthy and may prefer the gym in the winter, and select to mix up the machines a bit.

Common Workout Features:

The Motoactv includes all the features that you’d expect from a GPS sports watch.  Instead of placing the below features within either the running or cycling sections of this review, I’ve gone ahead and just grouped them together below – since they are applicable across all sports.  Here’s the run down:

Auto-Lap: Auto lap enables you to configure the unit to automatically create a lap (split) after a preset period of time or distance.  You can define how long that is, via the settings screen:

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Auto-Run: If the unit detects that you’re running (and outdoors), it’ll automatically start a workout under the run functions.

Auto Display: This mode will automatically scroll through the different display fields as you workout. This includes any of the custom display fields as well as the map, HR/Pace zones and lap fields:

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Auto Interval: If you setup intervals, this setting basically says to automatically iterate forward to the next step in the interval.  In other words, the unit won’t wait for you to finish dying on the side of the track after that hard 400m set.  Instead, it’ll simply keep on cooking with the programmed workout…whether you like it or not…just the way track intervals should be:

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Auto Pause: Auto run is what is more commonly known as Auto Pause, or Auto Start/Stop – which essentially means that when you run, the unit will automatically start.  And when you stop, it’ll do the same.  This is particularly useful for inner city running where you’re constantly hitting stoplights and want a fully hands free experience.  Note that you’re unable to configure the threshold for this however.

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Coaching and Alerts: This setting is essentially audible alerts that will read out to you via headphones metrics around changes in zones – including power, pace or heart rate.  You can set this to do it on demand, or automatically on every lap.

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Device Tap: This setting allows you to configure what happens when you tap your device.  You can select to read out information – or you can have the unit demark a lap.  I prefer the lap option since that’s the only way to actually set a lap if auto lap is turned off.

Racing Yourself: This is similar to the Virtual Partner/Virtual Racer features found on Garmin watches.  It allows you to select an existing run that you’ve completed – and then race against it.

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This is cool in that you not only see how far ahead/behind you are from your virtual friend – but you also can see exactly where they’d be on the specific course via the map:

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This takes the virtual partner feature to a whole new level.  Really cool stuff.

Data View Customization:

The Motoactv includes a significant amount of data field customization.  Each sport includes the ability to configure different data fields.  Within each sport you can have one fully configured data page with up to four data fields, such as below:

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In addition, you’ve also got a separate screen you can enable per sport for: Laps, Competitor (like a Virtual Racer), Pace Zones, HR Zones and the Map.  Each of these are accessed by swiping left or right.  You can see the little dots along the bottom, they represent a different screen.

So for now, it looks like you can only add/configure four data fields.  I’d like to see more than that, to be more competitive with other watches.

I’ve gone ahead and listed out each and every data field offered and/or configurable by sport, which are in the below tables.  Because firmware updates can bring new fields, note that this is current as of 11/9/2011.

Running Data fields:

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Cycling Data Fields:

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Walking Data Fields:

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Elliptical Data Fields:

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Stair/Step Machine Data Fields:

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Again, these are in addition to the other lap/HR zone type data screens, as well as the map screen.  The map screen is not applicable though on either elliptical or step machines.  If you need the map on either of those exercise machines, I suggest you validate you’re on the correct machine.  It shouldn’t go anywhere.

Mapping:

Perhaps the biggest item of note is the inclusion of a fully detailed map in a watch form-factor device.  That’s right, the Motoactv actually has a map of where you’re going…and where you’ve gone. The map displays a little line on the route that you’ve taken thus far.

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You have three levels of zoom that you can control by tapping the screen, from most to least detail:

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Maps are provided by default for all of North America, Central America, portions of South America, and all of Europe.  The unit by default has 1.6GB of maps loaded on it, but you can also download additional free maps directly on the Motoactv.com site.

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Battery Life:

While I love 95% of the things on the Motoactv, the one area I am concerned about is battery life.  I’ve been doing a few tests in this area – and none are too great.

The unit claims a battery life between 5 and 20 hours, depending on a variety of factors from sensors used to music playing.  This is logical, since depending on what you’re using, you’ll influence battery life.

In my case, I’m a simple user – so I just want to run or ride.  So I decided to go with some tests that involved a standard run with an ANT+ heart rate strap and GPS enabled, as well as a separate simulated ride with ANT+ sensors including a power meter, heart rate strap, and speed/cadence sensor.

In the case of the run, I went out with a fully charged battery, and came back two hours later with a a a battery at less than 10% availability, similar to this warning message.

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I asked the Motorola team about this and they are investigating what’s going on with my unit(s).

While I understand the display being on impacts battery life, I’d argue that really the point of a watch.  When I’m running – be it night or day – I want to be able to glance down and instantly see information.  This is especially pertinent if I’m doing a hard track workout where the last thing I want to deal with is turning the display on.

The same applies to cycling, where I certainly don’t want to have to tap the display button to turn back on the unit.  Especially if I’m on a triathlon/TT bike and down in aero position.

That said – the cycling test was a bit more positive, likely due to slightly different display parameters.  In that case, even though I had more ANT+ sensors, I was able to get up to 3 hrs and 34 minutes worth of battery life.

I’m optimistic we’ll see some battery life improvements here.  I think a ‘fair’ number would be between 6-8 hrs of battery life, given the display.  This would put it in the comparable range of the Garmin Forerunners at 8hrs.  Which would be enough to cover most runners, and most cyclists.  For triathletes doing an Ironman, you’re going to need 5-8 hours for the bike (depending on speed) and 3-8 hours for the run (again, depending on speed).  So realistically you’ll need 8-16 hours of battery life, of which only three watches today support that – the Timex Global Trainer and the Garmin FR310XT and 910XT.

I’m hoping we’ll see software updates that can improve this.  I use the Swimsense folks as an example of massive software updates that turned it from an 8 hour battery life to about a 7 day battery life.  Obviously different display characteristics, but if the Motoactv team can get a 20-40% improvement that will cover most folks activities.

Waterproofing:

This is the second area I’m concerned about with the Motoactv.  This because the device is rated for IP55 with the USB grommet in place.  In addition, the headset jack is fully sealed.  Which means it can handle a stray splash and light rain, but not full immersion.

The problem I see is that the unit’s micro-USB port is covered by a small rubber stopper.  A stopper that is easily dislodged (in fact, on one of my two units, it won’t stay closed).  So my concern is that since this portion is not waterproofed I can see how on a long run in the rain water could get in there – ultimately killing the unit.

I think ultimately the choice to not go with a higher waterproof rating – such as IPX7 may have been a significant mistake.  Though time will tell if folks start seeing unit returns.

Data Sensors Supported (ANT+ and Bluetooth Low Energy aka Bluetooth Smart):

The Motoactv support both ANT+, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth Smart) sensors.  This means that any ANT+ sensors you may have, such as those from a Garmin Heart Rate Strap, or power meter – are fully compliant.

In fact, it supports the following ANT+ sensor types: Heart Rate (HRM), Speed/Cadence (SPD/CAD), Power Meter (PWR), Speed-Only (SPD), Cadence-Only (CAD), Stride/Footpod.

The sensor pairing menu is hands down the coolest one I’ve seen to date.  You first select what type of device you’re about to pair:

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Then it’ll go out and start searching for devices found with that device profile.  At which point it’ll display all sensors found of that device type:

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Of particular note is that it displays the device ID – which allows you to select which sensor is the appropriate one.

Now, it would be slightly more useful if it also displayed the value the sensor is transmitting – i.e. the HR value or power value, as this allows you to quickly spin a crank and figure out which is which.  Again, really only relevant for those scenarios where you need to re-pair something and others are around.  But in those situations – it’s incredibly useful.

You can pair just about as many sensors as you’d like, it simply adds them into a saved setting.  That way later on you just go to run/ride and all the sensors magically connect.  Each sensor that connects will simply show a ‘checkbox’ that it’s good to go.

For those that routinely have to pair device to sensors, the changes here are really nice. And with a couple minor tweaks, they’d transition from ‘really nice’ to ‘awesome’.  I’d also like to see naming of sensors, in the same way that the CycleOps Joule supports, the ability to say ‘P3C Cinqo’ or ‘Mtn SPD-Cad’.

In addition to ANT+ sensors, it also pairs with Motorola’s own Bluetooth Low Energy Headphone/Heart Rate Monitor sensor.  However, at this time that unit isn’t quite released yet so I can’t comment on the full pairing process – nor how well it works.  As soon as I have a unit in hand, I’ll update this and the accessory section.

Using as a regular watch:

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The Motoactv works great as a regular watch – though depending on exactly how you have the display configured, your battery life may be limited.  Assuming you’ve got it set to timeout after about 30 seconds, it’ll easily last all day.  You can configure the Motoactv do have a few different style clocks, including the following:

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You’ll notice on the clock that it also displays calories burned as well as steps taken.  The steps taken is done via the internal accelerometer, and I found it surprisingly accurate as I went about my day.  Occasionally I’d count my steps between given activities and see if they lined up. Usually about right.

You can change not only the watch face and the color schemes, but also how the time is displayed – such as via the 12hr or 24hr variants.  As well as how the date is displayed.

As of this writing, you cannot however configure any alarms.  This is likely due to the fact that the unit has neither a vibration motor – nor any beeping system to alert you.  So while it could blink and probably even play a video of a rooster…it’s unlikely you’d notice it.

Music:

The biggest departure from a typical sports watch is the units ability to play music – both files stored on it, as well as from FM radio.  The unit will synchronize your library using the Motocast software that you install on your PC.  You can select which files and/or folders to watch and it’ll take care of the rest. Additionally, you can also just tell it to sync your entire iTunes library, and/or selected playlists.

Once on the device, the user interface is pretty clean and easy to navigate:

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You can also tie songs and/or playlists to the start of a workout, as well as define songs which will play at various intensities. In order to show you the seamlessness nature of the music piece tied in with workouts, I’ve gone ahead and paired it via Bluetooth to the Tunebug Shake (I talk about that more later on).  From there I’ve put together this quick little video demonstration showing starting the song, and then working through the menu’s to start a workout.  You’ll also hear the voice prompts along the way.

Music Overview

I’m not typically one to run or ride with music, but the unit does offer a lot of flexibility there.  And you don’t have to be within a workout to listen to music either – you can just sit back and relax.  And as I note later, you can pair any Bluetooth stereo headset to it as well.

Uploading/Downloading Workouts via WiFi:

One of the coolest features of the Motoactv is the ability to sync workouts via WiFi.  Once I complete a workout and step within range of my homes WiFi access point, it automatically will sync my workout with Motoactv.com.  Additionally, it’ll also download any new planned workouts from Motoactv.com.

You’ll actually configure your WiFi networks not on the device, but rather from your PC.  This is somewhat nice in that you don’t have to futz with any settings, but by the same token it limits you to selecting preconfigured networks.  So you can’t just upload to any old network you find.

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In my experience it takes about 30-60 seconds for the upload process to complete.  But there’s nothing you need to do.  If you want a workout to upload sooner than it’s automated uploader does it, you can set to manually sync as well:

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There’s no question that this should be the direction of sports watches going forward.  This is essentially just like the way the Withings WiFi scale works in that it does it automatically as soon as I step off the scale.  If other companies are introducing devices next spring and beyond and don’t have this capability, I’d say they’re already one step behind.

Fitness Tracking/Management Site: Motoactv.com

Motoactv.com is Motorola’s new fitness site – built from the ground up by their own team.  This isn’t simply another service under the covers.

For a first attempt, it’s not too bad.  They’ve actually included more functionality than I would have expected.  They’ve got the majority of the basics, though there’s still room for improvement, as I’ll talk about in each section.

Remember that your workout gets automatically sync’d via WiFi (or via the desktop software) – so by time you take off your shoes in the house, it’s likely that the workout is already there and visible online.  Note that in order to create an online account, you have to have a device.  It’s actually done using the desktop software.

Viewing Workouts:

Once you login to the Motoactv site, you’ll see all your current workouts displayed in the dashboard:

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We’ll go ahead and dive into my run from last night – since that’s the one activity with the most valid data.  The rest were various test activities I had going.

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Once we do that, we’ll click on the first Run.

Workout Details:

This will show the last 90 minutes of my run.  Due to a minor mess-up on my part I ended up accidentally splitting my workout in two by stopping the recording when I was swinging by a bathroom.  So the first 30 minutes were on a separate file (also uploaded).

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As you can see, I can display some of the different metrics listed on the left hand side.  I can change that, based on what I’d like to see.  For example, if this were a cycling workout, I could add power – see example below:

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Which would then show up on the chart:

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If I had selected any laps – they’d show up down below in the Laps/Splits area:

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It’s in this same region that I can configure HR zones as well:

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And interestingly enough, it will also record all of the songs you listed to during the activity.  Which…in my case, was none:

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Finally, last but not least, it’ll give you a workout summary of information.  This is where you get to export out the data as well:

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Social Network Sharing:

You can also Tweet or Facebook any given activity, which makes a public URL for that activity.  This is pretty quick and painless.  And you can use the same Twitter button to also just create a public URL for a given activity as well – in case you want to e-mail it to someone:

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Once you’re done, they can merely click on the link to see the public page.  Here’s an example you can check out of my run.

Creating workouts to download to device:

While there’s also a calendar function for planning workouts, perhaps the more interesting feature is the workout creator.  This function allows you to create workouts with targeted zones and paces:

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It’s here that you can setup intervals as well:

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Once on the watch, these will show up on the scheduled date/time for you to execute.  And remember – everything gets synchronized wirelessly.  So before you can say ‘magic’, it’s automatically on your watch.  Really cool.

3rd Party Site Compatibility (i.e. TrainingPeaks)

As of this writing, there’s nobody that’s compatible with the Motoactv unit, aside from the Motoactv site.  But the good news is that the Motorola folks aren’t islanding your data.  Meaning, you can export out your data to a simple CSV file – for any workout.

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I suspect we’ll start to see the Motoactv supported pretty quickly by some of the bigger running/cycling sites such as Strava and Runkeeper.

In the meantime, TrainingPeaks has committed to having support for it by early December.  I’ve already supplied them a pile of example workout files and they’re hard at work on it.

Accessories:

The Motoactv comes with a slew of accessories that you can buy.  For runners, I’d suggest the Wrist Strap, and for cyclists the Arm Band.  Ideally they should have included the wrist strap in my opinion, but I suppose that’s why I write about sports technology stuff instead of selling it.  Note that if you’re using wired headphones, you’d probably use the Arm Band instead – though since the unit includes a clip, you can probably get away with just clipping it to your shorts/pants and running the wire that way.  Personal preference.

They are as follows:

Wrist Strap:

If you’re a runner, this is the one accessory I recommend you buy.  I couldn’t imagine using the device and running without it, but then, I prefer wrist watches over arm bands.

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The wrist strap is $30.

Bike Mount:

If you’re going to be riding frequently with the Motoactv, I’d highly recommend the bike mount.  The mount will easily attach to either a road bike or a triathlon bike, as well as just about any other road/hybrid/mountain/etc bike you can find.

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The bike mount is $30.

Arm Band:

If you run with headphones, you may prefer the arm band instead, since the headphone cords will be closer to your head, and less in the way:

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The arm band is a bit pricier than the standard clip though, at $30.

Additional Clip (one comes with unit):

Your Motoactv will come with a single clip, but if you need an additional one – you can always pick one up. That way you’re fully fault tolerant:

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The additional clip will cost you though, $20.  I suppose nobody ever said having redundancy in your sports stockpile was cheap.

SF500 and SF700 Headphones

I haven’t had the opportunity to test either the SF500 or SF700 headphones out – simply because they aren’t available yet.  But these are actually kinda interesting looking for two reasons.  First, they have integrated heart rate sensors on them – so they’ll actually be taking your heart rate via the earbuds.  Additionally, they’re wireless – via Bluetooth 4.0 using Bluetooth low energy.

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Once the order I put in arrives, I’ll let ya know how they work out.  But until then, I don’t typically review stuff until I’ve had a chance to actually try it.  Note there are to variants – the SF500 and the SF700.  The SF700 runs $150 and the SF500 runs $100.  The primary difference is that only the SF700 is fully wireless.  Whereas the SF500 is only using Bluetooth to send the heart data, and not your music – so it’s still got wires.

ANT+ Accessories:

In addition to all of the Motorola Branded accessories, they also support the following ANT+ accessories:

ANT+ Heart Rate Strap(s):

There are a slew of companies out there that offer ANT+ heart rate straps, but the reality is the cheapest one you’re going to find is any of the Garmin variations.  And at the end of the day, virtually all of these straps are made by the same company anyway.

Garmin Heart Rate Strap Options

Note that the newest HR strap from Garmin resolves virtually all of the spiking/dropping issues that some folks see, based on my day to day use of it over the past year.  Of course, if you’ve got an older strap and have some HR related issues, start here.

Speed/Cadence Sensors:

This sensor allows you to use the Motoactv indoors on a trainer, as well as record cadence information outdoors.  Additionally, you can sometimes increase your speed accuracy a hair if you use the speed sensor outdoors (automatically occurs actually).

IMG_9396

Like the HR straps, a slew of folks offer these, but realistically the cheapest will always be the trusty GSC-10 Speed/Cadence combo sensor from Garmin, it’s usually about $30.

If you need a speed-only or cadence-only sensor, the Motoactv supports those as well.  Some folks use these if they have a unique bike configuration (like a recumbent) which requires the sensors be placed in different locations.  In general though, the GSC-10 works for just about everyone.

Power Meters:

The Motoactv supports ANT+ enabled power meters, such as those made by CycleOps (the PowerTap), SRAM/Quarq (the Cinqo), SRM, Power2Max and more.  I own a Quarq Cinqo and the unit is easily paired to the power meter by going into the sensor settings and selecting to add a ANT+ power meter.

IMG_1071

It should be noted that the Motoactv is NOT compatible with any of the Polar power meters, including the new Look/Keo Power System, pedal based power meter.  This is because that system is reliant on Polar’s W.I.N.D. protocol, and not ANT+.

ANT+ capable power meters start at $700 from CycleOps (PowerTap), go through $1,500 (Quarq Cinqo and Garmin Vector) and top out at over $2,000 (SRM).

Running Footpod

The footpod allows you to gather pace, distance and cadence data while both indoors or outdoors.  For example, if you’re running on a treadmill this would be required as GPS won’t show you moving.  Outdoors it’s useful if your route takes you through a tunnel where you’d lose GPS reception.

Garmin ANT+ Footpod

The foot pod easily snaps right onto your shoelaces in a matter of a few seconds.  As of today, the Motoactv does not yet have a calibration option, which means the accuracy can be off depending on many factors including stride. You may want to consider the internal accellerometer instead, unless you need cadence as well.

You can pickup the footpod for about $50.  If you’re interested in learning more about the footpod, check out my ‘More than you ever wanted to know about the footpod post’.

Note that on the Motoactv, if the footpod is used outdoors it’ll override GPS for both speed and distance – so be sure you’ve got it configured correctly ahead of time.

ANT+ Weight Scale:

At this time the Motoactv does not support any of the ANT+ scales.  I asked if there were plans to do so in the future, and Motorola commented that they don’t see significant demand at this time.

Bluetooth Accessories:

At this time, neither the Polar Bluetooth HR strap, nor the Zephyr Bluetooth HR strap would pair with the Motoactv.  It’s unclear if in the future either these straps, or any additional regular Bluetooth or Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth Low Energy) straps or devices will pair with the unit.

IMG_5878

You can also pair any regular Blueooth stereo headset as well.  I lacked any small ones – but I did have the Tunebug Shake handy, which is a Bluetooth powered speaker aimed at cyclists. And that paired and played just fine:

IMG_0083IMG_5894

I did find it interesting however that I can have the device be discoverable, but I haven’t actually found a reason to do that yet.  I suspect that it’s tied into the Motorola phones (like the Motoactv App), but that’s not offered yet for other devices.

IMG_5870

I do expect that over time, Motorola will open likely this connection interface a bit more.  Which, is one of the coolest things about the device – the ability to not only have Bluetooth – but more importantly, Bluetooth 4.0 on there.  This will eventually bring with it all the new low energy sensors only found on Bluetooth 4.0.

Summary:

As I noted at the beginning, the Motorola Motoactv has completely changed the landscape of what a connected sports technology device should be.  The graphics are clean, crisp and quick.  The data is flowing freely via numerous sensor types, and the feature set is impressive.  And the best part is, they let the consumer device what devices they want to connect to it – via ANT+, Bluetooth, or otherwise.  It’s all there.

There are however some issues.  The lesser waterproofing may be an issue, as well as the lack of audible alerts without headphones.  The battery life is also a concern.

Of course, the Motoactv isn’t necessarily for everyone, as I believe it’s important to identify your rough category of watch needs and find a product that fits.  So looking at watch recommendations, you’ve got a few different basic categories:

1) The Triathlete: Unfortunately, with the lesser waterproofing, this device isn’t for you.  You’d likely kill it during the swim warm-up.  But if you’re looking for a bike/run device, it’s not a bad fit at all, especially if you’re doing shorter to medium distance triathlons.

2) The Casual Runner: This is perfect for you, and at $250 – it offers more functionality across the board than any other GPS watch out there.

3) The Advanced Runner: I think that like the casual runner, you’ll be happy with this too.  I’ve got some pretty complex workouts I do, and at fairly quick paces – and I’m really not seeing any issues.  The only challenge I would have had though was the three-hour run.  This week happened to be a 2:00 run, but if it was two weeks ago it would have been 3 hours (single run) – and the battery likely would have died.

4) The Pure Cyclist: If you’re out there for up to 2-3 hours, this is a good bet.  But if you’re going for century rides, this isn’t your best option – since the battery will die before then.

The Motoactv comes in a few flavors – based purely on storage size.  The 8GB model is $250, while the 16GB model is $300.

Comparison Chart:

Function/FeatureMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated July 20th, 2014 @ 11:54 amNew Window
Price$150 / DISCONTINUED$269.00$299$250$253/€220
Product Announcement DateOCT 18, 2011Apr 2, 2014APR 2, 2014JAN 28, 2014January 26, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateOCT 2011Mid-April 2014Mid-April 2014MAR 2014Currently slated late Summer 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB/WIFIUSB/Bluetooth SmartUSB/Bluetooth SmartUSBMicro-USB, Bluetooth Smart later 2014
WaterproofingHorribleATM5 (50m roughly)ATM5 (50m roughly)Yes - 50mIPX7
Battery Life8 hours10hrs10hrs25 hours10 Hours
Recording Interval1-second1-second1-secondVariable1-second
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoYesYesYesYes - 3 Days
Quick Satellite ReceptionGoodExcellentExcellentGreatTBA
AlertsAudio/VisualAudio/Visual/VibrateVibrate/Sound/VisualSound/VisualSound/Visual (Power, Cadence, HR, no speed)
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoNoYesNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoNoNo
ConnectivityMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoYesYesNoLater 2014
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoNoTBA
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoNoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Designed for cyclingYesNoYesNo (but can show speed)Yes
Power Meter CapableYesN/ANoN/AYes - June 2014
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesN/AN/AN/ATBA
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFNoN/AN/AN/ATBA
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesN/AYesNoYes
RunningMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesNo
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesNo, has internal accelerometerInternal AccelerometerYes (internal accelerometer)N/A
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNoN/A
VO2Max EstimationNoNoNoYesN/A
Race PredictorNoNoNoNoN/A
Recovery AdvisorNoNoNoYesN/A
Run/Walk ModeNoNoNoNoN/A
SwimmingMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Designed for swimmingNoNoYesNoNo
Openwater swimming modeN/AN/ANo (Swimcap only)N/AN/A
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Record HR underwaterNoN/ANo (not enabled in swim mode)N/AN/A
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/ANoN/AN/A
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor Drill ModeN/AN/ANoN/AN/A
Indoor auto-pause featureN/AN/ANoN/AN/A
Change pool sizeN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/AN/A15m-50mN/AN/A
Ability to customize data fieldsN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Can change yards to metersN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor AlertsN/AN/AGoals onlyN/AN/A
TriathlonMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Designed for triathlonNoNoYesNoNo
Multisport modeN/ANoNoN/AN/A
WorkoutsMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesNoNoSorta (via Suunto Apps)Not upon launch
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesYesBarelyNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoNoYesNo
FunctionsMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Auto Start/StopYesNoNoYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesYesSorta (specify intensity)No
Virtual Racer FeatureYesYesYesNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesNo
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNoNo
NavigateMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesNoNoYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)YesNoNoNoNo
Back to startYesNoNoYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNoYes (from Flow Web service) - Later 2014
SensorsMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Altimeter TypeGPSGPSGPS (Barometric for Performance Bundle)GPSBarometric
Compass TypeGPSN/ANoneMagneticGPS
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYes (also contains optical HR sensor)Yes (also contains optical HR sensor)YesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesNoNoYesNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesNo, has internal accelerometerNo, has internal accelerometerYesNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesYes (also internal optical HR sensor)YesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNo, has internal accelerometerYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNo, has internal accelerometerNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNoYes - June 2014
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoNoYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoNoYesTBA
SoftwareMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
PC ApplicationMotoSyncMySports ConnectMySports ConnectMoveslink AgentPolar Flowsync
Web ApplicationMotoactv.comTomTom MySportsTomTom MySportsMovescountPolar Flow
Phone AppNoiOS (Android Sept 2014)iOS (Android Sept 2014)Movescount (does not connect from watch to phone)Polar Flow
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoYes (online)No
PurchaseMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkN/A
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLinkN/A
DCRainmakerMotorola MotoactvTomTom Runner CardioTomTom Multisport CardioSuunto Ambit2 RPolar V650
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Pro’s and Con’s:

Finally, no review would be complete without the infamous pros and cons section.

Pros:

- Amazingly clean user interface
- Easily records your runs, bikes, walks, other gym equipment
- Supports ANT+, Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth sensors
- Supports Bluetooth headphones wirelessly
- Allows data export to CSV
- Connects via Wifi to automatically upload workouts

Cons:

- Waterproofing is of questionable integrity
- No audible alerts without headphones
- No vibration engine for vibration alerts
- Battery level seems lower than it should be

As always, thanks for reading, I appreciate it.  If you have any questions – feel free to post them below, I try to answer as often as possible.  Thanks!

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Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.

The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.  If you found this review helpful in your purchasing decision, you can support future reviews like this by using any of the Amazon links (unit or accessories above).  If you’re overseas, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading!  And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.  Further, you can always e-mail me at the address on the sidebar.  And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below.  Thanks!

Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful.  These guides are all listed on this page here.

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251 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    You've done it once again! Your reviews are simply the best and believe me when I say, I have been waiting for this one.

    Question. You spent a little time stating that the user can set up workouts online and transfer them to the unit. But during the workout, how does the athlete know they are within the correct pace zone? Clearly there is no vibration alert. Is there an audio alert? Does the athlete have to press his/her watch to receive an alert? Can the athlete set regular alerts telling him/her that they are outside if their prescribed zone?

    My 610 allows me to set pace alerts and tells me when I am outside of my pace zones. This is particularly helpful for those of us who have a tendency to go out too fast Ina race. Can the Motoactv compete with this feature? Thanks!

    A little more information on the zone alerts would be so helpful. Thanks!!!!

    Reply
    • Ed replied

      MOTOACTV vs POLAR RC3... who winner?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They're a bit different. Well, a lot different.

      The Motoactv isn't considered an 'active' product any more from a development standpoint, so that plays into things a lot. The site isn't going to see updates or evolve.

      That said, the Motoactv is far more functional than the RC3 from a features standpoint. But, the RC3 has better waterproofing (not great, but better), which is worthy of note.

      Reply
  2. Great review, just 2 things, first up, I didn't note if you mentioned about how quickly it finds the satellites. And then does it keep good distance, the routes you ran did it measure them the same as the Garmin's have?
    OK one more thing, it was raining hear in Cape Town last night and to see Mr garmin clearly I had to give the screen a wipe... this would spel trouble for the touch screen? would it still work in the wet?

    Reply
    • Gareth Hardman replied

      Hi there - did you get a reply to these questions? Certainly issues I'd like confirming one way or another before making any buying decisions :)

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't used it in quite some time, but it was about normal for satellite reception - good, nothing unusual.

      Within wet conditions, the Motoactv screen struggles.

      That said Gareth, keep in mind this is a discontinued product on a service that hasn't seen an update in years.

      Reply
  3. Great review. I had the same experience with Best Buy, was a bit surprised. I love the device so far, but cannot get iTunes to show up in my Motocast. I am on a Mac, I store my iTunes on an external that is used as a time capsule, but don't think that is it. I had to move files directly to the drive, but would like the function of iTunes.

    Thanks again for your review.

    Reply
  4. Dan

    Hi Ray,

    Great review! One thing I didn't see you mention was the size. Do you think you could line this up on your rolling pin for comparison sake?

    Reply
  5. Thanks Ray.

    Reply
  6. Great review, but like you kind of surprised they didn't include the wrist strap from the get go.

    I do believe this watch has set a new standard on what a watch should do but it will really matter on what they can do with future generations.

    Thanks for the review.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Great Review. I'd also be curious to see the rolling pin line up. Also, do I understand correctly that the watch remains lit during the entire workout?

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    $30 for the wrist strap? They just lost me as a customer.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Great review. Is it possible to create a workout and then share that workout over twitter or facebook? I was thinking this function could be used by coaches. Then it would be cool to see comparison of performance from all those who took part in that particular workout. Don't know if this is possible but would like to know.

    Cheers

    Luke

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Can you upload gpx routes from other sources and use the mapping to follow a breadcrumb trail?

    Reply
  11. the presidents of the united states of america...hmmm...don't see that often on a runners playlist nowadays. Come to think of it you don't hear them often nowadays period.

    Reply
  12. Since you have problems with the battery and the device it's charged by a micro usb wire, can we do this?:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Reply
  13. Fantastic review.

    The battery life issue is very concerning, it needs to be better than 2 1/2 hours on a run. The waterproofing issue also seems a concern. The rest seems beyond stunning.

    That said... I will NOT, NOT, NOT buy another watch to replace my Garmin 405 unless it looks and acts like this. This has set the bar for what I expect and I expect, ANT, bluetooth, Wi-Fi, accelerometer, color and touchscreen from my next device. Garmin lost a likely sale of a 610 today, so hopefully this drives the whole industry forward...

    Thanks again Ray.

    Reply
  14. A lot of impressive things about this watch, but for me it falls *just* short (and I mean *just*). The battery life is OK for me right now, but someday I'd like to run a marathon, and at my pace, the Motoactv would die before I reached mile 20 (and probably before that)

    The inability to use the touchscreen with gloves is also a near deal breaker for me (I live in Minnesota, so running with gloves is a necessity for about half the year).

    I also really want my next watch to have vibration alerts.

    Finally, although this can be fixed by a software upgrade, only having a single screen of data is a big minus for me. I generally don't need a ton of info during a run, but I still routinely check 6 fields of data (8 if I'm using a Heart Rate Monitor). But, I also like to split my screens into only 2 or 3 fields per screen so I can see it easier during a run.

    This won't replace my Forerunner 305 just yet (although I have no need for a replacement yet, my battery still goes strong), but I LOVE that this will push Garmin, Polar, Timex, and Nike to go back to the drawing board and improve their products (and at a better price point too)!

    Reply
  15. Thanks for the in depth review. It sounds like a pretty nice all-in-one unit for short runs, but the 2-hour battery life would be a non-starter for me as a general go-to device.

    Two questions:
    1) Did you compare distance accuracy to other GPS and non-GPS units?
    2) Why would one have to use the Garmin footpod if the MOTOACTV has an internal accelerometer?

    Thank you again Ray.

    Reply
  16. Isaac

    Great review as usual. Really interested to hear more about the GPS accuracy. That is the one thing preventing me from buying this yet.
    Also how does it compare in your opinion to the Timex Run Trainer and the FR210? Would love to see one of your comparison charts.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  17. Chuckles

    Thanks for the great review Ray. I ordered mine yesterday. Of note the android app that's list in the market and their website is only available to Motorola branded android devices. As I have an HTC daily phone, and SE Arc for recording workouts this might be a deal breaker for me. I personally need a wrist top display to show incoming calls/e-mails during morning workouts. Being self employed has many pros, but you most certainly can't ignore calls. I may just continue training with me SE Liveview if they don't open the app up to other devices.

    Reply
  18. Does it have the option to do multi activity workouts like my Timex Global Trainer does ??? Or do you have to start an individual work out for each part of the event ? Just started taking part in Duathlons so would be interesting to know.

    Also would "upgrade" to this from a Timex Global Trainer ??

    Reply
  19. Would love to see a shoot out between the MOTOACTV, Timex Run Trainer, and the 201! Do you know of any other brands planning a response to this watch. Basically, is this watch great enough to go ahead and take the plunge on it, or will there be something better in a matter of months. I know, there's always something better coming, but will it be worth the wait. Love your reviews man.

    Reply
  20. Been looking at this since I saw it at the NYC Marathon Expo. A few thoughts:

    1) It's cool that it has plenty of space for music, but what about us folks that have moved onto cloud and subscription services like Spotify, MOG, RDio, Pandora, LastFM? It would be nice to be able to access these as well. Otherwise, my cellphone does more in the music area (and pretty close in the tracking area, but MUCH bigger)

    2) Cool that the headsets coming will give heartrate through the earbuds, but isn't that a no-no while running because of safety? An around the ear sollution would be better, but I guess it wouldn't do in-ear heart-rate then huh?

    3)As far as batter life over 2hrs...Mario Lopez just ran the NYC Marathon in 4 1/2 hours or so while also hawking this device and CLAIMS to have used it the whole time. Yes, he's a pitchman, so take it for what it's worth.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    Excellent Review - a pleasure to read just like all your other reviews. Best thing about your reviews is that you give genuine user perspective and base them on actual experience like no one else on the WWW - keep up the good work!

    Good gear keeps my motivation up and gets me up in the morning for a run - this little device just made my Christmas list ;-)

    Greetings from Berlin, Germany from a runner that used to live in Washington DC!

    Reply
  22. Great Review Ray! I couldn't help myself and had to get one. I'm seeing similar battery performance, I had a 10% warning at the end of an hour and twenty minute run this morning that started with a full charge. That was with a footpod and ANT+ HR Strap. Overall it is a pretty amazing device. I'm going to see what we can accomplish on the iPhone integration side.

    Chip
    Wahoo Fitness

    Reply
  23. Motorola is off to a fantastic start with this watch. Your review makes it look good enough to at least try (and I'm not usually an early adopter). Hopefully your comments will help improve future versions. To add my suggestion for future releases: I suggest losing the touch screen and going with buttons. It's starting to get cold here, and I really do not enjoy trying to operate my iPod nano with gloves on. I miss the old iPod nano with the clicker & positive button feel. Everyone is going touch screen, which is probably OK if you're on a treadmill, but if you're doing intervals, or trying to ride a bike in traffic, touch screen is hard to use. On a bike, you can mount it on the bars, which is better - but this has headphones too, and you can't safely have it on the bars AND have the headphones on. My advice to Motorola - don't copy Apple; everyone else is already doing that. This GPS looks GREAT, except for the applesque aspects!

    Reply
  24. Great review as usual Rainmaker...I think casual runners that love to run with music will snatch this up...The rest of us will likely wait for them to work out the weakness with the 2nd installment (like Timex with the Run Trainer)

    Reply
  25. Great review and a very enticing device!

    As for not being able to use the touchscreen with gloves, you just need to make a few fingertips of your gloves conductive. Do a search on-line and you'll find many techniques for this and you'll have gloves that will work with not only this but with other devices with capacitive touchscreens.

    Reply
  26. DCrainmaker,
    I am trying to choose between a Foreunner 305, Nike+ GPS watch and the new Motorola Motoactv. My current set-up in a nano with Nike+ footpod. I am a casual runner (5-10mi runs, 3-4 x's a week). I would like to gain GPS capability. So if you had choose just one as a casual runner what would it be? Opinions?

    Reply
  27. Tim K

    Thanks Ray. Your review will keep me from buying this totally awesome device. Here is why I won't buy it:

    1. Battery life. I would have zero chance of doing a marathon with it. Heck, I'm about to tackle my first half marathon, and that would be dicey. (I'm slow.) It also won't survive 75% of my bike rides. (I'm not too slow here, but I try do a 60+ mile ride weekly.) I use the Edge 800 right now for running and riding, but I'm getting the 610 for running.

    2. "Splash" water proof only. Although it still doesn't have water proofing like it should, I'll go with the 610.

    3. It can't do cadence intervals. I need the 610, as the 210 doesn't show cadence in real time.

    4. It reads foot pod for distance over the gps signal. My cadence/stride is all over the place right now, which is why I want the cadence interval option. I know my stride-measured distances would be way off. The 610 allows me to pick gps or foot pod.

    5. The maps are really cool, but if I use it to run when I travel for work and get lost in some cul-de-sac hell, I can't do any routing on the device to get me back to the start, so what's the point. I realize I could zoom out, but I don't think the level of screen detail allowed on that small screen would be all the useful in real life. The 610 at least can guide me back with the compass screen.

    I admit that it's the coolest toy out there, and should have a huge influence on all other future devices, but I'm going with the 610 and will pass on this one.

    I do really love how it can be used on the elliptical, as I have a standing 5:30am date with my elliptical 3 times a week. However, that alone can't compensate for my personal list of negatives.

    Reply
  28. Swiss

    I see that it has some maps in Europe, but when I try to look up Switzerland (work travel) it has nothing.

    Do you know if they plan to add more maps?
    Would GPS still be able to find me without a map?

    Your reviews are always very helpful.

    Reply
  29. Testing

    Picked one up at Best Buy. They had no idea they even had it. I plan to test it next to the Timex Run Trainer in a couple of hours on a short run. I'll update with my results if we haven't heard from Ray.

    Keep up the great work.

    Reply
  30. Killer device. If I were working at Garmin, I'd be wondering who moved my cheese. Not gonna' buy one due to the battery life issue, and lack of some way for it to make noise. Question: No lap pace? Also - don't see total distance on the lists. I gather that's in an unconfigurable field?

    Reply
  31. Ray,

    Great review. Odd question--what's the band you are running on the Nano?

    Thanks,
    Matt

    Reply
  32. @morey000: It has Lap Pace. And, Distance is always displayed.

    Reply
  33. Josh

    Excellent review! (as usual) :)

    one thing i'd like to know...what other maps that can be downloaded to the device from the moto website? is there middle east (kuwait) map in there? or southeast asian map (indonesia)? it will be great if you can list all other available maps from the website?

    thanks again for the fantastic review.

    Reply
  34. ballsoffire

    Great review as usual. MotoActiv looks amazing compared to the grey displays of Garmin, Polar & Timex. Garmin will definitely have to up their game now. However as a longtime Forerunner user, getting used to MotoActiv interface might be difficult for me as I'm a creature of habit. Anyway, some questions:

    1. The battery time of approx 2 hrs, was it with the music playing or without it?
    2. Can the touch screen functionality be disabled?
    3. How accurate is the Accelerometer?
    4. Can you check with the guys at SportTracks if they plan to support MotoActiv?

    Lastly I fear that if MotoActiv is not a good seller, Motorola can cancel it at any time as this not their core product. Since GPS technology is Garmin's main business, we can always rest assured that Forerunners will be supported for a long time. However Garmin has been complacent in the last few years (especially in the software department, the display screens and not enough new features), so we need the competition to spur activity in the fitness GPS arena.

    Reply
  35. Testing

    Only had time for a short run. I ran one lap around my apartment complex. I have run this 3x with my Timex Run Trainer getting distances of 1.37, 1.34, and 1.36. Today I ran with my Timex and Motoactv side by side.

    Todays Results:
    Timex Run Trainer: 1.35 miles
    Motoactv: 1.30 miles

    I have not tested many watches and this is just what I received today. Take this however you want. Tomorrow I will run farther and will test again.

    Reply
  36. grey

    Any word on left/right power support for garmin vector?

    Reply
  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  38. Thank you for a very thorough review with excellent pictures to boot.

    I wanted to use the MotoACTV mainly as a watch, but also to replace my Polar S610, which is still going strong after 11 years.

    While the MotoACTV is extremely impressive as a fitness device with pulse, gps and maps + the automatic wifi update, it is unfortunately an utter failure as a bluetooth enabled watch/second screen because it doesn't incorporate a vibration motor.

    Visual/auditory alerts simply won't cut it - it has to be by vibration to function in the real world of meetings.

    This means I'll wait for an updated version with vibration capability before I buy.

    I also believe Motorola should release an SDK for developers as it would make a lot more apps become available in a short time period, providing an even bigger lead for Motorola in the segment.

    PS. Would be nice with a real close up shot of the screen resolution of the ipod Nano vs the MotoACTV. DS

    Reply
  39. jf

    Can the device be configured for metric distances and pace ? Is the manual on-line somewhere ? Does Motorola have user forums ?

    Reply
  40. Casey

    Great review as always Ray.

    Here's the problem I see with the device - if you are running and listening to music on the MOTOACTV and don't have the wireless headphones, then where do you wear it?

    - On your wrist? Then the headphone cord would probably get in the way of your arm swing.
    - On the arm band (bicep) or clipped on to your shorts? Music is fine but then you can't see your current pace, etc.

    I think that's why the price is so (relatively) low. You almost have to buy the wireless headphones to make it work right (and the watch band).

    Like other posters have said, I hope this pushes Garmin to take their watches to the next level. Also, I'm over the whole touch screen/bezel...just give me buttons that work in any condition (warm, wet, cold, etc...I'm a Garmin 405 owner and am constantly frustrated)

    Reply
  41. Tobor

    I wouldn't recommend this watch to anyone based on what you wrote. The exceptionally poor battery life *might* be fixed via a firmware upgrade, but then again it might not. A full color, touch-sensitive screen, multiple sensors running, plus music playing burns up a lot of juice quickly. The lack of waterproofing is also a major deal-breaker. What kind of GPS sportswatch can't be used in the rain?

    Finally, I might be in the minority on this, but I have ZERO desire for a touchscreen interface on my running watch. Buttons provide surefire response and tactile feedback. They don't require precise fingertaps while running a sub-7 pace. Buttons work with gloves. They work in the rain. This MotoActv unit stopped a workout on you when you barely touched it during a quick bathroom break? Are you kidding me? That problem, along with a host of others you've described, clearly show the MotoActv isn't ready for prime-time.

    Reply
  42. Anonymous

    Thanks for the review. I was so excited to hear about this product when it was announced. My experience with the watch was mostly positive. A few things like the ability to configure more then one data page and the fact that the motoactv site is still beta could soon be fixed. I loved the screen and user interface. I really liked the wifi sync, that is awesome. But ultimately I had to return it to the store. The battery would not last more then about 3 hours with gps and heart rate monitor. This simply was not long enough. If they could improve this to 6-8 hours and I mean really improve it then I would gladly repurchase. Thanks again

    Reply
  43. @Tobor: While MOTOACTV is not spec'd for full water immersion, it is indeed designed to be used in the rain.

    Reply
  44. Good Evening all-

    Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate it!

    I'm going to consolidate questions that are duplicate, thanks!

    RE: Workout Alerts

    This is done via audio, alerts notifications can be configured via the settings menu. I'll try and add that into the review.

    RE: Satellite Pickup

    It's quick, though not as quick as the FR910XT or Timex Run Trainer. I'd say between 30 and 60 seconds on average.

    RE: Wetness/waterproofing/etc

    I'm working with Motorola to see what's in the realm of possible to demonstrate. If I can demonstrate simulated rain (Read: Shower), then I'll get a video put up. I'd prefer not to have to make a Best Buy return run... If however, it rains on me in San Fran this weekend, then I'll relay that. :)

    RE: Rolling Pin shots

    All set, added. I'll try and do another pin with a few other watches as well.

    RE: Workout Creation Sharing

    Not at this time. Only activities afterwards can be shared via FB/Twitter

    RE: Mapping upload/creation

    At this time you can only run existing maps/routes. But the site is clear that map creation is coming soon. I'll try and get some clarity on whether GPX upload would be allowed (or similiar). Seems logical to me.

    RE: Alternative battery charging while using.

    Sorry, meant to test that today. Will do it tomorrow with Solar charger and let you know. When you connect a computer, it does go into a Sync mode, but haven't plugged into wall instead (or solar charger).

    RE: Footpod instead of internal accelerometer

    In general, a footpod will be more accurate than the wrist mounted accellerometer - an item that Motorola noted in their initial PR presentation to me a while back. Additionally, one can't get running cadence from the accellerometer.

    RE: GPS accuracy

    I'm working through that currently, more details shortly.

    Reply
  45. RE: Comparison chart with other models

    I'll add that in tomorrow during my flight, and post tomorrow night.

    RE: Motorola Motoactv App only available to Motorola phone owners.

    True, it should be available across the board. Especially since it works just fine on other Android phones. A little Googling is your friend there....

    RE: Motorola Motoactv app

    I'll put together a brief demo of how it works...which is actually pretty cool.

    RE: Multisport

    You can create a multisport workout within the workout creator and then have it automatically transition from sport to sport. That's a good idea for a section to add, will put it on my list.

    RE: Battery life

    I'm working closely with the Motorola engineers to determine why I'm seeing shorter battery life across multiple devices. As soon as I have clarity, I'll update/post. I'm optimistic they'll sort it out. For my tests (since one asked), music was not playing.

    RE: Conductive gloves

    Totally valid, definitely an option - just not something everyone has. Actually meant to pickup a pair a few weeks ago.

    RE: Other countries for maps

    The official response from Motorola on this specific point is:

    "We are capable of putting in maps for any country, and for now, it is limited to countries we are launching into. As we launch additional countries, we will add support for maps in those countries.

    Data is sourced from OSM, but OSM files can not be used directly on the device. We pre-digest the OSM maps before loading them on the device. This makes displaying the maps easier for the device, improving performance and battery life."

    RE: iPod Nano Strap

    Doh, link got zapped in copy/paste, will update. Here's the band though:

    link to amazon.com

    RE: Other country maps

    I'll cleanup the list, but here's a super-quick XML listing from the site, again, messy, I'll clean it up tomorrow:

    link to sites.google.com

    RE: Sport Tracks support

    Sure, I'll ping Aaron and find out.

    RE: Touch Screen functionality disablement

    No, it's needed for navigation through menu's.

    RE: Accuracy of accellerometer

    I'm going to be doing some accuracy tests across the board, and will be doing one with the accellerometer here shortly.

    RE: Left/Right power

    I'll check on that. It's definitely not there today, but I'll check going forward.

    RE: Metric paces

    Yes, no problem in switching to Metric.

    RE: Motorola Motoactv user forums

    Yup, see here: link to supportforums.motorola.com

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  46. Anonymous

    Very interesting review.Could you secify what each button does?
    BTW-whats your opinion on Globalsat gps watches, escially the new GH625XT?Is there a chance of a review?

    Reply
  47. Did you have the opportunity to try the wireless bluetooth headphones that track your heart rate? I'm just interested in those and wondering if I can use them with my iPhone and what software will support them.

    Great review! Love the article. Wish I could be a tester!

    Reply
  48. Isaac

    For anyone considering this device Motorola has just released an update that is supposed to improve GPS accuracy, battery management and few other things. I haven't been able to test it yet but it sounds like they are trying to make quick improvements.

    Reply
  49. Michael

    @Ray - Are you certain you MUST have a footpod for running steps/cadence???? From the Moto forums:

    2. Nov 7, 2011 5:01 PM (in response to cveale)
    Can the run cadence be displayed with a compatible ANT+ foot pod?

    MOTOACTV can display your current Step Rate (in steps per minute, or spm) or your Average Step Rate, and you don't even need an ANT+ footpod to do so. It can track your step rate using MOTOACTV's built-in accelerometer. Of course, you can use a foot pod if you wish, but it's not required for tracking walking or running step rate.

    Regarding your second question, you can create workouts on the motoactv.com portal where you can define target Pace or Heart Rate Zones (or Power Zones for cycling using a compatible power meter), then sync those workouts to your MOTOACTV, and MOTOACTV can alert you via your headphones with either spoken alerts or a tone whenever you enter or leave your target zone (not based on cadence limits, though...just Pace, Heart Rate and Power zones).

    -Steve

    Reply
  50. Hi Anon-

    RE: Buttons

    Start: Starts/Stops workouts
    Music: Contols some basic music functions mid-workout
    Volume (Up/Down)
    Right lower: Turns on/off the display

    RE: Globalsat watches

    I haven't reviewed any Globalsat watches at this point, though have indirectly as they OEM some watches to Timex - but different firmware then.

    RE: Bluetooth Headphones for HRM

    They haven't released them yet. I don't have a pair. Sorry!

    RE: Michael and footpod steps/cadence

    Ahh, good point - correct, you're right. Sorry, was 1AM+ in my comment above. Yes, you can get steps, since that's also how it shows regular steps as well.

    I'll play around at some point with accuracy of footpod vs accellerometer and see how they shake out. Should be an easy one to do with another watch on the side using a footpod. Be kinda fun. :)

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  51. Chuckles

    Thank you for the reply Ray, I actually repackaged the APK, along with the blur services from a friends droid 2... working fine on my Evo running cyanogen mod 7.1 nightly 248. I'll load it up on the ARC this evening. Anyone looking for the APK that runs on non-moto phones reply here, I'll point you in the right direction.

    Reply
  52. Gando

    I went to Bestbuy and picked one up yesterday. My initial impressions are good, however, what really matters to me is battery life.... so I ran a quick test.

    BTW, I upgraded to the new firmware they released.

    1) I paired the Motoactv with my Jaybird Freedom blue tooth earphones

    2) went out side, selected outdoor run and then waited until it got satellite signal. Started the workout

    3) stared my music

    4) went back inside and put the headphones and motoactv on my desk and let it sit there while the workout function was operating and my music was playing

    5) Picked it up a few times and paged through some screens. The rest of the time the screen went dim but did not turn off.

    The result was after 2 hours and 30 mins my jaybirds will still playing and the motoactv was still going. There was 8% battery left.

    Basically that means for me that I can use it for runs up to half marathons (I am a 2 hour 1/2 marathon guy). For my marathons and long training runs I will have to go back to my garmin and nano with wired headphones.

    I am going to try one more test. same as above, however, after I hit start I am going to hit power which will turn off the screen completely but still keeps the workout and music going. I will hit the power button a few times to see the screen - like I would do on a run to see my current pace and distance.

    I will post again with the result.

    Reply
  53. GPSisBEST

    RE: Testing

    Has anyone else tried any GPS comparisons? Anyone else have similar results?

    Losing .05 every 1.3 will add up to a 1/2 mile during a half marathon.

    @Testing have you done the test with the new firmware update?

    Looking forward to hearing what if Ray has tested it along side other watches.

    Reply
  54. Anonymous

    Hello,

    Thanks for the excllent review.
    I am located in Europe and would like to know if I can use it here as well.
    Can the covered distance be displayed in kilometres and can the speed be displayed in kilometres per hour?

    Regards,

    Vincent
    Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    Reply
  55. I put a Motoactv next to my 610 in the dash of my vehicle while going on a short trip. Both in cycle mode. At destination the 610 was at 193.0 miles, the motoactv 193.04 - can't get much closer than that. Battery lasted about 3 hours with screen on and music playing at medium volume (no ant+ accesories connected).

    Reply
  56. Gando

    at 3 hours I had 5%. 15 mins more and the watch was dead. So somewhere between 3 hours to 3 hours and 15 mins

    "I am going to try one more test. same as above, however, after I hit start I am going to hit power which will turn off the screen completely but still keeps the workout and music going. I will hit the power button a few times to see the screen - like I would do on a run to see my current pace and distance.

    I will post again with the result".

    Reply
  57. Michael

    @ Gando

    So you only gained 30 min by having the screen off? I would have thought the screen off would have given MUCH more time than only 30 additional minutes.

    Hopefully that means whatever is using the battery so quickly is related to something a software patch can address....or at least help a bit.

    Reply
  58. Anonymous

    great review!!
    question on the audio coach, does it give option setting for notify the pace and distance etc...

    Reply
  59. Gando

    I gained 30-45 mins. HOWEVER, my bet is that a software patch can not fix this. I think the best it gets with music via bluetooth, gps training and sensors (I did not use any for my test) is 3 hours.

    So unless your Kenyan you probably can use this config for a marathon.

    I am going to try two more tests. I am going to do the same tests I did before but this time I am going to use wired headphones and see how much time I get.

    I will post once the tests are complete.

    Reply
  60. Anonymous

    Just thought I'd add my 2 cents... I purchased this device on the day it was released. Did a couple of runs with loops in a park with several trees. Each loop was giving significantly different distance data. This is a know 0.94 mi loop. First loop with MOTOACTV recorded 0.86mi.. 2nd 0.82mi and 3rd at 0.79mi. Each loop recored shorter. Also when analyzing the map (zoomed in) on my mac, the course is quite 'jagged' in appearance. Seems that the gps lock was very inconsistent. I was wearing the device on my upper arm. I really wanted to like this device as a relatively new runner and an avid cyclist. I thought this device would be great for both activities. Given this shortcoming I subsequently returned the device to Best Buy and have ordered the Garmin 610. Perhaps the the new firmware update will address this problem. If so then I would consider another trial assuming the battery situation is also addressed.

    Reply
  61. @Gando

    Where did you find updated Firmware already? I'm at the Motoactv site but dont see anything in the help or support sections.

    Reply
  62. Hi All-

    Just a couple of quick items:

    RE: Distance accuracy issues & Firmware Update

    Check your unit firmware version. Units shipped to Best Buy have .50 by default (last two digits), but you can update using the desktop software to .61. It's on the Motosync USB client. It may or may not be automatically notifying you (working with the team to understand why) - but that does address some distance issues that I saw (with the Motoactv registering about 3% short). As others have noted, it also helps in the battery department a bit - though I think we still have a ways to go there.

    RE: Water tests

    I've got some clarity on what I can demonstrate without killing it (which is essentially no worse than a typical rainy day run). Will try and video it tomorrow. Plus, if the San Fran weather forecast holds, I'll be running in the rain anyway...

    RE: Posting of tests

    For those that have posted results - always good to see other feedback. The Motorola team is listening, so all feedback is good feedback. If you're seeing distance issues, please post firmware version, especially if on current firmware (.61). This is displayed in the System Status area.

    RE: Audio Coach

    Yes, you can configure the settings around that a bit, though not quite as much as I would expect. It's mostly tied to zone and distance. Though you can specify zones for pace/speed, heart rate and power.

    Thanks for reading!

    Reply
  63. Anonymous

    Bravo Ray!

    Great rewiev as always.
    Ciao

    Reply
  64. Thanks for an excellent review.

    Is it not possible to create your own workout modes? I do some cross country skiing and roller skiing besides cycling and it would be great to have those as workout modes to choose from.

    Reply
  65. Phil

    Thanks for the great review! I came straight to your site as soon as I saw this at REI.
    Would it be possible to see how the MOTOACTV fits on a petite female wrist like you did with the Nike Sportwatch? I'm a skinny guy so it's nice to know, but my friend has very slender wrists and she's trying to decide between the 210 or Nike for fit, but this may be a contender as well.

    Reply
  66. Ian

    Below is a summary of my trial of the MotoACTV 8GB. Biggest take away- the GPS was off by 3%-- my 8.14mi run was measured at 8.39. When mapping my run, the path zig-zags. Seems like a small error range, but is troubling when trying to stay on pace.

    Details:
    Firmware: 4.53.61
    Duration of Run: 1:12:59
    Route (Actual) 8.14 miles
    Route (Measured by MotoACTV) 8.39
    Battery at start of run: 90%
    Battery at end of run: 60%

    Settings:
    Screen Off
    Wired earbuds
    Music On
    Mapping off
    Audio Coach On with laps every 0.25M
    Worn on shorts with clip, under shirt

    Reply
  67. Testing

    Two Days Ago (with old firmware):
    Timex Run Trainer: 1.35
    Motoactv: 1.30

    Today (with updated firmware):
    Timex Run Trainer: 1.37
    Motoactv: 1.32

    Ran holding the Motoactv in my hand, but did not close fist around it.

    After firmware the Motoactv is still showing a 3% difference compared to the Run Trainer.

    Also I had it count my steps during my run but I have no way of finding the results on the device or MOTOACTV.com except to note how many steps i had taken before and after the run for the day. This makes it hard to figure out your cadence.

    Reply
  68. Charles Forbin

    Great review Ray! You do a superb and thorough job of walking us through new tech. Just my .02, but I doubt that Motorola will be able to improve battery efficiency significantly. Anybody with a smartphone knows that having a screen on, brightness turned up, and running a number of sensors/apps quickly drains the battery. Even if they manage to eek out 4 hours, the device will only have niche appeal. Heck, you won't even be able to use it as a glorified wristwatch if it can't last a full day.

    I'm looking forward to Ray's water test. I've personally gone through 3 new iPod Shuffle's in the past year due to moisture issues--none of them were ever even rained on. Having a bunch of holes in an electronic device--whether its a USB port or an audio jack--is inviting corrosion. Sure, the Motoactv might not conk out from a quick shower test, but we are consistently sweaty when we use these products and they're going to get moist on a daily basis. Maybe Motorola can pull it off, but it seems more probable that the devices will have a high failure rate over time.

    I wonder why Motorola didn't chose to charge the unit with a clip like Garmin or Timex? Also, since they've designed the capability for wireless audio, why not just make that the standard? Such design changes would at least seal the unit and improve the IPX rating.

    Although I agree with Ray that the Motoactv has lots of exciting features that will eventually become standard, his point that this is a first generation device isn't emphasized enough in my opinion. A lot of people look to his reviews to make purchasing decisions--at $250 it seems to me that the FR 210 or the Timex Run Trainer GPS are much wiser choices given the current battery problems and unproven durability issues.

    Reply
  69. Isaac

    Ray,

    With all things considered would you recommend the Motoactv over the Timex Run Trainer?

    With the new firmware it appears that the GPS issue is still unresolved and the battery still won't last for a full marathon for a lot of people. Is this device the future or is it just a good starting point for other GPS watches to come?

    Also is it worth the price they are selling it for? You can get the TRT w/ HRM for $30 cheaper than just the MOTOACTV.

    Reply
  70. Anonymous

    Ray,

    Excellent review....

    Now I know you blog and reviews are more geared toward triathletes, but looking to uses whatever watch I purchase as more of a diagnostic device for general fitness. After weeks of research I had been sold on the FR210 but after reading this review I'm on the fence as this seems like a superior device for my needs as I see them.

    Would you do a comparison of the calorie Algorithms and measurement results between the MotoActv Algorithm and the Garmin FR210 (Firstbeat Algorithm – 2nd Gen).

    Reply
  71. Kevin

    2 runs with the motoactv now. I love it for the most part here is my observation.

    Battery life, I paired a garmin heart rate strap and a bluetooth headset and did a 1:10 run, came in the house let it sync then turned in off and plugged it in. It showed the battery at 40% :-(

    The route I did was a loop I do a lot. The distance on the motoactv was dead on with what my 305 gets at 8.48 miles. I have the updated firmware.

    Reply
  72. Michael

    I thought I was in love with this device when I first saw it, however, I just don't know anymore... I'm having a hard time seeing what this offers over an Android phone or iPhone paired with a Garmin FR60/70.

    I honestly think I'd rather have the Garmin with footpod and HR strap on my runs with my phone (so I can listen to Pandora/Google Music/etc) while using my phone to GPS the route. I also then have the FR60 showing me HR/distance/run cadence. And at no point would I need to worry about battery life, screens being on, etc. This is esp true since I find carrying my phone in a belt pouch is a non-issue.

    The same is true on my bike...I'm taking my phone with me anyway for emergencies, might as well run the GPS for the route and use the watch and cycle computer that I already have for HR/cadence/speed/etc.

    Really, I'm just not sure the price of the Motoactv (once you factor in HR strap and/or fancy headphones, wrist strap, bike mount, cadence sensor, etc) is anywhere near worth the ultimate price of this thing. As much as I wish that weren't true (because it really is impressive conceptually), I'm afraid it is...then once you consider possible battery issues, well, forget it.

    Reply
  73. Gando

    I did the follow up test and having the wired headphones rather than bluetooth ones bought me about 30 mins more battery.

    Reply
  74. Sorry if i missed if you already answered a similar question but out of the 8 and 16gb versions. How much memory is used saving the data from a ride or run? If I put music on there it would be less than 20 songs so just seeing where i would ever need 16gb, that is probably more for people who want a large library of music right? Thanks, Jake

    Reply
  75. I bought the Motoactv and am sending it back. Its a great concept but poorly executed. The final straw was when the stud on the watchband broke after the second wearing.

    Ray - I do have a question I hope you will answer - I want to record strength training (weights) and aerobic workouts. The Motoactv doesn't have a strength training option. The only unit I have seen that does in your reviews is the Polar RX5. Is that the case, or what would you recommend? How would you compare the Motoactv with the Polar RX5? I was ready to buy the Polar when I saw the Motoactv announced and it seemed so much better on paper. I also considered the Wahoo Fitness, but none of the many iPhone apps have the option either!

    Here is the info I can add for anyone keeping it and running into
    issues:

    Music Sync : In order to sync with iTunes you must have a plain vanilla set-up, which was a pain for me as I get my music from the a NAS. I had to copy my music to a local drive then it found my playlists.

    Support: I tried the chat for help and knew it was going to be a bad experience when the guy spelled the product name wrong (MOTOACTIV). He gave me the phone number of 2nd tier support. Which I thought was great, until I talked to them. I feel bad for them because I don't think Motorola trained them, or even let them see the product. Don't expect any help, if you have opened the box you know more than the support team.

    Water Test : The usb port is a huge gaping hole in the side of the unit with just a little rubber lid. Any amount of liquid is going to get inside. I don't know if you can kill it with sweat, but I would be willing to bet a bike ride in the rain would be the end of it.

    Bluetooth: Would not turn on for me initially. What I did to get it to work was select it to turn on (it just goes into this forever loop and does not indicate it is on). If you turn the unit completely off, and back on, the bluetooth will be on when it comes up again. But then it did not link with my bluetooth headphones that work fine with my iPhone.

    Delete a workout: Can't do it on the watch. You can online, but it won't sync that you deleted the workout back to the watch. I wonder what happens when the memory is full if you can't delete the workouts?

    Strength Training: There isn't an option to just use and record heart rate. I guess you could set it to walk and workout then ignore the steps but that seems lame. Even if you did it would still label the workout "Walk" and you can't change it.

    Watchband, Arm Strap, Bike Mount - Like I said, the watchband studs broke the second time I took it off. The Arm Strap is really cheap, like dollar store cheap. The bike mount seems good, but way overpriced. I do like that you can take it off really easy and put it on any bike. If this thing becomes popular than hopefully there will be 3rd party bands - its really criminal what they are charging for the arm strap.

    Reply
  76. As normal, a great in depth review. Having been an owner of a Motorola phone before, their battery life, or lack there off is not unusual for them. They are not renowned for good batteries. Having said that if they fix the battery issue up, I may have to trade my Garmin210 in for it. Having an mp3 attached makes it more convenient.

    Stu

    Reply
  77. I read a review on Best Buys website saying that the watch wrist ban is cheap and not durable. Did you find this to bethe case Ray?

    Thanks agin for all your hard work and helpful information.

    Reply
  78. Gando

    I ran a 1/2 marathon today with the wrist strap. The strap is nice. Fits well and feels good. The comment on best buy in my opinion is NOT correct.

    Also to the person who was asking about 8G compared to 16G. This is for MP3 space. I have the 8G and a lot of music loaded. If I want to change up the music I just remove some and replace it with new music when I resync. Unless you need you entire Mp3 library with you then the 8G is just fine. Use the $50 savings to buy the wrist strap.

    Gando

    Reply
  79. robesz

    Hi All!
    Does anybody know what kind of android is running on MOTOACTV?

    Reply
  80. Gando, tanks for your input about the wrist strap. How was your battery life in the half marathon?

    Reply
  81. Gando

    I used motoactv with blue tooth headphones. After 2 hours 15 mins I had 25% left.

    Gando

    Reply
  82. Anonymous

    I love your blog, I really, really appreciate the detailed manner in which you do your in-depth reviews...and I simply cannot go another post without begging you from the bottom of my anal retentive grammatical soul to stop with "Pro's" and "Con's" as opposed to "Pros" and "Cons" (the same goes for your occasionally writing "your" when you mean "you're"). Please, please?

    Reply
  83. Dan

    Awesome review, I'm definitely considering this after reading your post. I had a question, though. How accurate is the GPS watch. At the end of the day this information is the most important I think and I'm sure sure if you said directly if it was accurate or not. I'm pretty sure you have done reviews in which you compared the accuracies of several leading GPS watches. Maybe you could add this one to the list or just give a general statement on how accurate this is. If you run set routes you probably have an idea of how it stacks up to others. Thanks Again

    Reply
  84. Scott

    Good review, I was waiting for this unit to comeout as well so I could simplify my electronics ensemble into a unified cockpit if you will...

    I got one a few days ago and here are some additional impressions:

    My battery life is horrible too, but I only got 2.2 hours out of my first ride outside before the battery warning poped up. I imagine this will change as soon as Motorola releases it's updated firmware (it's already mentioned on the MOTOACTV website). Most android devices have issues with battery life and require updates to the firmware. MOTOACTV is no different.

    I use a set of Mototrola S9-HD bluetooth headphones and they paired simply and work very well. I expect the same from the SF700's when I can get a set. Pairing is as simple as holding the power button on the headphones top enter pairing mode and searching on the unit. Simple and quick just like any other sensor.

    I did have a problem with my HR belt, I could get it to pair, but it would not connect and record data. This really isn't too big of a concern for me, since the whole reason I went with this system is to replace my S9-HD's with the new sf700's and not need a belt anyway. It just means I don't have HR data on the unit until I get the new headhones. My belt is a Bontrager unit that came with my Node2 computer. The Bontrager cadence and speed sensors work perfectly.

    Overall I'm happy with it.

    Reply
  85. Anonymous

    Just got mine last night, instantly discovered they lied on their literature.. the software will NOT run on a "Mac 10.4" it must run on an INTEL based "Mac 10.4". Pretty critical piece of info to leave out Moto, no?

    The app in the market will not run on an Android phone "2.1 and above" - in fact, currently, they claim only the RAZR.. but you would not know this as the Market and their literature don't tell you unless you call and ask.

    I read battery life is horrible and nothing near 5 hours. If you cannot get that, it is not worth it to me. 2-6 hours ride and runs are common for me, 1-3 battery life is a no go. Mine is going back today.

    Reply
  86. NewClydesdale

    I was at REI this week looking for a running watch for my sister-in-law. When the salesman showed us the motoactv I said to my wife "Not untill I see if DC Rainmaker reviewed it."

    We went with a 110 mainly for price/size consideration, and I wasn't sure if it would sync with Itunes.

    This looks like a great movement forward and I think it will help everyone step up the game.

    I do have two thoughts though.

    1st, while I know this device would not work for swimming, and I know the headphones are not Ant+ I'm wondering if the earbud style heart monitor wouldn't be a better approach for swimming. With the head, and possibly the watch, both on the head you wouldn't have to worry about transmitting through the water.

    2nd, long term It would be nice to see kinetic energy used to power these devices if not fully at least to keep the charge longer.

    Reply
  87. Not that impressed with it, took it on my first run turkey trot 10K and it seemed to work. Well tried it out again today, well it fell way short on battery life and was way off in pace,miles ect. Really hoped this would have worked out better, and had high hopes. But after not being able to get the new 4.53 version and the results today, and all the reviews. I have decide that it will be going back tomorrow. Will just get the Garmin 910xt and shuffle and call it a day. The SF700 wireless headphones release date ??? bad information and lack of support makes me want to return it before getting stuck with a 300 piece of junk that doesnt work as advertised..

    Reply
  88. Dude - your reviews kick ass. however i'd already gone and bought one and my watch is not only showing poor battery life but it's taking a long time to sync, its instant pace is really bad and distance isnt always accurate :( i dont have footpod but still.... disappointing

    Reply
  89. Robster

    Great,great reviews! I run approx 50 miles a month and wanting to increase distance to do a marathon next year, will def buy a gps watch at xmas, I had decided on thr FR610 but do you think the motoactiv is worth having a look at? I use a apple shuffel at the moment so not to worried about the music side of things, thank you

    Reply
  90. Kevin

    I've been waiting for a device like this for years, unfortunately I won't be buying one until I can be guaranteed a battery life of at least 6 hours when cycling. My cycling groups rides centuries every weekend and 2-3 hours won't cut it.

    Reply
  91. I just bought this watch, I really love it. Went for a 2 hour run with a HRM and had 70% battery at the end. GPS is spot on, even running through mountains and near buildings. Love all of the different data that it can show you, especially the run cadence simply using the accelerometer. I was very hesitant to buy this watch, but I am liking it more and more every day.

    Reply
  92. Checking in on the MotoACTV forum, it looks like there have been improvements. Of note battery life. I still don't have one yet but am hopefull for early 2012 when my running season starts up again.

    Reply
  93. It doesn't appear that it supports advanced intervals like garmin does?

    For example, if I wanted to do a ladder workout of:
    400m
    1 min rest
    800m
    2 min rest
    1200m
    2 min rest
    1600m
    etc....

    Thanks!

    Reply
  94. Anonymous

    Just a quick question. I just got one of these for Christmas and haven't been able to use it yet due to reconstructive knee surgery about 4 months ago...but I will start running in about a month. My question is that will I need a footpod for this to measure steps per minute or strides per minute (for an elliptical)?

    And does anyone have any recommendations in terms of getting a HRM to pair with this device?

    Thanks in advance for your responses.

    ~Brian

    Reply
  95. @Anon (Brian) - I use my Garmin Premium Heart Rate monitor ( link to amazon.com) and it works well.

    I believe the inbuilt accelerometer measures your stride. Stride rate is one of the data fields when using the Elliptical mode.

    Best of luck and Happy New Year.

    Reply
  96. Hi!
    Some guy found a way to root their Motoactv to have the smallest Android-Tablet in the world... ;-)
    link to cmw.me
    Happy New Year!

    Reply
  97. Zane

    Hi,

    Thank you for the reviews! Decided on the MOTOACTV after reading this one and doing some additional research. We'll see how it works. Price today at Amazon was $204.88...plus they are throwing in the wrist strap for free if you order both at the same time (I had to contact order support because the discount did not apply automatically like it was supposed to).

    Reply
  98. Amazing review! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  99. Anonymous

    Dr. D. Thank you for your response. I'll definitely take a look at that Garmin Heart Rate Monitor. If you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for it? I see that Motorola now has their heart rate monitor chest strap available for $69.99.

    Thanks again for your response.

    ~Brian

    Reply
  100. @Anon (Brian) - The Garmin Heart Rate Monitor costs around $45 via the this link - link to amazon.com. Note this is the DC Rainmaker link and buying via it helps!

    Stay well and best of luck on the road back to full health.

    Happy New Year.

    Reply
  101. Anonymous

    Hope someone who owns this can answer a question from an infrequent runner.
    When used as a watch (screen stays on all the time) and nothing else, how long does the battery last?
    Can the GPS and accelerometer be turned on/off individually?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  102. Anonymous

    Just curious if you can use both the bluetooth headphones and a Garmin premium HRM (Ant+) at the same time???? Also is there an option to choose between the garmin fotpod or GPS in the newest firmware??
    Thanks!!

    Reply
  103. Anonymous

    Your reviews are simply the best of almost any gadget review I've seen. tnak you for taking the time to to it.

    Q:
    can you add the font size comparision of the display for example the FR210 seems smaler. it may help for glasses users ( readers users) that run with no glasses.

    tnx

    Reply
  104. Great review!
    My $0.02 is that I suppose they had to start somewhere. I like it but will wait for the v2 where it has a 8hr battery life with SF-700 in action. For now, runkeeper on my 4s with Wahoo Blue HR will do..

    Reply
  105. Rob

    v2?? when??

    Reply
  106. I'm sure eventually there will be a V2, but there's nothing of record at this point.

    Note that with the latest firmware update, I'm getting in the 8hr of battery life range:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    (See end of that post)

    Reply
  107. Rob

    Hi, I would like to buy a Garmin, the GFR210, but now with this gadget i don´t know what to do, Which is better to run?? I`m not an expert, i run twice a week and only 5 miles. Thanks

    Reply
  108. @oggie - it will support the workout you suggest, but it does it very badly.

    In the MotoActv site create your workout with several activities. However, when you come to run it you'll have to press at least two buttons, three if your screen times out, which is ridiculous for your laddered workout.

    I've just posted on the MotoActv forum on this - there's a lot of unhappiness about how crappy the device is for people on serious training programmes.

    The forum thread is here: link to forums.motorola.com

    I'm disappointed that DC didn't pick up on this in his review.

    I know it's early doors for the device, but it's clear that it was designed without an consultation from serious athletes, and is now out in the field being used by beta testers who've shelled out £250+ for the privilege.

    Reply
  109. Actually, you'll have to press at least three buttons, four if your screen times out:

    1. Screen on
    2. Start/Stop
    3. Next
    4. Start/Stop

    Reply
  110. Anonymous

    great review but I'm afarid I would just to go running instead of playing with this toy...

    Reply
  111. Anonymous

    Hello guys,
    I'm about to buy the 8GB version. However, I'd like to have your feedback on the following. Does the unit display your current location ( LATITUDE/LONGITUDE/ELEVATION ).
    Thank you,
    agustin

    Reply
  112. Anonymous

    Does anyone know when the sf700 bluetooth headset will be available? Thanks!

    Reply
  113. Does anyone know when the sf700 bluetooth headset will be available? Thanks!

    Going by this it looks like it's been canned link to forums.motorola.com

    Reply
  114. Hi Rahul-

    Indeed, it has been canned from what I can gather (or at least so far delayed that it doesn't matter). I basically heard as much from a number of folks while down at CES. Bummer indeed.

    :(

    Reply
  115. Such a shame! The watch with the HRM headset would be any runners dream.

    Ray, any chance that the update allows it to work with the Wahoo Blue HR?

    Reply
  116. Has there been another update aside from the late December one? That's the most curent to my knowledge, and it does not work with that one.

    That said, it is being worked, so I have no doubt it'll soon be fixed.

    Reply
  117. Timm

    Free wrist strap if you buy the MotoACTV and wrist strap on Amazon.com until 31 January.

    Reply
  118. M_C

    Firstly, many thanks for all your in-depth reviews. Very useful!

    Now turning to the Motoactv; I have an interest in the mapping functionality. I currently use a GPS unit to plot routes on a map and then follow them on my bike. Can you do the same on the Motoactv. In essence, does it have similar functionality to a SatNav unit? Not specifically turn by turn directions, but does it provide a route on a map that can be followed? This would equally be useful whilst running. I travel a fair deal and it is always nice to be able to go out for a run in a strange place and both see where I am and where I want to get back to.

    Any advice on this would be appreciated. Whilst the Motoactv may not be proficient in all aspects of functionality in comparison to units designed for specific activities but it does seem to provide a nice blend of capabilities in one small compact unit.

    Reply
  119. Anonymous

    Posting your queries on the MOTOACTV forum will help get quicker response link to forums.motorola.com

    Reply
  120. Andy

    Don't trust the bike mount.
    I just lost my motoactv during a on-road bike ride.
    I think it jump off my bike during a descend.

    Reply
  121. Thanks for the review, one of the most comprehensive reviews I've seen so far.

    My assumption is you can tailor what Data is displayed during a ride, am I right to assume this?

    I currently have Suunto HR Monitor and pods, and the only reason I'm considering getting either the Garmin Edge or maybe the MotoActv, is I'd like to monitor my Cadence real time. The Suunto is able to do this, but it's hard to see during my early morning rides. So can i choose as to what data sets are displayed on the screen during a ride?

    Any help with this is greatly appreciated

    Reply
  122. Kahlil, yes, you can customize the live data metrics screen to display anywhere between 3 and 6 data metrics. Time and Distance are always displayed, so you can choose anywhere from 1 to 4 additional metrics to display from among a list of 34 in the latest software, of course one of those being Cadence (assuming you have an ANT+ cadence sensor, of course).

    Also, the device has an ambient light sensor, so it automatically turns on the backlight in dark ambient conditions (at low brightness so as to conserve battery life), and turns off the backlighting in bright ambient conditions where it's not needed.

    Reply
  123. Great review! The device can also handle sms and call notification, but I think on android only. I'd love to see how that works as it would be incredibly valuable, but don't want to get a droid if it's sub-par, etc. See the link below.

    Brien

    link to motorola-global-portal.custhelp.com

    Reply
  124. Hey Ray,

    we had a little exchange on this watch yesterday via twitter.
    My 910XT is ordered and the MotoActv went the eBay way last week!
    Biggest issues with the Motoactv:
    - no vibe/beep on laps
    - little adjustability of screens for the run (pick and change metrics to be displayed)
    - not compatible with standard glove usage
    - got my distances wrong by a lot a few times (20k instead of 23k...)
    - dropped heart rate band signal and could not find it again
    - all these beautiful maps and no 'Back home' function like in Garmin watches?
    - annoying website with way too many ads - Motorola, tone down all that selling on the site! It's about the workouts and the data. That's enough.
    - little detail of history of previous workouts (e.g. Garmin offers total history, individual workouts etc.)

    On the bright side:
    - excellent pairing with all ANT+ sensors - Garmin, take a note here and improve your stuff!
    - WIFI sync is brilliant and really convenient
    - quite frequent update activity (but which could also mean they rushed to launch in a somewhat beta state...)
    - nice color screen (but with the downsides on battery life)
    - picks up satellites way quicker than my current 405 Forerunner
    So, all in all I think we agree on the key points but I think you may have been a bit too positive in your conclusions on usage for slightly more advanced, less casual runners/athletes.
    Anyway, now I can't wait for the 910XT to arrive, I am sure I will love that one!

    Reply
  125. Hey Ray,

    They seem to have added support for Wahoo Blue HR alongside maps for a lot more countries. Could you please test it with Wahoo blur HR and verify if Australian maps are finally available?

    Reply
  126. Anonymous

    Thank you for this awesome review, it's very much appreciated. I have a MOTOACTV on the way and this is amping me up big time.

    Good luck on your fitness!

    -TW

    Reply
  127. Best this motorola or the garmin forerunner 210?? Thanks and what about the battery, 8 hours like i read in the reviews?? Thanks again

    Reply
  128. Hello, great review. I don't know if I missed this but I was wondering if you had to have the heart rate monitor for accurate calories burned and if it calculated calories burned during say a aerobics class?

    Reply
  129. Do you think some new hardware is coming out? I tweeted a message to @motoactv without any response (link to twitter.com). On the Motoactv website (link to motoactv.com), click on the second photo -- it's clearly showing the headphones coming out of the wrong side of the device. Perhaps photoshopped, but @motoactv isn't replying!

    Reply
  130. I really want to get this but price and the battery thing is holding me back. So I thought... You know what...the apps bridge to 10k..couch to 5k..and the higdon half marathon have GPS, play my music, show me current pace, ave pace, time, distance and they coach me on "one mike to go!" etc when I se a distance. I love these aps. All I need is a waterproof armband for the thing. Any reviews of those? Would I look like a weirdo wearing the thing on my lower arm? iPhone needs to make a watch out of my phone!!

    Reply
  131. Thanks for the review. I dont think that it fits my needs (I will go to the garmin 910) but I hope garmin can learn also from this review and enhace their watches as well (liked the wireless sync the tap for fullscreen and the ability to use it as a watch that garmin so lacks. didnt like the waterproofing, battery life and having to buy the wrist for another 30$ ). not sure about using it as player while on wrist and not with armband. this will be solved with bt earphones but it will reduce even less batterg life. one last comment for this site - please remove the feature that makes you jump between reviews through the side of the screen it is horrible.

    Reply
  132. Anonymous

    Does the Motoactv allow you to display 3s, 5s, or 30s average power?

    Reply
  133. George

    Hello, does it has a km mode instead of miles? And, does it displays on the main screen the distance you are running? Or you have to wait to see it n the PC?

    Reply
  134. The MotoActv does support metric as well as imperial measurements. The two items that you will always see on the workout screen is distance and duration.

    Reply
  135. BallofFun

    what a great review! I'm trying to decide between this and garmin 110. I do sometimes run with music, but not that much anymore, could you please give me some advice on which one to go for? Garmin 110 or Motoactiv? Both look good... Thanks!!

    Reply
  136. Anonymous

    oK OK Im convinced. Going to get one now! Ive been thinking about it for over a week but this review was so complete all my inquiries have been fulfilled.

    Reply
  137. Rob

    something can tell me the difference between this motorola and a application for the mobile!! Thanks

    Reply
  138. DC - Got a question regarding your review section on the footpod. You talk about calibrating the pod on a track. I do not see any way to do this. The calibration screen on my MOTOACTV only refers to calibration of the internal accelerometer in the device itself. So while it appears you can pair with a footpod, there does NOT seem to be a way to calibrate said footpod. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Also while running last night the footpod did not appear to take over for the GPS while running outside...in fact when I went down a covered bridge ramp my pace went from 5 min miles to 20 min miles...so I don't think I was getting any help from the footpod at all.

    Reply
  139. C - Got a question regarding your review section on the footpod. You talk about calibrating the pod on a track. I do not see any way to do this. The calibration screen on my MOTOACTV only refers to calibration of the internal accelerometer in the device itself. So while it appears you can pair with a footpod, there does NOT seem to be a way to calibrate said footpod. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Also while running last night the footpod did not appear to take over for the GPS while running outside...in fact when I went down a covered bridge ramp my pace went from 5 min miles to 20 min miles...so I don't think I was getting any help from the footpod at all.

    Reply
  140. I have always liked reading your blogs, but I must with some dissapointment note that I recently bought the MOTOACTV based on your positive review. I just noticed that some of the functions you mentioned do not seem to be on my watch. Then I went back through your review and noticed that several paragraphs are taken word for word from older reviews. For example...the footpod section of the Garmin 610 is EXACTLY the same as the MOTOACTV. Did you actually review this calibration? I know your reviews are lengthy to write. But inaccuracies like this really discredit the rest of your information. Especially consumers are using your advice to make pricey purchases.

    Reply
  141. Hi CMOS-

    I should update that section. Initially, on the unit I wrote this on - I believed that the calibration screen was referring to the footpod (since that was logical and my understanding in talking with some of the guys working on it) - which is why I reference later in that section that the speed issues with the footpod needing to be fixed (they were subsequently fixed).

    I've gone ahead and made that correction. Sorry about that!

    I'll check in to see when footpod calibration entry (manual and/or automated) is scheduled to be added.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  142. I bought and love this unit.. far better than any garmin device, but (and this is a BIG but, so big that I'm returning it)...
    Very innacurate readings.
    See below comparing MOTOACTV with my GARMIN 705

    and I know the garmin distance to be correct since I know the roads pretty well, and I created the routes using google maps

    I expect some type of difference between GPS devices, for example my iphone using wahoo does not always agree witht he garmin, but the difference is less than 1%... with the MOTOACTV the difference is about 10% !!!!

    With errors like these, the unit is pretty much useless

    MOTOACTV (34 mi): link to motoactv.com

    GARMIN (30 mi): link to connect.garmin.com

    MOTOACTV (44 mi): link to motoactv.com

    GARMIN (40 mi): link to connect.garmin.com

    MOTOACTV (48 mi): link to motoactv.com

    GARMIN (43 mi): link to connect.garmin.com

    Anyone with similar experiences with the MOTOACTV?

    Reply
  143. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  144. Anonymous

    I noticed a major difference in calories burned while using the Motoactv compared to Polar RX5 and Garmin 410. I went for a run wearing all three to confirm findings. Garmin 1068 cals, Polar 910 cals, and Motoactv 550 cals. Why is this and which one would be the most accurate on calories burned.

    Reply
  145. Anonymous

    Hi,

    Thanks for all of info you provide. I was wondering do you think the Garmin Forerunner bike mount would work for the MotoActv if it is already mounted to the wrist strap? I able able to find the Garmin mount locally whereas the MotoActv mount has been tough to find.

    Thanks

    TJ

    Reply
  146. Hi TJ-

    No issues, it'll work fine with the Garmin mount. Enjoy!

    Reply
  147. Google is not answering my prayers on this one, maybe someone who has used both here can answer. I am torn between the Garmin Forerunner 610 and the Motoactv and can't decide.

    What would you guys recommend? The accuracy of the data (calories burned and GPS) is paramount.

    Reply
  148. well, yeah, bummer with the waterproofing. It should be waterproof at least to 10 m, otherwise it's pretty much useless to me as a triathlete, windsurfer and diver. I can take my Suunto Core on dives, but for everything else I don't want to be swapping watches. Really a pity, since it has already been rooted, you should be able to make it do whatever you want. Except going for a swim. I don't think my money would be a big enough incentive for Moto, but I'll keep that in my wallet at least until a waterproof housing comes out.

    Reply
  149. SEE MY AMAZON PRODUCT COMMENTS

    I have exhausted all efforts to obtain proper support from Moto on this product. I have basically thrown it in the garbage. The final response was that the unit has been tampered with and had water damage. Be aware - this unit comes with an exposed jack for headphones with NO protection. Even though i ordered separately the plug immediately upon buying it and used it, this unit still had moisture damage per Motorola.

    I never ran with this unit in the rain and only cleaned it off as ANYONE would do with a sweaty dirty device. wet cloth and then dried.

    Therefore if you sweat, don't run in the rain, but do clean your devices with a wet rag or towel, you will end up with a product that stops working.

    Motorola support is absolutely horrible. The return process did not even clearly state why the unit failed but in fact showed a Cell Phone error reference. I had to escalate the return of the device to me to second level support who after five days, called me back, left a message, and said the unit was damaged by me and it was my fault. They would do nothing else.

    I have used Suunto, Polar, Garmin, and now Moto. I will NEVER purchase a Moto fitness product again. I wasted nearly 300 USD in the unit and accessories for what was clearly a poorly designed product. Motorola has no business being in this fitness business. Stick with your Garmins and Polar and Suunto devices and carry a mp3 player. The Motoactv is garbage. go to the Moto forums and you will see similar complaints by others of this same problem. the rest of it is just gimmicky software for music and fitness.

    I bought it because the concept is a GREAT one by combining both music and fitness in one device and incorporating social networking.

    BTW - I will not even begin to go into all of the webportal issues, the workout bugs, battery life issues generally, and overall technically buggy nature of the device. If you are considering the device you should stop now, soley because the device WILL cease to function with normal everyday use and it will be considered YOUR fault. Bugs in software are tolerable so long as the company is actively releasing firmware to correct.

    Reply
  150. Awesome review~ I've recently received my MOTOACTV, but haven't had a chance to use it all that much. I've been looking at the accessories, and will read through your review to see your take on them. Thanks!

    Reply
  151. brady

    I just bought a MOTOACTV last night after reading this review. I've been on the fence since I first saw it in March, mainly because I wasn't sure if I *really* needed it; I've been using a Garmin 305 for years, which seemed to do many of the same things.. until I read this review, which highlighted more advantages/differences.

    I've done two workouts so far and my main concern was/is battery life. I did a 1hr 10min run this morning on the Extended mode, and it uses approx 20%. No music playing. Really looking to get 4hrs minimum (for a marathon)--4.5 would make me more comfortable. I will try the Marathon Mode next to measure the battery life. If it can't comfortably last four hours, I will still keep it, but will have a hard time recommending it to friends, since most people I know ride 4-5hours regularly, and do marathons/long distance triathlons.

    I paid $249 from Best Buy for the 8GB version. The packaging was different than shown in the review. Came with the wrist band and the clip attachments, headphones (wired), the MOTO unit itself, charger and instruction manuals.

    So far so good. It's a pretty awesome piece here. With a no BS, 5-6hr battery life, it would be a done deal.. but I have some anxiety at this point. Looks like a work of art otherwise--well done Motorola!

    Reply
  152. brady

    And I would like to add--the ability to pair with other ANT+ devices is awesome. What a great move. I would hate to have to buy two HRMs, or another cadence sensor, or all this Motorola specific stuff. I have enough gear sitting around my house! Combine that with now that when you buy the MOTOACTV it comes with a wrist band--thus saving $30 that most will have to spend--it's a pretty killer deal.

    Reply
  153. Royce

    Ray you mentioned not wanting to have to hit buttons to turn the display on during a ride/run, is there a fix for this beyond settings> display> screen timeout, setting it to the max of 30 minutes?

    Reply
  154. Anonymous

    What a thoughrough review. Thank you for all this! I have been debating this versus a garmin watch and your review helped me decide on this device for a number of reasons. Great level of detail! :)

    Reply
  155. Question regarding text and phone usage. Once linked, would I be able to leave my Motorla smartphone at home or in the car during my runs and still receive realtime text and calls?

    Reply
  156. JE

    As usual, a terrific review. I'd like to add a couple of things with respect to calorie counts on the MotoActv. For some reason, my cycling calorie counts on the MotoActv are up to 4 times higher than my Garmin Edge 500 or my Garmin Forerunner 210. Same settings for weight, etc. Same heart rate zones. I've been using the MotoActv concurrently with the Garmins running off the same heart rate sensor. For example, where the Garmins return around 800 cals, the MotoActv will indicate I burned 2,700+. The MotoActv has the latest software update.
    However for running the calorie counts are very close. I'm now using "other outdoor" workouts for cycling, because the calorie counts there are also very close.
    Motorola reps have asked me to send up the donwloaded metrics for those workouts, but haven't heard back from them yet. Interestingly in a cycling workout, I get these speed spikes to 122 mph which I don't get in "other outdoors" while cycling.

    Reply
  157. JE

    I recently posted regarding the calorie anomalies that I was getting from my MotoActv. After a lot of headaches trying to get the calorie counts to a reasonable number, (always too high in the cycling mode only) Motorola suggested I send the unit in for evaluation/repair. My unit is an evaluation unit that Motorola gave to our bike club and it was thought that maybe it was somehow defective.

    As it turns out, the unit is not defective, and the anomalous readings came from my Garmin speed/cadence sensor. After disabling just the speed sensor, the calorie reading dropped to about 10-25 percent higher than my Garmin Edge 500 and just about on par with my Forerunner 210. When I disabled both the speed and cadence sensor, my calorie counts were lower than the Forerunner 210 and just about on par with the Edge 500. Also, I no longer have bike rides where the MotoActv said I had a maximum speed of 122 mph!

    I don't know if my Garmin Speed/Cadence Sensor is defective; it doesn't seem to have any effect on the metrics from my Garmin units whether on or off. I'm going to beg or borrow another speed/cadence sensor to see if the MotoActv calorie metrics stay the same.

    Reply
  158. I have a question about how to set it up for the Bike/T2/Run type setup to where i could quickly switch over to run display from bike? I use the bike mount and then switch it onto my wrist strap just before transition. Any way i can have it set up for 1 or click- switch to run display. Thanks!!

    Reply
  159. Hi Ray! Thanks for great review, I recently got motoactv and ran a small comparison with garmin fr610. Motoactv seems to be off calorie wise by large amount. So I wonder whether they are using different algorithms and whether you could compare them and test it out?

    Reply
  160. Beware - not very water or sweat resistant and wouldn't take return!!

    Pretty peeved about this, DC, you were right on in terms of the waterproofing being shoddy. I used the watch for a month to run and bike. I ran in the rain with it once and did rinse it under the shower head very quickly 3 or 4 times to get the sweat off it after long workouts. However, I never dropped or immersed it or anything. The power button stopped working and the screens started flashing without me doing anything after 1 month. I contacted Motorola and after 4 correspondences and me sending in the unit they are refusing to refund or replace the unit saying it is not meant to be in the rain or for anyone that "sweats heavily". In my opinion, not a very suitable running watch then and I think it's been falsely advertised.

    Otherwise the watch was awesome, but if you have one or are planning on getting one and do some intense workouts or live in a hot area then you might want to reconsider. The customer service was extremely disorganized and unhelpful as well.

    Reply
  161. g'day mate!

    Reply
  162. Thanks for the reviews

    Reply
  163. Anonymous

    Absolutely brilliant review, could not have asked for anything more comprehensive, I never leave reviews but have made the exception for this

    Reply
  164. Mike

    Hi, I used this review to chose the motoactv and thought a word of warning was needed. I have one and a friend has one. His has suffered water damage from sweat twice in 6 months. My unit fell out of the Motorola bike mount on a flat road! On examining the mount it was defective. Motorola won't take responsibility for either problem

    I love the unit and want it to be good but three things stop it. Its not resistant to sweat or any type of moisture, it is very delicate and customer service is shocking. Have a look at the comments on the forum and in my experience they are accurate.

    The concept is good and when it is working its great but the fact is that it will break and when it does Motorola will not help. I am off to buy a Garmin.

    Reply
  165. I've had my Motoactv since early February and have run and biked with it multiple times per week since. At this point I would absolutely not recommend this watch to anyone. I've had problems with the user interface on the watch dropping out of workout mode in the middle of a run or ride. I've had terrible accuracy problems on trails and in tree cover where my Forerunner comes pretty close to the published trail distances but the Motoactv isn't even close. And to top it off, the headphone jack has predictably stopped working due to to moisture damage. Motorola's response is that I shouldn't have been sweating when I wore the watch. Motorola's support has been very difficult to work with, and posting to their forums about problems is just preaching to the choir; instead of getting a helping response from Motorola or another user of the product you just get a dozen responses about how everyone else has the same problems.

    In my opinion this is a terrible product that no one should waste their money on. It was a fun experiment to try out, but now that the headphone jack on the Motoactv doesn't work my 4 year old Forerunner beats the Motoactv in every way.

    Reply
  166. Anonymous

    It's ridiculous when you compare it to Sony Ericsson which managed to waterproof a whole phone and make it work underwater. Motorola has designed gadget for endurance athletes and did not take care of sweat!

    Reply
  167. Anonymous

    Rainmaker: Someone asked a question about whether this device will support advanced workouts ala the Garmin 205/305/405 etc series, didn't see an answer. This is one of the most important features of a GPS watch for me (as well as audio/vibratory alerts WITHOUT headphones - which I think this device does not have).

    Reply
  168. @Ray - Is there any chance you could conduct an updated review of the Motoactv?

    Aside from me, I know a lot of people are interested in the long term potential of this device. Many of us are also interested in knowing how the Motorola updates are improving the device, if at all. Comments are all over the place about the Motoactv, which makes the decision to purchase VERY difficult.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  169. I purchased a Motoactv a few months ago for the Golf GPS portion. Not realizing the other benefits is has. There are defiantly Great things, good things, not so good and things that need serious improvement.
    Great things-
    • I really enjoy the MP3 Player- One my bike I actually velcroed a 3.5mm headphone cable to a small battery powered speaker I purchased from EBay for a couple of dollars. The speaker sits in my bag and as I am riding I can adjust the volume and change songs. The MP3 also works really well with a wireless Bluetooth headset. The controls are simple and effective.
    • Motoactv competitions- You can compete with other people around the world for things like most distance, calories burned and other things.
    • It will count steps per minute with a built in pedometer.
    • Updates- Since its android based there is no limit to improvements that can be made to the software. Issues and be fixed with just a simple download.
    Good things
    • The quick release is very nice going from bike to run. Sometimes its hard to remove from the watch band.
    • The screen and data organization- The screen is very easy to see and it shows six items which is nice. The touch can be either too sensitive or not enough at times. If you bump it you may find yourself stopping your workout or on another screen. Sometimes when you want to go back to the home screen you have to keep pressing the screen. Typically this happens when your hands are sweaty.
    • Works with all Ant+ items from Garmin. I have used the heart rate strap and cadence/speed sensor without an issue.
    Not so good
    • This watch is really not the right watch for a triathlete- there is no swim ability at all which is fine at this point, but I can’t even do a swim workout and then manually input it into the Motorola website.
    • You are unable to edit workouts on their website(at least I can’t figure it out.)
    • The watch is not durable… It’s got a glass screen and all it will take is one drop the right way to break it.
    Need serious improvement
    • Motoactv Website- There are so many things that need to be improved. Overall its flashy and organized well but it just does not work well. I have had multiple issues just logging in. I have used more than one computer and IE, Chrome and Firefox and have the same issues. Although Firefox seems to work the best. The website is extremely slow. Sometimes taking minutes to change screens.

    Overall I think it’s a good product and I would guess that the next version has some nice improvements on the design. I would wait for it.

    Reply
  170. Anonymous

    Dear Rainmaker

    I am from Singapore.Found your review most comprehensive.

    Question : how do i set up the audio coach.

    Thanks

    Reply
  171. Great review, i was just wondering if you would consider the Motorola MOTOACTV to be better than the Garmin Forerunner 110?

    Reply
  172. Yup, easily. It just has tons more features. And with the update, the battery life is equal.

    Now, the only catch - and it's a biggie - is the waterproofing. While the FR110's isn't high grade, it's definitely far superior to the Motoactv.

    Reply
  173. What about the Forerunner 210? How do they compare in terms of GPS accuracy?

    (Different person that before, but similar question. Great review, by the way!)

    Reply
  174. It's generally in the same ballpark from what I've seen. I saw some early on GPS accuracy issues, but for the most part those seem resolved to me (or, at least, I've lucked into not getting them).

    The FR210 has consistently ranked the highest in my accuracy tests of any unit out there. But, the Motoactv hasn't taken part in those tests yet (it just missed it last year due to release timing).

    Reply
  175. I really can't decide between the Forerunner 210 and the motoactv. They both have mixed reviews and for some the motoactv breaks quickly due to sweat damage.Have you had any trouble with this and should I wait for version 2

    Reply
  176. Given the Motoactv product group seems to have been disbanded, and that they at this point won't confirm that the product has been halted (No PR team would ever say "No comment" to a front page rumor that your product has been discontinued...unless it has), I'd go the way of the FR210.

    Just my two cents...

    Reply
    • Jonathan replied

      Even if the product is being discontinued there's a significant upside to purchasing. The $149 price tag (with wrist strap) and $11 bike mount, both on Amazon, and the latest update gives golf gps functionality. It's a shame if it really is the end of the road for the Motoactv but it remains the ONLY ant+ device that will pair and upload with Android phones across the board (till Viiiiva HR consolidation strap is released). The device isnt perfect but its a LOT of functionality for the new price.

      Reply
  177. Thanks for the quick answer but I will only be using for running and the motoactv 160 at the moments as where the 210 is around 200 dollars.

    Reply
  178. I went ahead and grabbed a MOTOACTV since they are so cheap. I have only ever used my phone for my bike gps, and wanted something a bit more accurate for not too expensive. I am wondering how does a speed sensor effect GPS accuracy on the recorded track data? Or does it at all? Do devices like this show the data when its using the speed sensor, but throw the data away? Wondering if I should scrap my purchase of the moto and just bump up to the edge 500.

    Reply
  179. rom

    The HRM on this device gets a reading from an ANT+ HRM strap. If it does not get another reading it will not flat line the reading as a Garmin watch would do. So essentially it is displaying stale data. I went for a fast walk with it for a few mins and it was still saying my HR was 72 as it was at the start. At least the garmin does not lie to me when ti does not receive updates in a timely manner. If you were to get a reading and then to take the HRM off the strap I wonder what the timeout of the readings is. It is way way too long. 2/3 mins plus where Garmin is maybe 5/10 secs.

    Reply
  180. Tim

    Hi DCR long time reader.....
    I'm curious if you know whether the Bluetooth Smart / LE stuff will be able to "broadcast" to multiple devices the way Ant+ can.
    I'm predominantly a cyclist, who dreams of doing more running and some more triathlons, so have been contemplating a wrist mounted (910XT or similar), but also want a "bare bones" type display on the handlebars.
    Thinking about a Bontrager Node for speed/cadence/hr and the wrist unit for "logging and strava etc"
    with Ant+ I *think* this would work (if I've grasped everything properly).

    However I have an iPhone 5, and BLE looks like it may be the "next standard", so I'm wondering if I wait for BLE, or jump on Ant+ now or.......

    did that make any sense?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I know what you mean.

      Unfortunately, that's the one thing that BLE can't do: Multi-display units. It's a problem. And it won't be fixed anytime soon. In talking with folks on the BLE Sport Panel, the earliest they're looking at addressing it will be in 4.1, and there's a push for that to lie as a hardware update, so all new hardware. Kinda a bummer.

      Today you can pair multiple devices to other BLE devices, but it'll only actively stream data to one of them. Of course, as you know, with ANT+, you can pair and stream multidevices.

      Reply
    • Tim replied

      Thanks Ray,
      sounds like Ant+ might be a better option for now then.
      Shame noone seems to be bringing out iPhone 5 stuff that doesn't need the extra adapter etc (ie. Ant+ receiver and so on).
      Oh well, I guess thats the joy's of proprietry hardware in any flavour.

      Cheers, and keep up the good work!
      Tim

      Reply
    • Tim replied

      I also just stumbled across the Wahoo RFLKT just to further confuse issues.....
      Figured I'd mention it here in case anyone else stumbles across this in searching for a setup also.

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      link to wahoofitness.com

      Why can't I have my cake and it eat it too?

      Reply
  181. Tim

    mmkay, maybe I can have my cake and eat it too...... if I'm patient.
    in here you mention RFLKT possibly getting Ant+
    I think this would do what I want (as far as my original query of using a 910XT for everything except swimming)

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    last one I promise (or you might kick me off your blog :-D )

    Reply
  182. Ned

    I have small wrists just wondering if the wrist strap that comes with motoactv will fit my wrists. to get an idea of my size wrist the fr60 fitted me on the third last notch.

    Reply
  183. Elie

    Thanks for the great review ! With the new firmware, does the Motoactv allow you to display 3s, 5s, or 30s average power?

    Reply
  184. Jo

    Hi

    This is a fantastic review and one that swayed me to purchase my Motoactv. I love the device but cant help but feel that i am not using it to it's full potential :-)

    It collects so much data and easily uploads to the Motoactv portal - but the portal is clunky and doesn't seem to allow goal setting and a range of other features or data viewing.

    Am i missing something? Or am do i need to find another way to view the data?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it's a bit limited, as noted above.

      You can use a 3rd party site or application, such as Training Peaks to get a bit more out of it.

      Reply
  185. Bruce

    Hi. Quick question on motoactv + footpod combination. The review seems to contradict itself or at least it's a little confusing. At first it says "Outdoors it’s useful if your route takes you through a tunnel where you’d lose GPS reception" suggesting GPS takes precedence and the footpod is a fallback (which seems preferrable) but a bit later it says "Note that on the Motoactv, if the footpod is used outdoors it’ll override GPS for both speed and distance – so be sure you’ve got it configured correctly ahead of time" suggesting (with the word OVERRIDE) that if you pair a footpod with the device it won't use GPS. Am I correct in assuming GPS would always take precedence when available? Thanks for the great review!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It works the same way as the Garmin units, which means that essentially 'If GPS speed = zero, then use footpod'.

      Note that a later firmware update corrected the issue with the footpod overruling the GPS for regular running.

      Reply
  186. Bruce

    Awesome! Thanks so much Ray! Didn't expect a 3 minute turnaround!!

    Reply
  187. Spaniard

    Hello,

    I'm really interested in MOTOACTV device, but I cannot find anywhere the answer: Could I get into Motoactv a GPS track (GPX, KML, KMZ) from google earth or other device to follow it?

    I think that this is very important for mountain biking.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Dirk replied

      No, that´s not possible (with the original firmware).

      Reply
  188. Peter Cooney

    Hi,

    I am interested in the Moto Activ as it seems to do all that I need but I believe it has been discontinued.
    Any update on a new version?

    Thanks,
    Pete

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There are no plans for a follow-up device from everything I've heard. The team has largely been dismantled, and things are pretty much in disarray following the buyout from Google.

      Reply
  189. A.J. Mesalic

    This is probably blasphemy among us tri-geeks but here goes...I don't quite understand why the MotoActv hasn't gotten more attention as a very capable multisport watch alternative to the 910xt. Bear with me while i explain: I'm reading about 910xt's breaking off the QR wrist straps while swimming, so some/many owners on SlowTwitch report just using it as a bike/run watch, or not using the QR and having to turn your wrist to see bike stats. None of this seems ideal. If indeed I'm happy with the race organizer's swim split (I am), why not use a MotoActv as a bike/run watch? It goes quickly from a bike mount to the wrist mount. The battery life seems fine to me so far, and the worries about port leakage are no worry to me - but I do live in the desert. In a pool I use an old $95 Swimovate lap counting watch and it's pretty reliable; plus can be worn all day.

    I used the MotoActv web portal today to configure a "run then bike" brick and it recorded one then the other after I pressed the magic buttons. Out came two TPX files that went up to Strava no problem. I don't know Ray, for the $120 that I paid for this item on eBay it's not clear why the whiz-bang 910xt is needed for $400. Is the latter, with no music on board and no BLE capability, really worth a multiple of the MotoActv's price? I don't think so. Too bad Motorola abandoned it but I think this item is a real bargain while it can still be found.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It really comes down to waterproofing. Swimming with it will kill it, and for many wanting a full multisport device, that's a deal killer.

      I agree that the Motoactv had incredible capabilities, it's just that it's been shelved. And with that, folks don't want to buy into a 'dead' product unfortunately.

      Reply
  190. A.J. Mesalic

    I can assure you, my unit is quite alive and well! For those looking to save a couple-few hundo and not needing open water swim mapping, the MotoActv has its place. Plus streaming music to a BT wireless headset from it is pretty darn nice, especially when running. Thanks for the reply.

    Reply
  191. Hanski

    I have been using my unit for a year most for running (indoor and outdoor) and biking and i love it !

    Reply
  192. Paul Frylink

    Just thought i would share my experience with this device.

    I bought a Motoactv in August 2012 and used it almost daily before it stopped working 2 weeks ago (Feb 2013). The cause of the failure was short circuit / button failure from accumulated moisture from sweat and humidity - I live in sub tropical Brisbane Australia, so humidity is a constant issue.

    Fortunately, I only paid $150 for the device which I guess is quite expensive for 6 months use.
    I absolutely loved this device while it worked and it will leave a big hole in my workouts until something similar comes along.

    I have my trusty and bombproof Timex global trainer to fall back on, but I got so used to :-
    - Very fast GPS fix
    - Wireless/bluetooth connectivity
    - Colour and very readable touch screen
    - Proper mapping (quite small, but I actually used it while out for long rides)
    - Mp3 player

    The WearIT watch looks promising, but how far away is that and will it suffer the same problems...

    Reply
  193. elou

    Comparison chart has "COPYRIGHT http://WWW.DCRAINMAKER.COM - UPDATED 3.7.2013 @ 11:02 AM"
    Are you sure? (missing summer?)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry, what's wrong? March 7th, 2013 - 11:02AM. All times/dates US Eastern time.

      Reply
    • A.J. Mesalic replied

      In some parts of the world 3.7.2013 means July 3, 2013. Probably not the right thread to post that question.

      Reply
  194. Dominik J.

    i am really curious about the water proofing, is it so bad?

    i use my ipod nano with a fake leather cover (smthg like this link to geheimshop.de) every day for workout (running/indoor/outdoor/general workout at gym), bind at my hips between skin and shorts (i know, very amateurish.... but it never bothers me). same configuration when its raining. never had any issue with the ipod and it does not have any water proof rating... how could be a somehow water resistant watch more worse? O_o

    180 € for a watch that works only for half a year is not what i am looking for...

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's really not good. A lot of people have issues with it.

      Reply
    • Richard replied

      I've had mine for about 18 months, and with the exception of the headphones, which failed the first week I haven't had any water issues. I only use it for running, but I live in Mexico so I sweat a lot. Additionally I've used it in the rain a lot including some heavy downpours where I've been running for over an hour with no problems. Yes "some" people on the forums claim problems, but as it's not know how many were sold it's not possible to know what percentage this represents. I feel the "horrible" rating the device has been given for waterproofing is unjustified. Of course the Motoactv is now obsolete so I guess it's all a bit irrelevant.

      Reply
  195. Satrapo

    Hello from Rome, Italy!

    I am recovering from a bad ankle injury and for a couple of months my workout will run run and run!

    I read all the reviews but I'm still undecided, I need a fast and stable gps fix, good gps accuracy and the possibility of using a heart rate monitor and foot pod.

    Forerunner 210, Motorola MOTOACTV, Nike + GPS watch .. or what?

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I would narrow it down to the FR210 or the Motoactv. The challenge I have with the Motoactv is that at this point it's a 'dead' product. No further development on either the unit, or the platform. So the long term vision is a bit blunt.

      Reply
    • Satrapo replied

      Thanks a lot for your reply.. I can buy a brand new FR410 with heart rate monitor for £132, I know it is older than the FR210 but it will be a better choiche at this price? The GPS accuracy is the same?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It does have more functionality, but many people find the FR410 touch bezel somewhat frustrating.

      Reply
    • Adam replied

      I'm in the same boat as Satrapo as I get ready to start training for the MCM. I have narrowed it down to the 210 or the Nike+ watch and was wondering why you chose the 210 over the Nike+?

      BTW, thanks for the extremely in-depth product/race reviews!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The main reason is that the Nike+ 'ecosystem' is really just Nike. So nothing is compatible with it - be it most 3rd party apps, or hardware like the footpod/heart rate strap, etc.. All those require you to purchase Nike specific items, rather than just generic ANT+ items. Also, if down the road you want to upgrade - there's not really any choices. Whereas with the FR210, all your accessories will still work with a Garmin, Timex, Magellan, etc... watch/bike computer and so on.

      On the software side, while Nike has semi-recently opened up the software a bit to 3rd parties, the reality is that there are only a handful of apps utilizing this new connection. Whereas with 3rd party apps, every app/site on the internet reads a Garmin file.

      Reply
  196. Love your reviews. IMMENSELY helpful. Just wanted to share a related story pertaining to bestbuy. I bought my FR610 a Costco. Filled out the merch slip, paid, went to merch pickup. Employee could not find it after two 10 minute searches. I asked if I could go in help him look as I know what to look for. DEE-NIED!!Anyway, I peeked my head in through the door, and saw an amazingly organized room. (I'm absolutely OCD about organization). Racks and stacks of computers, cameras, and various small electronics and other things. And there, in the middle of it all was the jewelry/watch section rack. I mentioned to the employes that it was a watch. He seemed surprised. But it took him merely 30 seconds to find my item when he had more than just "Garmin" and a stock number to go from.He kept apologizing as he was searching the GPS units. I told him, "no worries, eh. The name Garmin may have been a bit misleading for a watch " (I wanted to make a couch potato comment, but refrained). Oh,and if you check out my blog (shameless elf promotion), there isn't much there yet. Just getting back into biking after a seven year hiatus. Having the right equipment is certainly motivating, and you helped me find my right equipment. You rock!!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks, glad I could help!

      Reply
  197. I have a love/hate relationship with my MotoActv. When it works, it's excellent, and I'm firmly convinced the device helped me set a PR due to the ability to have voice-guided interval training. I also loved being able to consolidate fitness watch/MP3 player.

    Unfortunately, the water issues seem to be true, and I have a giant black spot (about 3/4") that covers the pace display that randomly grows and shrinks, apparently due to water damage.

    I wish Moto/Google would take another stab at this, but it appears to be a dead product, and I'm unsure whether to go back to Garmin, try run tracking on the iPhone and hope for voice prompts/music integration, or just keep using the motoactiv until it finally gives up the ghost.

    Reply
    • brent replied

      I have the same type of black spot. I had thought it was a broken LCD screen. If it is water then opening it up and srying it out may get rid of it.

      Reply
  198. A.J. Mesalic

    The iPhone with Runmeter or Cyclemeter duplicates the MotoActv's functions including voice-prompted interval training. I use my MotoActv hard, daily, and keep my $700+ iphone 5 out of harm's way. Instead I use the MotoActv I bought on eBay for $120 new which is lighter and goes from handlebars to wrist. The fact that a product team at the manufacturer is not going to make a version 2 doesn't mean you can't still use and enjoy version 1. It's a great bargain!

    The only caveat is that is has a couple of quirky issues with file export if you want a .tcx file to upload to Strava. There is a glitch with the motoactv.com website if you try to export a .tcx file directly where it cuts off the last 5 to 15% of the file. However there are two good workarounds for the quirks. After you sync your workout to their website via WiFi or hardwire, you have to export a csv out of the Workout Stats tab (not the big visible Export button), then upload the .csv file to link to dev.zinu.co.uk to convert it to .tcx (or you can upload the .csv straight to SportTracks or Training Peaks as-is). Sometimes I'll use SportTracks to join files, etc, and then export a .tcx from there. You can also root/jailbreak the device (see link to motoactv.wikispaces.com) and add a utility that auto-creates .tcx files, plus other cool functions like an email program on your wrist - try that on a Garmin!

    Reply
    • Richard replied

      Regarding tcx files on the Motoactv there is a far better option. My watch is rooted
      link to motoactv.wikispaces.com
      and I have installed the Motoactv tcx exporter available here:
      link to forum.xda-developers.com
      This fantastic app will not only dump a tcx file to the root directory of your Motoactv when you finish a workout, but also has options to export the tcx directly to Runkeeper or Dropbox. So it's not necessary to connect the Motoactv to a PC. I rarely visit the Motoactv portal these days, and only use it to program intervals. I'm even thinking of writing an app which will allow me to program intervals on the watch itself.

      Reply
  199. Richard

    Yep it's a bloody shame Google purchased Motorola Mobility last year and dumped the Motoactv. Up to the Google takeover Motorola seemed committed to the product with frequent firmware updates and forum support. Mine is still going strong after 18 months, but I'm wondering what to replace it with. I've read the reviews on this site of new watches like the Timex run trainer 2 and seen what's on the horizon with the new Tom Tom, and from what I've seen those products are a step back. Of course the Motoactv was not perfect, but I really wish someone would take up the mantle and produce another Android based device with similar features, and some improvements such as full waterproofing. Doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon.

    Reply
    • Richard replied

      Sorry A.J. Mesalic just realised you already mentioned rooting and the tcx exporter.

      Reply
  200. blah

    you have to adjust the data sampling/UI refresh rate to get more battery life... I had to adjust it down to every 2 seconds for have it last for my 4+ hour rides.. there is a marathon mode too, but at the default rate I get about the same life outta it (around 2 hours)

    Cheers

    Reply
  201. Paul Frylink

    The wearit watch seems to be getting closer, but no indications of release yet - it may come close to replacing my Motoactv :-
    link to si14.com

    Reply
    • Pat replied

      WearIT looks pretty slick, almost like everything we hoped the MotoActv could be.

      I'd love to see Garmin or someone like that who already has a solid application in place, and deep experience on the hardware side go after a MotoActv-type unit. I can't imagine we're the only ones that loved the promise of an integrated MP3 player, running watch, cycling computer, and general fitness tracker.

      DCR dashed my hopes that the Pebble might fill this gap, so I guess I'll pin my hopes on WearIT for the time being.

      Reply
  202. Richard

    Good news! After months of inactivity the Wearit site has been updated with a lot more juicy details
    link to wearit.it
    So maybe it's close to becoming a reality. I hope so because it looks fantastic, and waterproof too. I''ll be looking forward to Mr Rainmaker getting his hands on one and putting through it's paces.

    Reply
    • paul frylink replied

      Encouraging indeed. They say on the developer page that 200 developer prototypes are available.
      It looks great

      Reply
  203. Brent

    This is a bit strange but i am fairly certain that my motoactv has a power maximum of under 1000 watts. If i put in a good sprint which i can complete at greater than 1000 watts the power reading goes blank. The CP graph is suspiciously flat at just under 1000 watts for the first 15 seconds or so when using the motoactv. When connected to a garmin 510 my sprint will result in greater than 1000 watts by enough margin to see that the problem is the motoactv. It just will not do > 1000 watts..

    Reply
  204. Randy

    I have a MOTOACTV and love it, but the product as a whole really is on its last legs.

    I went out for a run about a month ago with the unit clipped to my waist band. I finished the run with 50 meters of all-out sprinting, and of course the MOTOACTV fell off and the screen shattered when it hit the sidewalk.

    I decided to send the unit in to get repaired, fully expecting to pay $69 for out-of-warranty service. (Considering I only paid $130 originally, it's still a bargain.) Fast forward a week or two, and in the process of switching to a new repair facility in a new state, Motorola apparently misplaced my unit and couldn't even assess it for a repair.

    At that point, they told me they'd happily send me a refurbished unit (at no cost - free repair!), but don't have any in stock. They offered me three options: (1) wait indefnitely to see if they get any more, at which point they'd send me one; (2) get a refund of my original purchase price, or (3) go buy a new one and they'd refund me that amount. I was astonished that they'd offer such generous options.

    I chose option (3). Though I'm now the proud owner of a brand new MOTOACTV, it took quite a bit of searching. These things barely exist in the wild. A few places still sell the unit online, but I didn't trust that they were "authorized retailers". My local running store had a few on the shelf but the girl helping me didn't even know what they were. I got one of their two units, which were being sold at closeout pricing. I've since invested in some bluetooth headphones and plan to keep on using my MOTOACTV until I kill it (again).

    tl;dr version: Motorola service was fantastic, but even they don't have these awesome devices anymore, and they've finally been exhausted from stores too!

    Reply
  205. Adam Halawi

    I purchased a Motoactv on the strength of the very in depth review on these very pages and have been exceptionally happy with its performance but as other people have noted, its waterproofing or even just its splashproofing leaves a lot to be desired and it's ability to connect via bluetooth to my windows phoneis non-exisitent.

    These days, due to water ingress during a particularly rainy run, the start tracking / activity and sleep / wake buttons are crossed. Annoying to say the least. I want to get a new watch but I feel there isn't really anything that comes close to this near two year old tech at present! Am thinking about the Kreyos or have just seen some comments on the wearIT as well which might be suitable - but does anyone know when it might be out?

    If anyone has any other recommendations, other than just buying a new unit then please let me know!

    Reply
    • Richard replied

      Adam There was an article on this site a few weeks back regarding the new Addidas smart run watch
      Here link to dcrainmaker.com
      Personally though, after owning a Motoactv for 2 years and changing to a Garmin 310xt about 4 months back I don't think I'll be switching to the Addidas. The Garmin doesn't have the feature set of the Motoactv or Addidas, but it just works!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's tough. There's not a lot of great options out there with music capabilities. I'd really suggest splitting those roles out.

      Reply
    • Paul Frylink replied

      Adam, like you, I was exceptionally happy with my Motoactiv until it succumbed to moisture and to date, have not been able to find an equivalent.
      Recently, I backed a project on kickstarter called the "Omate" smart watch which looked promising. They have just started shipping - backers should start receiving their watches very shortly, so I am not in a position to comment on its functionality as a sports watch just yet. On paper it looks good, but reality may be completely different.
      The device runs Android 4.2, so at the very least you should be able to (side) load your favourite sports app - Endomondo, Runkeeper, Strava etc. and I am sure developers will create custom apps for it in due course.
      Hopefully, mine should arrive before christmas. Here is the link to the device :-
      link to omate.com

      Reply
  206. Bob

    About having to turn the screen on while running to save battery, a neat feature I think these watch makers should make are something where you twist/shake your wrist to turn the screen on. You know how when you are wearing a watch that's a bit too loose, and it slips around your wrist, so you shake it to get the face back on top? Sort of like that.

    Reply
  207. Darren abbott

    Just bought the motorola motoactv from sweatshop £125 ,after reading the reviews was very excited to get home to charge it up and go for a run , plugged it in nothing will not charge start up just dead , will be taking it back to the shop for my money back tomorrow .... Will be replacing it with a tomtom runner

    Reply
  208. giorgitd

    Woot Sport has this *today only* (15 Feb 14): $80 for 8 Gb refurb, $120 for 8 Gb new and $130 for 16 Gb new. Just FYI. I'm thinking about getting one just to play around with, knowing full well that one rain storm or a sweaty run might kill it.
    link to sport.woot.com
    I also looked into Liquipel, thinking that if it were inexpensive enough, I might go for the 16 Gb, do the Liquipel and hope that it would prevent the incidental water/sweat from killing the Motoactiv. But Liquipel seems to be $60 for practically any personal electronic device, so maybe not for me...
    link to liquipel.com

    Reply
  209. giorgitd

    Woot Sport has this again today (30 March 14), but only 8 Gb models, New, $120 and refurb $100. So, a price *increase* of $20 for the refurb relative to February 2014 (same price for new).

    Reply
  210. giorgitd

    Woot Sport, today (30 April 14) has the 8 Gb version (refurb) for $80+$5 shipping. So, back to mid-Feb pricing. Woot sure is loaded with these!

    Reply
  211. Keshav

    I still want to buy one so If I order one from Amazon would it still work perfectly fine - water issues,battery issues and sync with motoactv and is there any thing similar in the market with some other brand!

    Reply
  212. Sergey

    Hi! I'm wondering about, if there are some other watches that allow you to actually see the map? I think, i've seen some in Suunto, but I have no clue if there is something less expensive?

    Thank you a lot, you have great reviews!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it's the only one with a full color map. The Fenix/Fenix2 you can load a tiny little map of sorts, but not as useful as the Motoactv one.

      Reply
  213. gobber

    what about swimming?

    Reply
    • Paul Frylink replied

      Swimming with the Motoactv will kill it.
      Mine died from moisture ingress through sweat and light rain.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, agree with Paul. It wouldn't last more than a few lengths likely.

      Reply
    • gobber replied

      :-o Tks guys.
      :-)

      Reply
  214. Nick

    I still think the Motoactv was ahead of it's time. It's still my favorite device for running and biking.

    There are a few things that are now incorrect on the review because of update. The app in now compatible with all Android devices. It does call and message notifications from phone. The battery life is much better now with the extended and marathon workout modes. These modes change the update time from 1sec to 2 and 3 seconds. This makes it so I can go for a 3-4 hour run with the screen on and still have 45% battery left.

    Also, you can now upload and download workout information through bluetooth and the phone app. This works with android phones on both mobile data and Wi-Fi.

    You can also create workouts on the phone app.

    Another thing is that it can do basic activity tracking throughout the day with data like calories and steps. It sync this information every night to the Motoactv website.

    There are also developed apps that allow the device to export workouts, automatically on the device, to Runkeeper, Google Drive, Dropbox, as well as post to Facebook through Runkeeper.

    Again, I still haven't found anything that I like as much as the Motoactv, and unless big changes come around on other devices, it seems like I never will.

    The only thing I'm worried about is that the Motoactv website will shut down and I wont be able to create interval workouts.

    Is there anything out there that you think could replace the Motoactv for me?

    Reply
    • Paul Frylink replied

      Nick,

      I am with you on the Motoactv being ahead of its time.
      Sadly I got less than 6 months use out of mine before I killed it with moisture.
      It has been well over a year now since it died and it has left a lasting impression on me – I have been patiently waiting for something similar to come along.

      About 4 months ago, I dropped my Timex global trainer and broke the on/off button, so that left me with no GPS running watch. I bought a Magellan/Mio Cyclo 505 for my bike and also ended up running with it in my hand until my Omate arrived (see below).

      Contendors for me have been :-
      - Anothor Motoactv Hesitant due to moisture issues and obsolescence
      - Wearit Seems to be vapourwear – have been following this one for over 2 years now and nothing is happening with it
      - Leikr Seems a bit big / only IPX67
      - Adidas smart Gps accuracy / waterproofing, price and battery life uncertainties turn me off

      I have been watching (ha ha) the developments in the smartwatch market (Android wear etc), but so far disappointed :-
      - Samsung gear No GPS
      - LG G watch No GPS
      - Samsung gear live No GPS
      - Motorola 360 Due out soon, but probably no GPS
      - Samsung Gear solo Rumoured Smart phone/watch – who knows?

      I know you can pair these with a phone, but what is the point? That means I have to take 2 devices for a run!

      1 month ago, my Omate Truesmart watch arrived in the mail. I backed this on Kickstarter last September – it took 9 months for my reward to arrive!
      Ray has a fair bit to say about Kickstarter projects, and I understood the risks when I backed this regarding delays and change in specs etc.

      So I was pleasantly surprised when it finally arrived – quality and functionality are great.
      It is essentially an android smartphone on your wrist (it has its own Sim card). It is not too big and while it is ‘weighty’ it is not too heavy.
      Being Android, you can run any available running app you chose – I have tried a few and currently use Strava but I need to research a few more apps to find one I can configure the screen the way I want. My eyesight is not what it used to be, so I struggle to read the tiny screen.
      No ANT+ unfortunately, but apparently Bluetooth LE is coming …
      It has regular Bluetooth, so I can stream music/radio to my Cynaps cap while out for a run.

      While this sounds like a glowing review (and I do love my Omate), would I recommend it as a sport watch? – NO
      Why?
      - It is not a sports watch – it is a smart phone
      - Waterproofing – supposed to be IPX67, but users are experiencing issues with moisture. I wouldn’t trust it near water.
      - Support (or lack thereof) – being a startup company, there is currently no network of support. If it breaks you’re on your own.
      - Battery life. It is OK for what it is trying to do – after all, it has 3G,GPS,WIFI,Bluetooth a colour touchscreen. I charge it daily just like my regular smart phone. The longest I have used it as a sport watch is 90 minutes – with 3G, GPS and Bluetooth going, it consumed over 50% of the battery. Turn off 3G and Bluetooth and you undoubtedly get better life.

      So, that’s the state of play for me.

      Reply

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