The Weekend: Motorola MOTOACTV, Zeo Mobile, Jawbone Up, long battery tests

I didn’t exactly plan on having as many different gadgets arrive this weekend as occurred – it just sorta happened.  But holy cow – there’s some really cool stuff in here!  Like increda-cool.

I can’t wait to get full in depth product reviews up!

In no particular order, here we go!

Motorola MOTOACTV:

The new Motorola Motoactv was supposed to arrive Saturday morning – in time for my mile repeats on Saturday afternoon, but, it didn’t.  Well, it didn’t arrive to my house anyway.  It arrived a dozen houses away.  On a Sunday morning stroll I went and found it.  But by that time I had ended up already ordering one for local store pickup at a nearby Best Buy.  So now I have two.

I did find it funny to compare the ‘Media Reviewer’ box (back) to the regular store box (front):


The only notable difference between the two boxes was the gigantic box also included the wrist strap, arm band and bike mount – neatly displayed in their own cubby holes:


As for the regular box, this:


(Side note: that dual USB port outlet charger is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while)

Now – I’m aiming to see if I can use my regular workouts to get a product review out the door by Wednesday.  Given I’m less than 2 weeks until the Philly Marathon (my A race), this isn’t the time for extra fun workouts.  Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop me for just leaving it on as I wander around town.


As you can see, it’s got a map.  Yes, a map.  With real streets on it.  None of this useless map stuff that Garmin includes with their Edge units by default.  It uses the Open Street Maps and by default it includes all of North America, some of Central America and portions of South America.  You can via the Motoactv.com site download the rest of Europe for free.  And, since the files appear to be open-standard, it looks like you can get other places as well on it, relatively easily. I’ll find out about that in the next day or so (for Asia, Africa, etc…)


The user interface is clear, crisp and quick.  You can customize data fields with up to four fields (though only one data page worth – I’d like to see 2-4 pages).


One thing I love is that when you connect to ANT+ sensors, it shows you all available sensors – and their device ID.  That way you don’t have to run far away from anyone else who might be wearing a strap to pair, you just choose which one you want.  It also supports Bluetooth Low Energy sensors too, and regular Bluetooth.  In other words…everything.


For fun, I shot this couple minute soundless video showing me moving around the user interface.  Just as a quick preview of what’s to come:

Remember that the Motorola Motoactv syncs via WiFi as well as via computer, so you merely walk into your home and it automatically uploads your workouts to their site.

Without question – Motorola just moved the bar.  Rather, they kicked the crap out of the bar.  This device makes most all of the other sport watches on the market look instantly antiquated.  If I was working at any sport watch company this Monday morning I’d be cancelling the morning meetings, driving to Best Buy – finding the unit, and then just using it the rest of the day.  Then figuring out how to copy it and improve upon it.

Sure, there are little things that they can improve upon – some data field items primarily and TrainingPeaks-compatible CSV’s, but those are easily addressed via software.  Though there is the issue of a lesser waterproofing standard used (IPX6, splash resistance – not full immersion) and questions around battery life (somewhere between 5.5 and 20 hours) – but I’ll be testing both of those for ya.  Actually, the battery life test is running as we speak…

Stay tuned!

Jawbone Up:

This is an interesting one that a lot of folks have asked about recently.  It’s akin to the Fitbit tracker that tracks your movement, steps and sleep.  Except, it’s worn on your wrist like one of those bracelets.  It plugs directly into the top of your phone via the headphone jack, to synchronize:


To be clear, despite being from Jawbone – it’s not a Bluetooth device.  It’s a headphone jack device that you plug in.  But, that’s fine, it works good that way.  And it means the battery lasts longer.

So why would you track steps?  Well, this device honestly isn’t aimed at folks like me – or many of you either.  It’s aimed at folks trying to get healthier that may not formally track their fitness.  The device (like a Fitbit) tracks your steps against goals you set – such as 5,000 steps or 10,000 steps.  This in turn prods you to walk more, and thus get healthier.


What is of note is that there are actually different sizes to buy depending on your wrist.  You can print out this nifty little sizer sheet on their site to figure out which is the best size for you.  Or you can just go to Best Buy and they have a template on the back of all Jawbone Up boxes.


Speaking of which, I was blown away by how jazzed some of the Best Buy employees were about this.  When three of them found out I had snagged a unit (in their own store) – they were shocked and confused as to where I got it, since they were trying to buy it for their girlfriends.  I win.


More on this after a week or so of trying it out in my regular routine.

Zeo Mobile:

You know what I like about the Zeo mobile?  It’s the only product I get to test and not have to exert physical activity.  The Zeo Mobile tracker is similar to its bigger bedside clock Zeo version that tracks your sleep phases via brainwaves.  Except for the big part.

Fitbit does this, as do some different iPhone apps – but Zeo is the only one that’s actually measuring it at your brain, versus simply guessing/estimating based on body movements.  You do this by wearing a soft fabric head strap.


Unlike the previous clock version of Zeo, this one has no clock and is meant for travel.  It’s got a small dock that powers via standard USB (includes a USB wall charger).  That unit in turn sends data via Bluetooth to your mobile phone where an app runs.


The mobile phone acts as the central processing unit and gathers the data in realtime.  Once you’re done sleeping, it’ll automatically upload it to the Zeo MySleep site where you can analyze it:


After my first night sleeping with it – it works just as well as the previous version.  This is more appealing to me given the amount of travel I do.  I found that with the other one that gave me an excuse to stop tracking my sleep, so I’d fall off the bandwagon.  If you already have the previous version – the two units will work on concert uploading to the same account.  So when you’re at home you can use one, and on the road, the other.

I’ll be aiming for a post-Philly Marathon review of this, merely to use it as a carrot/stick to ensure I get good rest over the next two weeks leading into Philly.

Though, at this point, based on what I know of the other Zeo product, and my use thus far – I wouldn’t have any reservations with it.  It just works.

Long Battery Tests: Garmin FR910XT and Timex Run Trainer:

Someone on Slowtwitch the other day asked what the battery life looked like on the Garmin FR910XT if the GPS was turned off.  It’s something I hadn’t really considered, but figured it’d be a fun test.  Normally, the FR910XT is rated for about 20 hours.

So I got the ANT+ simulator setup on a separate PC and configured it to transmit ANT+ power, ANT+ heart rate, and ANT+ speed/cadence…nonstop.  It’d do this in a sweeping pattern, so it would sorta look like real data.

With that, I turned off the GPS on the unit and just left it in cycling mode for it’s long trek:


After 25 hours, the FR910XT finally bit the dust.

But wait…I noticed a small problem.  At the 5 hour marker I had inadvertently turned on the GPS when I restarted the unit due to the speed dropping out.  So it was 5hrs of GPS + 20 hours of non-GPS.

Still, not the test I wanted.

So the second time around I decided it’d be fun to add the Timex Run Trainer as well.  This unit is rated for 8 hours.  In the case of the Run Trainer, it supports the footpod as well as the HR strap.  So I added the running footpod to the simulator and then got the TRT all paired up.

With that, and both GPS’s confirmed as off – I set off again!

As of now, some 24 hours later, the FR910XT is showing 75% battery remaining (25% used) and the Timex Run Trainer is showing 100% battery remaining.

In other words…this test is gonna take a while.

A long, long, long while.

I’ll check back later this week once both units finally die.

(P.S. – As I alluded to above, I also added in the Motoactv too…)

Swimming MP3 Player Showdown Final Photo Shoot:

Finally, last but not least – some of you asked what happened with the Swimming MP3 player showdown.

Well, fear not, I took the opportunity on this quiet Sunday during my regular pool swim to gather all the final photos I need.  Depending on how things go on the Motoactv front I’ll either have this on Thursday of this week, or early-mid next week.


With that, that’s all I’ve got.  Here’s a shot I took after my mile repeats on Saturday.  A beautiful day to run, and my paces were spot on – despite the rolling terrain.  Awesome run.


Thanks for reading all!


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  1. I like the look of that Motorola MOTOACTV, can’t wait to read all about it. I currently use the forerunner 205 (aka Mr Garmin). I almost want him to give me trouble so I can start looking for an upgrade!!! (but I don’t have money so I also hope Mr Garmin lasts forever…)

  2. Ian

    Love the look of the MOTOACTIVE (and this is coming from a four-Garmin person). I wonder if Motorola have just done to the fitness watch what Apple did to the smartphone.

  3. Uw

    Because the Motoactv is not available in Europe until 2012, I am searching someone who is willing to chip it to Europe. Amazon does not accept my Shipping Adress in Germany :(. Playse contact me at uflex7_at_googlemail.com

  4. Anonymous

    Great preview! MOTOACTV looks like a product with a great potential.

    For the full review, please tell us if it’s possible to use it under wet (sweat, rain) conditions and with gloves.

    And if it’s possible to load courses to take the full advantage of the map screen. I have been using the map screen on a FR305 for long training runs. Trying to decide if MOTOACTV or 910xt is a better choice.

  5. that picture with the USB hub is almost frightening. I REALLY hope they all use mini or micro USB…that could be a nightmare

  6. I see from the MOTOACTV user guide that the ANT+ Fitness Equipment profile is not supported. Can you find out from your sources if and when this will be added? I want to use this on the concept2 rower (erg) and spin bikes at the gym. I do more than 50% of my training on the erg and would love to be able to have one device for all purposes and logging in one place. This device is sooo close!

  7. Anonymous

    Looking forward to the Motoactv review, particularly whether or not you can download workouts with pace alerts, like you can with the Garmin 610.It seems to me that in order for Motorola to truly compete in the elite athlete/runner space the unit would need to have this functionality. Otherwise it’s merely a slight improvement over the Nike+ but not for the serious athlete.

  8. Josh

    Hi…really looking forward for your in depth review of MOTOACTV. does it offer the flexibility of creating our own advance workout training like garmin does? and does it work with garmin heart rate monitors?

    the earphone heart rate monitors from Motorola is a bit expensive i think.

  9. Ok, I am now officially curious about the MOTOACTV. Feed us some info! 🙂

  10. Tim K

    Hurry up Ray!! I just ordered my 610, but it’s not too late to send it back.

    For me it’s all about the battery life. I’m slow, and if I were to use this on my first marathon and the battery dies a mile from the end, I would be furious. What is real world battery life? I’m figuring that if it’s a color screen, gps, ANT+ with heart rate and foot pod, and the Bluetooth to cell phone and then music headphones that’s got to be a battery hog.

    As a non-traditional use, I think it would be cool to use it on your wrist for maps when visiting unfamiliar places. Again, if the battery only lasts 7 hours, and you’re using it for your first (and only) trip to Prague and it dies when you’re 1/2 way back to the your hotel/train station/rental car…. Now you’re lost with a really cool thing on your wrist, but still lost.

  11. Kevin

    I get my motoactv from amazon tomorrow. A couple things that I’m already irritated about before I’ve even gotten it. The Motoactv app for android is only available to Motorola phones. I can understand if they only started with one platform but there is no reason it shouldn’t work on all android phones. They are just trying to push people into buying the new droid Razor (it’s pre-installed on it.)

    The other thing is why doesn’t it come with a watch band? I got over that and still ordered one, but everyone is out of the watch and arm bands so I’m going to have to find a piece of Velcro to strap to my wrist and hope the clip stays on it?

    The other th

  12. Couple of quick answers:

    RE: USB Hub

    Regretfully, not a single one (Swimming watches) uses mini or micro. I’m actually really impressed I managed to not lose a single charging cable (all different).

    RE: ANT+ Fitness Profile

    I’ll ask tomorrow.

    RE: Download/Create workouts

    Yup, you can create them online and they automatically sync to phone. Not quite as versatile as the Garmin software today – but about 75% there (pace is one of them). I think it’s a good starting point though.

    RE: Battery life

    That’s turning out to be interesting. I’m seeing less than they list – so I’m getting some clarification there. It may be tied to my display settings, though I’d argue they are ‘normal’.

    RE: Android App

    Yeah, kinda bummed on that one too – going to ask as well.

    RE: Watch band

    I’d agree, including the watch band would have been preferable over the little clip that’s included by default. It’s a nice band too.

  13. Hey Ray. I stumbled upon your site somehow when looking for reviews for GPS watches and now it’s become a daily read! I know you are just doing initial reviews of the MOTOACTV, but I was wondering if you could do a comparison of the MOTOACTV to the Timex Run Trainer, and a comparable Garmin unit. With Christmas coming up, I’m starting to think about my own Christmas list!

  14. Anonymous

    Thanks Ray!

  15. Kevin

    Not sure if Motorola will like this so feel free to delete my post if you need to. I modified the Android app so it would install on my Samsung phone. I can’t test it with the watch until I get it tomorrow, but the app seems to be working. link to forum.xda-developers.com

  16. I’d be happy to buy one off you if you have one too many – there is no shipping to Europe from Amazon/Motorola it looks like. But I guess you are planning to give it away instead of selling it:)

  17. The Motoactv looks interesting, might not be for the hardcore athlete but it might do the trick for those who want something nice without the look of “IRONMAN”.

    Not sure I care much about the Jawbone, but it will be interesting to see what it provides as far as usable information.

    As to the ZEO Mobile, having never used one is it actually worth looking into it? I would like to modify my sleeping habit and the possibility of tracking it might be nice.

    Great preview.

  18. Following your every step, DC Rainmaker. Looking forward to the full review.

    I agree with Ian – this has the potential to disrupt the fitness watch industry. In fact, it already has.

    Hopefully Android hackers will get cracking on this one. With all the connection possibilities, and the potential for Wifi, the MotoACTV could serve as a great remote control in your home.

    BTW there’s an Accuweather app on Android market published by Motorola.

    Limiting the use to Moto phone owners only could enhance the Moto brand, but of course will ultimately 1. Minimize the potential sales of the MotoACTV 2. Lead other brands to introduce their own devices if the MotoACTV takes off.

    I also believe Moto made a mistake not to include a vibration engine in the watch as it provides so much more value than limiting alerts to the visual/auditory modes only. Nothing beats the tactile feedback of a vibration alert on the wrist, and it seems strange they omitted this feature, when ALL other BT watches have it.

  19. Question about the MOTOACTV and battery life. Can you charge this while recording as you can with the 610 , etc? That would help but I realize is a bit of a hassle.

  20. The Motorola MOTOACTV really looks fine and I am a a little bit astonished to see such a thing as this from Motorola.

    One question only:
    Is it possible to copy tracks to the device before to follow them?


  21. Ray thanks again, your site is just an outstanding daily resource. I am a 405 (before that 305) user and the 610 while tempting seem to me too small a step. The pictures of the MotoActv you posted look like the step I envisioned. The combination of a big beautiful color screen, touch control, Bluetooth, Low power Bluetooth, ANT, and best of all Wi-Fi seems in every way to be the future. Add in things like integrated music, integrated phone control, and innovative (and hopefully accurate) heart rate monitoring wireless headphones and you have a product that seems multiple generations ahead of anything else, too bad the rest of the media seems fixated on this as a iPod nano competitor (which is why I didn’t pay attention at first) instead of a Garmin 610 or 310xt competitor.

    I am concerned about Motorola’s lack of a history in fitness products (ie. how will support be, how frequent will there be updates) and would love some insight in the future about “future proofing” our data so we don’t feel locked to one brand (for example most all of my data is on Garmin Connect with some transferred to dailymile).

    Thanks again, I hope that Motorola runs with this and I hope companies like Garmin know they won’t have long to react, for me the 610 suddenly doesn’t cut it as an upgrade from my 405.

    Thanks again,

    Can’t wait for the review. PS: Garmin if you read this, I hope you plan a response quickly!

  22. Ray,

    Any idea on cost comparison of the Zeo mobile vs. the bedside clock version?



  23. Ray,

    Found the answer to my own question $99.99 vs. $149.99 mobile and bedside repetitively, on MyZeo.com

    I did have another question which I haven’t seen the answer to, does the iPhone app have to be running currently to acquire data or can it be running in the background?



  24. It has to be running and open. They’re scary-clear in the instructions to not press home, not press lock, and just turn it over.

    Even with my corp 15m lockout policy, it’s still all good when I wake up in the morning.

    It does have an interesting side effect though of increasing my sleep because I don’t dork with my phone (i.e. checking e-mail at 1AM, etc…).

  25. ACE

    How does this compare, you think, to the Polar products?

  26. Ray – I need to post a comment about the ZEO portable. I’ve been trying to use it for 6 nights straight now, and while it’s definitely picking up the signal, especially when I’m about to go to sleep, every single morning, I’ve awoken to zero data collection. I’m now putting my iPod Touch about 12″ from my head, in the hopes that it won’t lose the bluetooth connection, to no avail. Losing the connection on the ANT+ ZEO has been very, very rare. I’m stumped. I want the portable version to work, but the app and head device really leave me wondering about signal strength or auto-sleep or something. I’m just not sure. I’m going back to the bedside clock.

  27. Greg

    So how are the battery levels on the watches?

  28. Maria

    Hi DC,
    thanks for the great review!

    How’s the big battery test proceeding? Really looking forward to hearing the results!

  29. Hmm, sorry, realized I never posted the results in a seperate post, just a few sprinkles here and there.

    (all with GPS off, but ANT+ data on)
    For the Timex Run Trainer – the battery didn’t even dent at 99 hours, but the display can’t show more than that (and memory ran out around 20 hrs).

    For the FR910XT, it was about 54-56 hours (two different tests). Crazy long!

    Now I’m sorta tempted to go back and test some other units and see how they do…

  30. tami

    Just landed the Motoactv in South Africa. Does anyone know a reliable method to upload maps for this region or any region not officially available on motoactv.com?

    I have tried the mapdroyd route however the watch app crashes when I try to view map(show route).