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Motorola Motoactv review

Kat Orphanides
30 Jan 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
245
inc VAT

Loads of innovative and useful features, but also disappointing limitations and a short battery life

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Although Android is most popularly used as a mobile phone operating system, it has the scope to be used in a far wider range of devices. Motorola’s Motoactv is a great example of the operating system’s potential. It uses a highly customised version of Android 2.3 and is designed to meet every need of the keen endurance athlete, combining GPS tracking with an MP3 player, a three-dimensional accelerometer that lets it work as a pedometer and support for performance monitoring hardware including Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) straps, foot pods for runners and cadence sensors for cyclists. It supports sensors which use either ANT+ (most popularly found in Garmin products) or the up-and-coming BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) standard. Motorola is in the process of releasing a range of Motoactv branded sensors, too. You can’t use both BLE and ANT+ hardware at the same time, though.

Motorola Motoactv

All these features are packed into a 46x46mm device that looks at first glance similar to the current iPod Nano. It comes with a wrist strap that allows you to wear it like a watch, but extra holders are available to mount it on a strap around your upper arm or even on the handlebars of your bike. A 3.5mm headphone output lets you connect a set of a headphones – the supplied flanged ear-canal set sounds pretty decent, if a little bass heavy, and you can also use Bluetooth headphones. The downside of using wired headphones if you’re using the standard wrist strap is that you then have a cable trailing between your wrist and ears – we had to connect it to our upper arm using a sweat band to stop it from flapping about while we were running.

The MP3 player app is particularly interesting – as you use it, it monitors how you perform during each track and – once it’s stored a bit of relevant data – can automatically select music to spur you to extra effort if your performance starts to flag. The Motoactv can also give you audio cues to encourage you or let you know how much of your planned distance you’ve covered.

Motorola Motoactv

The device’s Workout screen lets you choose between several pre-set activities. These include cycling, running, walking, using an elliptical trainer and using a step machine. You can choose between indoor and outdoor versions where they’re available and the most appropriate form of performance tracking will be used. For example, if you’re running on treadmill in the gym, GPS will be disabled and the Motoactv will use its accelerometer to keep track of your pace.