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Motorola Motoactv review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £245
inc VAT

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


Whatever you’re doing, you can monitor everything the device is tracking live on its display. We were disappointed to find that that you can’t set it up for use as a simple heart-rate monitor, even if you have an appropriate sensor connected to it. This means that you can’t monitor any aspect of your performance on anything apart from the listed exercises; we were particularly annoyed to find that we couldn’t use it to keep an eye on our heart rate during strength training sessions, for instance.

Another problem we ran into during long training sessions is the Motoactv’s battery life. When we used the Motoactv to monitor a training session with cycling and running components, we had GPS tracking enabled, an HRM sensor associated and were using the MP3 player for the running part of our training. With all these features enabled, the battery lasted just over three hours, which makes this a poor choice if you’re training for long-distance runs or triathlons, or even if you simply don’t want to have to be constantly charging your sports monitor. Admittedly, disabling features extends the battery life, up to a quoted maximum of 20 hours for the MP3 player alone.

The final problem we encountered was the 176×220 touchscreen. It’s made of reassuringly toughened glass and works well under normal conditions. There are physical buttons to activate and pause both music and workout tracking once you’ve set them up, but switching audio tracks requires you swipe your way through several touchscreen menus. This can be remarkably difficult if it’s raining or snowing, or if you’re wearing gloves.

There are loads of other features, including the Motoactv website, which allows you to create custom training plans, analyse the performance of uploaded training sessions – the device can upload them automatically when connected to Wi-Fi – and compare your performance with other users. It’s all very polished. Other helpful options include the ability to link to an Android phone via Bluetooth to both upload data and display incoming calls, track laps and tune in your favourite FM radio station.

Motoactv Online

The Motoactv is massively feature-packed and we loved being able to have our HRM, GPS and MP3 player all in one convenient device. The training cues are really helpful and we like the smart track selection, which accurately noticed that Viking metal is just what we need to get us through the last kilometre of a long run. However, the device is let down by poor battery life, a restrictive range of pre-set training options and a touchscreen interface that doesn’t get along particularly well with sweat, rain or most gloves.

The Motoactv has massive potential and we hope to see some of this unlocked with continuing firmware updates – future updates promise more efficient battery use, for example. Right now, it’s worth buying if you’re serious about precisely tracking short-to-mid distance endurance work and don’t want to be overloaded with gadgets, but £245 is a rather high price for the convenience. We prefer the flexibility of more traditional HRMs such as Polar’s FT80, which has much of the same functionality, a similar range of available tracking sensors and a battery life that can be measured in years rather than hours.

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