You’d expect brands like Polar, Suunto and Timex to take on GPS masters Garmin, but a mobile phone company? that’s exactly what Motorola are doing with their MotoActv ﬁtness tracker and music player, and it’s an impressive entry into the market.
The MotoActv is a good looking bit of tech – about the size of a Garmin Edge 500 but with a tough Gorilla Glass touchscreen – and it can be worn on your wrist, attached to an armband or mounted on a handlebar.
The initial setting-up takes a few minutes – connect it to your computer via USB, set up a MotoActv account, put in your details, download your tunes and get wireless connectivity up and running (it’ll automatically download workouts for you) – and then it’s a doddle to use.
The swipeable touch screen is responsive (although it doesn’t work with thick bike gloves), you can customise the main view to show up to six training metrics, plus set up an extra screen to show intervals, heart rate zones, virtual competitor – where you race yourself on favourite routes – and a map.
Because it’s ANt+ enabled, the MotoActv can display whatever you want to record – power, cadence and heart rate (the Motorola ANt+ sensors are extras). the bike mount is easy to use – a simple rubber strap that wraps securely around the bar or stem – and the display is clear and easy to use on the road.
The MotoActv’s map is small but it’s no sat-nav. It just shows where you are or have been, and although you can share routes at MotoActv.com you can’t currently download them for use on other devices or software.
Your workout stats – heart rate, average speed, climbing and the like – are displayed on the portal, and you can plan and download your own programmes – including basic interval sessions – or plans by Lance Armstrong’s coach Chris Carmichael.
The MotoActv can connect to your Android phone via Bluetooth so you can use the watch to answer calls. This – and listening to music – requires headphones, which we don’t recommend for riding. We also found that battery life didn’t match up to Motorola’s claims, but they tell us that a software download will rectify this.