It’s time to rock and roll all night and get active every day – Motorola MOTOACTV, that is, a tiny Android-based device which can clip to yourself in a host of ways, it feeding data to you on your exercise regiment on the daily. With this device you’ll know how many steps you’ve taken, the calories you’ve potentially burned, and plays your music when you want it, all of this connected (if you want) to the MOTOACTV.com database on the web where you can compare and contrast with friends – and opponents! Have a peek with us here at how this little beast will change your everloving jogging, biking, and running life!
NOTE: For those of you that’ve never used the device before, have a look at everything you could possibly want to know about it in the [Motorola MOTOACTV complete users guide] yours truly wrote for the device last night. You’ll know more about the device than you ever thought you’d need to know about a smartphone, much less an exercise device, and you’ll have no trouble understanding the ins and outs of the beast in the following review.
Let’s not fool ourselves, this device is made for a very specific crowd of people, those who love to be healthy or drive themselves to be healthier. It’s a sad state of affairs that it’s not the larger part of the world that wants to be healthy for their own good, but there it is: this device is not for everybody. The people that WILL be using it will not be disappointed by the hardware, and here’s why: it’s tough, it’s high quality, and it does exactly what it says it can do.
The device isn’t certified for Army action by any means, but its both sweat and rain resistant. Motorola says it’ll be fine if you’re taking a run in a rainstorm, and if you’re in the gym and you drench it with sweat it’ll be fine, and from what I’ve seen here giving it a quick dunk in the sink, it’ll be just fine for whatever you happen to be using it for. The device is also not quite indestructible, but it’s got some tough plastic around most of the casing, there’s a big metal panel on the back, and the front is Gorilla Glass – can’t bust it!
The accessories you can purchase for the device are similarly constructed, no sign of wear here. Full disclosure: I’m not a hardcore exercise fiend, so I’ve not put the device or the accessories through a hammer-crusher amount of pain, but there’s no sign of a possibility of breakdown from what I’ve seen.
Speaking of things I’ve seen, I can see the display no matter what the lighting conditions are due to the 1.6-inch LCD capacitive display is transflective, this meaning that where a normal display just shows up impossible to view in the sun, here you’ve got a bit of a transformation going on — check the photos:
The controls are simple to use, there’s both buttons galore and a fully functional touchscreen that doesn’t skip a beat and is both bright and sharp enough to handle your day to day, no doubt.
There are a number of accessories, several of them photographed and shown in the gallery below and here, most of them available in the MOTOACTV Motorola store. Your basic MOTOACTV device comes with a clip with which you can attach the device to your belt or your shirt sleeve and some basic headphones – I recommend picking up the arm strap as well. It’s very easy to attach and whenever you want to start a new Workout, you’ve only to pop your MOTOACTV out and hit the Start button essentially, popping the device back in around your arm where you can dismiss it until you’re done. High quality stuff. Check out our full MOTOACTV accessories review for more information.
The user interface you’re working with here is a modified look at Android, and I’m pretty sure, though I’m still waiting on an answer, that this is Android 2.3 Gingerbread, this guess based on the fact that the display snaps off when the power button is tapped – signature move by the big G. The interface is tiny, but intuitive, and both swift and well put together. It’s not often that I’ll praise a user interface sitting on top of the basic Android as made by Google, but here Motorola’s done a rather nice job not only fixing up Android to work in a non-traditional way, but in a way that suits this device nicely.
Non-smartphone users will have a bit of trouble getting used to how the device functions, but to be fair, these same people I’m speaking of will have the same amount of trouble working an iPod Touch. If you’re a smartphone user and an exercise enthusiast, this will be a fabulous gift to receive for the holidays, I guarantee it.
Here of course is where the device shines. You can do the following, if you’re no big exercise fanatic: get up in the morning and strap the device to your arm – or just put it in your pocket. Provided the device is charged up, it records the number of steps you’ve taken throughout the day and tells you how many calories you’ve potentially burned without you even asking it to. It uses its own accelerometer and GPS to track your movements. Once you get to a place you know you’ll be walking or running extensively, pop the device out and start up a Workout.
Tap through to an indoor or outdoor walk or run and hit the start button. Once you’re done, hit the start button again and end the Workout – your information will be displayed instantly, and if you’re connected to your smartphone for data or you’re near a Wi-fi area that your device is connected to, your information will be automatically uploaded to the MOTOACTV.com site (provided you signed up for an account.) This information is not publicly available (unless you want it to be) and you can access it from any web browser. See a planning calendar screen here, straight from my MOTOACTV.com account:
What I’ve found myself doing is working with the device in the same way I would with check-ins on any number of smartphone applications. Using the MOTOACTV and its interactive on and offline setup becomes a game in which your own health is the reward – imagine that!
When you get a call or a text message or an alert of most kinds on your smartphone, (your Android smartphone, mind you, running the MOTOACTV app,) you will see it pop up on your MOTOACTV. Again check the [Motorola MOTOACTV complete users guide] to see how it all works, but know the following: this functionality is a bonus. Do not purchase the MOTOACTV just for this feature unless you’re also purchasing it either for it’s ability to help your exercise or MAYBE just for its ability to play MP3s – it does that simple task pretty darn good as well.
This device was a pleasant surprise to me. I’m by no means a healthy person, definitely someone who could benefit from a regular run outside in the summer or inside the mall in the winter, and what do you know, this device has me wanting to do it. In that I’ve not been a regular exerciser for at least the past few years now, the motivation I feel to get busy is a testament to how well the device does its job.
I’m not one to sign up for accounts, and in fact I’m loathe to enter my email into any field other than the ones I’m already in, but after I signed up for MOTOACTV.com, I got into the greater project right away. Obviously I’ve not yet been able to do any exercises in competitions with people on the site yet as noone else really has the device at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll try it a few times before I have to give it all back to Motorola. It’s fun! And let me tell you, I don’t often find exercise fun.
This device will be found helpful, or interesting at least, to both exercise enthusiasts and those who want to casually watch how many calories they’re potentially burning throughout their regular day. Provided you trust that the one-time cost of either $249.99 or $299.99 (for 8GB or 16GB) is worth it to get you up and at-em in a whole new way you might never have experienced otherwise, I assure you, it is most certainly a good time had by all.
Chris Burns is currently head editor for SlashGear and executive editor for Android Community. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he's responsible for editorial decisions made for the USA-based day-team of SG and AC and he uses an iPad 3 as a VCR. Follow him @ t_chrisburns and inside Google+ at http://chrisburns.co/+ for tech, gadget, and design news galore.