Motorola Motoactv Review
The discontinued Motorloa Motoactv was a revolutionary running watch, using a color touch screen, GPS and including an MP3 player. It was more like a smartphone than a traditional GPS watch; the Motoactv was brilliant, but it was also flawed. When it was originally introduced at $250, these flaws were too severe for it to compete with the Garmin alternatives. The price of the Motoactv tends to vary, but it is often available for under $150, and at that price the Motoactv is great value for money. If you can live with each of these four flaws, then the Motoactv is a great buy. (See the cons section for more details on each.)
- Poor water resistance. Don't buy the Motoactv is you want to swim or if you're likely to forget to check the covers before your run.
- Limited battery life. If you run for less than 3 hours, you're fine with the Motoactv. If you run for between 3 and 6 hours then think carefully. If you run for more than 6 hours, look elsewhere.
- No usable 'current pace' display. Don't try to use the Motoactv to keep you on pace. (This is true of all GPS watches unless you can display the pace from a Footpod.)
- Difficulty uploading workouts to a training log. If you want to keep an automated training log (and you should), the Motoactv will be hard work.
1 Motoactv Pros
- With the recent price reduction the Motoactv is less than $150, which is far cheaper than any comparable product.
- The Motoactv is easy to use, and my family prefers using the Motoactv over Garmin products.
- The color display is nice, and the simple monochrome display of other devices seems stale and dated by comparison.
- The combination of a touch screen and physical buttons works quite well. The screen works when wet, though I found some occasional problems when there was just a drop of sweat rather than a soaking. I also found that heavy rain drops may act as screen presses, which is annoying.
- I love having a continually lit display for Running in the Dark. You can press a button on a Garmin to illuminate the display, but the Motoactv is much better.
- The inclusion of an MP3 player is nice, and it claims to learn what songs make your run harder. Personally I prefer using a separate MP3 player, but having the one device that does both has some appeal.
- The Motoactv will display a true map of the area, showing the street layout, which is a huge improvement over the breadcrumb display of the Garmin watches. If you could upload a route then this would be great for running in a new city.
- The dimensions of the Motoactv are more pleasing than the Garmin 310XT/910XT. It still has a large display, but it is much thinner.
2 Motoactv Cons
- The Motorloa Motoactv is discontinued, but still available.
- The Motoactv is 'water resistant' not waterproof. There are many reports of water damage and Motorola refusing to repair them. However, there are also many reports of using the Motoactv in torrential rain, which I've done myself. I suspect the issue is that the Motoactv has small covers for the headphone jack and the USB port, and if they are not in place, water can get in and destroy the watch.
- The battery life of the Motoactv is quite poor compared with other devices. If you use Bluetooth headphones and use the default setting the battery is dead in 3 hours. With no Bluetooth and the 'extended battery' setting it should last for 6 hours. This is probably plenty for most runners, but you have to remember to keep it plugged in, as the battery seems to drain faster than I would expect.
- Like any GPS watch, the display of your current pace varies too much to be of any use. This is an intrinsic problem with GPS, and I found the Motoactv was out by up to a minute/mile. This is why I recommend the Garmin 310XT/910XT/610 as they can display your current pace from the Footpod while still using the GPS for everything else. You can use the 'lap average pace' to get a reasonable idea of your pace, but if you need to hit a specific pace for a training run or a race, you're better off with one of the Garmin 310XT/910XT/610 and a Footpod.
- The Motoactv will upload your workout to Motoactv.com via a wireless network, so you don't even need a PC, which is a great idea. The problem is that it's hard to upload your workouts to any other training log. You can download each workout as a CSV file and upload it to another tool, but that sometimes requires going via a conversion program. Support for GPX export has been added.
- The Motoactv will support a Footpod, including the Garmin Footpod
$49.98 USD at Amazon.com, and it can use the FootPod to show your pace/distance. This only works if you select to run outdoors, which turns the GPS off. The bigger problem is that there is no way of calibrating the Foodpod, so there is usually an error (for me it was out by 7%). The Motoactv does have an internal sensor that can be calibrated, but this does not work for the FoodPod. The Motoactv will use the FootPod to display your Cadence, but I found the Cadence display to vary widely; my Garmin would show a steady cadence value when the Motoactv was swinging widely.
3 Comparison Table
I evaluate running watches in three distinct ways. Firstly, you can use a watch on its own, without any kind of Footpod. This is probably the most common way runners use their watch, but you miss out on a lot. The second rating is with a standard Footpod that is available quite cheaply. These Footpod's can be reasonably accurate once the calibrated, but calibration is a little tedious. The final evaluation is with the Stryd Footpod, which is vastly more accurate than any other type of Footpod, or and more accurate than GPS. The table below looks at the score, and the value for money of each watch for each of the three conditions.
The score is the sum of how well each watch can answer the four basic questions (how far, how fast, where are you, what's your cadence), plus some bonus points.
- The "How far you've run" will be based on GPS only for "without Footpod" and "with Standard Footpod", but based on Stryd if supported in the "with Stryd Footpod" table..
- How fast you're running assumes you're using a Footpod if it's supported, otherwise the rating is 0-2 based on GPS accuracy.
- The "Where are you?" is based on various navigation features such as back to start, breadcrumbs, and preloaded maps. For some watches, you have to turn GPS off to get the benefit of Stryd, so those watches have worse "where are you scores" with Stryd than without.
- The cadence score uses 1 point for an internal cadence sensor, 2 points for footpod support, 1 point for support from chest strap cadence, and 1 point for cadence alerts.
- I give 1-2 bonus points for application support, 1-2 bonus points for data upload, 1-2 bonus points for Optical Heart Rate Monitoring, and 0-1 bonus points for battery life.
- Value for money is the score divided by the price (at the time I last updated the table.) Your needs may be different, so you might weight the different aspects of the watches differently, or be basing your decision on different criteria totally. Hopefully this table will give you a good starting point for your decision.
4 Score Breakdown without a Footpod
5 Score Breakdown with a Standard Footpod
6 Score Breakdown with a Stryd Footpod
7 Basic Features
|Weight (oz)||Size (CM3)||Display (mm)||Resolution (Pixels)||Waterproofing|| Pace from
FootPod with GPS Enabled
| Heart Rate
|Garmin Epix Review||2015||6.2||3.0||48||29 x 21 (609mm2)||205 x 148 (30.3K total)||Good (50m)||Yes||Yes||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|Garmin 910XT Review||2011||7.5||2.5||49||33 x 20 (660mm2)||160 x 100 (16K total)||Good (50m)||Yes||Yes||Footpod/Alert||Yes|
|Suunto Ambit3 Run Review||2014||7.9||2.5||30||29 (round) (661mm2)||128 x 128 (16.4K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod||Yes|
|Garmin 920XT Review||2014||6.6||2.2||35||29 x 21 (609mm2)||205 x 148 (30.3K total)||Good (50m)||Yes||Yes||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|Suunto Ambit3 Peak Review||2014||7.9||2.9||30||29 (round) (661mm2)||128 x 128 (16.4K total)||Good (100m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod||Yes|
|Leikr Review||2013||7.3||2.4||25||41 x 31 (1271mm2)||206 x 148 (76.8K total)||Fair (IPX6)||Yes||Yes||Footpod||Limited|
|Garmin 310XT Review||2009||7.5||2.5||63||33 x 20 (660mm2)||160 x 100 (16K total)||Good (50m)||Yes||Yes||Footpod||Yes|
|Garmin Fenix 3 Review||2015||6.2||2.9||33||30 (round) (726mm2)||218 diameter (37.3K total)||Good (100m)||Yes||Yes||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|Garmin Fenix 5X Review||2017||3.5||36||30.5 (round) (731mm2)||240 diameter (45.2K total)||Good (100m)||Yes||Yes||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|Garmin 610 Review||2011||7.3||2.5||41||25.4 (round) (507mm2)||128 diameter (12.9K total)||Fair (IPX7)||Yes||Yes||Footpod/Alert||Yes|
|Suunto Ambit2 Review||2013||7.6||3.1||30||29 (round) (661mm2)||128 x 128 (16.4K total)||Good (100m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod||Yes|
|Suunto Ambit2 R Review||2013||7.6||2.5||30||29 (round) (661mm2)||128 x 128 (16.4K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod||Yes|
|Polar V800 Review||2014||8.0||2.8||31||23 x 23 (529mm2)||128 x 128 (16.4K total)||Good (30m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod||Limited|
|Garmin 235 Review||2015||4.9||1.5||19||31 (round) (755mm2)||215 x 180 (38.7K total)||Good (50m)||Yes||Yes (+OHRM)||Internal/Footpod||Yes|
|Garmin Vivoactive Review||2015||5.4||1.3||13||29 x 21 (592mm2)||205 x 148 (30.3K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|Suunto Spartan Ultra Review||2016||7.1||2.7||38||32 (round) (804mm2)||56 x 32 (96K total)||Good (100m)||No||Yes||Internal (Limited Footpod)||Yes|
|Garmin Vivoactive HR Review||2016||4.9||1.7||19||21 x 29 (609mm2)||148 x 205 (30.3K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes (+OHRM)||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|Garmin 225 Review||2015||6.2||1.5||24||25.4 (round) (507mm2)||180 diameter (25.4K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes (+OHRM)||Internal/Footpod||Yes|
|Garmin Fenix 2 Review||2014||5.7||3.2||32||31 (round) (755mm2)||70 diameter (3.8K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|Garmin 620 Review||2013||7.1||1.5||20||25.4 (round) (507mm2)||180 diameter (25.4K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod/Heart Rate Monitor/Alert||Yes|
|TomTom Cardio Runner Review||2015||6.0||2.2||30||22 x 25 (550mm2)||144 x 168 (24.2K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes (+OHRM)||Internal/Footpod||Yes|
|Polar M400 Review||2014||4.4||2.0||24||23 x 23 (529mm2)||128 x 128 (16.4K total)||Good (30m)||No||Yes||Internal/Footpod||Limited|
|Epson SF-810 Review||2015||5.5||1.8||28||28 (round) (616mm2)||128 diameter (12.9K total)||Good (50m)||No||OHRM Only)||Limited Internal||Limited|
|Epson SF-510 Review||2015||4.4||1.7||24||28 x 22 (616mm2)||128 x 96 (12.3K total)||Good (50m)||No||Yes||Limited Internal||Limited|
|Garmin 10 Review||2012||3.8||1.3||33||25 x 24 (600mm2)||55 x 32 (1.8K total)||Good (50m)||No||No||No||Yes|
| Tested Battery
|Charge on the run?|| Training
|Garmin Epix Review||24||17.6||50||Yes (with USB=Garmin)||Yes||Record||Yes||Ant+|
|Garmin 910XT Review||20||20||Yes, but no display||Yes||Record||No||Ant+|
|Suunto Ambit3 Run Review||10||10.5||100||Yes||Yes||Record||Yes||Bluetooth|
|Garmin 920XT Review||24||19||40||No (terminates)||Yes||Record||Yes||Ant+|
|Suunto Ambit3 Peak Review||20||100||Yes||Yes||Record||Yes||Bluetooth|
|Leikr Review||5||6.5||5||Yes, but can't be worn||No||No||Yes (few hours)||Ant+|
|Garmin 310XT Review||20||20||Yes, but no display||No||No||No||Ant+|
|Garmin Fenix 3 Review||20||22||50||Yes (with USB=Garmin)||Yes||No||Yes||Ant+|
|Garmin Fenix 5X Review||20||23||35||Yes, but can't be worn||Yes||Yes||Bluetooth/Ant+|
|Garmin 610 Review||8||8||Yes, but no display||Yes||Record||No||Ant+|
|Suunto Ambit2 Review||15||50||Yes||Yes||Record||Yes||Ant+|
|Suunto Ambit2 R Review||8||7.3||25||Yes||Yes||Record||Yes||Ant+|
|Polar V800 Review||13||24||50||No (terminates)||Yes||Display||Predictive||Bluetooth|
|Garmin 235 Review||11||11||Yes, but no optical HR||Yes||No||Yes||Ant+|
|Garmin Vivoactive Review||10||10||10||Yes (with USB=Garmin)||No||No||Yes||Ant+|
|Suunto Spartan Ultra Review||18||17||26||Yes, but can't be worn||Yes||Record||Yes||Bluetooth|
|Garmin Vivoactive HR Review||13||13||Yes (with USB=Garmin)||No||No||Yes||Ant+|
|Garmin 225 Review||10||11||10||No (resets)||No||No||Yes||Ant+|
|Garmin Fenix 2 Review||15||50||Yes (with USB=Garmin)||Yes||No||Yes||Ant+|
|Garmin 620 Review||10||10||No (resets)||Yes||Record||Yes||Ant+|
|TomTom Cardio Runner Review||8||6.3||8||No (resets)||No||No||Yes||Bluetooth HR|
|Polar M400 Review||8||8||Yes, but can't be worn||No||No||No||Bluetooth|
|Epson SF-810 Review||20||26||20||No||No||No||Yes (few hours)||None|
|Epson SF-510 Review||30||30||30||No||No||No||Yes (few hours)||Bluetooth HR|
|Garmin 10 Review||5||5||No||No||No||No||None|
|Color Maps||Breadcrumbs||Courses||To Waypoint||Compass||Reverse course||Beeline to start||Connect IQ||Altimeter|
|Garmin Epix Review||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Garmin 910XT Review||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Suunto Ambit3 Run Review||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Garmin 920XT Review||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Suunto Ambit3 Peak Review||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Garmin 310XT Review||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Garmin Fenix 3 Review||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Garmin Fenix 5X Review||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Garmin 610 Review||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Suunto Ambit2 Review||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Suunto Ambit2 R Review||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Polar V800 Review||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Garmin 235 Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Garmin Vivoactive Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Suunto Spartan Ultra Review||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Garmin Vivoactive HR Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Garmin 225 Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Garmin Fenix 2 Review||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Garmin 620 Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|TomTom Cardio Runner Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Polar M400 Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Epson SF-810 Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Epson SF-510 Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Garmin 10 Review||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
- Color Maps gives you full color maps, rather like a smart phone, with roads and paths marked out.
- Track Outline is a display of where you've run, rather like a breadcrumb trail. If there are maps, the outline is superimposed otherwise this is just the outline on its own without any context.
- Course Outline is an outline of a route that can be downloaded. I've found this useful during ultras or in unfamiliar cities where I've needed to know where to go.
- Back To Start is a simple arrow point to your starting point, so it won't help you backtrack.
- Back To Waypoint returns you to a previously marked location using a simple arrow to point.
- Compass. A magnetic compass can help you orient yourself or the map. Without a magnetic compass you have to be moving for the GPS to give you a sense of direction.