MotoACTV: Motorola’s Fitness-Focused Nano Twin

MotoACTV: Motorola’s Fitness-Focused Nano Twin

Motorola has just unveiled their new MotoACTV, a compact fitness-monitoring MP3 player that tracks your performance, heartrate and even provides motivation through song selection and an audible fitness coach.

At first glance it’s hard to distinguish the MotoACTV from Apple’s touchscreen-equipped iPod nano. But despite the similar form factor, Motorola’s compact media player packs a lot more features when it comes to keeping fit and active. It matches the Nano with a capacitive 1.6-inch touchscreen display upgraded with Gorilla Glass, that automatically adjusts for indoor or outdoor lighting conditions. And it’s further protected from extreme physical activities with a sweatproof and scratchproof housing.

Because keeping tabs of your performance is an important part of an effective fitness regime, the MotoACTV also counts your steps and how far you’ve run using their Motorola AccuSense GPS technology. Calories burned and even your heartrate is monitored through the use of a couple of new sport headphones, the wireless Bluetooth Motorola SF700 ($US149) and the wired Motorola SF500 ($US99), instead of a chest strap. But it also supports ANT+ if existing fitness accessories are already part of your routine. And while it lacks phone functionality, like Sony’s LiveView the ACTV can stay connected to your Android smartphone over Bluetooth for remotely monitoring incoming calls and text messages.

On the surface it seems like just another minuscule MP3 player with some fitness features tacked on. But over time the MotoACTV uses the data it collects on your performance to actually create custom playlists to help keep you motivated. We all have a favorite song that really gets our hearts pumping, and the ACTV will remember what it was for your next run, helping you to push through the times when you feel less motivated. But if you feel that more variety and annoying DJ banter are better suited for your morning jog, a built-in FM radio will let you train while enjoying the top 40. At the end of a workout your stats can even be synced to your PC and uploaded to the MotoACTV portal for analysis through graphs, charts and other tools.

With all of that functionality and stat tracking the battery life for the MotoACTV is pegged at around five hours for outdoor workouts where GPS is heavily utilised. While indoors it should be good for up to 10 hours, with around two weeks of standby. Available on November 6 in an 8GB version for $US249, and a 16GB version for $US299.

Update: Here are Brent’s first impressions after getting some play time:

Update: Here are Brent’s first impressions after getting some play time:

The ACTV was extremely fast and responsive to touch, and it seemed very accurate. The UI was very simple and intuitive. If you want to start a new workout, you just go into workout mode, choose the type of activity from the short list (running, walking, cycling, elliptical, etc), and can choose quick start, set some goals, or choose from some of your pre-planned workouts. Once the workout has started you have four, customisable live statistics displayed on the screen, and you can tap any of those to enlarge and get more info.

Phone and SMS functionality require you to pair the ACTV to your phone (such as the RAZR) via Bluetooth. Incoming calls and text messages were easy to navigate and read, though you cannot text back on the ACTV—you’ll have to pull out your phone for that. The ACTV app comes preloaded on the Droid RAZR, but will be available in the Android Market as well; ACTV is compatible with any Android device.

On top of the device are two physical buttons, one for fitness mode and one for music. This makes it easier to switch back and forth between the displays while working out (music mode will only activate if there is a headset paired). On the right side of the device are dedicated volume buttons and a power button which allows you to quickly turn off the screen, or power down all the way.

The whole thing is sprayed with the same nano-coating that makes the Droid RAZR splash-proof. Splash-proof as muy bueno. It’s not water-proof, but it’s a big step in the right direction. I got word that they’re planning on splash-proofing the vast majority of their upcoming devices. I hereby to pray that all other companies follow suit… and then make everything fully submersible.

I also got word on a coming-soon feature that will allow you to see what song you were listening to while you were at certain points on your route. It’s simple, but I kinda like it. As a terrible runner who has burgeoning aspirations of being a slightly less terrible runner, I’m looking forward to trying this thing out.