Motorola ACTV pictures and hands-on

Motorola is taking a stab at the fitness market with the launch of the Motorola ACTV, an Android-based sports watch. It's a clever twist on the sports watch, but enters a competitive market. We got hands-on with it briefly to put it through its paces. 

It's difficult not to say iPod nano, so we'll get that out of the way now. The Motorola ACTV looks like the iPod nano, thanks to the size and shape.

The clever part of the ACTV is around the back. The metal backplate features a lip that lets you slide it into a number of different straps, so you can wear it as a watch, on the handlebars of your bike or on your arm. Of the accessories we've seen so far, everything looked to be good quality and considerately designed.

That's not the only clever part of the system however. Being a sports watch, you'll want to incorporate heart rate monitoring into the mix and Motorola has come up with a novel solution. 

Two optional headsets - we saw the SF500 wired headphones - contain sensors for monitoring your heart rate. Normally this would be done by a chest strap, but in this case, the sensors are in the headphones, picking up on a pulse in your ear (visible in the photo below).

This might sound smart, but when you want to have your heart rate without music, you might be left scratching your head. Fortunately the ACTV is ANT+ compatible, meaning it should work with a range of ANT+ devices, although we haven't yet seen this in action. 

Of interest to Android fans may well be the link to your phone that will turn it into a live monitor, so you can have your phone in your Camelbak and view activity on your watch, for example.

On paper the Motorola ACTV looks to have all the right pieces in place: a companion app for your phone, an online community for tracking and planning your training and smart music features with iTunes compatibility.

Otherwise, operation of the Motorola ACTV was slick and fast, although our time with the device was brief and we'd have to put it to work on the running track before we can really judge if it is a rival for our Garmin Forerunner or Nike+ SportsWatch GPS.



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