The thoughts that were thunk and the goings on of my life.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Motorola MotoACTV vs Garmin Forerunner 305

My wife needed a better heartrate monitor (aka I wanted a new toy), so I got a Motorola MotoACTV to replace my Garmin Forerunner 305, which after this post is hers.

Motorola MotoACTV


Garmin Forerunner 305
Initial Impressions
MotoACTV - Amazing, sleek, sexy. It looks awesome, weighs almost nothing, and is a great toy to show off. Much prettier than any offering out there for this type of device, period.

305 - Clunky, ugly, never a looker, but looks like it will get the job done.

MotoACTV - MSRP $250, but can be found for about $190 on Amazon. Comes with headphones and watchband.

305 - MSRP $199, but prices online tend to be higher. Comes with watchband.

Bike Mount
MotoACTV - Seriously deficient, they need to upgrade this mount. If you accidentally slide it in the direction that you inserted it, it WILL fall off your bike. The retention tab is simply too small and too flimsy to be effective. This is my biggest disappointment with the device.

305 - Excellent, secure, not going anywhere.

User Friendliness
This one isn't even fair. The MotoACTV is newer and better on every single front. There's simply no comparison. Setup of bikes, profiles, connectivity, everything is easier.

See User Friendliness above

MotoACTV - Despite some claims of poor battery life I'm only losing about 10% per hour, which means it should last about 10 hours. I've used it for a max of 6 hours in one day and it still had about 30% juice left.

305 - Should last 8 hours, but due to not auto-shutting off after I stop a workout I often leave it on and it  drains the battery, which means many rides end up not being captured due to a dead battery caused by a combo of user-error and poor design.

Provided you don't do a lot of underwater cycling both should be fine. If you do, the 305 wins.

Exporting Data
MotoACTV - Motorola does a great job getting everything auto-synced via wifi to their accounts; however, they do a terrible job of letting you use anything other than their site. This is a Big 'I' vs little 'i' problem.

Strava is currently working to make importing happen. In the meantime you have to do the following to get your data from over to Strava or Ride with GPS (or any other similar site):
  1. Go to and login to your account
  2. Find the ride of interest
  3. Click on Workout Stats
  4. Click Download
  5. Convert the CSV file you downloaded into a TCX file - I use this
  6. Go to Strava
  7. Click Upload Activity
  8. Navigate to the TCX File & Import
This process is needlessly complicated, and I'm sure a good solution will be developoed soon. Most likely it will be Strava will figure out how to import the CSV files; but hopefully what will happen is that will allow you to export data (at least cycling data) as a TCX file.

305 - No problems, just login to Strava, Upload, and done.

Route-Tracing Comparison
I ran a test using both devices started at the same time, on the same bike, on the same ride. I also chose to focus in on a small section where we went along the sidewalk, that way there's no question as to what my exact path was. Here are the results:

Figure 1 - Route overlay using Strava & the Garmin Forerunner 305

Elevation: 596 ft
Max Speed: 33.4 mph

Note: Avg Speed, Moving Time, and Calories are all different due to user error.

Figure 2 - Route overlay using Strava & the Motorola MotoACTV

Elevation: 740 ft
Max Speed: 36.1 mph

Strava doesn't have the best elevation mapping though, so I thought I would try and import things into and see if that would change things up much -
Figure 3 - Route overlay using Ride with GPS & the Motorola MotoACTV
Elevation: 786 ft
Max Speed: 36.2 mph

Finally for fun, here's one of my buddies who rode in the same group-ride with me using a new (April 2012) Garmin Edge 500:
Figure 4 - Route overlay using Strava & the Garmin Edge 500

Elevation: 695 ft - but different rider, slightly different route, so that could explain that difference...likely not +/-100 ft difference, but who knows.

Route-Tracing Comparison Conclusion
I really didn't expect this to be the case, but...

The Motorola MotoACTV is more precise and accurate than either the Garmin Forerunner 305 or the Garmin Edge 500. Oddly enough, the Garmin Edge 500, despite being a stalwart amongst cyclist was the least-accurate of the 3.

Overall Conclusion
The Motorola MotoACTV appears to be a really great tool for cyclists.

Motorola, fix these 3 things and it would be THE perfect device for cyclists:
  1. Let you export the data from the device as .tcx so that it works with Strava, Ride with GPS, and other logging sites
  2. Fix the terrible bike mount, it's MUCH too easy to accidentally slide it off.
  3. Let you import maps & directions from a .gpx file, or better yet, from Google Maps or something

1 comment:

The Wise (Owl) Guy... said...

Have you ever condidered working for "Consumer Reports" Magazine? They'd just love your analytical ability...for all kinds of stuff. (Bad part: you might have to move to New Jersey or someplace like that...) Maybe see if you could free-lance from here? Just a thought. Me, I'll stick to the old ways of getting around; has always worked for me! Be Good!