​Moov Now review

The wearable sports coach is back, but can it impress the second time around?

The original Moov was one of our favourite sports wearables of last year, and now the company is back with Moov Now, which adds fitness tracking into the mix.

UPDATE: We've now tested swimming and cycling performance in more focused reviews. Check out our cycling tech group test and swimming tech review for in-depth analysis.

Moov Now is a refinement of last year's tracker, both in terms of design and features. The original was a dedicated sports coach, designed for running, cycling, swimming and boxing – but the second returns with daily activity tracking added to the mix, as well as a heavily modified design.

Essential reading: Best running watches

But can the company translate its original plucky sports tracker into a meaningful mass market sports giant? There's no easy ride for the start up here – so join us as we put Moov Now through its paces.

Moov Now: Design

Moov Now review

Let's start with the design. The original Moov was a chunky old sensor that attached to a fairly haphazard holder. Moov Now has been shrunk to a third of its original size, and feels much more manageable.

It still packs an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer – the trio of movement sensors that enables it to provide so many coaching stats – yet it doesn't feel as unwieldy as before, especially on the wrist.

The strap itself is also a triumph. Securing a sensor has proved to be difficult for some brands – we're looking at you Misfit – but Moov's new strap is a stroke of design genius. It's a silicon band with a tight pouch that the sensor slips into. It's secure, the unit never falls out and the holes in the top add texture and catches the light nicely. Someone actually thought it was a diamanté finish, the crazy fools.

The only issue is the security of the clasp, and it's easy for it to slip open when caught thanks to the shallow pins that you press through holes in the band. At night was a particular challenge, and we sometimes found it lying in the bedding come morning.

You get two straps in the box – large and small – which is helpful as you do need to position the Moov Now around your ankle for running and cycling tracking.

The other big change is the battery. Moov Now switches to a watch battery rather than a rechargeable lithium, so it offer six months of battery on a single charge. With the addition of daily fitness tracking this is a great move, and it's nice to have your Moov ready for a training session when you are.

Moov Now: Activity tracking

Moov Now review

In terms of features, the Moov Now carries all the same sports as before – but now in one app, rather than the six individual apps from the previous device. More on the sports tracking later, but daily activity tracking is the biggest notable addition to the mix.

User feedback asked step and sleep tracking to be added and Moov obliged.

In the same app as the sports tracking, Moov will track activity in the day and keep a tab of your active minutes during the day, and sleep at night. You can see these on the home screen of the app (below).

It's slightly basic – and that's a little disappointing. It certainly doesn't hold a candle to the likes of Jawbone, Fitbit or even the Apple Watch, and that's a shame. You can't dive into advanced stats on your sleep or stats, just scroll through time on a less than useful graph and see totals displayed.

Moov Now review

Moov also isn't that great at logging your sleep time. If you're still, it assumes you're asleep, so our sleep time was often logged as the entire time we were in bed. And if you forget to wear Moov, then it logs that as a mega long sleep time, which then messes up your averages.

It's useful feature for offering a more three dimensional picture of your fitness life, but it feels half-hearted, and that's a bit of a shame.

Moov Now: Sports coaching

Moov Now review

Where Moov has always excelled is sports, and it's important to emphasise the coaching element. A running watch is not a coach; it will not make you a better runner.

Running and cycling get the most coaching, while swimming and boxing sessions are tracked and reported. Finally the app will guide you and count reps for 7 Minute workouts, helping you progress from level to level as you get stronger.

Moov features a host of training plans designed to help you achieve goals and then uses a voice coach to affect your performance in real time. And in this regard, it's the leader out of a handful of similar products.

When you go out for a run, you can choose training plans from running efficiency, intervals and open training. These are given clear and beneficial names such as 'help me run farther and easier', 'improve my pace and distance' and 'push me to the limit.' It's the stuff hardcore runners want, and presented in a way that's not scary for newbies. It's a great selection of training plans, for all levels of ability.

When you head out for a run, the voice coach will explain what you're trying to do, and then keep tabs on the metrics and tell you when you're getting it right – and more importantly, how you can do it better.

Moov Now review

Running efficiency is a personal favourite, where the coach urges you to keep a high cadence over a series of intervals. Tips include "swing arms faster" and "take shorter strides", but will also jump in if you're hitting the ground with too much force ("be lighter on your feet") or it notices your posture degrading ("shoulders back" and "don't clench your fists").

When cycling, Moov Now will urge you to "change gear for an optimum cadence."

It works in a similar way for sprint intervals and speed endurance programmes, with the coach's voice giving you tips as you go, based on real time stats. And it's these stats that make Moov so unique. As well as stealing GPS from your phone for all the usual pace, distance and time stats it also tracks range of motion in your legs, g-force through your foot and cadence.

And that's just for running. It will detect and count your swimming strokes, show your cycling cadence and power (only accessible through very expensive kit before) and even the power of your punches on the boxing bag. All from one sensor. It's in a league of its own and highly impressive.

Read this: How gamification can get you fit

Each of the programs has around 40 difficulty levels, which you can switch between even in mid-session. And it doesn't hold any prisoners. We consider ourselves to be fairly competent runners, but even level 4 training plans pushed us hard. It's a real tool for improvers.

The only bugbear is that the indoor cycling metrics we were promised from Moov haven't showed up yet, but the company has proven its committed to adding new features, so we still hold out hope.

The 7 Minute workout was also, on the whole, excellent. We've seen some coaching devices recently, like the Jabra Sport Coach, that claim to take you through the training but won't count reps. Moov Now gets things right, and will track your arm position to tick off press ups, squats, sit ups and more – as long as you copy the form of the coach within the app.

It's not perfect. We'd like to see a better variety of exercises here – burpees and squat jumps are notable absentees on the workout list, and forget weights in the gym – but the program is easy to follow and enjoyable to do. Apart from some issues with sit ups taking a while to register our starting position, the 7 Minute workout segment is a triumph – and the progression through the levels actually adds an element of addictive gamification.

That is potentially something that's missing from Moov in general – there's no social elements to make friends with other users and challenge each other. Something that's done well within the Jawbone ecosystem.

Moov Now: Downsides

Moov Now review

Well, despite all the great additions to Moov, there are some big caveats.

Firstly, Moov needs your phone for coaching and GPS tracking and that's a real pain. Phones are massive now and strapping one on is starting to be a real drag. But Moov needs it because it takes the GPS data and plays the audio coaching through the phone app – so for this generation, you're stuck with it.

That's actually a dealbreaker for some. Editor-in-chief Paul flatly refuses to use Moov because taking his iPhone 6 Plus out on the trail is an insane thing to do – and that's a valid reason.

I usually run with my phone for music anyway – but the launch of the new TomTom Spark had me hoping I could ditch my phone. But to use Moov, that's just not possible.

Moov Now
Moov Now

The only caveat is that Moov is best for the short burst interval stuff, so you don't need to take it on EVERY run. We ended up using it for our short run days. But that means you lose your data for the long runs.

That also goes for cycling, where you will need your phone somewhere about your person, which makes training slightly difficult. However, you can leave your phone in the swimming pool locker room and sync up the data when you get back.

The second problem is that the coach's voice really starts to grate when you're really on the limit. She's robotic and monotonous, and often speaks too quickly. You can add reduced coaching, but that's not really the answer. She just needs an upgrade.

Moov Now: The app

Moov Now review

One of the biggest changes to the Moov ecosystem is the release of a brand new app that encompasses all sports – rather than the individual running, cycling, swimming etc there was before.

The app itself is straightforward and easy to use – displaying your daily stats front and centre, and then enabling you to switch to individual sports by tapping the icons across the top.

Every time you start a session – be it a run or 7 Minute workout – you just need to tap the Moov's button to pair it, and we're glad to report the process was always seamless.

You can also connect third party heart rate monitors into the mix as well, providing they use Bluetooth and not just ANT+.

Another nice touch within the app is the My Progress bar, which lists all your activities as achievements. As there are so many stages to work through, the My Progress tab will show off your current level and also list how many different workouts you've done. There's a good feeling attached to upping the level number, and completing a workout that's marginally harder than the last.

The long and short is that Moov does a better job at promoting and tracking your progress in your training than other wearables. Whether you're doing your first 10k or going for a sub-3 hour marathon, it's that attention on your personal achievement rather than spitting out data that stands it apart.


Moov Now
By Moov
A triumphant return, with its smaller size, improved strap and six months of battery life, Moov Now is a more mature tracker that's ready to be a big name in sports technology. It's geared towards helping you be better at the sports you love, rather than reporting how you did. It's an easy and compelling sell, and for our money, is what wearable tech should be about. Some of the misgivings remain: the need to carry your smartphone being the biggest downside to the device. However, just as with the original in 2014, there's still no device that can match the Moov in terms of benefits to your fitness.

Hit
  • Coaches and tracks
  • Displays progress
  • Great for all abilities
  • 6 months battery
Miss
  • Need to take your phone running
  • Coach's voice is robotic and annoying
  • Daily activity tracking is basic
  • Strap comes undone now and then


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4 comments

  • yogibimbi·

    Ummm, ever tried putting your precious Apple Watch around your ankle?

  • Vlad_Bronxi·

    bought the Moov now some time ago. was ok. Battery was empty very quickly (unfortunately I noticed exactly on the start line of the half marathon I was preparing for :( ).

    Then I also tried to buy the HR sensor. Never received the item. Tracking shows that it has been returned to the UK. Customer service not willing to refund but threatened to "fight" a chargeback which I now had to ask my bank to do. Still working to get my money back.

    Summary: Products might be good, but if you buy, buy from amazon or similar - not directly from the vendor! Or don't support these kind of vendors at all...

  • Vlad_Bronxi·

    sounds familiar :)

  • berag·

    I just swim. My training is only in the pool. I bought Moov now and I am completely satisfied. Before the pool I synchronize the device and free the memory and put it on my arm. When I get to the pool, I start training in the car and leave a smartphone in the car because the cabinets are insecure. When I get back from swimming, I start uploading a car and getting home is all over. The house looks at how many laps, the best time at 100 meters. How many strokes per lap. How many seconds per round. How many seconds per turn. How many meters per stroke. How many seconds per stroke. The battery lasts long. Moov now responds to me because while I swim I do not have a break. And I do not have time to look at it as much as I swim. I increased swimming from 1500 m to 1850 in 45 minutes. You need to buy a quality battery and it takes a long time. Initially, I had a problem with the battery. It's not striking at the pool and I do not want to focus on myself. No one at the pool use watch, only caps and glasses. Other devices do not have all the information I have.