Update: Ahead of our Moov HR review and the new app incoming, we've updated our review.
This is a Five-Run Review, part of TechRadar’s new Running Man of Tech diary reviews – check back regularly as we update the piece with new findings!
Moov Now is an odd wearable. In a wearable world where the screen is king, this unremarkable disc eschews a display yet still contains a huge amount of power.
It’s got nearly all the top elements a fitness tracker should have: months of battery life, step tracking, sleep monitoring, fitness updates, cross training and run coaching.
You can even go swimming with it and get a decent boxing workout too – and the Moov Now is one of the cheapest (and most attractive) on the market.
Coming in at only £50 / $60 / AU$79, this is an exceptionally low-cost way to keep an eye on your overall fitness – and the only downside is that you need to use your smartphone to see your statistics, which doesn’t feel like the biggest drawback.
But how does it perform day to day? It’s all very well a brand saying that its product can track steps / exercise reps / running movements, but if it's poorly put together and doesn't do anything efficiently, then what's the point?
I'm going to put it through a five-run review, where I'll work out with this strapped on for five days (surprisingly), trying as many modes as possible and finding out whether it's worth your money, even at this low cost.
The Moov Now design couldn't be simpler. It's a small disc that comes in variety of colors and sits in an attractive latticed black rubber strap.
It's very light and only has a small button on the top, which you'll click when you want to start an exercise or sync your fitness stats to get an up-to-date look.
It sits quietly and lightly on the wrist, and most of the time I never even noticed it. This caused heart-stopping moments a few times when running (as you'll need to wear it on the ankle for any jog monitoring) because it's actually hard to feel it's there.
Apart from the disc itself feeling a bit plasticky (but then again, you'll never touch it because all the tapping can be done through the strap, and only changing from arm to leg holster will require you to touch it) and the battery cover requiring a touch of prising to get off, it's almost impossible to fault the design of this wearable.
Setting up the Moov Now is a little trickier than wearing it, but it's far from tough. Download Moov's app and you'll be asked to sign up to the platform (so all your data can be synced across devices) either directly or through Facebook.
After that it's just a few vital statistics to get things going and make sure the calorie burn is as accurate as possible, and you're off.
With a dizzying array of things you can do straight away, from interval aerobic sessions to cycling to swimming to cardio boxing, there's a lot on offer here.
However, I found that just strapping it on and going to bed started things off instantly – no need to tell the Moov Now that I was slumbering – and the accuracy was perfect, to the very minute when I awoke.
The first workout
I decided to start my Moov experience slowly, so the '7+ minute circuit training' seemed decent, and I began at the bottom level. I noticed that '7+' is a bit generous, as the higher up the levels you progress, the longer and longer you're working out for.
But it does say '+', so I can't call advertising standards just yet.
I was really impressed with the workout tracking, though. It's superb. I was taken through three progressively harder circuits of star jumps / jumping jacks, press ups, crunches, squats, lunges and planks, and the Moov Now missed just TWO motions from around 125 reps performed (and one of those was me not doing the proper motion when lunging).
I've just come off reviewing the Samsung Gear S3, which promises the same workout tracking... the difference between the two wearables is insane.
The Moov Now is the best I've seen so far - and it even throws in useful form-training nuggets of coaching while working out (such as 'imagine there's an apple under your chin' when doing crunches - a really helpful hint).
There are a couple of quibbles: no Chromecast support so I have to look at my phone screen to see the workouts, and here's the bigger one: the voice isn't recorded, it's text to speech. So that means a robot is reading out every word separately, and it comes out weirdly disjointed.
Given I had to download this workout before starting, why can't Moov have recorded someone speaking it like, well, an actual person?
There's no heart rate monitor either, so the calories-burned metric is a little redundant, but that's minor - you can use a third party monitor if you want, and Moov is offering its own head-mounted option in the new year (although you'll need to love the Olivia Newton John look if that's going to be your workout fashion of choice).
Right - it was run time. I only had to do a short run today, so I decided to go for some cadence training (which Moov calls 'running efficiency') as that's always been a good way to get faster.
I pushed this right up to level 16 straight away to get the maximum out of the test, but others might want to start slower - it can feel (and look) weird to be trying to get 190 steps per minute into a jog. I did get funny stares on my way to work.
However, it's worth it. You're forcing your legs to turn over faster, and that's going to teach the right muscles to get better and more efficient, so you can go further with each stride. Winning.
Again, Moov Now was excellent. You do need your phone strapped to your arm to hear the coaching, but it's straight into easy instructions to warm up (although that DAMN ROBOTIC VOICE was back) and then into the workout - if you fall below the speed required or are hitting the ground too hard, you'll be told through your headphones.
It's a really simple system: you hear a pleasant jingle when you're working out correctly and at the right speed, and the app will keep jingling to let you know you're on track.
There's also a minute-by-minute update on your cadence and, overall, it's all very easy to follow.
The same style of form-training tips from the cross-training workout are on offer as well (such as: 'imagine you're walking on hot ground' 'keep your back straight' 'imagine you're holding an egg in each hand') which make achieving the correct running form much easier too.
At the end of the run you're given all your metrics in one easy to use place - that's great, but some of mine were 'out of ideal range' - for instance, I was hitting the ground too hard with each step.
There's nothing telling me how to fix this, which makes me sad. I'll just have to try harder next time.
However, end of day one and I'm really enjoying the Moov Now system - it's complete and fluid, tracks everything I need and has a lot of fun things to try.
- Gareth Beavis is TechRadar's Running Man of Tech, testing the latest in fitness technology in a never-ending quest to run further and faster and bringing you the results in a weekly column.
- If you want to say hi, he's @superbeav on Twitter
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- And if you want to get the full lowdown on the latest and greatest running tech, read the rest of the Running Man of Tech story here