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CES: A Pricey Personal Trainer on Your Wrist

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Fitness buffs have been given plenty of options to track their activity in recent years, ranging from low-tech pedometers and free smartphone apps to sensor-laden clothing and body-monitor bands.

One of the pricier new entrants, the $250 Motoactv from Motorola, uses a square device just slightly smaller than a business card to monitor athletes’ speed, distance, and calories burned while running, biking or other less notable exercise like dashing up and down the stairs with an armful of laundry. (The watch strap bike mount and arm strap each cost $30 extra.) Paired with accessories like a $90 chest band or $130 earbuds, it can also track heart rate.

A spokesman says the Motoactv is unique in that it also stores music, and learns from a user’s performance which songs provide the most motivation. It also syncs with an app for Motorola smartphones to display notifications like incoming calls and texts, and scheduled appointments on a calendar. But is it better than well-reviewed apps like RunKeeper, or the $30 Nike+ tracker tag? A Motorola spokesman says the Motoractv is worth the additional cost for its accuracy, and because the lightweight device requires the user to carry less than someone with a tracker and an MP3 player. “It’s an all in one device,” he says.


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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.