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Motiv Ring review: Yes, you can have a fitness tracker in a ring

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I'm not a jewelry guy.  I have one ring: my wedding ring. So for me, the strangest part of getting a second ring was determining which finger to wear it on. Ultimately, I put the dark titanium and plastic Motiv Ring on the same finger of my other hand, mirroring my wedding band. It looks fine. In fact, a few people ask what type of ring I'm wearing. I tell them it's a fitness tracker. They usually do a slow blink.

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7.0

Motiv Ring

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Clean-looking, stylish design and a three-day battery life. It's waterproof so you can wear it while showering and swimming. It tracks heart rate, sleep and steps automatically.

The Bad

It only works with iPhones. No indicators or vibrations means you need to check the app for feedback. It doesn't track continuous heart rate, only resting and during activities. Its sleep tracking data isn't as deep as other wrist wearables, but it's fine for basic bedtime-wakeup logging. It lacks Apple Health integration. Its basic system of activity logging won't work for everyone.

The Bottom Line

Motiv's easy-to-wear fitness ring does the basic stuff surprisingly well, but its higher price and lack of extras mean it won't replace a good fitness band.

The $199 Motiv Ring, which debuted last fall, measures steps, sleep, resting and active heart rate, and lasts about three days on a charge. It syncs via Bluetooth to your iPhone -- sorry, no Android support yet. It's shocking to realize that everything a basic fitness tracker does can be shrunk down to so small a size. The waterproof ring has its own battery, plus an accelerometer and even an optical heart rate sensor.

TODO

The Motiv has no indicators, just an LED that changes color when it's charging. The ring magnetically snaps onto its USB charge dongle, but no AC adapter comes in the box.

If you hate the idea of a smartwatch or fitness watch (or have a regular watch you prefer to wear) and still want to track your activity, this might be an intriguing option. Much like the old Jawbone Up or the Fitbit Flex 2, this is a low-key way to keep some level of tracking in your life.

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That's it. Just wear it.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Casually connected

Motiv's fitness tracking concept is more laid back than stat-heavy. The app counts active minutes -- taking more than 100 steps every minute, for 10 minutes or more -- as the metric. It won't even do nonstop syncing, but you can trigger a sync by twisting the ring clockwise on your finger. But if I walk less than 10 continuous minutes, I get credit for nothing.

It's a clever idea that battles the thing I tend to experience on Fitbit, Apple Watch and others, which is just rewarding myself for a bunch of daily steps. Motiv counts overall total steps, too, but discounts the importance.

Heart rate is laid back, too: the app mainly tallies resting heart rate. Unfortunately, I find that of minimal use in my everyday life. There is a correlation between lower resting heart rate and fitness, but to see progress I'd need to track it for many weeks. The ring tracks average heart rate during 10-minute-or-more activity sessions, too, but there's no way to monitor your heart rate live.

Sleep tracking gets recorded as total hours, with some minimal feedback on "restless minutes." No on-wrist sleep tracker is particularly accurate in terms of measuring deep or light sleep, but Motiv's info was less detailed than Fitbit's. Still, it kept me aware of my bedtime and wake times, and made me realize once again how bad my sleep habits are.

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Sleep tracking info, and weekly estimates.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It feels like... a ring

Besides the "casual" approach to fitness tracking, the lack of any sort of feedback from the Motiv threw me. It doesn't vibrate, or send any notifications. Neither does the app. Maybe some people will cheer this. I'd prefer a little more active coaching or motivation: a bedtime reminder, maybe, or an alarm. I like to check my progress. Maybe a ring of LEDs that lights up? A glowing color? A buzz? OK, I have no idea how a finger vibration would feel, and whether I'd like it, but I'd like to interact more.

The ring's titanium gray and "medical grade" plastic underneath feels comfy, and I had no problem wearing it. But having a fitness tracker ring presents a few issues: I got sauce on it when eating, and when I shower or wash my hands, soap gets all over it. Is that OK? I don't know. So far, so good. I rinse it off and keep going.

The Motiv Ring also isn't adjustable: you have to size yourself to buy one. Ordering one involves getting a bunch of plastic rings sent to your home -- Motiv's ring-sizing kit. I got a size 11 ring, which fits my right finger fine. But what if I lose weight, which I hope to, and my size changes? My wedding ring slipped off last year, and I had to buy a piece of elastic to keep it on my finger (I'm looking to get it formally resized). But a piece of tech like the Motiv Ring can't be taken to a jeweler.

Cool tech, but not the best fitness tracker

The idea that you can ditch a watch or band and just wear a Motiv Ring is sort of fantastic. It hints at all the types of tiny fitness wearables that are bound to come: maybe an earring or a small patch, or who knows what?

But while Motiv's basic tools are good, they're nowhere near as useful as Fitbit's deep stats and features, or Garmin's, or Apple's Apple Watch goals. Maybe it'll get better. But I will say I started wearing the Motiv every day just to see if I'd achieve my next goal. I started to get hooked. The Motiv convinces me that the future of fitness trackers may not be on the watch after all.

02-motiv-ring
7.0

Motiv Ring

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 8Battery 7Performance 7Software 6Features 6