I was lucky enough to receive a Nike Sportswatch for Christmas to spur me into some much needed exercise. Why not one of those fancy smancy Nike Fuelbands? Well, I wanted something with GPS tracking in it so it could tell me how far I am walking, running etc, especially if I don’t stick to the streets. I also wanted something that didn’t look like a prison bracelet 😉
I considered just using the Nike+ Running app on my iPhone, but I didn’t want to lug my heavy (and expensive!) iPhone around with me on a run, when all I need is a watch. What if I dropped it??!! So a SportsWatch it was – they retail at about NZD $200 – much cheaper than an iPhone. It comes with a shoe sensor an an alternative which is good if you are running indoor on a treadmill (GPS not so great for that) or in places where there may be poor GPS coverage (eg rural areas), however this will calculate your distance based on foot fall.
Powered by TomTom for the GPS functionality, the Nike SportsWatch tracks your distance, pace, calories, elapsed time, and Nike fuel points. And it tells the actual time too! It keeps track of your data so it tells you when you’ve run a personal best, your all time fastest 1km, 5km etc and plays a little tune and cheers at the end of your run if it is a PB. It also has a stopwatch and alarm features.
It has a nice big display that you can customise to show your preferred metric while exercising, and if you tap the screen the backlight is activated for night time viewing.
The watch plugs into your USB port via a USB connector on the strap to transfer data and download the GPS satellite settings. Bluetooth would be a big improvement on this – it seems very old technology to need to actually connect to a computer. The battery lasts for 70 days (as just a watch) and 8 hours in exercise mode. It can be charged by plugging into your computer, or by connecting to any other USB charging device. Initially I had a few problems with the battery running down to flat overnight, but a soft restart fixed that.
When you plug your watch into your computer, the data is uploaded into the Nike+ website. There is a cool little animation that shows the route you travelled on a map, colour coded with red and green to show your speed or lack of.
The Nike+ website tracks all my progress, sets goals, shows me a truckload of data to be analysed and pored over including pace, total time, and calories – even your splits if you are into that kind of tracking. One graph shows your pace compared to the elevation. No surprises that my pace slows to an abolute crawl when the elevation increases a whisker.
You can optionally share each run or walk with your social networks (Facebook and Twitter), and there are settings for automatically sharing on each upload (but really – for the sake of everyone – don’t do this).
Nike+ website also gives you aggregated data compared to others who are the same age and sex as you, and the whole of the Nike+ community (over 7 million members).
I needed some support as the battery was running mysteriously flat so I jumped online and tweeted the Nike Support account (no reply), but over on the Nike Facebook Page there is an app for support. After navigating my way through that, I submitted my question, and received an email reply the next day. I’m not sure why my question wasn’t just answered within the app (so others could see the reply), but nevertheless it was a quick turnaround and solved my problem.
Others who have bought this watch warn of having thick wrists as the strap can’t be extended if you are big boned, and also that eventually the strap is the point of failure. For serious runners, or very long distance runners this might not be the watch for you, but for your regular run, jog or walk it is fine, and feedback from runners who are more dedicated than me suggest that they have been happy with this watch and its features. Here’s a review from NZ PC World from last year. So far, I’ve been happy with the Nike SportsWatch and have recommended it around the office to others!