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Review of Nike+ SportWatch GPS

Gear Review: Nike+ SportWatch GPS

It was only a matter of time before Nike created a GPS sports watch. The company introduced the Nike+ system five years ago, so adding a new component to the system seemed the right way to celebrate the half decade mark. And following its tradition of innovative design, this watch is good looking. Much more stylin' than other GPS watches out there with a relatively slim profile and easy-to-read face.

The company sent me a Nike+ SportWatch GPS ($200), and I've been testing it out. New gear always helps me step up my workouts. Yep, I've been running a bit more these days. The watch comes with a Nike+ foot pod and charging cable, which you will likely never use since the watch has a USB plug integrated into the band. Meaning you can plug the watch directly into your laptop to upload your workout data to the Nike web page while charging the battery of the watch, too. This is super convenient and the coolest feature of the watch, in my opinion.

The Nike+ SportWatch has the most simple user interface of any GPS watch or heart-rate monitor I have ever used. It only has three buttons. One to scroll up. One to scroll down. And one to press enter. You use the Nike website, which opens up automatically after you plug in the watch to your computer, to program your personal data: age, weight, etc., as well as preferences (sound off/on, splits, create interval workouts).

Keep on reading for more details about this watch.

This is a watch for running. It tracks your pace in real time, and can calculate your average pace, too. It tracks your distance, using GPS (powered by TomTom), but also uses the Nike+ foot pod should you lose satellite connection (which happens in cities or odd dead zones), or if you choose to run inside on a treadmill. When you upload your run, all the data is graphed out for you: pace and distance. If you add the Nike+ Polar Transmitter chest strap ($70) into the mix, you will get data on your heart rate and a more accurate measurement of your calories burned. I love these charts. And in keeping with the online Nike+ community, there are great social aspects to the website — you can challenge your friends and check popular running routes in your hood. The site even recommends popular runs based on the ones you upload.

Unfortunately, the watch has no other option for use other than running. The GPS feature is so great that I have used the watch on long bike rides — and now my watch believes that I have run 34 miles at the blistering pace of 3.34-minute miles. Paula Radcliffe even came on my computer screen when I was syncing the watch to congratulate me for running a marathon. I felt like we had some serious miscommunication (but isn't that cool that athletes come on-screen to motivate you). Since I like having all my workouts in one spot, I also use the watch at the gym for training sessions. Maybe in the future Nike will make a GPS watch with an all-around fitness focus.

I tested the accuracy a bunch. Running routes, syncing the watch, then mapping the run with MapMyRun to compare, and everything lined up. Yet I ran a 5K this weekend, and my GPS watch shows the distance I ran was 3.24 miles. Odd, no? I wasn't wearing the footpod for the race, so maybe that led to inaccuracy. Also, sometimes when I glance at the watch, my instance pace will read much slower than I am obviously going. Like 13:13 minute mile, when I am passing people jogging. So sometimes the number don't line up. My theory is the watch is recalculating the average pace after reconnecting to the GPS satellite after brief disruptions, but seeing such a slow pace is nonetheless disconcerting.

Here's a video so you can many of the watch's features in action.

For ease of use, looks, and inspiration, I really like the watch and enjoy using it. But if you're a super-hard-core runner, it might not be enough for you, and the occasional issues with accuracy might really bug you. Have you tried the watch? Tell me what you think.

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