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Nike+ SportWatch GPS review

Written By: admin on September 3, 2011 27 Comments

Whether you’re running the London marathon, or watching from the sofa with a bottomless bowl of Skittles, it’s worth checking out Nike’s new GPS watch. The Nike+ SportWatch GPS was one of the surprise stars of this year’s CES show, and it’s now on sale in the UK. But how does it match up to Garmin’s legendary fitness timepieces? Put down that bowl, and read our expert review to find out…

 

Let’s get this clear from the start: this is for runners only. There are no profiles to cater for cyclists and swimmers. This is as streamlined as GPS watches get – and it’s all the better for it.

You’ve got a big screen (that you can even slap to mark laps), a slick neon strap that stays on and stays comfy, and just three buttons. Your functions are limited on the watch itself – you can’t even set the time without hooking it up to your computer, but it’s clear Nike’s thought about every aspect of this, right down to the heart rate monitor compatibility and the cable included incase the USB connector on the watch strap itself is too wide for your laptop. You just hold down the select button on the watch to turn on the TomTom powered GPS and start running.

 

When you’re done, you simply stop it and enjoy the Nike+ SportWatch proverbially patting you on the back with encouraging messages and important milestones (fastest mile, say). Then you plug it in and sync your data to the cloud via the Nike+ Connect software for PC and Mac, and see where you ran, how far and how fast – even where others around you have been running, via a crowdsourced “heat map”.

That’s when it works, of course – with no cell towers or wireless networks to assist it as you’d get on a smartphone, the GPS can take some time to lock on. We frequently struggled to get a fix in central London, even in an open space.

Eventually the Nike+ SportWatch found us after thirty seconds standing in the middle of Blackfriars Bridge, and once it did, it held on, even through the high rise streets of the City. If you run in wide open areas and parks it’s not an issue, but if you live in a major conurbation, you may want to test out smartphone GPS tracking options first – they may not have you waiting around so long to start with.

Of course, when you do lose reception, you can fall back on the Nike+ sensor that comes in the box, and which can be tied to your laces, or even better, popped comfortably into the slot under your Nike Pegasus’ sole. This links up in seconds, and seems to track your distance very well, but of course you don’t get the benefit of the social aspect GPS tracking allows.

The Nike+ SportWatch is a simplistic fitness tool, but that’s the point, and crucially, it’s well-priced. If you’re after an (ugly) low end Garmin Forerunner for just tarmac treading, go with this instead.

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