Nike already offers a way for runners to keep track of their workouts with its Nike + iPod Sport Kit, but at CES 2011, the sportswear company gave athletes another tool for recording their runs: GPS. Teaming up with TomTom, the Nike+ SportWatch GPS now enables runners to collect route data, in addition to distance, pace, and other information, making it a great training aid. It's also one of the most attractive and easy-to-use GPS watches on the market. However, is it worth the $199 price tag? We hit the road to find out.
GPS sport watches aren't the most stylish gadgets, but they aren't meant to be fashion accessories, either. Still, there's nothing wrong with wanting a good-looking device, no matter what its purpose, which is why the Nike+ SportWatch GPS stands out from the crowd. Unlike a lot of the bland fitness watches out there, the SportWatch features a pretty eye-catching design with neon green (or yellow?) accents. It may be a bit much for some, but at least the green is relegated to underside of the wrist strap and a single button on the side, so we don't think it's too loud.
The other thing we noticed right away was the size of the watch. At 1.46 inches wide by 10 inches long by 0.63 inch thick, it looks rather bulky when you first take it out of the box, and we definitely had concerns about whether it would be too cumbersome for running. It does feel a bit clunky when you first put it on, and we wouldn't use it as our everyday watch, but the SportWatch felt very comfortable during our run, without any parts pinching or digging into the skin.
When not in run mode, the watch's screen simply displays the time in large, bold numbers, with the date and battery life shown on the right side in smaller detail. On the left side of the SportWatch, there are three buttons: two to scroll through various functions and one on the bottom that acts as a select and menu button.
Ready, set, run!
When you're ready to go for a run, just press and hold the yellow bottom button and select the run option. The watch will then search for the GPS signal (the GPS radio is built into the watch) and the Nike shoe pod sensor.
The Nike+ pod is included in the box and though they're designed to work with Nike shoes, it's not necessary. You don't even have to use it at all, but it's a good backup in case the watch loses the GPS signal, as it continues to track your distance, pace, and calories. We placed it under the removable padding in our sneakers. We should also note that the Nike SportWatch is also compatible with the Polar WearLink+ heart-rate monitor. You can link them by going to Run > Options > New sensor, but you'll have to buy this separately. Once the sensors are linked, you're free to run like the wind.
Once you're running, your distance is prominently displayed on the screen, while you can use the scroll buttons to get other various data, including pace, elapsed time, and calories burned, on the upper third of the display. You can program the watch to mark laps based on distance or time, or you can simply tap the screen while you're out running.
When you're done, just press the bottom button again to end your workout. The SportWatch will even give you a little pat on the back by displaying encouraging messages like "Great job!" or "Personal best!" It will also give you a friendly reminder if you haven't run in a few days as a little motivational nudge.