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Nike Lunar Hyperdunk+ 2012 (Black/Metallic Silver) review: Nike Lunar Hyperdunk+ 2012 (Black/Metallic Silver)

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While I'm by no means a fashion critic, I wasn't a fan of the look of these shoes. They seem to try way too hard to appear futuristic, with ugly, thick plastic ridges and candy-color blue accents. The sneakers' tongues also felt thin and almost cheap -- not exactly something you want to feel if you've paid this much for a set of kicks this pricey. I wasn't alone in my style assessment, either; even the shoe enthusiasts in the office weren't enthusiastic. That said, the Hyperdunk+ shoes are very lightweight and comfortable.

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The shoes have a funky design. Sarah Tew/CNET

Like many other Nike+ products, the Hyperdunk+ keeps track of your Nike Fuel score based on your activity. After reviewing the FuelBand and deeply investigating Nike's Fuel score system, I feel it's really a motivational tool that works only if you choose to embrace the Nike ecosystem. Because Fuel is an arbitrary metric and involves select Nike products, most people aren't going to know what you're talking about if you say you scored 1,000 Fuel points in a game. Still, it remains a decent barometer of activity and is a reminder that you may need to get off the couch once in a while.

All the same, I'm skeptical about the usefulness of Nike Fuel in relation to these shoes. People who have invested in the idea probably have already bought a Nike FuelBand, so one of the metrics provided by Hyperdunk+ is redundant (although potentially more accurate, since it measures foot motion as opposed to wrist motion). Conversely, if you don't care about the FuelBand or Nike's Fuel concept at all, then the metric is meaningless. I appreciated the other data the Hyperdunk+ kit logs and found it helpful to look at how well I performed on the court. For the record, my progress was more of a mixed bag than anything else, with my leaping ability improving from game to game while my speed slowed dramatically as the day and games unfolded.

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The home screen of the Nike+ Basketball app. Screenshot by Roger Cheng/CNET

One big hassle I ran into was the need to repeatedly reconnect the shoe to my phone in between games. While playing I stowed my iPhone in my backpack and placed it on the ground at one end of the court. Because of the constantly changing distance between the phone and my feet while playing, the Bluetooth connection broke often, forcing me to resync between games. This sync takes a little while, too, which is very frustrating if you're getting rushed back on the court. Also to my dismay, I found that I had mistakenly pushed the wrong button in the iPhone app and didn't record stats for one game -- a particularly grueling one, I might add. Nike says the shoes and app were initially designed for players in game-time or practice situations, where the player would only need to sync once after a game.

Additionally, while the performance details the Hyperdunk+ tracks are interesting, having more would be better. For instance, I would have liked to know how many steps I took during a game, how much distance all my game-time steps added up to, or how many times I jumped any distance worth bragging about. As a result, the experience was a little lacking, especially considering the price you pay for the shoes.

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These shoes have gone through a few basketball battles. Sarah Tew/CNET

Early versions of the app asked me to sign in with my Nike+ information, even after I had synced properly with the shoes. The need to type in my username and password each time was a real annoyance, especially as I rushed out to games. Subsequent updates, however, seem to have fixed the problem, though I'm still wary of it popping up again. I do appreciate the short motivational clips from James included in the app. Don't worry, Laker fans, I was wearing my Kobe Bryant shoes and socks the whole time.

The Lunar Hyperdunk+ basketball shoes represent significant progress in integrating technology into off-the-shelf sportswear, and Nike should be commended for pushing the boundaries. Costing a premium of more than $100 over the base Hyperdunk model, these shoes are expensive even for hard-core sneaker enthusiasts. I'm also not a big fan of the shoes aesthetically. That's why I can't really recommend them for casual b-ball players. Still, if you have a few hundred dollars to burn; live, eat, and breathe basketball; and can stay diligent about connecting the shoes and tracking your stats, you might see an improvement in your game. But that's a lot of ifs.

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