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Customer Review

134 of 166 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Track Your Runs: A Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom Review, November 27, 2011
This review is from: Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom (Black/Volt) (Sports)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was familiar with using Nike+ GPS on my iPhone to track distance and pace while taking our dogs on long walks. Then I signed up with Team In Training to compete in my first half marathon. I trained with a large group of runners with varying experience levels who were split between using nothing, a wrist trainer, or a smart phone. I considered purchasing the Garmin Forerunner 305, but my coach advised against spending the money. At the time it was probably good advice, but now I want something more sophisticated than the Nike+ GPS app.

The stylish Nike+ SportWatch GPS, made in China, can be worn as a fashionable watch. When used for tracking runs, the SportWatch utilizes GPS satellites used by TomTom to map and track your run while auto-calibrating the shoe pod sensor. When the SportWatch isn't linked to the TomTom GPS satellites, the shoe pod sensor will track your run but may not be as accurate since there are no manual calibration methods. The double clasps secures the SportWatch to your wrist and also functions as the USB connection for transferring your data to the Nike+ website and customize settings.

On the left side of the SportWatch are three buttons, two black directional for up and down, and a colored button to select, or begin various options. SportWatch options include clock for manually setting time and alarm functions, run with the ability to turn on/off the sensor, GPS, laps, or intervals individually and tracking, history, records showing several stats and bests, and a stop watch.

When plugging in the watch from the hidden clasp USB connection for the first time, the user is sent to Nike's website to download the user interface, a simple tool which regularly transfers data to the Nike+ website, and updates the SportWatch's firmware and satellite positioning data. If you already have a Nike+ web account set up, your profile info will automatically transfer into the user interface. When you don't have an account, you can either create a new one or provide the information in the profile section of the interface. Additional customizable settings in the user interface include clock settings, run reminders, sounds and the stat loop can be set as well as lap and interval settings. The SportWatch is also charged by plugging in the USB.

To see GPS mapping with a run histogram or pace graphs, a Nike+ account is required. Other options available on the Nike+ website include coaching programs, goal setting, challenges, linking to friends, a world map showing all your GPS mapped run locations, and forums. Finding friends is based on a connection and postings to Facebook or submitting an email address. Looking for someone in your neighborhood to run with is difficult unless you're already friends with them.

The shoe pod sensor is your backup system for when the satellite is unavailable or running on a treadmill. It can also be used to quick start your run while the Nike+ SportWatch is linking to the satellite. Be sure to link your sensor by selecting Run -> Options -> New sensor. The shoe pod sensors can be problematic, as I have personally experienced, but are simple to deal with when the method is known. The shoe pod's solid white back has a small button, which when held down for five seconds will deactivate the sensor to preserve battery life. This is helpful for those without dedicated running shoes, or when the sensor won't be used for an extended period. A quick tap of the button, some recommend a few quick taps, will reactivate the sensor for use. If the sensor won't connect, it could be deactivated or need rebooted. If this is the case, deactivate the sensor, wait a minute, then reactivate to see if this resolves the problem. If the sensor is dead, you will need to replace it.

The TomTom satellite is finicky and requires a clear line of sight to the sky. Don't expect to link with TomTom satellites when running indoors. Nike recommends updating the SportWatch before use as satellite locations change regularly. (Take a laptop with you when you travel.) Then stand in a clear area with the SportWatch facing away from the body while linking, which could take from a few seconds to a couple minutes.

My first run with the SportWatch was frustrating as I couldn't get my sensor or satellite to link. After several firmware updates, I've concluded the SportWatch was rushed to market. Firmware updates are currently a regular occurrence, and the SportWatch seems to be more accurate or usable with each. Using firmware version 3.3.0 and a satellite link, the mapping information is accurate. I can fully track my runs, upload them to Nike+, and analyze my runs with trustworthy data.

Without detailed instruction, it has taken a lot of time and research to understand how to get the best results from the SportWatch. I've finally gotten the Nike+ SportWatch to work, and now it performs as expected. The consistent firmware updates, annoying as they are, shows Nike is committed to working out the kinks and making the SportWatch an effective running tool. If you use runkeeper or other apps, this may not be the best option. However Nike+ app users may find the SportWatch is a nice integrated upgrade.

PROS:
Stylish appearance
User-Friendly software
Lap and Interval settings
Weather resistant
Can use optional polar heart rate monitor

CONS:
Troublesome satellite linking
Constant firmware updates
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 26, 2012 9:49:26 AM PST
Very good and thorough review. I was wanting more information on how the shoe sensor worked in collaboration with the gps and your review did a good job of that. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 7:03:50 PM PST
LT Beasimer says:
Thanks for commenting, I'm glad you found my review helpful.

Posted on Feb 8, 2012 7:09:03 AM PST
I have the Nike+ Sportband and it's been pretty accurate ever since I calibrated it on a running track. I'm a bit surprised there's no similar option with the Sportwatch. Thanks for all the info. Initial reviews indicated it was indeed a rush job, but reviews made since the November 2011 firmware update are universally more positive. I will say that I talked to a Nike software engineer during the Crater Lake Half-Marathon who agreed that Nike+ had had a lot of growing pains overall, but that the company was making a huge effort to improve.

I hope Nike will continue to support and improve this watch. Since they just introduced the Fuelband, I'm worried their developers might be overextended or that this watch will be orphaned. I'd like to stick with Nike now that I have a couple years' of running data on their site, but Garmin GPS watches get better reviews consistently. If I knew that this line of Nike watches would be maintained and improved over time, I wouldn't hesitate to get one.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 8, 2012 8:13:06 AM PST
LT Beasimer says:
Thanks for commenting, I found your post interesting to read.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 12:07:25 PM PST
I actually have both the Garmin and the Nike+ system. The Garmin is more accurate by almost 1/8 of a mile. The Nike is user friendly and cheaper but I would so spend the money on the Garmin again due to the accuracy issue. I have tried calibrating Nike to no improvement.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 6:28:51 AM PST
D. Heyman says:
The watch uses GPS satellites. As far as I know, TomTom has no satellites, all their products use GPS.

Posted on Mar 11, 2012 1:04:09 PM PDT
QUANG TA says:
Good Review. Thank you for including where the product was made. Cheers!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2012 8:25:41 PM PDT
Pen Name says:
GPS = Global Positioning System, thus satellites...where the hell do you think GPS signals come from, Venus? I mean really?

Garmin nor Tom Tom "have" satellites, they are provided by the United States government and most if not all GPS units use these unless you have a newer product that can now feed off Russian systems, which Garmin now has, for unlike Tom Tom, they don't suck at GPS technology.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 5:34:14 PM PST
G.R. says:
Thank you for your review. I was just about to return two Nike Sportswatches because neither of them would connect to the sensors. Nike should send you a commission check and post your instructions to their user's manual. One click wakes the sensor back up, not three seconds. Three seconds puts it to sleep, so there has been a lot of profanity over the last three evenings! Thank you!
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