Nike + iPod Sport Kit

Nike + iPod Sport Kit

Small, light, and highly encouraging.

 

Nike and Apple have teamed up to provide a powerful motivational tool for both seasoned athletes and casual runners: the Nike + iPod Sport Kit. Along with its companion Web site, www.nike.com/nikeplus, the Sport Kit will track your runs, help you set and meet goals, and even partner you with others in group challenges.

 

The Sport Kit's hardware includes two small modules: a sensor that's designed to fit into one of the Nike+ line of running shoes ($85 to $110, www.nike.com/nikeplus) and a receiver that plugs into the bottom of your iPod nano (no other iPods need apply). Notice that we said that the sensor is "designed to fit" into Nike+ shoes. That's true, but it's only part of the story; you can also attach the sensor to your shoe in other ways, such as with Marware's nifty Sportsuit Sensor+, and the Sport Kit will work just fine. If you do choose a Nike+ shoe, however, installing the sensor is a simple matter of lifting the shoe's insole and placing the sensor in an indentation in the sole; after you replace the insole, you won't feel the sensor while running.

 

Calibrating the Sport Kit is equally simple. Merely use the nano's Sport Kit interface to enter your calibration distance - a 400-meter track is ideal - then run that distance; next do the same with a distance you walk. You're done - now you're ready for a workout. Again using the nano's interface, you tell the Sport Kit whether you want it to track your distance in miles or kilometers; you then choose from one of three ways of tracking your run: distance, time, or calories (if you choose calories, you'll be asked to enter your weight). Choose kilometers, a distance run, and a five-kilometer goal, for example, and during that run your iPod will announce to you when you've reached each kilometer; count down to the end of the run when your remaining distance is 400m, 300m, 200m, and 100m; and then let you know when you've reached your goal - though you can keep running past your goal, if you'd like, and that distance will be added to your run data. If all this goal-oriented running sounds too stressful, you can just run free, and your nano will simply track your distance and time; you can also pause the data-tracking during any type of run - great for red lights at intersections - and choose to have your nano not announce your progress.

 

Back at your Mac, you'll upload the run data from your nano to the Nike+ Web site (after first creating an account). Although at times painfully slow, the site provides a wealth of ways of setting goals and tracking your progress. You can, for example, set goals based on monthly distance, average times, and pace. When you meet a goal, you're rewarded with a virtual medal or trophy in the My Records section of your account. You can also get info on all your runs as a whole, inspect individual runs in detail, and challenge any other Nike+ Web member to a race - you run in your area, your opponent in theirs, then you both log back on, sync up your nanos, and see who won.

 

The bottom line. Even after only 20 miles of running on tracks, beaches, streets, and hills, we were hooked on the Nike + iPod Sport Kit. Sure, it has some minor shortcomings - your chosen music always ends when your run ends, and holding down the selection button to kick in your selected hyper-inspiring PowerSong is no easy feat while running at a good clip - but all in all, we heartily welcome our new personal trainer.

 

The Nike+ Web site does a thorough job of tracking your runs - or, in this case, a flat run, then a run up a steep hill and a walk down.

 

COMPANY: Apple
CONTACT: 800-692-7753 or 408-996-1010, www.apple.com
PRICE: $29
REQUIREMENTS: iPod nano, Nike+ running shoe or other method of attaching the sensor to your shoe
Works great. Highly motivating. Rich Web site. Multiple goal and reporting options.
PowerSong not easy to activate while running. Music ends when run ends.

 

 

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