Nike+: First Look

Nike - along with Apple - have just put on a sprint in the race to make the sexiest running gadget yet. It's a speed and distance monitor within the world's favourite MP3 player


Posted: 13 July 2006


The Nike+ receiver fits into the bottom of a standard iPod Nano

Nike – along with Apple - have just put on a sprint in the race to make the sexiest running gadget yet.

The ‘Nike+’ kit turns Apple’s sleek iPod Nano MP3 player into a speed and distance monitor, using a tiny wireless footpod and a small plug-in receiver on the iPod. It’s very slick, and it ties special musical features and audio coaching into the package. But is it any good?

RW went to a pre-launch press day and took one home to find out. (It’s on sale from July 13.) Here are our first impressions: we’ll write a more in-depth feature and a head-to-head test next week:

How it works

You’ll need an iPod Nano and iTunes software on a PC or a Mac first of all. (The Nano starts at £99 for a 240-song capacity model).

Then you’ll need a Nike+ Sport Kit at £19 – that consists of the motion sensor footpod for your shoe (an oval ‘button’ 35mm long and 7mm thick) and a little plastic receiver that plugs into the bottom of your iPod Nano (about the size of a large stamp). The receiver automatically adds speed & distance functions to your iPod screen when you switch it on.

The other part of the package is a Nike+ shoe – that’s a standard Nike running shoe with a special oval slot under the insole for the motion sensor. Initially the lightweight Air Zoom Moire+ at £65 is the only Nike+-enabled model; the more cushioned Air Zoom Plus and more stable Air Max Moto will follow in late summer. Read on for whether we think the shoe is optional.

You can see your running time, pace and distance on the iPod screen, and scroll through the history of your past runs. You can also log your runs automatically on Nike’s free training log website – nikeplus.com – whenever you plug your iPod back into your computer. More on this below.


The Nike+ motion sensor and the Air Zoom Moire shoe

Is it any good?

If you own an iPod Nano – or wanted one – already, then the extra £19 for a speed and distance function is a bargain. It doesn’t exactly turn your iPod into a running watch – its only stopwatch functions are a ‘stop’ and ‘start’, for example – but it’s very friendly, and its basic speed and distance function seems to work just fine. And – of course - it plays music using the best software around.

Our initial tests bear out Nike’s estimate of 90% accuracy if you use the motion sensor straight out of the box without calibrating it. Nike claim this rises to 97% when calibrated: we’ll test that more fully soon, but that would be consistent with most conventional footpod-based SDMs.

How does it compare with GPS-based SDMs, like Garmins? GPSs should be fractionally more accurate. The Nike+ also shares the mild disadvantage of all foot-sensor-based models that you have to transfer the footpod to each shoe you use – or, even more limiting, stick with Nike+ shoes if you follow Nike’s recommendation. Our initial tests suggest that you can fix the little Nike+ footpod under the laces of any shoe and get a reading that’s similar to the ‘official’ one. Watch this space for more testing.

The free training log functions, based on Nike’s easy-to-use website – are basic with nice twists. There’s no space for notes and no way of categorising your runs, for instance, but the site does show you progressing towards long-term goals, and includes the cool function of ‘challenge a friend’, in which your records are logged side-by-side; and a weekly ‘race’ in which you can log your time against everyone else on the system.

The audio functions are unique. You can listen to your iPod as normal during your timed runs, but you can also set audible countdowns towards a time or distance goal – and press a button to hear a ‘power song’ of your choice when you need a boost. Nothing that will make a Garmin Forerunner owner throw away their wrist-top watch, but nice touches. We weren’t sure that we needed Paula Radcliffe’s voice congratulating us at the end of every run, however, but maybe that’s personal taste.

Tried one yet?

If you've tried one, rate it here!

Official sites

You can read more at Apple's site and Nike's site

Nike's web-based software lets you log your history and compete against friends

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Discuss this article

...the competition where I get to win one (please)?
Posted: 13/07/2006 at 19:14


LOK
hmm
very good point
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 00:11

Happy recipient of Nike+iPod yesterday and as I don't have Nike trainers have secured sensor under my laces with a couple of tie-wraps and so far...............it works! Yippee!! The sensor isn't even the direction it would be in the Nike shoe as I couldn't secure it any way other than horizontal.

I've only pranced around the house so far but will be putting it to the test pounding concrete later today. I'll keep you posted.

Are Nike trainers any good? Nervous of changing my Saucony Omni as they have treated me so well. Looks as though Nike have only launched one basic pair of iPod compatible trainers, with two more styles following later this year.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 08:31

Whitpod - I'm not at all jealous... honest... even though I have a GPS I'm still tempted by the powersong thing... let us know how it goes - also let us know how lovely or annoying the voice is that tells you your pace - I'm hoping they bring out celebrity voices (I think I need Anna Friel urging me to go faster!) - one thing on the shoes is that I think adidas are building shoes with a gap ready for polar sensors - so it will be interesting to see if they are compatible...

And I've decided to forgive RW for nto putting up a competition yet - I guess they do have to award me my 305 first, and then afterwards they can get on with my ipod+ :-)
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 08:50

Hollywood ive asked to road test em.

They need a fair and honest opnion!

no word from robbie baby though :-(
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 08:57

Definitely interested in hearing from anyone using this in non-official shoes. I'm pretty sure, when it was first announced, the Nike shoes were described as 'optimised' for it, rather than being 'mandatory'... but the Apple online store lists Nike+ shoes among the 'requirements'.

Convince me it'll work with my Mizunos, and I'll be investing in one on Monday. :)
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 09:25

Like wise. If someone can confirm it gives accurate results on other shoes (such as my asics) then I’ll be straight down to Regent St. I've been considering buying a Nano and a Garmin but the Nike+ will cover both!
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 09:35

I'm an Asics user as well and wouldn't want to switch. From the Nike web site, it looks as though you would have to carve a cavity under the insole in which to place if you don't have one of their shoes. If the shoelace method mentioned earlier works, I am onto this for sure. Would love to hear how the non-Nike wearers get on.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 10:58

Could you stick it in one of them ankle wallets for timing chips?

Posted: 14/07/2006 at 11:04

Hmmm - Anna Friel encouraging you to go harder and faster ? Has possibilities...

All looks very gadgety - now if only I could get my s*ddin' pc to connect to the ipod...
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 11:13

Went running with a friend this morning so a bit unfair to stick my iPod on!

Since tinkering about on the computer have discovered that the Nike+ Workout download is only available from iTunes Store in the US at mo. Voice and pumping tunes train you through your run, depending on whether you wish to build endurance or speed. I'm sure now that the gizmo has been released in the UK it will follow on our iTunes store. Fingers crossed. Sounds like fun. Cheaper than a personal trainer?!

Re. using non-compatible shoes, watch this space. May go out for a play later and calibrate the sensor.

Seeya.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 11:26

Whitbot - if you don't have time to test it properly I can help.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 11:48

cougie whats the problem with connecting?


Posted: 14/07/2006 at 11:51

Check out the following site

http://www.engadget.com/2006/07/13/unboxing-the-nike-ipod-sport-kit/#comments

Am a little dubious about how effective it is, considering I paid substantially more for a Polar s625x!

But it seems like you can use it any shoe, you don't need to carve it into your insole


Posted: 14/07/2006 at 12:02

Whilst it appears to be a useful gadget, I think the concept behind it fell short of the mark. One questions who the product(s) is/are aimed at.

If the primary target audience was EVERYONE and that the aim was to get people out running and listening to music; then fair do's - although I find it hard to believe that 'responsible' companies should go against established personal safety advice.

If it was aimed at more serious runners then; why not make the footpod more universal? why not provide some heart rate monitoring function? and why not provide a facility for lap times? At the very least.

I don't think I'll be buying one. But if there were a competition....
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 14:13

TT - just fails to recognize my shuffle now. It used to work, and then stopped. And now Itunes and my PC seem to have 'issues'.

Studio - I'm thinking Nike may well be subsidising this gadget. So they want you to buy their shoes. I reckon there will be sensor pouches up on Ebay within the week though so you can use it with others.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 14:23

whitbot: I use the itunes US store, as it's cheaper than the uk. Haven't got an ipod though...
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 14:57

I did write in our 'first-look' article (above) that it seems to work fine in non-Nike shoes - though the official line from Nike is that it works at its best in the Nike+ shoes.

We just tucked the footpod under our laces, which admittedly is probably a good way to lose it after a while...

We plan to do a head to head with other footpods and a GPS model next week - would be interested to hear what anyone else finds out

Sean, RW
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:07

£120 for a foot sensor'd S&D monitor (I don't own a nano), how does that compare?

I don't intend buying into apple's attempt at mobile music monopoly so I'm not that bothered but does the nano use a miniHD of is it a smartcard type of player?

Why do so many people buy ipods? They used to be white which looks nice if your name is Tracy, you are from Essex and you are interested in buying a Ford Escort Cab. or a pair of stillettos otherwise it's naff.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:07

Sean send one to me, i will send it back.

I have a nice muddy course to practice on.......

earl, heathen. I got a sexy black one.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:10

Tri, sending our test model to you might actually be a good way of stopping the violence in the office over who gets to keep it...
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:12

They're £20 aren't they? Why the fighting?
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:16

.... having said that, an RW Towers biffathon might be entertaining. Any chance of a podcast?
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:18

I'm no expert right, but how on earth could Nike claim that this will only work on a nike shoe? It's impossible. When people start to realise this, they'll drop the pretence and market it at the majority of runners who don't use nike shoes. Do Nike running shoeswork in a different way to my sauconys or something? I doubt it.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:24

I'm guessing that 90% of Nike wearers know nuffink about running other than what they've gleaned at their local megasportsfashionshop. They probably don't even know of sauconys - so they'll fall for it.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:30

Cougs i wear nikes!

oh sorry 1/10 is not that bad.

Im a perscuted minority for wearing nikes.
P*ssed of thought, JJB sell vermeros!

Sean, LOL!
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:33

TT - that makes you special then. ;-)
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:38

Shunned at races, laughed at. called chav.
What us nike proper runners put up with.

Is this gizmo in the shops? I might might get one after work. If its sh*t the old girl can have it.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:41

Matty, the (only) difference is that the Nike+ running shoes have a special clip-in hole under the insole for the motion-sensor footpod
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 15:55

Does Paula really cheer you on at the end of each run? Is the message customisable and can it be used for other exhaustive activities?
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 16:42

Just completed my first run 5K used my garmin as well to test accuracy. Even though I haven't calibrated it it was only a couple of meters or so different from my garmin (301) that is until I got under tree cover when garmin predictably gave up. Uploading it to the website was as easy as.
I ran in the Moire's they were great, not enough cushioning for longer distances though as they are basically a souped up version of the frees.
Unfortunately its not really Paula giving you the info just a generic american lass (or bloke if that floats your boat).
Just need iTunes UK to catch up with the US version and start selling the coaching mixes. £7.99 for a top marathon coach sounds lie a bargain to me.
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 17:36

Ummm...this NIKE+ seems like a fab idea and I alway run with my Nano - but you telling me you can only use it with Nike+ shoes?? That seems real silly and annoying if that's the case. Also...its not going to fit in the Ipod armband holder!!:)
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 20:32

Hi Foo Bar.

How do you download music from US version of iTunes Music Store?

Calibrated gizmo tonight, worked perfectly with sensor tie-wrapped under my shoelaces. Downloaded to Nike.com with ease. How does it know what distance I have run?? I am confused but very happy with my new toy.

Go buy it tomorrow. Runalong!
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 21:30

I have been considering an s625x for a while to upgrade my old polar, purely for the pace/distance information.

Does the nike+ system work in a similar way to the s625x or is it effectively an expensive pedometer? I already own a nano, and if it is as accurete as an s625x, it seems like a bargain to me. (presume you can listen to normal music still as you run?)
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 22:04

I have a Garmin 301 and to be honest, I think I have got so tied up in looking at it as I run (worrying about speed, heart rate etc) that I have wrecked all my pacing

To go back to basics, for me, seems like a good idea.

As I already own a Nano I am more than happy to pay the £19 but, like Han Lilac, wonder if it will fit into an armband.

From the photo on the website the Nike armband looks a tight fit and if you are adding an inch or so to the length, will the Nano still fit.

If anyone has any experience of this I would be pleased to know the answer

Thanks
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 22:08

whitbot: Well... It's pretty tricky to get a US account without having a card on a US address. However, I bought a $50 itunes card and could create an account with it :)
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 22:20

I found this quite interesting......

http://www.engadget.com/2006/07/13/nike-and-apple-launch-nike-ipod-sport-kit-for-real/

Might answer (or raise) some questions
Posted: 14/07/2006 at 22:34

Foo Bar

How did you get your 50 dollar itunes card?

Has been bugging me and hubby for ages, as the US site has so much more music on it.

Cheers
Posted: 15/07/2006 at 10:17

I actually bought it in an apple store in the US. But all you need off it is the number under the scratch card. I'm sure it's possible to buy these cards over the net somewhere, or if you know anyone in the US they could get one for you and send you the code.
Posted: 15/07/2006 at 11:02

I'm going to the US in November and am happy to accept cash.

:)
Posted: 15/07/2006 at 11:13

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