Nike+ SportWatch GPS: Sneak Preview

Nike has promised its new Nike+ SportWatch GPS will be a "game changer". Runner's World couldn't turn down the opportunity to take the watch for a test run to see whether it lived up to the hype. We know it looks good, but does its functionality match up to its fashion-conscious aesthetic?

What it is?

The Nike+ SportWatch GPS, which is powered by Tom Tom, was unveiled in January at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in the US. It will be available online and from selected retailers in the UK from April 1. Have a look at a video about the watch here.

What does it offer?

  • The watch uses GPS to deliver accurate time, distance, pace, location and calories burned. However, it can also be synced with a Nike+ foot sensor, which will take over if the signal cuts out under heavy tree cover or if you want to train indoors.
  • Heart rate-monitor compatibility
  • Tap screen for activating the backlight and setting laps
  • Displays run history using data from past runs
  • Easy to use with a clear interface, only three buttons and a tap screen for navigation.

What's unique about it?

  • The watch allows you to connect directly to Nikeplus.com and join a running community of almost four million members.
  • Get recognition (or "Attaboys") when you set personal records.
  • Reminders appear after five days if you fail to log a run.
  • Search a catalogue of routes logged by other runners and mapped using Tom Tom technology at Nikeplus.com. Search for routes by location, length, difficulty and landmarks.

Our verdict

"RW were the first people outside of Nike to get their hands on this new GPS watch - one of only two samples in the UK presently. I used it on a lunchtime run in the centre of London and the results were mixed, but mostly positive.

The watch picked up the satellite signal in under 10 seconds each time, functionality was a doddle, with logical, Nokia-like simplicity, and it was easy to see your stats thanks to the clear pixellation and large numbers. I particularly liked the split-screen effect whereby the bottom two-thirds would keep your overall time on display while the top third would scroll through your other data if you prompted it.

A couple of small irritations were that the signal strength appeared rather variable even in open ground, and the three buttons on the left of the watch are closer to the underside than to the top, meaning you almost have to wedge your thumb underneath the watch to press a button on the run.

However, it's worth pointing out these are only initial observations and we look forward to putting the Nike+ SportWatch GPS through its paces properly when further samples become available." Kerry McCarthy, RW Gear Editor