For the second time this year, a PR company contacted me and said “fancy loosing some weight? Try this out!” I’d be outraged but both times there was a doughnut to my immediate left, waiting to be eaten. The first was the Philips DirectLife Monitor – an odd pedometer thing that tracks your movement throughout the day and then chastises you for sitting in a chair all day typing. The second is the Nike TomTom GPS sports watch, which demands even more effort from you – you actually have to run.
For a sports product the Nike watch is incredibly cool looking. I’d happily wear it just as a regular cool looking retro watch. The funky black and neon green design, large font display and big chunky buttons are hip enough to walk around the hippest parts of East London without ostracism and the Nike Swoosh is tastefully downplayed. For someone who’s spent ages staring at this timepiece with longing, it’s a lovely piece of kit. I know it’s a functional item, but a watch is something you spend a good deal of time wearing so it’s important that it
But what about running? The watch works with GPS and a Nike+ shoe sensor to record distance, pace, elapsed time, BPM (if you buy the heart rate monitor), and calories burned while running. You simply hit the green button and get going. Well if you have a Nike+ shoe sensor. If you try GPS only it seems to take a little longer to connect. On occasion it took minutes to link to the satellite, which was a little frustrating but as Louis CK says “it’s going to space! Give it a second!” As you run, you can use the scroll button to toggle through your distance, pace, elapsed time, calories or time of day. You can slap the screen – either to illuminate the watch or to log laps/intervals. At the end of the run you get an “Attaboy” encouraging remark and if you haven’t run for a while the watch will remind you – both of which are pretty cute.
To set the watch up you’ll need to download some special Nike+ software, that thankfully runs on Macs and PCs. I had to do a bit of Googling to get the right version of the Mac software but accord to forums this is a “known issue” and should be rectified soon. The USB connector is built into the end of the watch strap – which is relentlessly badass – and the software allows you to update the watch settings – leaving the onboard interface as simple as possible. When I first heard of a TomTom GPS enables watch I assumed it would have some sort of map built in on the screen. However this is not the case – the watch knows where I am, it just refuses to tell me (what a jackass!) unless I log into the Nike running community which allows me to explore routes and compare with other runners in my area.
At £176 this is far from cheap and certainly is no toy. And you can get lots of these features built into any smartphone capable of using RunKeeper. However, it is an excellent watch, with a cool design, innovative functionality and incredibly simple to use. If you’re serious about your running I’d definitely give it some careful consideration.