The Nike+ Sportswatch is a basic and highly intuitive entry level GPS unit at a good value. It lacks the sophistication of higher-end units, but that will satisfy the needs of most athletes.
The Sportswatch GPS arrived in 2011 with much fanfare — Nike’s first GPS watch.
This unit was extremely easy and simple to use and intuitive. Simply select run on the menu—and go. You quickly choose from several options: GPS, Heart Rate, and/or Footpod and off you go.
The speed at acquiring satellites was on par with most watches I’ve tested. It takes around a minute or two—not bad. Like other watches, Nike has built in a series of data displays (distance, time, pace, etc) you can shift through to gauge your run. One thing that I noticed was a bit different was the split function that allows you to hit a split at any point in the run, and a pause bottom that you can hit if you need to stop briefly. Other than that the watch is fairly simple, not a lot of bells and whistles. Once you are finished with your run, simply tap the end button in which the summary of your run pops up.
Based on comparison with other brands, mainly Garmin, I found the Nike+ Sportswatch to acceptable—there was some conflicting evidence it might be somewhat less accurate than other watches on the market. During a 5,000m track test, it ended up being about 130 meters off. However, when wearing both my Garmin and the Nike on a longer run I found them to be nearly identical, only off by about 1/10th of a mile or so. GPS watches are usually around +/- 5% inaccurate. I found the Nike unit to fall into this range without any problem.
The Nike+ Sportwatch is compatible with two accessories, a footpod and hear rate strap: • Footpod, allows one to track speed/distance indoors or even outdoors, but the GPS mode would need to be turned off. • Nike uses Polar brand for the heart rate strap.
Like other GPS units, you can upload your runs and information to your computer and see everything displayed in graphs and routes. Nike’s design is quite unique in that the USB clip is part of the strap and one simply takes the USB cable and connects it to the clip then plugs it into the computer USB port for charging and analyzation.
The watch uses the Nike+ software from the Nike+ website. It’s a pretty simple, straightforward program that is not very time consuming. One nice feature is that the site automatically detects if your unit needs updating and does so for you. Another plus is that you can change your user settings via the computer. You can configure everything you need to do when on the computer which is helpful for some who hate scrolling through menu options on a small device.
I had only two major complaints. Altitude data is not available, and there seems to be no way to export run data from the Nike+ site.
Overall, this is a great introductory watch from Nike, similar to Garmin’s Forerunner 110.
*Note, the relative value of this watch may change when Timex’s $99 Marathon GPS trainer debuts Fall 2012