Reboot and Rally

by Luofei Deng | 11/19/09 11:00pm

At the beginning of this term, I convinced myself that I was going to eat healthier and exercise more. To help me with the latter, I was sent the new Nike+ Sportband to review.

Unfortunately, as with every term, I quickly ran into the habit of frequenting the Food Court grill and proceeding to order a smorgasbord of fried, sauce-drenched cuisine. Adding insult to injury, my original plan of running twice a week turned into twice since the beginning of the term. (Guess I'm the new Twice-A-Term Tina). To help my slothful self with this review, I recruited the help of a youthful and energetic Jasper Hicks '12. He bravely pledged to fill in where I was lacking and put in some serious gym time with the Nike+.

Hicks is staff columnist for The Dartmouth.

The Nike+ Sportband is an extension of the Nike+iPod pedometer system, which has been around for a few years now. The Nike+ sensor wirelessly tracks your runs. The Sportband is made for people without iPods, or at least those who do not want to run with one.

The Sportband itself also functions as a watch, in addition to storing your run data. The actual receiver portion of the Sportband has an LCD display and a USB plug to transfer that data to the computer. There are only two buttons on the whole device, so learning how to use it is pretty straightforward.

Unfortunately, the display lacks a backlight, so the Nike+ is not optimal to use at night. Also, the shape of receiver can make it awkward to plug into some laptops, depending on the position of the USB ports.

Out of the box, the Nike+ was not particularly accurate. It registered 0.4 miles when Hicks had run a full mile. This was resolved, however, once I calibrated the sensor. Hicks said that the Sportband was comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and it was great to have the instant feedback at the end of your run. The Nike Running website provided even better analytics once the runs were uploaded.

Overall, the entire Nike+ package made running more entertaining and provided encouragement to even lackadaisical runners. Battery life was also pretty stellar. In fact, I could see the Nike+ Sportband making a great holiday gift, especially for someone who will make a New Year's resolution about getting in better shape.

While Nike would love for you to buy a pair of their Nike+ shoes, which have a special receptacle for the Nike+ sensor, it is possible for you to use the Nike+ with other sneakers. In fact, the Internet is swarming with accessories that will allow you to do just that.

At $59, the Sportband is a little pricey compared to the Nike+iPod Sport Kit ($29) or standalone Nike+ sensor (which is all you need if you have a newer iPod touch or iPhone 3GS). I prefer running with the Sportband over any touch screen device, and the Sport Kit only works with the iPod nano. In fact, other run-tracking watches can cost over $200 in that light, the Sportband almost seems like a bargain.

So whether a treat for yourself or a not-so-subtle hint to someone else, the Nike+ Sportband would make a thoughtful buy for anyone who runs.

Even if you do not, you can calibrate it to your steps and see how far you walk, like an elaborate pedometer.

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