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Review: Nike+ SportWatch

My rugby and a few athletic items days are long gone, even before I reached varsity I had forgotten how to measure up to the perfect drop kick. In this fast paced life, it really is hard to keep in shape. Even for us in Bloemfontein, we hardly find the time for a proper work-out.

But I do like to get my runs in when I can. I love that all fresh and worked up feeling you get after a proper run. Sadly the runs only last for a week or two. For years I’ve tried all sort of sports watches and GPS devices to heart rate monitors that  resemble the machinery you’d find at the doctors room.

Lately, I’ve resorted to making use of Nike’s Running iPhone App. It’s all smooth sailing until you run out of data or like me, you forget to charge your iPhone throughout the night. Hence I’m so intrigued by this Nike+ SportWatch which arrived on my desk two weeks ago. The guys at Nike and Nike+ have for long being on the mercy of iPod and iPhone users (such as myself) but lately and slowly Nike has managed to build standalone devices such as this one with a built-in TomTom GPS sensor.

Packed nicely in a crisp white box, you’ll find the Nike+ SportWatch itself also in a crispy white colour, a few how-to booklets, a tiny disc shaped device that fits inside certain Nike shoes or can be fitted on any pair of runners and a 1.5m USB extender cable. The Nike+ SportWatch connects to the tiny disc or it can grab data from orbiting GPS satellites. Clever hey?

Once you’re done with your run you can upload it up to your Nike+ profile online by flipping the little cover on the wristband to expose a USB connector which easily fits to any OC or Mac thanks to the provided USB extender. Your Nike+ profile is online making it easy for one to set goals, challenge yourself or other Nike+ users to races and see you’re overall performance. Weighing in at 66g, the SmartWatch is quite huge and heavy-ish but makes perfect provision for all th data it has to store and its rather readable screen.


The SmartWatch has a desirable design to it, it looks really good and is an eye-catcher. Kudos to Nike for excellent design and managing to strip out all extraneous settings even to the point of removing date and time settings and requiring a PC sync to change any settings. But like any other work-out and sport watch out there this one requires a strict discipline to gain any of its benefits.

As many would know, most GPS watches out there are too complex or dull for their own. Nike’s SmartWatch bridges that gap where full on-screen functionality takes place and most of the magic being included in the Nike+ app and website.

The idea of having a rechargeable watch still comes across as strange, very strange especially when you have to explain it to your 5—something year old mother. The SmartWatch is rechargeable and lasts up to four days on one charge, you can charge via USB for a few hours. But of course additional charging takes place whenever you plug it in to upload any of your day’s runs.

Before you jump on the trolley bash to grab yourself one of these, as with any GPS device there are few cons. One has to at least plug the watch in or leave it plugged every night for it to establish satellite horizons.  This of course will prevent it from suddenly losing GPS signal during a run.

The Nike+ watch retails a recommended R1 899, a little pricey but you will be getting what you paid for. But the world doesn’t need another GPS watch. All of the features found in the SmartWatch can and are replicated with a good app for iPod, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S4 users. But then practically, you’re not going to be carrying a few thousand rands worth of mobile electronics with you during the Comrades Marathon, hence this is the next best thing.

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.