It took a bit of wrangling, but we managed to score a pair of Adidas 1, those new running shoes that come with the 20MHz microprocessor built-in. We knew that reviewing these shoes would require some very serious sacrifices—namely, that we remove ourselves from our chair and actually do some exercise—but we couldn't resist finding out first-hand whether having a little computational power would make any difference in our, uh, daily workout.
First off, these are quite possibly the ugliest shoes we?ve ever worn?no matter how fine they appear in the photos,
know that they look far worse in person (we actually preferred the packaging to the shoes themselves). Also note that
if you buy the Adidas 1 these will be the first shoes you will over own that come with an instruction manual. We have a
strict policy of never even glancing at a manual until something goes wrong, but given our relative inexperience with
computer shoes we decided to make an exception this time around.
Installing the batteries was a snap, and it was time to power up the kicks by pressing both the ?+? and ?-? buttons on the side of the shoe at the same time. There are five small amber-colored LEDs right on top of the buttons?when you turn on the shoes the middle LED should light up, and then a few seconds later it?ll switch to another LED, which indicates the current cushioning setting of the shoe. That setting will be automatically adjusted depending on what you?re doing or the kind of surface you?re walking or running on, but if you want you can adjust it to suit your own personal preference. Switching off the shoes entails holding down the ?+? and ?-? buttons a second time, but Adidas also anticipates your potential lethargy and so to save the battery the processor will switch off automatically after ten minutes of inactivity.
Now for some real world testing. We?re way too self-conscious to go jogging on the streets of Manhattan, so we saddled up and made our way over to the gym. (Even though they don?t look much different from regular Adidas, there?s something anxiety inducing about walking the streets of New York in $250 shoes, and we so don?t want to be one of those guys who gets robbed for their sneakers. Thankfully, we made it to the gym just fine.)
Running in the Adidas 1 was slightly anticlimactic?we weren?t able to pull off any Steve Austin-style moves?but we could definitely tell when the shoes were adjusting themselves in response to different surfaces and when we went from walking to running. It was hard to notice the effect just walking around, but when we started up on the treadmill we could definitely feel the shoes becoming more springy or cushioned. We?ll have to suck it up and perform another week or two of testing to see how the shoes hold up. We?d try and figure out how to crash the processor, but we?re not even sure how we?d be able to tell when we?d succeeded.
So are they worth the cost? You have to be a pretty serious geek/athlete/mathlete to justify spending $250 on a pair of shoes that come with embedded microprocessors. Not that these shoes are gimmicks or anything (or well, not entirely gimmicks), but you could probably easily save yourself a hundred and fifty bucks by taking a little extra time to find a pair of trainers which your feet really, really like. You won?t be able to impress anyone, but you will have enough money left over for a Nintendo DS.