A week with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit

David Chartier
D. Chartier|07.27.06

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A week with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit
The kit's been out for a while, and I have been running with my own (with a cheap shoe wallet; not Nike's shoes) for about a week now, so I figured I would post a brief review and some thoughts about one of the most unique (and arguably active) iPod accessories to date.

In a nutshell - it's nice. Very nice. Setting up and configuring the kit was a snap, especially for a couple of typically complex and finicky gadgets like these (cmon, how many times has a wifi connection had an attitude with you?). For those waiting for more confirmation as to whether you need Nike's specialized shoes for this kit to work: you don't. I, like many others already, purchased one of those $8 Nike Run Shoe Wallets we blogged, tossed the sensor inside (with a couple pieces of kleenex to make sure it doesn't bounce around) and attached it to the top of my generic running shoes. I configured my kit by both running and walking a .25 mile distance, and measured my route with the gmap pedometer to make sure the sensor was accurate.

Now a lot of users are (understandably) frustrated with Apple and Nike for designing the kit to only work with the iPod nano. Unfortunately, this is a situation to actually thank these companies for, as hard drive-based iPods aren't designed to take the kind of impact that running delivers; their drives would ultimately end up failing sooner (as opposed to later), and there would be a lot of unhappy, iPod-less runners out there. Believe it or not, Apple (for once) actually saved a lot of people a couple hundred dollars with this move.

I won't spend much more time on a review, as iLounge has already been there, done that. I do, however, think that some feature requests are in order. After all, this is a 1.0 product, right?
  • When on a distance run, the audio feedback begins rattling off the remaining distance every 100 meters when the last 500 meters is reached. I realize it's a 'pump you up' technique, but this can get kind of annoying when I'm grooving with a song; an option to toggle this would be super.
  • The Nike+ site really needs to discover the wonders of those futuristic 'cookie' things; having to re-login at every visit is so... 1994.
  • Speaking of the site - this one might be a little crazier, but: I think it would be a smoother experience if the Nike+ 'application' was simply integrated into iTunes itself (toggle-able in the Sources list: My Library - Podcasts - Videos - Nike+ would be cool). I'm using an iPod with an iPod accessory, and I need to plug said iPod into iTunes to do anything with this running data anyway - why am I surfing out to an external site to view how out of shape I am and challenge friends to distance competitions to see who has to pay for coffee next time we hang out?
  • Add a 'podcasts' option to the music choices available for the run. As far as I can tell, if I want to listen to a specific podcast on a run, I need to create a playlist (either on my Mac or 'On the Go' on the iPod itself) and add a podcast in order to listen to it during a run. Clunky.
That's about it for my list of requests for an update to the Nike + iPod Sport Kit product and software. What do you readers think? Has anyone else been stopped dead in their tracks with one problem or another? Sound off.
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