I hate running. On the rare occasion that I feel motivated to actually go to the gym, the time I spend on the treadmill to stay in shape always seems to drag. But the Nike + iPod Sport Kit has changed all that — it's managed to change a dreaded experience into an inspiring daily challenge I now look forward to.
Created in a joint effort between the slicksters at Nike and Apple, the Nike + iPod Sport Kit sends data about your run to your iPod while you listen to your favorite music. The kit consists of a small transmitter that plugs into an iPod nano (and only the nano) and a sensor made to fit under the insole of a Nike running shoe. The two pieces communicate wirelessly with each other using a proprietary radio-frequency system that works on the unregulated 2.4-GHz range — the same as Bluetooth, but a different protocol. The sensor itself has a poorly designed on/off button that you can turn off when you fly, but it gives you no visual indication that it's actually off.
WHO WANTS THISSerious runners who are training and want a detailed account of their performance. It's also excellent for less advanced runners who want to set goals, but could use some music and a little extra motivation.
WHYThe Nike + iPod Sport Kit wirelessly transmits distance, time, pace, and caloric burn of your workout to your iPod while a voice informs you of your progress periodically throughout the workout — all through an iPod-easy interface.
WHAT'S COOLInteractive website stores data and charts the runner's progress by day, week, and month. You can set goals and also challenge other runners.
WHAT'S LAMEThe kit only works with the iPod nano. Also requires the purchase of a compatible holster or armband to work comfortably.
FINAL MARK: AVery easy to use and incredibly motivating for a goal-oriented runner.
While the voice that speaks your progress is encouraging, the kit also gives you the option to designate any song on your iPod as your "power song." Now when I need my second wind, I can hold down the center button of the nano and the music immediately switches to "Stick It To the Pimp" by Peaches. This feature works wonders during my last couple of miles. It was a lovely surprise to hear the voice of Lance Armstrong, one of the product's spokesmen, congratulating me "for burning a serious amount of calories" after one of my runs.
At $29, the kit isn't that expensive, but you need have an iPod nano — no other iPod models support it right now. It's also necessary to get a holster or armband, unless you want to hold onto your nano during your run. I purchased a Nike+ Sport armband for $30, which was custom made to hold the nano and the wireless receiver and allows me to use the buttons and clickwheel from the outside while protecting the iPod from sweat. Although the entire package will run you a little more than $200, depending on what capacity nano you buy, it's still much cheaper than a personal trainer.