Nike's new running Sportband goes on sale on Wednesday. I got the chance to try it out on a couple of short runs over the weekend, and I must say it's pretty rad.
The function of the Sportband is pretty much the same as the Nike+iPod system, which has been out for several years. The Sportband is the simple, no-frills wrist band version that doesn't play music or talk to you. If you're the type of runner who needs to listen to music all the time, and you already own an iPod Nano or Touch, this won't excite you much. Personally, I often skip the tunes if I'm running with friends, and it's awesome to have the option of not having to wear an armband and headphones while still tracking my run. The Sportband "talks" to the Nike Plus sensor in your shoe the same way that the iPod version does, but there are several other minor differences besides the above:
* There are only two buttons on the Sportband &mdash one that starts, stops, and resets the distance meter, and another that switches views between distance, pace, time, and calories. These are really the only two buttons you need. No awkward fumbling with iPod controls just to get your run on.
* Metrics are easier to see when they're on the wrist vs. on your triceps or in your pocket.
* With the old Nike Plus, you had to calibrate the sensor by running a known "control" distance. With the Sportband, you don't have to do any additional runs &mdash just map out your run using a program like Gmaps Pedometer and use that as the calibration basis.
* The little black display bit comes off the armband and plugs directly into your USB port, then automatically uploads runs to Nike Plus. No extra adapters = sweet.
* When you're not running, it's just a watch. Tells time = useful.
* For $59, it's totally affordable.
By the way, I am keeping my word about running a marathon &mdash although admittedly I'm starting with a half-marathon, I have been training five-six times a week.
Sportband User Guide [Nike]
How Nike Plus is helping me train for a marathon