Two years ago, I had a $100 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods and I used that opportunity to buy myself a Garmin 405.
It is a running joke in my family that everything I buy is a lemon. That is because everything I buy is a lemon. And this Garmin was no exception. I can’t even begin to describe all the trouble I had with this thing. I am grateful I had it and was able to use it some of the time (including during my marathon), but overall it caused me way too much unnecessary stress.
I reached my last straw when I took it off the charger to go for a run a couple weeks ago. It was at 100%, and when I got outside and turned it on I got a “low battery” warning. Fifteen minutes later, it was dead. And I was done.
I researched some other options and decided to buy the Nike+ SportWatch GPS. I was aware of its strengths as well as its one main drawback — its inability to record any data for incomplete miles — and decided this was not enough of a deterrent to prevent me from buying the most affordable GPS watch I found at $169.
I loved the watch as soon as I opened the box. The design is sleek and looked much less bulky on my wrist than my Garmin. And when I plugged it into my computer (the USB is IN the watch, which I found convenient and cool) a screen popped up where I could set all my watch preferences. The entire process was extremely simple and user friendly.
In addition to GPS, this watch comes with a Nike+ Sensor foot pod. This is important because it means you can use the watch on the treadmill, and even better, you can start your run while the watch finds its satellites. I spent so many cold mornings hopping around waiting up to 30 minutes for my Garmin to find satellites. With this, you can start running right away and as soon as the watch finds satellites, the GPS will take over.
The next morning, I went out for my run. I didn’t set up my foot pod yet because I had a little foot pod holder (the Sensor itself fits inside Nike shoes, but if you don’t wear Nikes you can buy a little shoelace attachment case for it) but hadn’t unpacked it yet from my move.
I get asked a lot if the Nike finds GPS signal faster than the Garmin. The answer is no. It was exactly the same, but again, once you have the foot pod it doesn’t really matter. I got a signal and started my run.
The greatest thing about using the Nike+ watch after the Garmin is how easy it is to view your various stats during the run. With one simple button, I can easily switch from pace, to total time running, to speed, to the current time (this is HUGE, I never knew what time it was with my Garmin) – and easily get back to wherever I started. Speaking of that, using the Nike+ software on your computer, you can set your preferences for the two stats that default on the home screen. I keep the large stat my mileage and the smaller one on top (this is the one that changes as you press the button) my pace.
I never did any type of tempo or speed work with my Garmin because I found using it extremely complicated. My screen would always switch around to different views and I wasn’t always able to get it back where I wanted it. The touch bezel was temperamental and didn’t always respond, and the controls were not at all intuitive. But with this Nike+, if and when I decide to do some tempo runs or laps, I already know how easy it is. And I’m really excited about that!
But, me being me, of course I got a lemon. During my very first run, my mileage froze at 1.71 and the watch would not update after that. It was immensely frustrating, especially since I was so excited about this watch after my terrible Garmin experience. I got in touch with Nike+ over Twitter and they recommended a factory reset.
Considering I JUST GOT IT from the factory, I was annoyed, but I did what they said and I didn’t have that problem anymore.
The other lemon issue came when I tried using the foot pod sensor. My watch would not recognize that there was a foot pod. I tried everything I could in terms of syncing, and it just didn’t work. I found an old Nike+ sensor from a few years ago, though, and the watch recognized it right away. It turns out I received a dead sensor. A lemon. If you were taking bets (I’m looking at you Matt and Mal) you are probably a very rich person right now. And unfortunately, unless I return the entire watch (which I am not willing to do because I don’t want to be without it), Nike won’t send me a new one. Luckily I have that old one and hopefully it keeps working.
The sensor is really what catapults the Nike+ far ahead of the Garmin for me. I know some Garmins have a sensor, but it costs extra and doesn’t include all models. I know I mentioned this before, but being able to start my run out the door saves me so much time and being cold, and I feel so much happier to be running.
As far as accuracy goes, I know the sensor is generally not as accurate as a GPS, but my GPS kicks in so quickly that I don’t care. I can start my run and that’s all that matters.
After my run, I plug my watch right into the computer. I actually JUST bought another Garmin ANT stick because I couldn’t find mine, and then I found it so now I have two that I don’t need. I like that this watch itself plugs right in so I don’t have to worry about small pieces. After it syncs, I can view my route, splits, elevation, pace – everything I looked at with my Garmin software. I especially love how when I look at my route, I watch my run as it happens. A thick orange line traces my exact route as a counter on the side updates the elevation and pace at every single point of my run. It’s very cool!
[That orange line will move along the length of the gray line that shows my route, and on the right as the orange line moves along the route, that stat counter will update to show my run in real time]
As for battery life, WOW. With my Garmin, I had to keep it plugged in at all times or the battery would die within the day. If I forgot to plug it in, I couldn’t use it for my next run. And it went from 100% to dead while running a few times. The Nike+ battery is amazing. I keep my watch in my drawer and even after days, it doesn’t die. I can take it out of my drawer and run with it at any time. It also charges very quickly after a run.
The only true drawback of this watch that I’ve found is the one everyone complains about – it only records data for full miles. That means that if you run 3.5 miles, you only get data for 3. If you run 5.99 miles, you only get data for 5. I don’t understand how they could release a watch like this and I’m not sure of the reasoning, but I hope that in a future software update Nike decides to fix this. But like I said, that issue wasn’t enough to stop me from buying the watch and I generally don’t mind since I tend to run full miles anyway.
Of course, when I run a 10K on Saturday, I’ll probably be annoyed by this. But in general, it’s not that big a deal.
If you’re in the market for a new GPS watch, I highly recommend the Nike+ SportWatch GPS – even with the issues I had. No one else seems to get lemons the way I do, and the benefits of this watch — the ease of use, the battery, the look, the website data — are such a delight after my Garmin, and I am extremely happy with my purchase.