Hands-on with the Adidas miCoach Smart Run
Adidas is the latest company to throw its hat into the ring of wearable devices. Unlike recent products from Samsung, Fitbit, and Nike, however, Adidas didn't create a smartwatch per se. Despite being powered by Android, the company's MiCoach Smart Run doesn't have access to apps and games, and it can't receive notifications from your phone. Instead, Adidas has created a standalone fitness tracker with an assortment of sensors and impressive features.
The heavily skinned version of Android is displayed on a 1.45-inch 184x184-pixel resolution color touchscreen. A 410mAh lithium ion battery delivers up to four hours of usage in training mode, up to eight hours in marathon mode, or up to 14 days in watch mode; actual usage varied considerably, though.
The watch is charged through a proprietary Micro-USB-equipped dock that connects to five pins on the back of the device. A full charge takes under four hours, which makes the less-than-stellar battery life more bearable.
The Smart Run has 4GB of space, 3GB of which is dedicated to storing music, and an array of sensors. Onboard there is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and an accelerometer. There is no need for an additional heart rate chest strap with the Smart Run. A heart rate monitor resides on the back of the device and truly sets it apart from its competitors.
A dual-core processor makes navigating the interface a breeze, while a physical button located on the strap delivers additional functionality. A single press of the button will wake the device up, a medium press will lock it, and a long press will power it off.
The Smart Run weighs a mere 2.8 ounces and doesn't look too big on an average size wrist. The stainless steel bezel gives it more of a high-end look and it's comfortable enough for everyday use. The silicone strap features two buckles that ensure the watch is secure and won't move around while you are working out. The Smart Run is water-resistant and can handle the rain, but it's not designed for swimming or showering. As with any device with a touch screen, fingerprints and smudges are an issue.
On the software side, Adidas included features for both beginning and experienced athletes. Data from the Smart Run is automatically uploaded to the company's MiCoach Web site, which includes information from workouts such as average pace, distance, calories burned, steps per minute, feet climbed, and more.
Training and strength plans can also be downloaded from the MiCoach website to the Smart Run. Adidas currently has training plans for individual sports such as running, football, soccer, hockey, and basketball, along with many others. It even has basic fitness plans for men and woman who are new to running. Inside of each category there is an option to choose a plan for either improving cardio or strength and flexibility. If none of the plans are to your liking, you can even create your own.
The Smart Run doesn't track you 24/7 (like the Fitbit Force), but when it's set for a workout the screen displays real-time information on your beats per minute, pace, distance, time, and calories burned. If installed, virtual coaches will remind you to speed up or slow down during a run to reach your ideal heart rate.
The device's simplistic interface allows for fast and seamless access to its features. Four menus -- Clock, MiCoach, Music, and Settings -- can be accessed horizontally with a swipe from right to left. Each menu also contains various submenus that display additional options.
Scrolling from top to bottom on the Clock menu reveals both a stopwatch and a timer, while the personalized coaching plans you've downloaded from Adidas's website can be found under the MiCoach menu. As mentioned above, the Smart Run has 3GB of space for storing music. Songs can be transferred from a computer through USB, however the Smart Run doesn't have a headphone jack; instead Bluetooth headphones are required for listening. Volume controls and song selection options can be accessed under the Music menu.
What better way to stay motivated than to have a professional athlete coach you to success? That's the idea Adidas had with the Smart Run. Under the Settings menu, there is an option to customize the voice of your MiCoach. In addition to male and female voices, US users can choose between athletes Derrick Rose and Reggie Bush.
Similar to the Pebble smartwatch, the Smart Run's clock face can also be changed. While there isn't a way to upload your own design, users can currently choose between four preinstalled faces.
I've had a positive experience in the short time I've spent training with the Smart Run. It's nice not having to map out running routes before or after a workout, although sometimes it took longer than I would have liked for the watch to acquire a GPS signal. Both the heart rate monitor and GPS were spot on in terms of accuracy, though, which sometimes isn't the case with fitness trackers.
As I mentioned above, battery life is definitely a problem. Even when the device was in airplane mode, it barely lasted an entire day. There is also an issue with the price tag. While the Smart Run is packed full of the latest sensors, at the end of the day $400 is a relatively steep price to pay.