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First Look: The adidas miCoach Pacer

The package from adidas Malaysia arrived at the office Friday. I was surprise to note the size of the box which measured just. I was to be just one of the two in the community to see and lay their hands on the latest offering from adidas Ė the miCoach Pacer device. miCoach is adidasí answer to the many online community based training portal such as MapMyRun, Garminís Training Center, Nikeís NikePlus, and Polarís Personal Trainer. So you can see that athletes have plenty to choose from out there.

 

The miCoach Pacer allows instant feedback (including voice) while youíre engaged in your workout. Your workouts can be customized from the miCoach website and downloaded to the Pacer unit. Thereís also an option to opt out of the Coach mode should you wish for it. Sometimes we just need music to move us along, donít we?

 

There are actually 2 miCoach devices, the Pacer and the Zone. The miCoach Zone is a scaled down piece of gear worn on the wrist to provide heart rate zone colors in real-time for instant run feedback, displays heart rate, calories burned, and elapsed time. This first look takes a look at its big brother, the Pacer.

What you see below are the very first local photos of the miCoach Pacer. Getting the unit out of the box required some effort and I tore the bottom of the box a little. After some careful maneuvering, the top came off and I slid the contents out.

Beside the Pacer unit, there also the Stride Sensor and a lace clip, a CR2032 for the Stride Sensor, a heart strap to which you attach the CR2032-run Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and a couple of user manuals. The HRM is water resistant to 1m and the adidas website said that it can last up to 1,000 hours of active use.

The quality of the Pacer unit is good and has a rubbery feel while the really small Stride Sensor is slightly tougher to handle. Due to the size and smooth surface, I had a tough time taking the battery cover off, dropping it a couple of times. Good thing I was sitting on the sofa. Having said that the Stride Sensor has to be the smallest Iíve seen other than NikePlusí in-shoe sensor. Because it comes with a lace clip, adidasí Stride Sensor is usable on miCoach compatible shoes (with a hollowed out section under the sockliner) as well as conventional shoes. The small size is a definite advantage over the humongous Timex and Polar shoe units.

Before you even head out on a run with these babies, there are a couple of things to do. Firstly, youíll need to head on to adidasí miCoach website to download a Mac and PC compatible miCoach Manager application. Itís a light software running on Java and this is your interface with the miCoach portal when you connect your Pacer unit to your computer either to download the latest firmware or upload your training data. Download and installation of the software is quick and simple. Secondly youíll need to register a profile with the miCoach online portal which are pretty simple too.

Thirdly youíll need to charge your Pacer unit. The first charge takes 3 hours and a single charge can last you 10 hours of use. So using the miCoach device over an ultra marathon is possible, though I wonít be running one just yet to ascertain its battery life. Itís interesting to note that the Pacer unit acts as a connectivity hub where you can plug in your iPod (it shares the same 3.5mm jack for charging and the iPod) and also an output to your earbuds (also a 3.5mm jack). Itís a nice gesture that the popular 3.5mm standard is adopted instead of odd sized ones. This way you can virtually use any of your favorite earbuds.

Iíve not worked out the operational aspect of the miCoach Pacer yet and itís best left for a follow up posting. Since thereís a built-in clip to the Pacer, you can either clip the unit to your shorts or armband, chalking up another usability point.

The adidas miCoach Pacer is not yet available to the public as of this posting. Do watch this space for upcoming details on the launch and as I put it through the paces in the coming weeks.

 

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