Review: SwitchEasy RunAway AnyShoe Adapter for iPod Sports Kit
As one of several accessories designed to let you use Apple and Nike's Nike + iPod Sport Kit with any pair of sneakers rather than just Nike+ models, SwitchEasy's RunAway ($8) is the first to be made entirely from plastics, and features several new, interesting design ideas. Based on the variety of options now out there, such as Nike's $10 Shoe Wallet, Marware's $10 Sensor+ (iLounge rating: B), and a number of off-brand options in the $6 range, our feeling is that RunAway has the right price for its concept, but doesn't work reliably enough to recommend to our readers.
On a positive note, SwitchEasy’s use of plastics is aesthetically outstanding. Each of the six colored versions - white, black, pink, blue, red, and orange - comes with a clear front shell that lets you see the Sport Kit’s Sensor while inside RunAway’s housing, as well as a large button on the back to reset the Sensor if necessary. We’ve tried different RunAway colors with black, white, and blue shoes, and found each to be a nice visual match, with the clear front shell serving as more of a showcase for the Sport Kit than even Nike’s own sneakers. For color-obsessed users, Switcheasy has even announced RunAway Tips, a $5 set of translucent red, yellow, and orange replacement front caps, if you want them.
Unfortunately, the plastic’s as much of a problem as it is a benefit to this design. We found that unlike Marware’s Sensor+ and Nike’s own Nike+ sneakers, RunAway had some issues initially bonding with the Sensor when it was enclosed inside RunAway, and occasionally didn’t seem to be fully receiving performance data. We had far fewer issues with Sensor+, which uses fabric and sits outside of your shoe; this is one of the reasons for our lower-than-recommended-level rating.
The other reason’s the way RunAway attaches to your shoe. Initially, SwitchEasy’s use of a plastic flip-out back clip seems like a brilliant alternative to the Velcro tabs found in Sensor+ and other similar options; the clip attaches to your shoelaces to hold the Sensor in place while you’re running, and also holds the iPod-attaching Receiver together with the Sensor when they’re not in use. We really liked the fact that SwitchEasy includes two protective white Dock Connector covers in case you lose the clear one that comes with the Sport Kit; when one of the covers is attached to the Receiver, they fit snugly into a hole in RunAway’s clip, and don’t come out unless you need them, a really smart idea. But we found that the clip wasn’t as secure an attachment on our sneakers as the Sensor+ design, and readers have reported that RunAway has popped open during their runs. A more secure latch - or the lower-tech Velcro on Sensor+ - would be a smarter solution.
Overall, RunAway’s a very cool-looking alternative to buying Nike+ shoes, but your mileage may vary - literally - if you use it. Its reasonable price, all-plastic construction and multiple color options make it the sort of design we wish we could recommend to our readers, but its occasional performance-related issues preclude us from feeling fully comfortable doing so.