Sunday, 26 May 2013

Reviewed: Sennheiser OMX 680 Sports earphones

After months of looking for my perfect running earphones, I finally decided to give the Sennheiser OMX 680 Sports a go. A recommendation from a colleague at work helped to me to make my final decision. He runs about 50k a week and these earphones accompany him on every step.

Running earphones or headphones come in multiple variations:
  • Ear Hooks
  • In-Ear
  • Clip-ons or Over-Ear clips
  • Neckband earphones
  • or old-school headphones.

The main selling point is comfortability and stability. Ideally, the earphones should be water- and sweat resistant and offer a good sound balance between music and ambient noise. Running headphones characteristically don't blend out ambient noise completely to ensure runners are safe on the roads and are still aware of their surroundings.

Up until now I was used to simple in-ear earphones. On many occasions an ear bud would fall out as my left ear canal seems to be slightly smaller than my right one. To provide more stability while running with music I decided to go for earphones with ear hooks this time.

The Sennheiser OMX 680 earphones set comes with the following features:
  • a pair of clip-on earphones with adjustable 
  • extension cable with volume remote control
  • a cable clip-on
  • various sizes of yellow ear sleeves, air cushion adapters and foam ear pads
  • a storage pouch and
  • an instruction manual.

Once I adjusted the ear buds to fit my ears - the left ear seems to be smaller than the right one - I was ready to go. I was planning to do my first 14k run and I didn't want to get distracted by loose earphones. I skipped, jumped, strolled and sprinted - my earphones remained tightly in place. Also, they didn't leave any marks on the back of my ears or made me feel uncomfortable while wearing them over a long time period. I also enjoyed using the mini remote control to adjust the volume, however, it would have been nice to include more playback options such as skip and stop.

My verdict: 4/5
Overall I'm very pleased with my first ever set of running earphones. The waterproof Sennheiser earphones fulfil their main purpose of staying place, however, personally I would love to see more functionalities on the remote control.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Top 3 running apps reviewed: Runtastic, MyASICS and Nike+

First of all, thanks everyone who took part in the recent vote about the most popular running app. As already posted earlier this week, Runtastic was voted as the most popular app, followed by Nike+ and MyASCIS.

Since I've started running in August last year, I've been tracking my runs in the Runtastic app. Tracking your runs is like keeping a personal diary: It not only shows you how far you've come, it is also a huge motivation boost. I know my split times, I can differentiate between good and bad performances and check my calorie consumption.

Here is a short introduction of the free most popular running apps:



Runtastic is a powerful app that can be used to track multiple types of indoor and outdoor sports activities such as running, cycling, riding, sailing, surfing and many more.
Once you've created a profile you can access it via your app or on your desktop computer. You can be-friend fellow runners and cheer them on during 'live' runs.
The app also syncs up seamlessly with Twitter and Facebook if you'd like to keep your friends up to date on your progress.

It offers the following functionalities:
  • Live GPS mapping
  • Split times analysed according to speed or elevation
  • Weekly, monthly and yearly statistics
  • Integrated IPod player with power-song function
  • Weekly run reminders and motivation notifications

  • Heart-rate monitor can be attached and progress will be recorded
  • Training plans: Available to purchase

Price: Free light version / PRO version for £1.49

My rating: 4/5
Personally, the only negative point about this app is that it doesn't stop a run automatically once the runner has become idle. On many occasions I forgot to 'stop and save', consequently ruining my results and my overall statistics. I'd love to use the add-on workouts, training plans and features the company offers for purchase. However, I can't justify spending money on these add-ons when other apps offer the same features for free.



The MyASICS app is a simple app for runners to track their runs and keep a running diary. If you're interested in setting up a personalised training plan, this app is for you. While the app doesn't offer much functionalities and is purely for tracking purposes, your profile on is the powerful backbone. On the website at you can create a profile and establish a training plan that meets your current performance and needs. It provides statistics of your overall performance that you can compare with runners with the same goals or runners in your age group.

It offers the following functionalities: 
  • Live GPS mapping
  • Access to your training plan
  • Activity diary

Price: The app and its training plans are free to download

No add-ons available

My rating: 3/5
While I find this app really easy to use the app doesn't offer enough functionalities when tracking your runs. However, I do enjoy using their training plans. Also, I was unable to find an option to activate syncing with my social profiles which accounts for bad usability.



Nike+ is the app that I have the least experience with. The app is very easy to use, you simply start your run with the click of one button. Once you've completed your run it offers you comprehensive stats on your route, distance, time, pace and splits. Just like Runtastic, friends can cheer you on whilst you're doing a 'live' run. Runners can compare their performances with 'NikeFuel': the more NikeFuel a runner earns, the better. On you can access your profile and statistics from a desktop computer. Your runs are synced automatically and you can find or offer new running routes to fellow runners.

It offers the following functionalities: 
  • Live GPS mapping
  • Activity diary
  • Power-song
  • Run reminders
Price: The app is free to download

You can buy a Nike+ GPS Sports watch or Nike+ Sportband that offers the same functionalities as the app.

My rating: 2.5/5
Nike+ has a strong user community, which I believe is due to its nice and slick design. For me it looks better than it actually is. The app is very easy to use, but I find it irritating to set up my own running reminders and choose power-songs.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

And the winner is...

The readers have voted: the most popular running app is Runtastic, shortly followed by Nike+ and MyASICS.

Hold on tight, a review of these three popular apps will follow shortly.

Thanks all for voting!