I‘ve worked out for the better part of my life at this point. I’m not triathlete, but nor am I a couch potato that occasionally murmurs aspirations of hitting the gym only to be defeated by another episode of Real Housewives (I’m now sickened by that thought). Why am I telling you this? Well, despite my daily desire to work out, I still struggle to maintain a regular routine, as do so many others. Largely because I work and sit in front of a computer 5 days a week and make little effort to get up and walk around. However, that’s changed recently as I’ve been walking to work – about a half a mile – almost daily. Along for the ride, in addition to a Fitbit Force, has been the recently released Misfit Shine, which are some of the best fitness trackers on the market.
The Shine, from Misfit Wearables, is an Indiegogo campaign that successfully raised over $800,000 last year. According to its creators (past Apple employees), the Shine is carved out of a solid block of aluminum, resulting in a weight of no more than 10 grams. Footprint wise the Shine is no bigger than a US quarter coin and as thick as about 2.5 of the same coined stacked together. Put more succinctly the Shine is light enough and small enough that you’ll forget that you’re wearing it.
Related: Have a look at the Garmin Forerunner 610 review
Out of the box you’ll need to remove the Shine’s backing using the included tool. The instructions to do this are embedded in the packaging, and while they’re a bit ambiguous, the process is very simple once you figure out where to pry it open using the included tool.
The Shine’s power is derived from a coin cell (CR2032), otherwise known as a watch battery. Misfit Wearables says that it’s good for up to 4-months, where upon you’ll then need to replace it. Also packed in the box is a magnetic clip that wraps around the Shine and allows you to adhere it to just about any piece of clothing you see fit. My Shine also shipped with a wrist strap, which to me is preferable since there is less likelihood that I’ll lose it.
Related: Read the Nike Fuelband review
An accompanying iPhone and Android app keeps tabs on the information, with syncing occurring over Bluetooth. Setup is painless and syncs usually don’t take more than 20 seconds, though there is some variability depending on how many days of data needs to be transferred. During my testing the Shine app was updated a few times, with one major update that added a social component allowing the Shine community to compete with one and other via Facebook. It’s up to you if you want your data shared with everyone or just friends.If you want the perfect tool for your workout, you might also be interested in the Garmin Forerunner 210 GPS watch review too.
To more easily, if not more succinctly quantify your activity, Misfit Wearables has opted to use a point based system. Like many other apps, you’ll set your goal, though a suggestion will be provided based on your activity level. I chose 600 points a day, which according to the Shine app requires I walk 1 hour or run 20 minutes or swim 30 minutes a day. Increasing this to 700 has no impact on the suggested activities, where as 800 points suggested I walk 1.5 hours or run 30 minutes or swim 30 minutes. Pushing the goal to 900 leaves walking and running the same, but requires another extra 15 minutes of swimming. Why, in this last instance, just swimming I don’t know. But yes, the Shine can track laps (presumably – I didn’t swim with it) and is 100% waterproof unlike some other pedometers.
In use the Shine is straight forward. To see how much of your daily goal is completed you just simply tap the Shine twice with your fingertip. This should (more on this in a bit) cause an array of hidden LED lights to display – there are 12 in total. My Shine is configured to display the time first – a blinking LED light represents the minute where as a solid LED the hour – which is then followed by the percent of daily goal completed and represented by a continguous row of LED light – each LED is about 8% of the completed goal. If so opted, you can turn the time feature off all together.
Stylistically speaking the Misfit Shine seems to work for me be it in a casual or dressy environment. That is to say its minimalistic design doesn’t conflict with my wardrobe and thanks to its diminutive size it can be worn next to another wrist worn device, such as a watch without feeling over encumbering on my wrist.
I’m not sure I’d be willing to use the Shine as my go to source of time, largely because I can’t always get it to activate. But for those that are wondering, there is a small 12-o’clock symbol on the back such that you can orientate it correctly.
Some dings and scratches on the button after a month and some of use
Unfortunately, and despite a small software update that was designed to address this issue, I found it difficult to get the Shine to illuminate with consistency. In fact, often when i went to demo it for people it would do nothing. Moreover, activating the activity tagging (sleeping, cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball or soccer), which requires that you tap the Shine three times in a row, often took multiple attempts. That said, I much prefer a button, as found on the Fitbit Force and the Nike Fuelband, since it’s much easier to activate.
I’ve not used the Misfit to track any of the aforementioned activities simply because I don’t engage in any of them. But it has been able to track, with relative accuracy, the times at which I am active, which largely includes walking to work, exercising and sleeping. These are represented by both a graph, which plots your activity over the course of a day, and tiles, which are more or less badges.
Sleeping, however, is shown by a bar graph, denoting light and heavy sleep. In testing the Shine is able to track total sleep logged, but it, like other wrist worn trackers, is questionable in its accuracy just given that it is making inferences based on movement or lack there. Moreover, it marks “time fell asleep”, based on when the Shine was triple tapped, which furthers my skepticism to its sleep tracking accuracy.
Of all of the apps that I’ve used that relate to this category of device, I have to give “props” to the Shine’s designer. The Misfit Shine app is clean, easy to glance and discern between one stat to the next. However, I’m a bit frustrated when I’m not awarded with a badge other than “kind of active” when I lift weights and engage in some kung fu – both of these can be very cardio intensive if done correctly (i.e. heavy activity). Nevertheless, it’s still easy enough for me to keep tabs on my activity throughout the day, though I’d like to see a tagging feature (the triple tap or perhaps a four tap) such that I could log my activity. Some might argue that defeats the purpose of a device of this nature (one that automatically tracks activity), but I believe Nike is on to something with their latest Fuelband and app, the SE.
So all together, aside from the issues with getting the Misfit Shine to react to my touch (or taps) I really don’t have any major resounding complaints. The watch battery, which needs to be replaced every 4 months, at least according to Misfit Wearables, makes it less attractive than the Fuelband, which can be charged via USB. But with that inconvenience comes a trade off that equates to long battery life. But if you’re like me, it will take you months to replace a dead watch battery since it’s not something I do with regularity.
Durability wise the Shine feels very solid, and considering that it’s waterproof you won’t have to be cognizant of when you have to you take it off (e.g. shower, pool, ocean). As you can see in the above pictures, by its very nature (metal) is susceptible to scratches, though the Shine itself (unlike the button on the wrist strap) holds up a fairly well. That said – it’s a bit difficult to tell in my images – the Shine does scratch and although I didn’t have any major run ins with sharp objects, I have to wonder what would happen if the surface caught the corner or edge of something. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the Shine is designed to take a licking.