Simple, stylish, versatile, and unique are not adjectives that we normally use to describe an activity tracker, but Misfit is attempting to change that. The Misfit Shine Activity Tracker and Sleep Monitor has managed to become my favorite tracker, not just because of the fashion aspect or the versatility, but because the battery, tracking options, and the waterproof hardware give it a very special advantage over the competition. That’s not to say it’s the best activity tracker of all time; in fact, far from it, the Misfit Shine is riddled with problems that can ruin the average user’s experience. However, if you are patient, the Shine has a ton of potential. Currently the basic Misfit Shine is available in multiple different color ways (pictured below) and costs between $74.99 and $99.99 on Amazon. It comes with a coin cell battery, a magnetic clasp, a sport band, and a tool to open the Shine to replace the battery. You can also go for the posh Swarovski Shine which will run you between $169.00 and $249.00.
My rating of the hardware
My original interest in the Misfit Shine came after going a year without an activity tracker and feeling like something was missing in my data collection efforts. After scouring the internet for potential options, I narrowed it down to one of the many Fitbits, the Garmin Vivofit, the Withings Activity Tracker, and the Misfit Shine. My decision was made based off of three things: battery, accuracy, and aesthetics. With these devices it was clear that accuracy wouldn’t be a problem because all of them are synonymous with quality internal components. It was going to come down to battery life and style. The Withings device was quickly cast aside because I was not a fan of the boxy clip-on look it had. The second device to leave my list of potentials was the Garmin Vivofit. No matter what color band you wrap around this thing, it always just looks like a fitness band or a child’s plaything, and considering my activity tracker would need to be worn with a suit, I couldn’t have something looking goofy when I’m shaking hands with executives at the office. That left me with two options, so I turned to….
Once it was down to battery, I knew the Shine would “shine” above the rest. After having one of the first Fitbits and reading my share of reviews of more recent models, it sounds like they have been able to get the rechargeable battery to last between five and ten days. This may seem impressive to some, but what I learned while having the Fitbit is that the moment I had to take the device off to charge it, I would inevitably forget it on the charger. I felt as if I was tethered to the device, and if I left it behind, I would lose out on the data from the day ahead. Even if all it would have recorded was a Sunday afternoon shopping trip, I still felt bummed about missing that day’s data. Now I know what you are thinking, that’s an awfully silly first world problem you have there, Steve. Well, stick with me my gentle butterfly, because what I am about to tell you is that the Misfit Shine does not suffer from this problem. Once this bad boy is strapped to your wrist, you almost never have to take it off unless you want to swap in a different band. Considering it’s waterproof, you don’t even have to think about it as you hop in the shower. The Shine (like the Garmin Vivofit) lasts on its coin cell battery for about six months at a time (even though Misfit only advertises it as four months). I can assure you that after having this device for 14 months with only two battery changes, Misfit was being conservative. I should also add that the customer service from Misfit is astounding. Not only have they been quick to gather consumer information and contact me directly for suggestions, but they have been pre-emptively sending me replacement batteries. Which is certainly making the experience of having a Shine better than any other device I’ve experienced in this space.
I’ll start with what comes in the box: the black sport band and the magnetic clasp. The magnetic clasp is not the option that is going to make this device look very sexy, but it is a great option if you’re in a situation when leaving the Shine on your wrist won’t work. I’ll also add that unlike the Fitbit One or Fitbit Plus, which are both just plastic clips, the Shine’s magnetic clasp is a high-power magnet, which provides you with an out of this world grip on nearly everything you own. During my half-Ironman this past summer I actually used the magnetic clasp in two different locations. I had it clasped to my tri-shorts on the inside of my wetsuit to start, and then during transition one, I moved it to my bike shoes. It’s easily my favorite ways to use the device for more intense training.
The wrist-strap, on the other hand, is very simple and quickly became my go-to band. It works for running, but it still looks great with a pair of jeans and is useable with a suit if you’re feeling too lazy to switch to a different band. However, after a year of punishment my black band began to deteriorate, primarily around the ring that actually holds the device in place. I wouldn’t mind, but my Shine has been popping out while I sleep or during my runs and I’m terrified of losing the device. Roughly a month ago, I made the decision to order some aftermarket sport bands in hopes that I could replace the stock black one. When the new bands first arrived I was pleased with my purchase, but that’s when things started to go downhill. The bands came in three great colors (grey, aqua, and white), and they were softer and more “wearable” than the stock strap. After just one week, however, the white one snapped and another week later, the grey one went as well (as I was writing this post the turquoise one that Meagan was using snapped too). Misfit’s laser quick customer service replaced my white one, but when I received that one, it snapped almost immediately. As you can imagine, I am not pleased with these new bands and would not suggest them to anyone considering a replacement. I’m still working out what to do about this problem, and will be sure to update this post once I figure out the best answer.
Last but definitely not least, I also got to test out some of the premium, more fashion-forward bands: the brown and black leather straps. I don’t have a lot to say about these other than they look and feel great. My only caution to the new user is to make sure they have the small inner ring of the strap directly aligned with the gutter around the Shine, otherwise it can easily pop out of the band at any given time.
My rating of the application
After a year with the Misfit Shine, I have experienced three major updates for the Misfit phone application. When I first opened the software for my iPhone (it was only compatible with the iPhone to begin with), I was welcomed by round gauges and a very simple platform, including very little text, very little data, and a bright white background. It was as if Misfit was so obsessed with their passion to be simple and beautiful that they cut themselves off from being innovative and open. Since then Misfit has done a great job of opening things up, but they continue to struggle with the delivery of the data.
There really isn’t much for me to say about the way the application displays the data. It’s elegant and simple, but frankly, kind of worthless. I find myself opening the application, looking at my data, shrugging at it, and then closing it for the night because I have little to no use for it. The app doesn’t do anything for motivation–it offers no achievements, and its social aspects are laughable. Sure there are “goals,” but whether or not you hit your goals means nothing to you or the application. You’ll receive a “you’ve achieved your goal” in the app, but the only way you can share that data or get motivated by it is if you use outside applications like IFTTT (which is not an easy app to use for the non-technical type). Even then, you can only post your arbitrary Misfit “points” to Facebook, which none of your friends will be able to understand or relate to. If you feel like I do about the lack of an achievement system, you can always depend on the calorie data available in MyFitnessPal. At least then you can reward yourself for burning all of those calories with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. The one redeeming factor the application has in regard to data collection/display is the activity tagging feature. A quick triple tap on the Shine will let you switch to pre-determined “activity”. You can set this activity using the app, where you can choose from a multitude of different options including golf, basketball, soccer, tennis, cycling, sleeping, and, of course, running. I normally set mine on swimming or cycling, and otherwise let the device figure out on its own when I’m running or sleeping.
I should probably take this time to mention the sleep data, but to be honest, this is one of the areas in the activity tracker market that I think isn’t generally well understood or useful. I mean really, once you have the data that you have “great” or “awful” sleep habits, what are you really supposed to do with that information? Are you supposed to be competitive about your sleeping habits? Should I be going to buy new sheets and pillows? Or should I be incorporating random sleep techniques and comparing that to historical data to see if it’s improving my sleep? And if that’s the case, why aren’t these applications offering suggestions on how to become a better sleeper? End of the day, the sleep data is no worse and no better than any other sleep monitor I just don’t see the purpose.
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As for the social networking tools available on Misfit, you can search for friends on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your address book, but you’re unlikely to find anyone you know considering the small number users who have Misfit products. In fact, out of my nearly 2000 connections on LinkedIn, 200 followers on Twitter, and my 400+ friends on Facebook, I only know 3 people who have a Shine. Misfit tries to combat this issue by allowing you to see your number relative to their global user list. This could be a fun concept, but in reality, it’s nothing more than a randomized list of unknown people who have reached their points goal for the day. I suppose I am happy that these people are taking care of themselves, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t care less that Mary in Omaha, NE managed to achieve her goal of 1000 points. In my opinion, Misfit should consider adding user groups or step competitions in order to motivate users to compete for high scores and goal achievements.
Third Party Apps
At the beginning, the Misfit Shine iPhone application was completely shut off from third party app connections, which wouldn’t have been such a problem had the app itself offered the full complement of data needed to track health and fitness. Soon, Misfit recognized the outcry for third party connections and set up partnerships with MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, WeChat, RunKeeper, Walgreens, IFTTT, and MapMyFitness (and later, Apple Health). These few partners were enough to take the Misfit Shine from a no-name activity tracker to a best-in-class product. That’s not to say the application was suddenly the number one activity tracker app–it still has its problems–but I believe the folks at Misfit realized that their strength is in hardware, not software, and opening up to third-party apps addresses that. Since the data was opened up to third parties, I find myself spending very limited time in the Misfit application, because the important data (steps) is being exported to more helpful applications like Apple Health and MyFitnessPal. For quite a while now, my only reason for even opening the Misfit application at all has been to glance at the sleep data, and to occasionally sync the device. This brings us to…
The best way I can explain syncing the Shine is that it is the only part of the entire Misfit Shine experience that will make you feel like Misfit has failed you. The Shine regularly fails to sync with the app, and often requires “extreme” steps to make it start syncing again, including restarting the entire phone, switching it in and out airplane mode, and closing and opening the app. Sometimes, the device will refuse to sync most of an entire day, and then suddenly, just before bed, it will decide to start syncing again for some unexplained reason. It seems this is an ongoing problem for many users, and one that hasn’t even been mentioned by Misfit in any of the app updates. So, unfortunately, I’m afraid this may be a problem that sticks with Shine for the foreseeable future.
My rating of the hardware
My rating of the application
If you decided to skip through my ramblings to find a quick answer to whether or not you should pick up a Misfit Shine, the quick answer is yes, but you should keep the following things in mind:
- Simplistic yet beautiful design
- Long lasting battery
- Versatile options for accessorizing
- Easy setup
- Easy to use
- Incredible customer service
- Mobile application is riddled with defects
- Lacking usability of collected data
- Poor quality sport bands
I truly love using my Misfit Shine. I’ve had it for over a year, and in that time I have only taken it off when going through security at the airport or to change the battery. Misfit has knocked it out of the park with the hardware, but if they are going to play ball with the big guys (Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP etc.), they will need to figure out their mobile application. At this point, it is the only thing holding back an otherwise stellar device.
Thanks for reading and for watching our first video review. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or tell about your experience with the Misfit Shine.
Steve is an Executive Recruiter at Robert Half Executive Search in Madison, WI with a business degree in Information Systems and E-Commerce from the University of Toledo. Steve loves spending his time away from work; running, gaming, watching movies, checking out new social networking tools/sites/start-ups and blogging.