Over the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to try out a number of smart fitness trackers. These pocketable devices have varied in form factor, from the colorful and fun Striiv, to the wrist-worn Fitbit Flex, to the Argus app that turns your own iPhone into a tracker. The latest is one that we and nearly 8,000 Indiegogo contributors have been anticipating since it was announced back in November, the Misfit Shine.
When we sat down with “chief Misfit” Sonny Vu shortly after the Indiegogo launch, he emphasized the importance of a product’s physical design when developing the Shine. It’s certainly a unique look for a fitness wearable. But is Misfit Wearables‘ inaugural, flagship product simply a shiny, metal pendant? We had a chance to spend a week wearing the Shine, so here’s our take.
Appearance and Design
Simply put, the Misfit Shine is the most beautiful fitness tracker we’ve seen. We’d like to think that if Jony Ive designed a smart fitness tracker, it would look something like the Shine. Crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, the Shine is elegant and attractive, but not overly-showy. Its attractive simplicity is a selling point, too; Misift offers a number of casual and more formal accessories to complement the Shine and its website prominently features users modeling the Shine in workout clothing, casual wear, and even a tuxedo.
The front of the Shine is largely unadorned, except for a barely visible halo of 12 LED lights that are the device’s sole way of displaying information, such as goal progress, mode, and current time (more on these later). The back is emblazoned with Misfit’s logo, a tiny notch for when removing the back to replace the standard CR2032 coin battery, and a curious “12” near the edge. It took us a little while to realize that the “12” was to help you orient the Shine. As it’s completely radially symmetrical from the front, the “12” made reading the current time much easier since we knew where 12 o’clock would be.
Measuring just a bit larger than a U.S. quarter coin and weighing slightly less than two of them, the Shine can be an easy device to lose. There’s not a whole lot that can be done about that, but we found it was much easier to keep track of our Shine when it was left on the wristband. The wristband, by the way, is made of silicone and has a fastener similar to the Fitbit Flex, but we found the Shine’s to be much easier to secure, and the band itself to be thinner and more comfortable. The Shine also comes with a clasp that uses a magnet to attach it to your clothing or shoes. Both the wristband and clasp, as well as the separately-sold leather band and necklace, attach to the Shine with a silicone ring that fits around its grooved edge like a rubber band.
As with other fitness trackers, to use the Shine you simply put it on and go. To check your progress toward your daily fitness goal, you tap on the Shine twice, which illuminates a certain number of LED’s corresponding to your progress. Wait a couple seconds, and the Shine will also display the current time. It takes a little bit to interpret how the Shine shows the time (especially if you don’t keep 12 o’clock at the top), but once you figure out that the solid LED shows the hour and the blinking LED the nearest 5th minute, you’ll enjoy this unique way of telling time. Tapping three times activates a “bookmark,” which basically tells the Shine that you’re either sleeping, swimming, or cycling. We didn’t get a chance to test these, but we’re guessing this also changes the way the Shine detects movement. We did find on occasion that tapping the Shine wouldn’t always cause it to light up. We always got it to work eventually, but it sometimes took a few attempts of double-tapping to show our progress.
On the other hand, it was interesting to note how much less responsive the Shine was to regular arm movement. After 8 hours of working at a desk using a computer, the Shine would display that we were 16.66% (2 LED’s) toward our goal; in contrast, our Nike+ Fuelband would show that we were upwards of 25% to our goal. While this means we can no longer trick ourselves into thinking we’re getting exercise while sitting at the desk, this probably means that the Shine is more accurate when it comes to counting real steps.
On the syncing end of things, the Shine uses low-energy Bluetooth to communicate with your iPhone without wires or pairing. All you need to do is open the Shine app, choose the Sync option, place the Shine on the circle outline displayed on your phone (or simply just press the outline with your finger), and the Shine uploads its data to your phone. The Shine app’s interface is simple and flat, fitting in perfectly with the soon-to-be-released iOS 7. It gives you a quantitative look at your activity, such as number of steps, calories burned, distance, and Misfit’s system of points that takes into account the type of activity as well as its intensity. Underneath, a line graph shows your activity throughout the day, and a swipe underneath the graph shows the day’s highlights, such as your most active times, sleep statistics, and personal milestones. Syncing always worked without a hitch, and the app gave some interesting statistics about our activity, but otherwise, there wasn’t a whole lot more to see.
We’ve only spent a handful of days with the Shine, but so far we’re digging it. Its design is attractive enough to turn heads on its own, but it also nicely complements just about any outfit. For those who are planning on staying cool this summer with trips to the pool, it’s nice knowing that the Shine is not only waterproof, but can also track your swimming strokes (as well as cycling and running). While the Shine is certainly a couple notches above the competition in many areas, we feel the app is a little lacking on features compared to Nike and Fitbit. However, as a first-generation device with nearly infinite possibilities, we’re certain Misfit already has plenty of ideas planned for the Shine. For starters, an API will be released later this year, which should help in the development of new features. We do think the Shine is certainly a worthy contender in a very saturated fitness tracker market. It definitely helps that it makes a bold fashion statement as well!
Link to buy a Shine and get more information from Misfit Wearables: Misfit Shine…