Snapshot: Fitness trackers are growing in popularity, but are they worth the investment? In this review I’ll provide insight on my experience with the Misfit Shine. While this is not a comparison between fitness trackers (the Shine is the only fitness tracker that I’ve used) I did use the product daily for an extended period of time.
Buy Recommendation: Usage dependent. If you are just looking to gain some insight and motivation for your everyday activity then the Misfit Shine is a good option. If you want something that provides an accurate overall fitness picture, including your workout activity then skip it.
• Nice Design
• Tracks Multiple Activities
• Intuitive App
• Stores data for later syncing with phone app
• Questionable data
• Spotty ‘tap’ system for on device feedback
• Limited, proprietary data view option
I lost my Shine. Sad, I know. Made even more so by the fact it had become a part of my daily routine. A confidant. A quiet motivator to get up and moving. Yes, the shine in question is the Misfit Shine fitness tracker.
About the size of three quarters stacked, the Shine is attractive and unobtrusive. Definite selling points if design is important to you. However, one of the Shines’ biggest strengths is also a weakness. See, the Shine has a grove in its center that allows it to be moved to different types of holders. As of now they have a wristband, a necklace and a clip that can be used on shoelaces or a pocket or a shirt collar or any other creative place you can think to clip it (the wristband and clip come with the device and the necklace is sold separately). A nice design feature is that the clip is held in place by a magnet. The device itself has a metal casing and the clip a magnet so, snap, a functional clip with a variety of options. In theory this flexibility is great, except when its not. That’s where my tracking ends and my story begins.
On a cold but bright early spring day, my family and I made a short trek to an indoor water park. A mini vacation to escape the harsh midwest winter that refuses to give way to spring. I wore my Shine that day, unconcerned about the potential hazards. Confident in the manufacturers waterproof claim. Months earlier, shortly after I’d received the Shine (it was a gift) I’d worn it in a pool to see how it worked while swimming laps for exercise. The Shine has activity tags that include: cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball, and soccer (along with the default running/walking tag). The swimming tag worked (more on tags and specifically data from tags soon) as did the waterproofing. Sadly though the flexible wear benefit became a liability.
At the water park, the family and I coasted in the lazy river, and rushed down water slides. We relaxed in the humid warmth pretending that we were on an oceanside beach. I was curious how the Shine would track my activity that day but once at the water park I didn’t give it a second thought. Not once did I try to tap the device to compare my activity to my daily goal. About the tapping. The Shine has a smooth surface with little dots on it, like numbers on a watch. If you tap the device twice quickly it will show you, based on LED lights under those dots, your daily activity and then the current time. A triple tap will switch the activity to a mode different from the default (you predetermine what mode that will be in the app). The tapping works, but not perfectly. It often takes a few tries. The point is that I was mostly unconcerned about the days activity and the Shine was content being ignored.
So much so that when my wife pointed in concern at my wrist that afternoon I was momentarily dumbfounded by the hole in the band. A quick search of my surrounding area confirmed the obvious. My shine was gone. Lost. I did retrace my steps and poked around the end of the water slides but to no avail. Likely it had come off in a water rush on one of the slides but I had no idea which one. I checked the lost and found but if anyone stumbled on it, they kept it for themselves. I imagine it on it’s own little activity trek, through drainpipes and into the filtration system under the park.
Now you could argue that I shouldn’t have worn it to the water park in the first place. To me though it kind of defeats the purpose of a fitness tracker if you can’t wear it everywhere you go. That’s a reason I wanted a waterproof option. But that's the thing with the Shine, and with most fitness trackers, it is all about tradeoffs.
For instance, I ran the same amount of time at the same speed on a treadmill on two different occasions. One time I wore the Shine on my wrist while the other I wore it on my shoe. I tried this experiment because I'd worn the Shine cycling and the points, and calories burned, seemed skewed compared to similar amounts of time running. I guessed that it was because I wore the Shine on my shoe while cycling (as suggested by the manufacturer). Sure enough, the numbers were significantly different on my two runs. A 41 minute run with the Shine in the wristband netted me 734 points and a very active badge, while the 41 minute run with the Shine on my shoe netted me 1231 points and the same very active badge. Quite significant. And really, what good is wearing it on different spots if you just end up with skewed data?
When you get down to it, that is the fatal flaw of fitness trackers. They are motion sensors with software that tries to put that motion into the perspective of steps or points or fuel or whatever the manufacturer dreams up to motivate you. No matter how good the sensor or the software, they are still only tracking motion. One item. And a subjective one at that. In the Shine's case the software seems fine and the app is both intuitive and useful in the information it provides. But I won't be replacing it. Not with another Shine or with any fitness tracker. The technology is still too limited to effectively track daily activity and workout activity and I want something that does both. And both well.
There is just nothing on the market that provides that blend of software, sensors and design to make it worth it to me to replace the Shine. Yet anyway…