Review of the Misfit Shine
You may not have seen or heard of the Misfit Shine before, but it has actually been around since November 2012, won an award at CES 2013 and officially launched in Apple stores in August last year (albeit in US, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong – so not the UK yet). [UPDATE – The Shine is now available in the UK for £99.95 from a range of shops including Apple, John Lewis and others]
With apps for iOS and Android now available for the Shine too, could 2014 be the year that this tracker joins the big leagues to take on Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike? Read on to see our full review.
WHAT IS TRACKED?
The Misfit Shine tracks 2 main data points, steps and sleep. These are both done automatically and sync with the app via Bluetooth. Unlike some other apps, the Shine even measures sleep completely automatically, so no need to tell it you’re off to bed every evening.
The most recent addition of a function that allows you to take pictures of your food is a little peculiar, but clearly a sign of the next steps for the Shine.
There aren’t currently any other apps that can access the Shine API, as with many of its competitors, but we understand that this is on the roadmap for this year.
I wore my other tracker of choice to compare to the Shine every step of the way, and I must say that it was accurate throughout the test. All the data made perfect sense with the activities I had done, whether it was running, being at the gym or walking to the station.
The devices automatically syncs via Bluetooth when you open the app and also gives you visibility of blocks of concerted activity, as well as allowing you to define these activities later as a more specific (‘Swimming’ or ‘Soccer’ for example).
I wasn’t sure about the sleep measurement, particularly as I no longer have to ‘tell’ the tracker that I’m going to bed now. But the sleep measurement is accurate and the deep to light sleep ratios all seem to fit with how I feel in the morning.
One key difference with the shine is that rather than impinge or 10,000 steps, you aim for a score that is worked out not justly steps but how generally active you are throughout the day. I had this set at 1000, which equates to around an hour and a half walking or a 30 minute run (apparently).
As with a number of other trackers, the Shine also tracks the resting calories you’ve burned throughout the day to factor into your overall score. So when you get to the end of the day, you have a good idea of what your body has spent to compare to the calories you’ve put in.
The Shine app (which I had for iOS) is quite frankly the most beautiful tracker app I’ve seen so far. It’s stunningly simply and styled to fit with the new iOS 7 design, but more importantly it give you all the information you need in a clean and simple way. If you don’t believe me, check out these screenshots (and if you disagree, feel free to let me know in the comments!):
The user experience is really where activity trackers either win or lose these days and the decision often comes down to personal preferences. For example, do you want your tracker to tell the time as well or do you not care if it has any signs of life at all? My preference is for accuracy, easy syncing and comfort on my wrist, so with this in mind, here’s how I found the Shine:
The Shine comes with a strap or clip as standard, which means you can wear it on your wrist or clip it to a variety of different places, including on your foot if you’re running or cycling, apparently! This is very handy for people that don’t want it on arm, but as a wrist wearer myself I found it to be easy to put on, small, light, and never felt it was going to come flying off (as my Jawbone UP has from time to time).
The real benefit of the Shine is its versatility and no matter how you chose to wear it, it seems to track accurately and seems to be able to take a bit of a beating too. In fact, in an attempt to test its resilience I wore Shine on my wrist for the duration of a training session of my sport of choice – American Football! I train most weekends with the Watford Cheetahs and the day I decided to test the new tracker the weather was pretty horrible, so it also served to test how waterproof the Shine really is. After a few hours of running around and some definite direct hits on my arm, I’m happy to report that the device happily lit up once training was done and has shown no ill-effects since.
There aren’t any vibration-based alerts with the Shine as there are with some others, but it does have a circle of lights that are used to update the wearer on how they’re doing. With a double-tap on the facia you get an update on your progress towards your goal (denoted by the circle of lights filling up and completing the circle when you reach your goal), then also showing you the time in a slightly odd way that’s hard to explain – although after a day or two I did get the hang of reading it.
With a triple-tap on the device, you are able to let Shine know you’re about to do some more strenuous exercise, such as the ‘Swimming’ or ‘Soccer’ examples from earlier. This is something you can specific or update within the app too, once the data has been synced.
To sync, you simply open the app (with Bluetooth enabled) and the Shine will sync automatically – if it doesn’t manage to sync automatically, there is also a button within the app that will try to re-sync the device. I did find that a couple of times the Shine didn’t sync at the first time of trying, but I was attempting this with the Shine still on my wrist and occasionally with my phone in my other hand. Ultimately, not having to take my device off my wrist to plug it into my phone to sync means that I’m willing to forgive the odd failed sync (and it really wasn’t that often).
It has been quite refreshing not to have to charge my band every week, as I do with my current UP, as the Shine uses a watch battery to run that can last for up to 4-6 months. Compared to the variety of re-chargeable bands I’ve tried out over the last few years, the moment that I realised I hadn’t had to go through the annoyance of having to plug in my device to charge for an hour every week did make me wonder why all wearable devices aren’t taking advantage of this!
At $119.95 (apologies I don’t have a £ figure), the Shine is on a par with the likes of the Jawbone UP and FitBit. And considering the options you have to wear the device and the ease of use generally, it certainly looks set to take on these leaders in the tracking space.
The Misfit Shine is a really nice little device that has the potential to really compete with the other devices in its price bracket. When I first opened up the flying-saucer-like box it came in I was a little sceptical as to whether it would match up to my highly researched tracker of choice – the Jawbone UP. After a couple of weeks with these side-by-side (literally) on my wrist, I actually found myself preferring the Shine!
Yes, it doesn’t have the reminders and alerts that the Jawbone has, but it does have a much simpler way to sync and doesn’t need plugging in every week. Yes, it doesn’t have the connections with other services that I might want to use, but it has a beautiful app that gives you a great visual representation of your data (and we’re assured that the connections with other apps are on the way!).
So at the around £100 mark, no subscriptions, a free app, fantastic battery life and a really hardy device that you can wear in a variety of ways, the Shine really is one to watch out for this year. I would certainly recommend the Shine to anyone looking to start their journey to a more quantified self or to anyone that’s had enough of their re-charring devices. In fact, the biggest endorsement I can give it is that it’s actually replaced two devices on my own wrist: my Jawbone UP and my watch!
The Misfit Shine is now available in most Apple Stores in the UK and a number of other outlets.