The Misfit Shine 2 is out now, so I should probably go ahead and publish my review of the one I have, the very first-gen Misfit Shine. The tech pundits totally missed the point of the first Shine, and I want to set the record straight. The TL;DR version of this review is: If you don't already have a fitness/activity tracker, or have anything other than something from Misfit, stop everything and buy this now. I've tried nearly every fitness band available, from the various fitbits to both iterations of the Jawbone Up. I even had that little virtual Pikachu pedometer thing. Yes, that counts. It was awesome. Where are they now? I think one is in my dresser, another is in my desk somewhere, and the rest are in a storage drawer waiting to be tossed. It's a sad truth considering each cost over $100 at the time of purchase and was adored by bloggers. My Misfit Shine was gifted to me by Mom, and I later gave one to Girlfriend. Everyone I know has loved this thing so much that we all have one now. You can grab your own first-gen Shine for only $50 on Amazon. Buy two. Give one to a friend.
Why is the Shine so different? Here's how my experience with trackers usually goes.
- I receive the new tracker and eagerly set up yet another account on some site I'll probably never log into again.
- Set up the app and try to get everyone, Apple's Health Kit and other apps, playing together nicely.
- For a couple of weeks I dutifully sync and check my stats. I charge during the day whilst sitting at my desk.
- Forget to charge.
- Device runs dry and I'm forced to plug it in overnight, thus missing out on tracking a night's sleep.
- Forget the band on my night stand, and one night turns into three days.
- Finally remember to start wearing the band again.
- Slog through the horrid app suggestions based on the premise that it thinks I was in a coma for three days.
- Go back to step 5.
- After a few cycles, I inevitably stop caring so much.
- The band sits on my desk until finally being tossed in a drawer.
Basically, the problem is that I don’t want to track my tracker. I have better things to do. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be wearing an activity tracker at all. I’d be swimming laps with Michael, pedaling alongside Lance, sipping Gatorade and laughing at the idea of tracking vague motion throughout the day. Alas, not the case.
I like tracking my activity. It's cool. It let's me know that I'm not crazy, and I really did only get a single hour of restful sleep last night. It confirms my suspicions that I am progressively getting more and more out of shape. It rightfully suggests that I get away from my desk more often. Unlike what many of the ads suggest, I’m not tracking intense workouts. I'm lucky to get away from my desk for 15 minutes let alone work out. The value of a fitness band for me is its insight into my overall health and behavior. I like to know my average activity level, sleep patterns, etc.
In order to get a holistic view of my health however, I need a tracker that is always tracking, not just on for a few days a week. I also do not want to be constantly reminded that I’m wearing a fitness band, lest the observer effect kick in. I don’t even want to spend a great deal of time syncing and reviewing my stats. I want to forget about the entire experience until I actually need the data.
The misfit Shine achieves this in, what I believe to be, an intentionally unremarkable way that no other fitness band does.
- The battery lasts for months. Yes, months, even in bad weather, showers, and heavy use. Misfit cleverly solved the battery issue by creating a low-power band that runs on a common watch battery that last forever. Furthermore, when it does finally run dry I just need to swap in a new battery. Don't worry, you can buy a pack on Amazon for like $1 per battery. I never have to take the band off for hours to charge, and therefore significantly reduce the chances of forgetting to put it back on.
- The whole thing is waterproof. Waterproof, not water resistant. No, I don't swim at the Y, but I do occasionally shower. Having it on during my aquatic vocal sessions means one less time that I could forget it.
- It's low profile. Both the fitbit and jawbone designs are bulky. I did like the bangle-like design of the Up, but it was always getting caught on things. It also didn’t sit well under the cuff of my Harley jacket. That’s a real deal breaker. Plus, the low-profile design is great if you tuck your hand under your pillow like I do.
- It’s stylish. I’m not an expert on this, but Mom says that most other bands look like location tracking bracelets that criminals wear. I mostly like that the Shine is available in a bunch of different colors and with various accessories.
- Those accessories let you wear this tracker however you like. It comes with the typical silicone sport band and a magnetic clasp that lets you clip it to your pants, shirt, or shoes (great on a bicycle). They also make watch-like bands, and my girlfriend loves her Bloom necklace.
- Lastly, the app is unobtrusive. You sign in with a social account, no need to create an account online, and the device automatically syncs when you open the app. That means that I can just open the app, let it sync for the second or two required, and then go about my day. When I want to see how I’m doing, the app has a no-nonsense display of sleep and activity.
Sure, you an also compete/share with friends. The tracking is also pretty accurate in my experience. These are things that are common in wearables. Wear Misfit really shines (see what I did there?) is in its combination of some pretty basic features. Waterproofness and pretty design aren’t exactly innovative talking points. Heck, they even used an “old school” replaceable battery! Yet, no one has their act together as well as Misfit. It’s like while everyone was over here focusing on features and tech, Misfit just left the party and said, “We’re just going to make something people will like to wear”.
Maybe we need to stop treating wearables like tech gadgets, and start treating them like a new pair of jeans.