MisFit Shine vs Flash – MisFit’s Best Cheap Fitness Tracker
Alright, maybe perfect is a pretty strong word, and a darn rare serving. You order one and think you got a decent health band and what happens next? You find the strap is such an awful fit, that it struggles to hold onto your wrist whichever your size. Or it chokes the blood flow beneath itself. And even when your new, best fitness and activity tracker does fit, it might surprise you by strapping a chronic case of allergy fever in and around you.
But the ultimate activity tracker can be perfect just for you and your health-conscious schedule. What makes you tick? Small, useful, lightweight, connected, info-packed, sensor-packed, or all these in a fitness tracker? What about the price tag and battery life? Because MisFit has, not one, but two, contenders that are sure to spoil your budget fitness tracker buds. Between the MisFit Flash and MisFit Shine health monitors, which one more than flashes the most shine? Let’s find out in less than 20 minutes.
We will, reasonably enough, also keep FitBit’s and Jawbone’s little army of price-friendly, spot-on health monitors in mind as well—when we can.
MisFit Shine price when reviewed: $49.99
MisFit Shine vs Flash
These two stablemates are aimed at the beginner fitness technology enthusiast. But even the veteran fitness gadget aficionado can take a few takes from these two MisFit fitness wearables. Here we go.
MisFit Flash price when reviewed: $13.85
1. Build and Design
If you like it when your activity tracker looks personable, then the range of colours available for the Misfit Flash coat might appeal to you somewhat. The Shine only comes in dull faces, which can be quite the match up for evening or business attire against the rather casual look and feel of colours for the Flash.
Even the newer, sub-$100 Shine 2 comes in just two colour coats, carbon black and rose gold. However, when you do get right down to the skin, it is a textured, rubbery plastic affair on the Flash. Misfit’s Shine refutes this outright, and that is squarely thanks to the metallic (anodised aircraft-grade aluminium) build of this thing.
Out of the delivery box, you will find both devices’ strap and clip supplied. So you do not have to buy your wristband separate like in the Jawbone UP Move case. And, of course, you get to choose and select your favourite, bright and bold colour before shipment begins. Which also means you will not be able to change your plastic strap for something more rubbery, maybe, if you choose a Misfit like the Flash.
However, if you like your wearables non-intrusive, lightweight, simple and clean, both Misfit devices fit right.
Still on the strapping/clasping/clipping thing, the original Shine doesn’t fit as great as we’d want. It can easily pop out of the cradle from the front big time. No one wants to have their brand new tracker pop out in the shower, or dishwasher, or somewhere around the block, where, unfortunately, you may never know or get it back. Misfit knew this when they launched the newer Flash.
Towards that end, the Flash has a bit of a lip going around the face, and you can only slide in the coin round, fitness tracker device into the strap from the latter’s rear. Like killing two birds with one stone, this also means it’ll be easier to pull out and swap the battery when it runs out—more on the battery is detailed below.
Unfortunately, someone still needs to rethink, redesign and redo the budget fitness tracker design at Misfit Wearables since even the Flash fits flimsy in its cradle. Meaning if you aren’t wearing it, the Flash device itself (minus the strap) can wobble around—and probably get lost while it moves about. If you are trying to read the time, for example, and it’s already out of its centre position, you’ll have to twist and turn your head about before figuring the “12” for 12 O’clock out of place.
Fortunately, you can solve this (not so) little nag by wearing your Misfit Wearable and have the pressure generated by your arm hold it still. Just be sure to strap it higher up above your wrist bone, or the pressure will help achieve the opposite and make it pop out while you engage in day-to-day activities.
To further help users keep up with the device, Misfit thought the Flash needed a strap-and-clip-style wristband that makes the Flash slip into the rear of its strap. So you can secure your health band around your wrist adjustably depending on the size of your wrist—thoughtful.
This time around, Misfit made the Flash flatter. Both the back and front are flat unlike the convex shape of the Shine—which may have helped to grasp a wrist comfortably if the device was about your wrist’s size. However, the flat build, we think, makes it more versatile for a larger user base—much like the Moto 360 smartwatch.
Design Improvements on Flash vs Shine
More important, though, the Flash face is now more of a physical button sporting more bright LEDs than the touch-sensitive face of the Shine. But the actual button is hidden underneath the plastic face. The button is also centrally placed. It is the trigger you will be using to light up the LEDs, which, as in the Shine case, indicate how far off or close up you are to achieving your pre-set fitness goals.
In the Shine, you only had to double-tap the touch-sensitive, aluminium plate to have the lights shine and give you the information you needed. Whichever is better and more convenient, we can’t decide. But maybe, with Flash, you won’t have to tap your device accidentally to life and end up over-calculating your steps, or miles, or sleep. Or maybe Instagram-style tapping is the way to go, your decision to make.
The more premium design of the Shine does really come out tops if you are in this for the versatility bit. Because if you do want to engage in a watery activity, such as swimming and showering, both are fully waterproof but the shine outshines it newer stable mate. While the Shine can still record a pulse and kick it right at 50 meters under water, the Flash is only good for up to 30 meters depth. Divers can look to the Shine, but we doubt anyone swims at below 30 meters to get a fitness kick out of it.
Overall, both devices won’t be winning top awards for design and build. Nevertheless, both the Shine and Flash can fit and look right on your wrist with a bit of tweaking about. And you might like how Misfit borrowed a cue from FitBit and made these two straps non-allergenic as well.
As a plus, you can clip either onto your shoe laces, shirt colour or almost anywhere you want and still experience its monitoring capability unscathed.
2. Performance and User Experience
Besides how it looks and fits, you will want to know why you should spend a dime on a supposedly smart, budget wristband—how it works. So, how do Misfit’s Flash and Misfit Shine stack up performance-wise?
In addition to tracking running, swimming, walking and cycling, the Misfit Flash can follow up on tennis and basketball sports as well. This is one notch above the competition at this price point and clearly outshines the Shine.
Let’s start in the face with those Alien-like (or is it futuristic) LEDs. Because they use some cryptic code language or binary language, we can’t even figure that out too. You need to double-tap on the panel of the Shine to read, (ahem, decode) your activity progress. The more LEDs that light up, the better you are faring and close to stamping a targeted activity point for the day. The same 12 LEDs will tell you the time by lighting up to represent hours, then minutes.
Unfortunately, you may take a bit of getting used to this new concept. But it is a nice addition—after all, we won’t praise it for being a watch substitute. That is since, as some reviews have pointed out, the Shine watch function can go out of the precise time for up to an hour—a massive irregularity, but maybe this is much improved in the Shine 2.
As mentioned earlier, you have to press the centre of the Flash face solidly to push the knob underneath and light up the LEDs so as to achieve the same feat as in the Shine device.
The original Shine hosts a 3-axis accelerometer under that hot metallic body. That is the rather decent-performing sensor that’ll help detect motion as you speed up from a halt. It is a pretty reliable sensor, the reason you can wear the Shine anywhere on the body. If for example, you are a swimmer or hiker, the Shine will take a record of your calories burned or step count from either the wrist or while clipped to your waist gear. You can clip it almost anywhere on your body apparel and still get some pretty spot on recordings –about as accurate and useful as the Pebble activity tracker and Withing’s health wristband.
Misfit’s Flash can achieve the same feat too. Not unlike the Shine, you can use this vibrant number while walking, cycling, swimming, running and during a tennis or basketball game. You can even sport the Misfit Bloom pendant to turn the wrist wearable into a neckline jewelry piece—and still get your accurate stats.
Both Misfit Wearables are useful for measuring calories burned, steps taken, distance covered, and sleep enjoyed. And you can now also keep a photo journal of the food you choose to eat. Now, unlike some of the Jawbone (UP series) and FitBit’s activity trackers, you will not be receiving any pings concerning your current progress. Nor are those LEDs kind enough to flicker even once to simply let you know you’ve hit your target. Automatically, that means no audio coaching or motivational prompts will be coming out of your cute little fitness tracker. You get a barebones functionality check-sheet, and you have to work up your motivation coffers to power up and off of that cosy couch and get busy.
Still, you will certainly appreciate that the sub-$50 activity and sleep tracker can even do some of these things. But most of these other things you will access and get to analyse from your smartphone display. Right off the updated Misfit Link App.
MisFit Link App
Note that those LEDs can only use coded language to tell you the time, and indicate how far you need to go before you have hit your daily fitness target. But you will need a display and screen for goal setting, right? The Misfit Link App (formerly Shine App) now helps both Flash and Shine users to do this and more, even though we still cannot help but think the software needs more work if it is to stand up to the likes of detailed, Jawbone’s mobile apps for Windows, Android, and IOS.
But, Misfit Shine does support the three most popular smartphone OS platforms. There’s a Windows-compatible app for Windows 8.1 devices that support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Shine for Android is available for Droids and requires that you have an Android phone running version 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and later as well as support for Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE) as well.
Shine for IOS is a welcome app for iDevice owners and one which requires that your IOS device runs IOS 7 and later and with Bluetooth 4.0 BLE support. That means a Nokia Lumia running WP 8.1, and later, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or SGS 4, or an iPhone 4S, iPad 3 and iPod touch 5 (and later devices for each line-up) can comfortably run the software.
you can set daily fitness goals, and you will have a graphical presentation of your progress
You get an app that syncs to your phone via Bluetooth 4.0, which can take a little too long (even timeout at other times) to synchronise data recorded in the pace of activity to your smartphone app.
The Misfit Link App for Flash users is not available for Windows Phone OS, unfortunately.
For Android and IOS users, however, you get a comprehensive app that organises your activity, diet choices, sleep quality and duration, as well as steps and activity data. We are glad the Android app has improved to at least measure up to the IOS one, which was not the case for quite some time. Still, the IOS app can be a tad more useful than the Android one.
From the Misfit Link app, you can set daily fitness goals, and you will have a graphical presentation of your progress displayed every time you slide out and light up your smartphone for it.
Food Logger Update
We noticed that Misfit has updated the software with a new logger. You can now log what you eat daily with meal photos. So you won’t forget how fat-drenched that burger was, or how healthy that oatmeal breakfast must have been. You can even track your weight gain or loss and check progress if you decide to gain more or lose more and vice versa.
What might get you a little astounded, though, is how progress is displayed—in points form. The closer you get to the daily step count target, for example, the more points you get out of 1000. However, at the bottom of the activity tracking page, you do get an “Activity Remaining” prompt so you know exactly what you need to do, instead of looking up those point numbers and wondering what to do with them. To do this, tap on the “Activity” tab right below the circular graph displaying the points scored so far. You will see “miles,” calories”, and “steps” metrics right below and in that order.
Right next to the Activity tab is “Sleep”, which you only need to tap to switch from active to Sleep Mode. Just be sure not to forget to make this switch. It is a physical thing, meaning it won’t detect you have turned in for the night, and you have to switch physically to Sleep Mode to get accurate stats the next time you rise and shine. Then let the sensor in both the Flash and Shine work its magic and deliver sleep quality and duration stats the next morning—when you have to tap Activity again to fire up an activity breakdown.
In fact, it is now possible to tag a particular activity instead of all in one. You can do so by tapping on the tab with the name of the specific activity you plan on engaging right up next.
Sleep monitoring is spot on too, at least, compared to the likes of Withings offerings, which are deemed, apparently, more accurate than most. The thing about sleep tracking is that it takes a sensor-packed monitor to decipher whether you were in deep sleep, or kept moving about in light sleep. Or one just snored all the way to daylight and hardly got any quality sleep despite laying still throughout or for the better part of the night (or day).
A smart alarm comes handy here too for both Misfits. Note that the actual ring will come from your smartphone and not from the actual Shine or Flash device on the wrist. That smart alarm can be quite helpful when you plan on waking up during a light sleep phase—the best time to wake up, according to science. Overall, if you are looking for a decent, low-cost sleep monitor, both the Flash and Shine may suffice. There are negligible differences if any, between the two which is what we expect when both devices share the same software.
The other nice touch Misfit introduced to the Link App recently is the ability to get social and share your goals and progress online with a group of friends or specific people. This is a great thing if you plan on letting your doctor know how great (or not so great) you are doing. Sharing the information with friends can also get exciting and motivational. And you might teach them a trick or get a nice tip yourself to hit that daily activity target every time and in a flash. You may know what others are doing to trim that waist, or bulk up those abs and so on. Some may still find this addition to be pretty much useless, though. It depends on individual tastes.
Also, if you like, you can use the App to link up with other health apps available. You can, for example, use HealthKit (IOS) and Google Fit (Android) health tracking apps and technologies such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, IFTTT, Lose It!, and MapMyFitness. So you can upgrade your analysis experience to almost level up to a Jawbone UP Move app using these third-party apps.
At this price point, we think and feel both activity and sleep monitors do their part decently.
3. Battery Life
Note that both the Shine and Flash’s batteries are not rechargeable. Instead, you get a disc, watch-like battery that slides into the rear—lasting up to a straight six months for the Flash and about four months for Shine. Keep in mind that this can vary somewhat depending on your usage, but both are that good with battery use.
What’s great here too is because you can just strap the device on and forget it is on your wrist for so long. That may appeal to some who want to have their device running throughout and not want to interrupt the tracking and recording, by having to remove the Misfit activity tracker for a recharge session at the mains.
Even the Jawbone UP Move had to snatch a cue from Misfit’s budget fitness trackers and slide in a lithium power plant with the same longevity to match up.
The Shine already has a replacement in the $99.99 Shine 2. That means a lower price for the pioneering Shine device and strap. At only about $45, you can get this elegant activity tracker for yourself or a special someone as a gift. But if you want it straight from the manufacturer, you will need to shell out a reduced $69.99 for it.
On its part, the Flash cost 50 GBP in the UK when it came out. It cost about $50 in the US—the same tag as Jawbone’s UP Move at the time. Now, however, you can easily bargain a nice deal starting from just $15—Misfit Wearables are selling it at $19.99. Unlike the UP Move, though, you get the Flash with both the strap and clip, even your choice of favourite colour, at no extra cost.
The Shine and Flash provide a decent alternative for anyone just testing out the increasingly flooding ground known as the wearables market. Both are nice, cheap activity and sleep trackers.
With the software update for the mobile app, the two devices are only really different in appearance. The Shine literally shines for the premium look thanks to that aircraft-metal clad, and the sporty, more casual, polycarbonate combo body of the Flash flashes vibrantly. It is your choice at the end of the day.
But if you want more pro performance for swimming and cycling, Misfit has partnered up with Speedo and Ekocycle to offer Speedo Shine and Ekocycle Shine fitness trackers for pro swimmers and cyclists respectively.
Misfit manufactures a range of health wearables that include support for activity and fitness tracking, alert notifications, sleep tracking, heart rate monitors and more. The company aspires to inspire more people to develop better health and stick to healthy habits by providing consumer health products that encourage such behaviour.
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