In the fitness tracking world, Jawbone, Fitbit and Nike seem to draw the most attention. But there is at least one more company you should at least take notice of in this arena: Misfit. Its first product, the Shine, is a shiny, metal disc you can attach to any garment, wear around your wrist, neck, or keep in your pocket. Its styling was classy, and it came with a load of cool accessories to ensure that it didn’t look out of place with any outfit. It tracks activities, tells the time and monitors your sleep.
And then the company released Flash. The cheaper model. Unlike the Shine, it’s made of plastic, and is undoubtedly less stylish or attractive. But it does everything the Shine does, and just as well.
Like the Shine, Misfit’s Flash is a round-shaped device with twelve LEDs on on the surface, all the way around the circumference of the product. These indicate a number of things. Firstly, the time. Four dimly lit LEDs will show you where 12, 3, 6 and 9 are on the clock face, then you get one solid, brighter light to show you the hour and a 2nd flashing light to show you which minute. Your activity tracking progress is also shown. 100% of your target is all 12 lights, 50% is 6 lights, 25% is 3 lights, and so on. Once you hit your target, the lights all go crazy to celebrate you meeting your goals.
Also, like the Shine, you can attach the flash you your clothing, or shoes, using a plastic clip with a built-in magnet. You also get a wristband, to strap it around your forearm.
The Flash is powered by the Misfit app, loaded on to your iPhone (or Android). With the app you can change a number of settings, chief among which is the ability to change your goal. This can be steps or “points”, similar to many fitness trackers out on the market. You can also change which type of activity you want the Flash to track when you activate it. Syncing with your tracker via Bluetooth updates the app with all the information the Flash has managed to gather.
Key to tracking activities and seeing the time, or your progress on the Flash is the built-in “button”. Underneath the surface of the disc is a switch. Pressing the surface of the device tells it to show you your progress, and the time. Pressing and holding the surface tells it to start tracking your chosen activity. And, while this means the design of the Flash can’t be too elegant or luxurious (like the Shine) it does mean you can be guaranteed that it will pick up your command every time. Something the Shine didn’t do, since its controls were purely motion-sensor based, and required that you tap the surface of the disc. I often found that it activated when I didn’t want it to, or didn’t activate when I did. With the Flash, I didn’t have any of those issues. It was far more reliable.
It tracked my movements and my sleep automatically and accurately. Comparing its findings with my iPhone’s Health app revealed that it got similar results. What I particularly liked was that I didn’t need to tell it when I was going to bed. It just knows when you’re going to sleep, and starts tracking. In the morning you can sync the Flash with your phone and see how much sleep you got, and how much of it was deep sleep.
My one major criticism about the Flash, and it’s something I’ve touched on already, is the design. It’s pretty cheap looking, and feeling. Despite its reliable tracking, it’s not the most inconspicuous fitness tracker available. It looks odd on your wrist. And what’s more, there’s no resounding “click” or any form of tactile confirmation that it is placed correctly in the wristband or fastener. Once or twice, it fell out the band when I pressed it to check on my progress. That said, during many games of Wednesday night football (soccer), it never once fell off, no matter how physical the game was.
All in all, I think the Flash is about as good as it gets for a low-cost fitness tracking device. It may not be as good looking as its premium sibling, but I found it much more reliable and functional. At just $49.99, it’s a steal.
You can purchase the Shine in hot pink, neon green/yellow or turquoise at Best Buy, or pre-order the black model from Misfit.com. Red, white and blue models will be available at major retailers soon.