review of Misfit Shine Activity Tracker

I aim to misbehave…

I confess, I’m a sucker for marketing. I’ve taken the plunge into the world of the quantifiable self and purchased a wearable activity tracker.

Misfit-Shine-mainAfter doing a lot of research, I ended up going with the Misfit Shine. The reasons for my choice, in no particular order:

  • Doesn’t need regular charging – just a battery every few months.
  • Elegant look.
  • Multiple wearing options (wristband, necklace, or magnetic clip, or just in my pocket).
  • Functions as a space-agey analog dial watch (more on that later)
  • Tracks sleep as well as activity
  • Tracks multiple activities

Here were the things I thought might bother me about it:

  • Doesn’t play nice with other software such as Runkeeper or MyFitnessPal.
  • Looked like it needed to be placed on the phone to sync (this turned out not to be the case).
  • The software that it does use is a little opaque – uses a “point system” instead of actually counting steps or calories, although you can find out those metrics at the touch of a finger.
  • Many reviewers complained about having trouble with the “tapping” mechanism to show time and/or switch activity tracking.
  • The marketing is hipster to the point of ridiculousness.

Early Results are In!

I have not yet turned into a hot surfer dude. But I'm pretty sure that firmware update is in the works.
I have not yet turned into a hot surfer dude. But I’m pretty sure that firmware update is in the works.

I struggled a bit at first. Telling the time is a little different – it shows you the hour first with a bright light, and then blinks the minute past whatever the last multiple of five was (that is a lot less complex in practice than it was writing it). It also doesn’t show up too well in bright sunlight.

The way the software works is also a bit opaque – I have myself on the “pretty active” goal of 1000 points, and on days like today when I only did a Pilates workout, it says I’ve only gotten a third of the way. On the other hand, last week when I ran three miles in the morning it gave me the happy “Yay-You-Got-Your-Goal” lightshow right after…which motivated me towards being a couch potato the rest of the day. I’ve been active enough, see, the Shine tells me so!

And don’t get me started on it not being cross-compatible with other apps. You’d think in this day and age new software/hardware companies would figure out that thing about a rising tide. S’ok, I figure either they’ll figure it out or else there’ll be a hack at some point.

I did have some trouble at first with the tapping. Not to switch activities (it automatically tracks running, and none of the other available options are things I do. Misfit, add yoga, pilates, and Grandpa-ing to the list, ok?). But to just make it show the time, I had problems.

Triumph Through Perseverance

Thing is, it was user error – I was using the pad of my finger, not the tip, to do a double-tap. Now that I’ve got it figured out, it works fine. And I really, really like the fact that it’s basically an analog dial watch – no bells, whistles, or any other distractions.

I also found that it was very nicely unobtrusive – it works well on my wrist, and when I used the magnetic clip instead on my shoe that also was both functional and unnoticeable. It looks stylish (yes, I may even cave and buy the leather band for it) and it’s unusual enough to make me feel like a trendsetter (and yes, I’m quite aware that is a totally subjective feeling).

photo 1 (1)The sleep monitoring function is a real winner for me. I can wear it to bed with no problem, and it’s showing me all the fun data about my sleep cycles that I’ve been curious about. In fact, it’s showing me that I’m doing much better in terms of deep sleep. There is also an alarm function that will supposedly wake me when I’m in “light sleep”, but I tend to either wake up when my partner does or else sleep in til whenever. In short, haven’t had much use for the alarm – but it’s there.

Yeah, But Does It Do the Job?

That’s what it all comes down to, right? Does it actually motivate me to be more active?

The answer is a definite yes. Proof of concept: the last two days I’ve been taking it very easy on my knee, which has not liked the running I’ve been doing. At the same time, I need excuses to be more active just so I can make more lights come on my wrist. So I created excuses to walk to the store, and then took the long way home just so that I’d get more activity.

That, to me, is what makes this a winner. It both satisfies the stylish geek in me and also does the job of making me want to be more active. Yeah, I may complain that it doesn’t seem to count Pilates as active, yet, but really the end game is not some data point – it’s the question of “does it make me want to move.

It does. The Misfit changes my behavior in exactly the way I want it to.

Got one? Or considering buying one? Got other questions about the quantified self? Leave a comment!


1 thought on “review of Misfit Shine Activity Tracker”

  1. After four months of waffling over whether or not a fitness tracker would be worth getting, I finally bought a Fitbit about a month ago. I was not overly concerned with style or trends – just with the information it could give me. I was most interested in the activity levels and the sleep tracking. My biggest issue to date is that this model does not tell time and I can’t seem to get used to wearing my watch on my other wrist! 

    The sleep feature is fascinating and has confirmed that I don’t get that much sleep and it’s rarely unbroken!

    Like you, I wondered if setting these goals and using the Fitbit to track my progress would motivate me to move more. I’ve found that I actually want to see those happy faces (goals achieved) when I sync my device and log into my profile. If I am falling short near the end of the day, I’ll go walk around the block to make sure I get there. I find myself parking farther away from my destinations to get in a few extra steps. I’m going to the gym more often and I’m even (insert horrified gasp here, since I’m SO not a morning person) walking around the lake in the mornings BEFORE work!

    Was the purchase worth it? Heck, yeah, if for no other reason than I feel better overall. Whatever works, I say!

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