What We Think
A great little gadget with a really clever design, but possibly too simple for hardcore trainers. The price is also fairly high.
The Shine, from Misfit Wearables is an exercise monitor built to be used with a downloadable app. The sheer simplicity of it helps set it apart from other activity monitors and it is so comfortable it can be worn constantly, so that you are never without a nagging reminder that you aren’t as fit and healthy as you should be.
To be fair however, the only thing nagging you to exercise will be your own guilt. The Misfit Shine is perfectly innocuous, keeps a non-judgemental tab on all your physical activity and gives you an idea of just how much exercise you are doing.
My initial opinion was of bemusement as I couldn’t see what the point in the Shine was. (Well, actually my first thought was frustration as I couldn’t figure out how to get the thing out the fancy, yet confusing, packaging.) I didn’t get why anyone would want to pay £99.95 for a small, glowing disk, but over a few days of using it, I really began to understand the attraction.
The simple design stops it getting in the way of your life, and the charmingly basic interface (twelve glowing LEDs) give you an instant update on your activity progress. For an in-depth look at the data it has collected, you simply have to pull out your phone and let it synch to the app (which takes a matter of seconds).
The Shine is basically an activity monitor. It tracks how much you move using a 3 axis accelerometer, and by processing the data records, it judges the number of calories burnt and converts it into a point based system through which you can set and achieve goals.
Further, it analyses your movements and judges whether you are walking, running, cycling, playing tennis, or swimming (yes, it is fully waterproof). It even times how long you sleep for and differentiates between ‘normal sleep’ and ‘deep sleep’, giving you some interesting data to look at when you wake up.
It logs this data in a daily and weekly basis and so let’s you see your activity pattern over a prolonged period of time.
It also tells the time, but badly.
- Several ways to wear
- Lack of screen
In appearance, the Shine looks like a small, UFO shaped disc, or like a tiny metal hamburger, as it has a groove around the edge that lets it be inserted into a variety of wearable accessories. It comes with a thin sport wrist band and a magnetic clothes clip as standard, but there are other accessories available to buy, such as a leather watch band and a necklace.
The sport strap is incredibly comfortable, comfortable enough to wear it while asleep, so it can track sleep patterns. I often forgot I was wearing it throughout the day. The magnetic clip allows the device to be worn on a lapel, on a waistband, on a shoe, or pretty much anywhere on your clothing. The magnet is fairly strong, but there are still reports of people losing their device when they wore it using the clip, and I myself nearly knocked it off but luckily noticed and reattached it.
The display usually appears blank, but a double tap on the top of the device will make a percentage of the twelve LEDs that ring the top light up, indicating progress towards your goal. This immediate activity report is easy to access and clear to read, and the perfectionist in me strived to hit the goal and light up all twelve lights.
After displaying your goal progress for a few seconds, the lights fade out and are replaced by lights that indicate the time, which is pretty hard to read. With 12 LEDs, the one which would indicate the hour lights up solidly, while the closest 5 minutes increment will flash to indicate the minutes, with the 12, 3, 6 and 9 indicators glowing at half brightness for reference. A clever idea, and somewhat necessary if you have sacrificed a watch for wrist space to wear the Shine, but it is not easy to read and it is annoying that you have to wait for it to finish displaying your goal progress before getting to the time (this order can be reversed using the app, but then you have the same issue when wanting to check your goal). Also, after not synchronising the Shine with the app for 24 hours, the time stopped displaying at all.
Triple tapping the device before an activity will manually log it. All the lights on the display will flash as the Shine prepares to work out what activity you are about to do (sleep, run, cycle or swim). This activity will appear on your app as a logged icon and your calorie/points count will be adapted to measure for the increased exercise.
The tapping interaction sounds simple, but often doesn’t work perfectly. A double tap is sometimes registered as a triple tap, or not at all, and this can get quite frustrating and annoying as you stand there hitting your wrist over and over, especially in public.
Speaking of hitting it, the Shine is made out of a tough matte aluminium that is very hard wearing. It would take a lot to damage it. Any scratches that you might accumulate on it also wouldn’t be very visible due to the nature of the material.
The app is a necessary part of the Shine. Through it, you set your goals and check your progress, getting a more in-depth look at the data that can’t be displayed by the 12 LED interface.
Just like the device, the app is designed cleanly with simplicity in mind, and this is something that stands out and works in the app’s favour. Progress towards the daily goal is clear, mimicking the round indicator of the Shine itself. It displays the calculated calories you’ve burnt, the steps you have taken, the distance you’ve walked and a handy graph that displays your exercise levels on a daily or weekly basis. Icons also indicate the different activities Shine has detected you having done. If you are active enough, this builds up into a satisfying mosaic of fitness.
There are a lot of differences between the Apple and the Android app, and to sum up, the Android version is very trimmed down and excludes a lot of the functions. They are still fairly new releases however, and updates should hopefully be coming for both the apps and for Shine itself.
The Shine connects with a phone or iPad through Bluetooth, and it can be manually updated or set to automatically connect and update the app.
The Misfit Shine is very impressive; it is innovative and intelligently designed. Hardcore trainers may find it too simple and prefer a more intricate device, but it makes a very good casual activity tracker. The price, however, is anything other than casual, and I can’t justify buying it for around £100. If it can be found for a lot cheaper, or if you have a bit of money to burn, then it would be a great little gadget.