When I decided I wanted to get an activity tracker to help me keep track of my gym and sleep habits, I was faced with a lot of decisions. Did I want a digital watch, a palette of colors, multiple features, or brand approval (Nike, etc.)? Did I want it to be rechargeable, waterproof, feature a heart rate monitor, stand out in a crowd or be relatively inconspicuous?
Well, I chose ‘simple’ and ‘durable’. I chose the Misfit Shine, and here’s my reasons why.
What You Get?
I’ve had the opportunity to sample several activity trackers over the years, but what has drawn me to the Misfit Shine is its ‘no fuss no muss’ policy. I’m not looking for a device that will hold my hand throughout the day, but rather a solid tracker that will supply the information I need, when I want it, in as minimal of packaging as possible, and leave the rest to me.
And of course when you’re talking less, you also expect to get a little more. The Shine costs somewhere around $100, so what are you getting for that? From what I have experienced you get a good solid waterproof/shock-proof device that offers some pretty solid feedback on your activity. Now, the Misfit is slightly limited on the number of activities you can “tag” in its app, including cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball, and soccer. However, what I have found is that the default setting seems to do a good job with the majority of what I do, which includes walking, yoga, jogging, weight and bodyweight-lifting, and a variety of core fitness classes and nautilus machines.
The key to using the Shine is keeping in mind that it reads from the device. So for your basic everyday use the wrist band does a good job. However, if you are stickler for getting credit for every motion you make, I find that it does tend to read better if you focus the device where the majority of the action is taking place. For cycling or soccer play the misfit socks work great; or you can attach the Shine to your pant leg using its included clasp (pictured right).
What Else Do You Get?
As most every review on the web will agree, the Shine is probably the most stylish option out there. It’s aluminum body is modern yet classic. It’s unique 12-LED circular light design allows you to tell time with reasonable accuracy, without the need of a digital readout. It does this by lighting up the correct hour with a steady glow on the Shine, and then designates the minute with a flashing LED. So, you may not be getting the ‘exact’ time, but you’re within five minutes, which is good enough for most.
And while I do like the silicone band that comes with the misfit, I can also appreciate the optional leather band. I think it gives the shine a more traditional and classic appeal if you plan on wearing it in place of a watch. The only downside is that the leather band is not waterproof, so you may need to switch it out during certain activities.
The LEDs on the Shine also serve as a reminder of how much activity you’ve accomplished throughout the day based on your goals. You set your goals in the app for how much daily activity you want to be taking on. It’s default goal is 1.5 hours of walking, which can also include actions like rowing at the gym, doing the stair stepper, or super-setting two muscles groups at the same time. The more ‘active’ your activities, the Shine will automatically detect it and give you the proper credit. For instance, 30 minutes of fast jogging or intense climbing on a Stairmaster will rack up more points towards your goal than an hour of brisk walking. And it really does seem to do a pretty good job of rating your more strenuous activities with decent accuracy.
I find this rating system helps me to concentrate on being more active throughout the day, especially when I’m at the gym. So rather than sitting at a workout machine for several minutes, I try to keep moving. there is no “tag” for lifting weights, so it is the activity in between that matters most. This is one way that the Shine has been a huge help in my goal to maintain a lean physique. It is just too easy to think that ‘being at the gym’ is good enough, but you have to ask yourself if you are really ‘moving’ as much as you could be? For me, the answer is usually ‘no’… but now I have a a helpful reminder to get up and go.
I have so many different devices to charge at my house, I have two separate stations to hold them all. So, what is one more? Well, if I don’t have to have one more, I’d rather not. I like the coin battery in the Shine for this very reason. It should last me about four months of uninterrupted use, and when I do need one (the app will let me know when its power is getting low), I know it will be both inexpensive and easy to come by. For me this made the most sense for something I plan on having with me at all times and never taking off, morning and night.
My worst health habit is without a doubt not sleeping enough. The research states that you should be getting around 8 hours every night, and if you are getting less than six consecutively, you could be opening yourself up to all kinds of problems, including obesity, diabetes, and cancer. And I know from my own experience it is easy to say, Well, I will only slept 4 hours tonight and then makeup for it the rest of the week. Yeah, it rarely happens, and logging your sleeping hours is one way to keep yourself honest.
It was an eye-opener to see how little sleep I was actually getting every week. And it was interesting to see how much of that was considered to be “deep sleep”. There are lots of ways an activity tracker can log the quality of your sleep, but the shine works by noticing your movements throughout the night. So if you don’t move, it considers you in deep sleep. Makes good sense to me, considering that your body is basically paralyzed during certain important parts of your sleep cycle.
The Shine app now comes with an automatic feature that ‘senses’ when you are asleep. I found this to be pretty accurate when you have a standard bed time of 10PM to 12AM. However, if you are night owl (like me), it has a more difficult time telling when you are in bed, versus just being inactive. To get around this you can turn off the auto sleep tracking, and use the “tagging” feature to tell the Shine when you are going to bed. You can engage sleep mode by tapping the device three times, and it will respond by waving its LED lights upwards three times. There is no need to tell it when you wake up, as it will sense your movement. However, I have also found that even if you get up to use the restroom and return back to bed, it will only monitor that as a slight disturbance, and continue to track your sleep.
If you are really hardcore in getting to know your sleep quality, Misfit offers a Beddit device, which adds the benefit of monitoring your heart rate and breathing to give you a more detailed view on the quality of your sleep. It can also flag things like the tendency to snore. The Beddit comes with an intelligent alarm, which can be programmed to wake you during a “light sleep” cycle, rather than interrupting you during deep sleep. The Shine, itself, has no internal sound or vibration, so it has no alarm function.
Yes, there are a lot of activity trackers to choose from, depending on what is important to you. My observation has been that sometimes less is more, especially when its minimal design offers you just what you need, and at a fairly flawless rate of functionality.
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