MISFIT FLASH FITNESS TRACKER REVIEW
Nov 18, 2014
The Misfit Flash fitness tracker is Misfit's latest offering as of Fall 2014. This little gem offers you everything that the impressive Misfit Shine does, but for roughly half the price (~$49 retail for the Flash vs ~$99 retail for the Shine). Read on for more, including the physical differences between the two, and a look at the Flash's rainbow of colors to choose from!
Misfit Flash Overview
The Misfit Flash fitness tracker from Misfit Wearables is sporty, waterproof enough to swim with, small enough to be compared to pocket change, and smart enough to track your steps, activity, distance, calories burned, and auto-track sleep quality and duration. Just like the Misfit Shine, it allows you to input custom fitness goals. Plus, it uses a coin cell battery, meaning you don't have to recharge it -- you don't even have to worry about battery levels until you start approaching 6 months of use.
The face of the fitness tracker serves as one huge button that lets you change modes, view time of day via embedded LEDs, and view your goal progress, and the device syncs via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to the Misfit smartphone app, compatible with iOS and Android phones (Windows phone compatibility coming soon).
How I Obtained my MisFit Flash
As always, when I do a first-hand review, I like to let you know how I obtained my device. In this case, the review is based on my first-hand experience using the Misfit Flash's more expensive cousin, the Misfit Shine (review here), which was given to me by my special man. Both the Flash and the Shine are extremely similar in terms of appearance, form factor, and function, and utilize the same app. Where applicable, I speak from my personal experience using the Misfit Shine, and elsewhere I rely on my impressions of having seen and read about the Misfit Flash in contrast to what I know from having used the Shine. As always, my priority is to provide my honest opinion, including what I think is great and what I don't like, no matter how I obtain a fitness tracker -- and this review is no exception!
More for your Money: an Improvement on the Shine
Misfit originally set out to make a tracker that was beautiful, sturdy, elegant, and enjoyable to wear -- and succeeded by making the Misfit Shine.
So where does the Misfit Flash "fit" in, and how does it differ from the Misfit Shine?
The Flash is Misfit's answer to an industry in which fitness trackers keep climbing in price. They're helping to round out the availability of high quality fitness trackers that can be purchased at a reasonable price. In the range of the Misfit Flash's suggested retail price ($49 USD), there are other competitors, but the only one among them that measures up in terms of features and quality, in my opinion, is the new Jawbone Move.
In the time I've spent wearing my Misfit Shine, I found the tapping-based interface (three taps to activate a new tracking mode, for example) to be frustrating to use at times. In fact, all fitness trackers I've used that employ a tapping-based interface (like the FitBit Flex, for example) have raised my cortisol levels in turn -- it's more the nature of the interface, rather than a failing of a particular company's implementation.
So it's pleasing to see that the Misfit Flash does away with this cumbersome interface and replaces it with a simple push-button interface. The button constitutes the entire front face of the Misfit Flash, making it easy to press and hard to miss.
Another major improvement over the Misfit Shine is the visibility of the LED indicator lights on the face of the device. While I never struggled to see the lights on my Misfit Shine, others did. Misfit heard that feedback and responded by making the lights on the Misfit Flash brighter. If you live in a bright area or often exercise outside in bright sunlight, this upgrade to the product's lights will likely benefit you.
The last improvement is in the clasp that comes with the Misfit Flash. The Misfit Shine's magnetic clasp caused problems for some (including me), who found that the clasp's super-magnet would stick to things in passing (railings, washing machine, etc), pulling the fitness tracker off your body and causing to become lost. They've fixed this issue with the redesign of the Misfit Flash clasp -- it doesn't contain a magnet. They've also given further consideration to the problem, as they've added a loop to the end of the new clasp that allows it to be physically secured to your person or another object (i.e. via keychain loop).
Wearability and image matter to Misfit, and those values come through clearly in the attention they give to their fitness tracker accoutrements. As I mention in my Misfit Shine review, the company's products look clean and crisp; I visually prefer the look of the Misfit Shine over my other fitness trackers. Furthermore, you can wear the Misfit products in a variety of ways (it can be worn loosely in a pocket, clipped to keys or clothing, worn around the wrist). Misfit also offers a variety of Shine-compatible clothing (fitness socks and shirts with adorable tiny pockets to hold your device) though it remains to be seen if these will also be compatible with the Flash.
The Misfit Shine bands are not interchangeable with the Misfit Flash bands. However, keep your eyes peeled for expanded watchband offerings for the Misfit Flash.
So, where did Misfit cut costs?
The cost savings that are passed on to the consumer in the Misfit Flash seem to come from a difference in materials between the Misfit Flash and the Misfit Shine. The pricier Misfit Shine features an aircraft-grade aluminum fitness tracker that can be secured within a high quality silicone band. The Misfit Flash fitness tracker body is made of plastic rather than aluminum, and the band itself also appears to be a step down in quality from the Misfit Shine band.
That's not to say that the product is necessarily going to be less durable, less attractive, or less comfortable. If cost savings are going to come from somewhere, better for a company to make smarter materials selections than to cut corners on the things that really matter -- like the quality of the electronic innards.
The Misfit Flash-y: A Rainbow of Brilliant Color Selections
Whereas the Misfit Shine is available in a sleek and sophisticated set of muted colors that has slowly branched out to include bolder options, the Flash is darting out of the gate with brilliant and, well, "flash"-y colors. Check out the lineup below, which also shows off how the fitness tracker looks in the clasp, in the wristband, and alone:
Misfit Flash Activity & Sleep Tracking Capabilities
The Misfit Flash will automatically track your motion throughout the day via a high-precision 3-axis accelerometer -- pretty much the core of most fitness trackers on the market today. It will automatically count your steps and measure your activity level and intensity. You can use the interface on the tracker and the app to mark the start time and end time of other activities, like biking and swimming. I've found the Misfit Shine to provide good accuracy when swimming and cycling as to the intensity of my workout.
Misfit has expanded their sleep features since they launched. The Misfit Flash will automatically detect when you fall asleep and awaken. Sleep data includes when you fell asleep, total time slept vs your sleep goal for the night, amount of deep sleep, and when you awoke. If by chance the fitness tracker incorrectly estimates the time you fell asleep or the time you awoke, you can manually edit those sleep and wake times in the app.
Although this still falls behind the sleep data presented by the Basis Peak (REM cycles, for example), those looking for more detail can purchase the Beddit sleep system via the Misfit site. This sleep system consists of a smart-strap that rests across your bed under the sheets, detecting several bio-stats during the night and thereby providing a much more detailed picture of your sleep.
Finally, the Misfit App lets you set a morning alarm that will sound on your phone at the appropriate time. You can choose the wakeup time as well as soothing sounds to fall asleep to that will turn off via an auto-timer, and invigorating sounds to wake up to ("Scrambling Eggs").
Social and Competitive App Features, Integration with Fitness and Weight-Loss Apps
The Misfit App has added features since it first launched, and these include social/competitive features as well as integration with a number of leading fitness apps thanks to the API -- more than 30 companies have leveraged the API so far.
So, while you can manually track your weight in the Misfit App, for example, you could also use other fitness-oriented apps, like LoseIt or MyFitnessPal that will pull in your Misfit data to help provide a more holistic health overview with weight and diet tracking.
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
Features & Added Benefits
The Misfit Flash's greatest distinguishing feature is that it offers the same suite of features that the Shine offers, but for half the price. A variety of wearing options and its ability to track not just running but also swimming and cycling. In addition to tracking your activity levels throughout the day, it counts steps, estimates calories burned, automatically tracks sleep, and estimates distance traveled. It syncs wirelessly and can also be used to tell the time.
The Misfit Shine contains a single, 3-axis accelerometer that tracks body motion.
Hardware & Wearing
The fitness tracker body is made of plastic, as are the associated clip and wristband. A series of embedded red LEDs around the circumference of the device indicate the time and your goal progress. The flat surface face of the device also serves as a button interface. A notch runs down the meridian of the device between the two halves -- this is where the clasp and wristbands snap into place. It comes in a variety of colors.
The Misfit Flash can be worn in the shower, in the rain, and while swimming, as it is water resistant up to 30 meters.
Battery Life & Charging
The Misfit Flash uses a standard watch battery (CR2032 coin cell) for power. The battery needs to be replaced roughly every 6 months.
Your data syncs to your smartphone/tablet wirelessly via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for on-the-go data that's always accurate.
Misfit Flash works with both iOS and Android devices -- Windows phone compatibility is coming soon. It also supports social and competitive features and can integrate your data into a variety of other fitness apps thanks to the Misfit API.