Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Misfit Shine - A Review

After a week with the Shine, I am ready to let it go.

My expectations of the Misfit Shine were moderate. I purchased a Shine for my mom in July 2014, which she subsequently lost in October. It has been replaced by a Misfit Flash, which it's the Shine's cheaper, plastic version.

The Shine is nice to look at. At about the size of a quarter, it is small and lightweight. Its aluminum housing is smooth and sturdy. The silicone band included with the tracker is soft and smooth, with a metal clip that secures tightly. The Flash is a bit thicker and plastic, but equally lightweight. I honestly forgot I was wearing the Shine on my wrist until I saw it there. The Bloom necklace, on the other hand, is as heavy as its stainless steel construction would indicate and the chainlink was scratchy and uncomfortable. 

Regardless, an activity tracker is not about fashion sense; as the name suggests, it's about tracking activity. I say "A tracker is only as good as its app." I stand by that statement. When it comes to apps, Misfit's is certainly lacking. The Shine (and Flash) automatically detect and categorize your activity (walking, running, etc.), as well as your sleep. However, you cannot add activities if you were not wearing the tracker, for instance, or modify the activity classification. When it comes to sleep tracking, you cannot edit the entries, or add naps. Basically, you cannot track anything after the fact. If you would like to track a nap, you would have to open the app and tell it you are about to sleep. If you would like to track a specific activity, you would have to open the app and do accordingly. Furthermore, you have to ensure you sync before closing the app or your activity classification may not record. 

If the app is lacking, waiting until you figure out the device may be cheating you out of precious miles. My first workout while wearing the Shine came in at 2.26 miles, yet the Shine claimed I had only gone 1.5 miles. That is a 3/4 mile discrepancy; not insignificant if you consider that this was an early morning workout and by the end of the day I could have easily gone 6 miles while the device showed 3.2 miles. If it is not even relatively accurate, it is not useful. [Note: Sleep tracking basically said I was either awake or restless practically the entire time I was in bed, except when it showed I was in deep sleep while I was awake, sitting and reading a book, which I held in the same hand as the tracker. Need I say more?]

I had noticed this discrepancies in my mom's usage, but attributed them to our difference in height affecting the algorithm. I was wrong. It is not a great consequence if the readings a off, but a little or a lot, in my mom's case. For the most part, she does not even sync her tracker for several days at a time. She likes the idea of having the tracker and really likes the sleep tracking, but she does not use the data in any way. However, I do use the data daily. 

I use the data provided by the tracker to step it up, to push a bit further, and to limit my activity so I do not overdo it. I combine the tracker with a heart rate monitor to track my overall performance and improvement. I do not care about "Calories Burned," but if I have walked 5 miles, I want to see that. If I have run 11 miles, I want to see that too (so I can yell at myself for several days for overdoing it, and being sore all over). If I have been sitting for 10 hours, I would like to see that too. 

I had high hopes for the Misfit Shine, but it fell short.

I still think it is a great tracker for people like my mom. Someone who wants to be generally aware of their activity and track sleep (not that I think those readings are accurate either), but who do not spend any time at the gym or running/swimming/cycling/etc. 

It can look great, and it does, but that is not its primary job. When it comes to working hard, the Misfit Shine slacks off. It can be said both the Shine and Flash have been aptly named; one Shines in its elegance while the other showcases itself with Flashes of bright color. Nevertheless, those are not main purposes of an activity tracker. 

Great in theory. Fine tune the execution, improve quality control so that all units are accurate and give us an app that is practical and useful. The Misfit Shine is a great device if their target demographic was slightly active baby boomers with little tech savvy. 

Sad to say, but the Shine did not make it either.

Fitbit and I are not over... but certainly estranged - A Review

Anyone who has read my previous posts on Fitbit knows that I fell in love with my Fitbit Flex almost a first sight. It was an unhealthy infatuation.

I am going to take a gander and say that Flex is probably the best tracker Fitbit has put in the market to date, including the new Charge, ChargeHR and Surge. I am basing this on personal experience as well as reviews I have read.

My Flex was thin enough that it could go unnoticed; and, since it came out of the band, I could always hide it elsewhere. The band was a simple silicone band with a tiny plastic 'screen.' It was accurate on steps and distance, once I inputted my stride length. It gave me all the information I needed to push a bit further every day. It also helped me realize when I had overdone it, and help me avoid doing it again. Simply: The Flex is a great tracker. However, it is not a great wearable.

Let's face it: as activity trackers go, the Fitbit Flex is perfect for everyday business casual. You can even dress it up, if you are a woman. Of course, it gets extra points for being small and easily placed out of sight for more formal occasions. 

I 'loved' my Flex, until after 4 months I got a bad rash that would not go away despite replacing the band. Nothing would help the problem: not disinfecting it with 70% isopropyl alcohol, not drying it constantly, not wearing it looser, nothing. The last couple of months, I wore it in a pocket or inside my bra, and used the band only when actively exercising. Those few hours a week seemed to be enough to keep the rash from going away. But, that is not why I sent it back to Fitbit. No, I was willing to abide the rash and keep buying new bands every 2 months. 

Ultimately, after 7 months, it died. Yes! It died. 

After only 7 months, it would say that it was fully charged, but it would not sync and then the next day the "full charge" would be completely exhausted. This happened in a matter of a week. 

Going through Fitbit Customer Service was no picnic either. It certainly was better than enduring Misfit's lack of response after 5 days of contact. They also issued a refund quite quickly upon receipt of my unit (though the check stated I lived in Ontario, Canada). 

It is possible that I received a defective unit. No worries. I waited until the ChargeHR came out, and placed my order. What a disappointment!

Remember my description of the Flex band? Simple silicone band with tiny "screen." The Flex band is so simple one would think I would look cheap. It certainly showed its wear fast, but it never looked cheap - just non-descript. The ChargeHR, however, looked cheap - a great feat given it's $149.99 price tag. It's basically a slightly wider band than the recalled Fitbit Force. However, the 'screen' - not as tiny - is too shiny, and the pattern makes it look tacky, instead of rugged. Then add the buckle and we have an overpriced tracker that looks like a $10 watch from Walmart, no offense to said watches (they can be quite practical). 

I went through the setup process for the ChargeHR, put it on and regretted having waited for a month just to be disappointed. It purports to be Fitbit Flex's rich cousin, but it's in fact a poor impostor. The Heart Rate Sensor sticks out from the back and fits uncomfortably. It must be worn at least one finger-width from the wrist bone, in the forearm. And, it is anything but inconspicuous. 

Once it was set up, it crowded the app with extra functions. It would not actually give an heart rate reading. The app said it would have to make some calculation while I slept before the heart rate readings would show (what?). It's great that they added stair climbing and automatic sleep detection (like Misfit Shine/Flash have, at a much lower price tag). It's awful that they included bluetooth pairing for notifications. Is this an activity tracker or a social media device? When I am exercising, it is 'me time.' I certainly do not want anyone intruding. What I love the most about my gym is that there is no cell reception pass the lobby. 

The worse part: the ChargeHR is NOT waterproof, not even showerproof. Now, the Flex could go swimming, as per the Fitbit site, but the Charge and ChargeHR cannot even go in the shower? That is what my brother calls 'an epic fail.' I expected something better than the product I already loved (despite all its shortcomings and there were plenty), but instead I received a sophomoric representative of what was theoretically a great product. The ChargeHR was great in theory, but Fitbit did not pull it off in execution.

Having seen the Fitbit Charge in action, I say, save the extra $30 and buy a Charge instead of a ChargeHR. There is nothing wrong with wearing a chest strap, and I am sure it will be far more accurate. 

That's it for my relationship with Fitbit and its trackers, at least for now, though I do not foresee a turn around at this point. Maybe they would see some improvement if their product was made in Korea instead of China; I noticed smoother bands in other products originated there. 

Regardless, I have not forsaken Fitbit altogether. I plan to keep my Aria scale, despite all the shortcomings of its own.

Happy tracking!

Monday, September 29, 2014

September Summary

It's once again it's been a month since my last post, and there are several reasons for it, including that I have been working on tons of stuff (i.e. figuring out where I go from here, literally). It's been overwhelming and underwhelming all at the same time. Mostly, it is just frustrating.

I injured myself pretty badly at the end of July, and refused to acknowledge it until almost the middle of August, so after 5-6 weeks barely moving started exercising again. The first go resulted in a very painful flair up of my costochondritis, and sitting it out for a week. The second resulted in my injury being so sore I was limping a bit. But, the third, yesterday, was successful. I only ran 2.5 miles - don't want to over do it. However, I walked another 2 miles and some throughout the rest of the day. I am not sore or in pain, though my ribs did, in fact, scream at me after I ran the first mile. 

Things are different, and yet painfully the same. Working on changes, but I am very excited about the ones that have been taking place. I would like to just jump in and change everything else. I sometimes wish I could just have my life back, but, since that is not possible and it was never truly up to me, I'm just glad to be moving in the right direction again.

It's still frustrating, and I find myself incensed over a lot of things, but I can manage. I don't like it, but I can cope - and I do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Wow. It's been a month since I entered anything here. It's been a rough month too.

I have come to many decisions in that time. Also, to many realizations. I have seen several sides of myself that I had not in a long time, so long that I didn't remember them until I ran smack dab into them. I like when that happens. I like when I remember who I am, who I've been; it's bittersweet, but it goes a long way. 

It's really hard losing yourself like this. Some might think it's a great chance to start over, and it is. It's also terrifying. I have gone from audacious and living without regrets to utterly risk-averse and hesitant. Apprehensive only lasted a few minutes and I jumped right over the fence. It is infuriating. It is over.

Friday, August 01, 2014


I took a few days break from the gym, Sunday through Tuesday. Made it on Wednesday, thinking I would be fine. Was I wrong!

I was in so much pain (left hip, knee, ankle and foot) that I had to give up on my run and walk. Yes, I stopped running at 4 mph and walked at 3.2 mph. Regardless, it made a difference. Barely any pain. I also scream obscenities in the gym floor a few times. I was a painful, stabbing pain at times (no, it is not the sciatic nerve), especially when my knee hyper-extended.

The cause of my pain is a series of actions, consequences and choices. I have been crossing my legs (left over right) a lot and that always causes me trouble later. I just don't realize that I am doing it until it's too late. Then, being in pain, I ran 10.63 miles on Thursday, July 24. Here's the main culprit:

Truly it should be a picture of me, as I knew I was hurting and still ran for 2.5 hours in one day. It just did not hurt after the first mile. I'm hurting.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fitbit Aria

Okay, so I bought the iHealth HS5 and loved most of it. (See previous post.) However, I hated the app, the site, and the "cloud." Hated them enough to return the scale. I am back to weighing myself holding Britny to see how much she weighs. That was actually my favorite part.

Since I returned the iHealth HS5, I bought the Fitbit Aria at my local Kohl's. This is what I know so far.
  1. It is not accurate on carpet.
  2. It feels substantial and well made, not plastic and fragile.
  3. It is very easy and fast to setup, and the app guides you through the setup (no paper guide required).
  4. The same app for all Fitbit products; app is user-friendly and has a clean, minimalist design.
  5. Does not seem to calibrate quickly, as the iHealth did after several weigh-ins.
  6. Very fast user recognition, measurements and upload.
  7. Standard scale size, as opposed to the much larger iHealth HS5.
So, some good things, some not so good. So far, it has not given me the same exact set of numbers twice in a row (if the same weight, not the same body fat %, or vice versa). Also, it does not recognize Britny, as she only weighs about 22 lbs. Will check on that again, as it should track from 20 lbs. up. I like it better than the iHealth HS5, only on the basis that it is functional because the software/app/website behind it is functional and user-friendly. 

I will post further once I have had time to truly appreciate its pros and cons.

Updated 8/26/2014 -

  1. It will weigh Britny, if I wait for it to say "Step On" and then she sit on it fully.
  2. It needs to be in a somewhat permanent location. If you move it from one place to another then you need to recalibrate it (3-5 weigh-ins), and if you store it sideways you also need to recalibrate it (5-7 weigh-ins). 
  3. If you sync your FitBit app to other apps or websites (i.e. MyFitnessPal), then the first weigh-in is sent to them, which is a problem if you have to recalibrate. However, this is easily fixed by deleting the calibration weigh-ins from the Weight dashboard on your FitBit app, not the Aria measurements.
Other than the recalibrating, which be easily solve by finding the Aria a permanent placement, I have come to like it significantly better than the iHealth HS5, and again it has practically everything to do with the software integration issues. iHealth should really work on their platform, as it is ... pathetic.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


The Battle is me.
The War is me.
I am the one to conquer;
the prize is me.