We first wrote about Misfit Wearables' first activity tracker, the Misfit Shine, back in 2012. Not only did it look absolutely gorgeous, but it never needed charging, and it was waterproof. It had some flaws, but for 100 bucks, it wasn't bad. Well Misfit's second wearable, the Flash, is here, and it just undercut its own product by $US50
For starters, the Flash is a similar size and shape to the original Shine, though it looks like it might be a bit thicker. It basically does the exact same stuff, too: Same activity and sleep algorithms, same year-long battery life, same wide variety of accessories for it. They're still calling waterproof, though its rating has dropped from 5 ATM to 3 ATM. Usually 3 ATM means you can't swim with it, but Misfit specifically told us you can swim with the Flash. Maybe wait until we test it before you go for a dip.
There are a few big differences, the biggest of which is materials. The Shine's outer shell is all aluminium, whereas the Flash is a polycarbonate sub-structure with a thermoplastic urethane (TPU) overmold. That's fancy-talk for "plastic." As a result, it's probably a safe bet that the Flash won't have quite the same premium feels as the Shine, which feels like it might be something accidentally dropped by a visiting, minimalist alien.
There area a couple significant improvements, though. One of the biggest problems with the Shine was that the ring of what LEDs on the face (that show you your progress toward goals and the time of day) were incredibly dim. Really, I thought I broke the thing twice, but nope, it was just moderately sunny. The Flash has red LEDs that Misfit claims are brighter.
The face of the Flash is flexible and acts as one big button which you press to look at your progress, the time of day, and to mark activities. Because the Shine was solid aluminium, you had to tap the device several times to wake it up, and it was very temperamental in that regard. A depressible button sounds like a better idea, assuming it can stand up to the wear and tear.
The kicker is that this thing is just $US50, which is a waaay easier entry-point for a wearable device that you may not be totally sure you want. There's still a lot of debate about the utility of activity trackers, and it seems like a lot of people buy one, use it for a couple weeks, and then leave it to hang out in a sock drawer. If there's a chance you're going to do that — and face it, there is — fifty bucks is a much more reasonable risk than a hundred. Misfit is also starting to built a bit of an ecosystem with the Beddit sleep monitoring system, which should play nicely with the wearables. We hope.
The Misfit Flash will be available toward the end of September at places like Best Buy, Target, Amazon, and Walmart, but if you're hot to trot you can pre-order it through Misfit starting today. You'll be able to get it in a bunch bright (too bright?) colours. Because it's just a little pod (like the Shine) there will be a number of accessories for it, though I found that the Shine would pop our of its wristband like crazy, so hopefully they have made some improvements there as well. We'll be checking it out and telling you what we think in the near future. [Misfit Wearables]