If there’s any one category of app-enabled accessories that’s seen the most widespread acceptance among iPhone users, it would be fitness tracking devices. Thanks at least in part to its placement in Apple Stores, Jawbone’s UP was one of the first commercially successful models before it was recalled, retooled, and rereleased. Since then, the options have significantly matured with a selection of truly great products available such as Fitbit’s Force and Withings’ Pulse. Today we look at two more recently released bands competing in the space: Jawbone’s UP successor, UP24 ($150), and Shine ($120) from Misfit Wearables.
Shine is easily the most elegant of the activity tracking accessories we’ve covered. Unlike the common rubber and plastic accessories that populate the category, this one is a small aluminum disc in dark gray with shiny silver edges. New champagne and topaz colors have also recently been announced, as well as a black edition. Shine doesn’t have any ports or other physical inputs; instead it relies on a standard coin cell battery for power and a Bluetooth 4.0 connection to transfer data. The device ships with a single battery along with an installation tool to pry the disc open. The company claims battery life of four months before a replacement is necessary, and such batteries can be found pretty cheaply; a quick search of Amazon shows an Energizer two-pack for $1.79, for example. Another advantage to the design — it’s fully waterproof, not just splash proof; it can withstand depths of up to 150 feet.
Rather than being used on its own, Shine is designed to fit into one of several different accessories. It comes with a silicone rubber magnetic clasp, allowing it to be worn anywhere on the body, as well as a rubber sport band, although the latter shipped in a distinct box along with our review unit of Shine. The band allows you to wear Shine as a watch, and can be resized to eight different positions. There’s also an optional $50 leather band, available in tan or black, as well as necklace that goes for the same price.
Thankfully, the device has watch functionality to match the wristbands, and it’s executed in a very cool way. Shine is outfitted with a dozen LEDs around its perimeter, and tapping twice on its face lights them up, showing the time using solid and blinking lights to show the hour and minute, respectively. It will also show how far you are along towards your progress on that day’s goals.
Unfortunately, Misfit’s app is a little bit more limited than some of the others we’ve covered, however. It handles the basics reasonably well, though, showing how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burned, and how many miles you’ve moved, as well as how this measures out in terms of “points.” Set your goal, and the app will tell you how to get there. For example, 1,000 points requires an hour and a half of walking, 30 minutes of running, or 45 minutes of swimming. A social feature allows you to compete and compare against friends also using the system.
Between the two, Shine would be our pick for obvious reasons. The slightly lower price and more beautiful design are big factors, but so are the battery life, watch functionality, and waterproofing. It’s not quite as fully featured when compared to other options like the Fitbit Force, though, and has an app that’s lacking integration with other services, but it’s still a good choice, and worthy of our general recommendation. UP24, on the other hand, is a nice improvement on the prior version, but still doesn’t compete with the current crop of bands — especially at its $150 price point. Although Bluetooth has been added, and the app has been improved, the lack of a screen is a serious deficiency, and decreased battery life is a strike against the device. So while UP24 is better than before, with so many better competitors, we don’t recommend it, and it earns a C+ rating. There’s really no true advantage we can see to this one compared to anything else on the market.
Company and Price
Company: Misfit Wearables
Compatible: iPad (3rd/4th-Gen), iPad Air, iPad mini, iPhone 4S/5/5c/5s, iPod touch 5G