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My favorite activity tracker last year was the Misfit Shine , a waterproof sleek metal disc that automatically counted sleep and steps, lasted months on a single replaceable battery, popped into accessories including wristbands, clips and pendants, and looked relatively attractive.
Imagine that tracker but in a more affordable version -- it's called the Misfit Flash. It sounds like a B-list superhero, but it's actually an accelerometer-based budget fitness tracker.
The new Misfit Flash does everything the Shine can do but only costs $50 (£50 in the UK, or about AU$55). The catch? It's made of plastic instead of machined aluminum. But it also has benefits. It doesn't scratch up as easily as the Shine sometimes did. It doesn't pop out of its wristband housing as easily, either; the Flash pushes into its accessories from underneath, staying put when you wear it.
The Flash is waterproof to 3ATM, which means it can be worn in water down to 96 feet in depth (Note: water resistant and waterproof tech should never be worn in salt water, though). So you can wear it in the shower or while swimming. Misfit has a fitness tracking mode that recognizes swim activity.
The Flash has a replaceable coin battery that lasts six months, works with wrist or clip-on accessories, and has a clever ring of 12 LED lights, just like the Shine does. The LEDs are red on the Flash, versus a soft white on the Shine.
You click the Flash's soft-touch top to show daily progress as the LED lights complete a circle (for instance, if 6 of 12 dots are lit, you've completed 50 percent of your daily step goal). Afterward, it even tells the time via flashing dots for hours and minutes. The Shine did this if you tapped on the top hard enough. It's easier to physically press the Flash, but pressing too hard sometimes made it slip out of the wristband accessory on my wrist.
Sleep tracking records automatically, just like on the Misfit Shine, and it does a pretty good job of guessing when you actually went to sleep. It records "light" and "deep" sleep plus the hours slept, which isn't as rich a sleep-tracking tool as more advanced REM-sensing, heart-rate-enabled ones on the Basis Peak , Microsoft Band or Jawbone and Fitbit's upcoming wearables, but it's fine for the price.
The Flash works via Bluetooth with the Misfit app, which is available for iOS and Android, and soon for Windows Phone. You need Bluetooth 4.0 to sync with the Flash: iPhone 4s or later, iPod Touch 5th gen, and iPads going back to the 3rd-gen Retina, or Android 4.3 or later phones. It syncs easily, and the Misfit app cleanly lays out daily progress in steps and sleep. It allows you to label activity sessions, and the app integrates with a variety of other ecosystems: RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Walgreens for rewards points, Lose It! for weight loss, and IFTTT (If This, Then That) to integrate with other services, if you're so inclined. There are better fitness apps out there, but Misfit's does the job well for casual use.
It comes in seven bright colors. It's cute. Does it reinvent wearable health tech? No. Keep in mind that the Jawbone Move also costs $50 and does nearly the same thing, but it's not water resistant. I like Jawbone's Up app more, but I like wearing my wearables in the shower, too. Which one you pick will probably depend on which one matters more to you.