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Misfit Shine 2 review: The nicest fitness tracker you'll ever lose

It glows, it vibrates...and you'll probably never keep it on your wrist. A bad fit keeps the Shine 2 from being recommendable.

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Scott Stein
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Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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I lost my Shine 2 somewhere near Park Avenue and 27th street.

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5.7

Misfit Shine 2

The Good

Clean-looking, well-designed app: works with iOS and Android phones; improved Bluetooth syncing; waterproof for swimming or showering; internal battery lasts six months and can be replaced; automatically tracks sleep and adds vibrations for silent alarms including basic buzzing for notifications.

The Bad

The included strap and clip are terrible: They don't securely hold the Shine 2, nearly guaranteeing it'll be lost sooner or later. No heart rate tracking; LED lights show daily progress and the time, but can't show other data.

The Bottom Line

The Shine 2 is a decent fitness tracker that's waterproof and vibrates, dogged by a fatal flaw: it just won't stay on our wrist.

As I was taking another meeting at a local hotel, I looked at my wrist. The rubber wrist-strap that used to have a golden disc in it was empty. I looked everywhere: in the lobby, on the street, at the cafe where I went before the hotel. I gave up.

The Shine 2 appeared days later in my bag. It popped off when I was reaching in, I guess.

I lost the Shine 2 and luckily re-found it a few more times. You might not be so lucky. That's the biggest problem with the otherwise nicely-designed little activity tracker: if you're using the included wrist strap, you're playing roulette.

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The Shine 2, with its wristband.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What is it?

The first Misfit Shine was a metal disc that lasted months on a replaceable battery, was waterproof for showering and swimming as well as had a cool space-pebble-meets-jewelry design. Its little LED lights shimmered and blinked to show activity progress, even blinking out the time if you could decipher it.

That was a few years ago. The Shine 2 isn't really a new proposition. It's bigger, flatter and now includes built-in vibration for alerts, silent alarms as well as phone notifications. Its ring of 12 LED lights are now multicolored, and can flash in multiple hues: like green when a call is incoming on your phone. In terms of your fitness, the Shine 2 automatically tracks sleep, steps and more physical activities like running.

The Shine 2 comes in black or rose gold.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like its first tracker, the device has a replaceable battery that lasts months and can be swapped out later on. It's still waterproof for swimming and showering. But it also can be a smart button of sorts, triggering quick actions via Misfit's fitness app and the separately downloaded Misfit Link app much like the less-expensive Misfit Flash. Its surface is touch-sensitive, and a gentle press or tap can turn it into a selfie remote, music remote or a way to turn separately-sold Misfit Bolt Bluetooth light bulbs on and off.

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The tracker is small as a coin.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Design, features

The Shine 2 adds notification connectivity this time, mainly through lights and vibrations. There are still just 12 LED lights studded around the Shine 2's surface, but they can glow in a rainbow of 16 million colors now. Those LEDs still show fitness progress in a circle, blink out the time in hours and minutes as well as blink in patterns for notifications. Incoming messages or phone calls can't be displayed, but lights will glow and the Shine 2 will buzz to let you know to check your phone (three green lights means an incoming call, for instance).

Added vibration also allows for silent alarms, and sleep-cycle timed wakeup calls based on how the sleep tracking software measures your activity. The Jawbone Up2 as well as its 3 and 4 models, Microsoft Band and Fitbit bands also all do this...it's a common feature, and a welcome one considering the Shine does a pretty good job as an automatic sleep tracker. The Shine 2 also adds a 3-axis magnetometer to go with its 3-axis accelerometer, for what Misfit says is improved activity and sleep tracking.

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Tapping can show activity progress, or multi-tap to trigger a smart-button action.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's easier to interact with Shine 2, thanks to capacitive touch sensors: it's a gentle two-finger touch to check progress, not a hard tap. And its Bluetooth range is greater: syncing can happen at a short distance, not just right next to your phone.

Not that I really used this feature much, but the Shine 2 can finally act as a smart button control like the less expensive Misfit Flash. Misfit has a smattering of smart-button functions scattered between the Misfit fitness app and a separate Misfit Link app, controlling music playback, camera shutters, Harmony Home functions or programmable IFTTT controls should you think up another one-click idea. I didn't love Misfit's smart button tech when reviewing the cheaper Misfit Flash Link, but it's an intriguing add.

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The Shine 2 comes with a band and a clip in the box for two different wearing modes: nice, except the band doesn't secure it well.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Fine app, bad accessories

There are lots of fitness trackers out there, and lots of them are good enough. Fitbit's bands can track sleep, steps and even heart rate, and allow social challenges, too. Jawbone's Up bands are slim, and the Up app has some basic lifestyle coaching. Misfit's app is clean and connects with a few additional social services and apps: you can look for friends on Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn. It's got plenty of nicely-designed graphs and charts, and it's easy to figure out where your data is. I like the circular progress charts for daily goals, which mirror the ring of LED lights that slowly fill up on the Shine 2's metal disc.

Simply put, the Shine 2 has a good app, and the disc itself is nicely made. But its accessories that come in the box are horrible.

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Misfit app: not the best, but easy to use.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's great that the Shine 2 comes with both a band and a plastic clip to use the Shine 2 as either a wrist-worn or clip-on-your-belt-or-shoes tracker, but the band's inability to keep the Shine 2 from flying off and disappearing is ridiculous. There's an added "action clip" that helps secure the Shine 2 under the rubber ring that acts as the wrist-fastening mechanism, but it didn't help. Misfit has an instructional video showing the "right" and "wrong" way to attach to the band. I tried the "right" way and it seemed to help for a while, but then it flew off my wrist again when I was getting dressed one morning.

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The pant-clip is better, but that's no help for sleep-tracking.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The plastic clip, at least, keeps the Shine nice and cozy, and I didn't lose it in that mode. But the plastic clip feels flimsy, and I know at least one co-worker whose similary-designed Misfit Flash plastic clip broke on them.

For $100 (£79 in the UK, AU$137 in Australia), better accessories should come in the box. The Shine 2 is bigger than older metal Shine trackers, and requires different modular accessories. But I don't care about other options. I want my out-of-the-box experience to not involve losing my tracker.

And the included bands are ugly, too. The actual Shine 2 disc is clean, pretty and feels like an alien artifact. Why couldn't the rest of the experience look as good?

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And...it's gone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Skip it for now

Here's the crazy thing: on its own, the Shine 2 is a better piece of hardware than the Shine before it. But it takes a big step back because of how poorly it stays put on the wrist. That small detail matters tremendously if, say, you're actually intending on using this as a wrist-worn fitness tracker.

If the Shine 2 fixed its included band, I'd recommend this tracker. But I can't suggest you buy this and then lose yours, too. I took my replacement Shine 2 off after a week. As much as I like Misfit's app, I'd rather not worry about checking my wrist for runaway gadgets.

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5.7

Misfit Shine 2

Score Breakdown

Design 2Battery 8Performance 7Software 7Features 7