Misfit Flash Review

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With a versatile design that mirrors the successful Misfit Shine, the Flash is a waterproof fitness tracker that users wear proudly. It monitors a variety of exercises and automatically tracks sleep.

Misfit's Shine activity tracker, a mid-range option released in 2013, was praised for its fashionable look, versatility, and waterproof design. The Misfit Flash (starting at $20, Amazon) falls into the budget category and offers many of the same features. It is available in seven colors and can be clipped on, worn on a wristband, attached to a key ring, or placed in a pocket or shoe. It tracks steps taken, distance traveled, estimated calories burned, sleep length and efficiency, and other fitness activities. It's waterproof to 30 meters and runs on a watch battery that can last up to six months.

One of the reasons this activity tracker is cheaper than its predecessor is that the Flash is plastic, rather than aluminum. This has pluses and minuses, as CNET points out in a Misfit Flash review. The plastic design doesn't scratch or pop out of its case as easily (which happens sometimes when users press it to see their progress or the time), but it has a cheaper feel. The most notable complaint in reviews on Amazon is the quality of the included wristband. Many users report that it quickly broke after they started using the Flash. Although the option to buy a new one provides an easy remedy, it frustrates consumers that a band costs $10 when the device itself costs only $20.

The company seems to have taken this frustration into account in creating the Misfit Flash Link (starting at $18), which is basically the same product with no wristband. But given that the price is almost the same, the trade-off doesn't seem worth it. There’s a lot to be said for having the option to wear the tracker as a wristband, no matter how flimsy.

The Misfit Flash outdoes competitors in the same price range with its tracking capabilities. Because it's waterproof, the Flash can track swimming, along with eight additional activities ranging from dancing to basketball. Users must remember to switch the device into "activity mode," or go into the app later and tag these activities. On the other hand, the Flash automatically detects when the wearer goes to bed and switches into sleep-tracking mode on its own.

Like the more expensive Misfit Shine, the Misfit Flash doesn't have a screen; rather it uses a ring of 12 LED lights to indicate progress toward daily goals (a number of steps or within a point system developed by Misfit) and show the time. A review on Pocket Lint notes that it's hard to tell which way is "up" on the device without checking the logo on the back.

Without a screen, users must sync the Flash to an iOS or Android mobile device via Bluetooth for an exact readout. There is no web app for taking a deep dive into the stats, but the mobile app provides an in-depth look at each day, showing steps taken, estimated calories burned, miles walked, and sleep patterns. Users can tag activities and take a broader week- or month-long look. The Misfit app integrates with Runkeeper, MapMyFitness, IFTTT, Spotify, Lose It, Walgreens Balance Rewards, and other apps. For example, users can import relevant data to a weight-loss app or pause a Spotify song by pressing the Flash -- helpful mid-exercise. Connecting the device to the Misfit Link app turns it into a remote control for a phone camera as well as a slide show tool. The device can even control a Misfit Bolt smart light bulb from across the room. (Forgive us, however, for questioning how turning a fitness tracker into a high-tech Clapper is going to get users off the couch!)

Although the Misfit Flash lacks a built-in screen, it's a stylish device that tracks the basics and will keep ticking when you hop in the shower or the pool.

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a freelance personal finance writer who specializes in credit, debt, and practical money-saving tips. He loves stacking savings opportunities to get amazing deals, traveling for free using credit card rewards, and teaching others how to do the same. Connect with Louis by visiting louisdenicola.com.

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