Misfit Flash Link review

This damn cheap wearable can't decide if it's a tracker or a smart home button
Misfit Flash Link

The Misfit Flash Link is the third cheapest fitness tracker you can buy at $16.99, only Xiaomi's Mi Band and Mi Band Pulse cost less. In that respect, if it's accurate enough, comfortable to wear and the app is usable, it's a winner, right?

Well, Misfit has gone one better by adding smart home features to what is essentially the Misfit Flash together with a beginner friendly new Link app to make its latest device even more useful as an everyday wearable.

It's not perfect but the Flash Link is an interesting experiment in what comes next after step counting for budget trackers.

Misfit Flash Link: Design

The Flash Link is a Misfit Flash without the band accessory, and which sells for $3 cheaper. Like the Flash, this polycarbonate button-tracker is available in a bunch of bright, friendly colours (white, black, 'reef' turquoise and Coca-cola red) and looks pretty sporty next to say, a more business-friendly Shine 2. Compact, light (at 6g), durable and waterproof to 30m - for the shower and the pool, the Link is better than it has any right to be at this price.

Read this: Misfit Ray review

It comes with a clip for your waistband (or collar or shoe) but be aware that it's not the most secure set-up. We haven't actually lost our Flash Link yet but we did mysteriously find it on the floor of our flat one day. Misfit is pretty notorious for this, even with its Flash and Shine bands.

The difference here, we guess, is that you're not paying that much in the first place but the also cheap Jawbone UP Move is much more secure with its rubbery clip than the Link's slippy accessory. If you want a band or change your mind later, you can find them on eBay and Amazon from as little as $2 in all sorts of colours.

The Flash Link features Misfit's signature circle of 12, bright LED lights for displaying the time or your activity progress. Worn as a clip, it's more difficult to quickly glance at, so it's more of a passive tracker. Plus it doesn't do alerts from your smartphone like the Shine 2. As befits a smart button, you can click it in as hard as you like (to activate the various controls and pair it) without worrying about it falling out though. As ever, it's iPhone and Android compatible.

Misfit Flash Link: Smart home controls

If you're looking to buy a Flash Link, it's either because you want a bargain tracker or because you're interested in the smart home stuff. Let's start with the 'Link' features because this is what makes this device a little different to the rest of the Misfit line-up.

It's a simple idea - use the device as a clicker to control all sorts of things around your smart home. No opening apps, in fact, no screens at all apart from at set up. The built-in options include music controls i.e. music playing on a speaker controlled by your phone. Say, double press to skip a track or longpress to increase volume. There's also a selfie mode (self explanatory), support for Yo so you can send an annoying message to a friend with just one click, a presentation mode, support for Misfit's Bolt smart bulb and a find your phone feature coming soon. So for each function, you can assign a device - if you have more than one - and a trigger i.e. long press, triple tap.

The features we got the most out of were probably the music control with Spotify and the custom button which lets you hook up Misfit as a trigger in IFTTT. Sure, it requires a bit more geeking out. But it expands the functionality beyond a few gimmicks into controlling and setting up recipes for our Philips Hue bulbs, for instance, and a bunch of other smart home devices that are compatible with the platform such as Amazon Alexa, Nest, GreenIQ, WeMo and Tado.

Essentially, if voice or gesture control aren't reliable enough for you and you like the idea of using a tracker you'll wear 24/7 to control your smart home with no faff, the Flash Link could be more useful than you'd first think.

Plus you can buy a few in different colours to place around the living room - you know, Amazon Dash style without the purchasing power - for when finding your phone or iPad, opening an app and moving a slider are just too much hassle. If you already have a Shine 2, which is also Link compatible, then the Flash Link would make a nice second Misfit for the house.

Misfit Flash Link: Activity tracking

Misfit's activity tracking has a couple of big things going for it. First, for steps and distance, it's very accurate and definitely more so than its budget Chinese competition in the form of the Xiaomi Mi Band.

We tested it with the accurate - and also pretty cheap - Jawbone UP Move and found the two trackers to be within 50 - 100 steps of each other each day. In terms of the comparison with the Misfit Shine 2, what you're paying for isn't necessarily better tracking but a more refined design and extras such as vibration alerts.

Tagging exercises as activities in the app, after you've completed them, is useful and you can also specify when you start your workout. Walking, running, swimming, cycling and swimming are all tracked with an estimate of calories burned - of questionable accuracy - and, as we said, it's waterproof.

It's also handy that you can wear the Flash Link clipped to your shoe when working out though we'd recommend buying a wrist strap if you're planning to run (or swim) with it so you'll notice if it flies off.

There's no GPS and no heart rate monitoring so for serious runners or gym goers, for instance, this simply won't offer the metrics and stats you need.

Sleep tracking is also accurate (enough) in terms of the duration of your sleep plus it's so small and light, it's the kind of tracker you'd actually wear to bed. Though the Flash does a decent job at recognising when you nod off, you can add and edit your sleep details manually - which isn't available on some with auto detecting trackers annoyingly. In terms of quality, the Flash Link gives you your time spent in light and restful sleep plus awake time throughout the night, presented as points and a graph.

Misfit Flash Link: Apps

Yes, apps. When you first get the Flash Link, you'll set it up with the Link app. That takes care of all the smart home set up and you can manage multiple devices in here, setting different button presses up with different services, as above. But head to settings in the Link app and it will prompt you to set the Flash Link up as an activity tracker via the original Misfit app.

It is a pain having to take that second to switch between them to sync tracking or remember which app you need to open. Both the apps are really beginner-friendly, and quite iOS-inspired, as is Misfit's hardware design for that matter. You won't spend that much time in the Link app once you've set up the smart home controls so to be honest, it should have just combined the two.

But as for the Misfit app, it's not as detailed in terms of analysis or motivation and coaching as say, Jawbone or Fitbit. It's easy to swipe through with sections for activity/sleep/weight, social, device and your profile as well as a 'this month's story' timeline. Points and percentages for activity and sleep work to an extent, especially for casual, beginner users, and if your mates have Misfits, you can see how they are doing.

You can see your best day, how many days streak you're on and your total goals in your profile screen. But we'd like to see more effort put into making the tracking useful and personal. Now Misfit is owned by Fossil, which has its own very simplified lifestyle tracking app, we'll have to see what becomes of the Misfit app.

Misfit Flash Link: Battery life

As ever for a Misfit, battery life is described as up to six months. The Flash Link takes a coin cell battery so there's no charging, you just need to buy a new one when it dies.

Now, the battery in our Link conked out after two weeks but we're going to presume that's either because it had been used before we received it or it's a dud. Every other Misfit device we've tested has lasted for months so we'll update this once we've swapped in another (super cheap) coin cell.

Misfit Flash Link
By Misfit
The Flash Link isn’t the best activity tracker or the best smart home controller but for the price, it’s a no fuss, reliable all-rounder. Get used to dealing with the two sides of the Link’s personality, with two different apps, and it could be your everyday wearable that works as a passive tracker that you’ll forget you’re wearing out and about. Then, get home and you’ll turn those button presses into little, time saving habits that are more ‘here and now’ than voice or gesture. The battery life is - in theory - excellent. It’s no looker next to the Shine 2 but it’s fun and chances are it will either be hidden or placed around your home. Just don’t lose it.

  • Cheap, comfortable, waterproof
  • Easy to use, starter smart home controls
  • Accurate activity tracking
  • Have to switch between apps
  • Activity data could be more useful
  • Easy to lose, no wristband

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