Misfit has had the upper hand on Fitbit and Jawbone by opting to make its fitness trackers waterproof. After teaming up with Speedo for the original Speedo Shine, the partnership has been resurrected with the Speedo Shine 2 with one clear goal: to improve accuracy.
The Speedo Shine 2 costs $119.99, which is only slightly more expensive than the Misfit Ray or the Shine 2. Misfit is also offering the additional swim tracking features to existing trackers through an in-app purchase. So that's worth keeping in mind. With a host of swim trackers out there from established names like Garmin and Polar along with newcomers like TomTom and Moov, monitoring pool performance has become a competitive business.
We've been hitting the pool over the last few weeks to see if Misfit and Speedo's affordable swim tracker is cut above the rest.
Speedo Shine 2: Design and features
Like its predecessor, the swim friendly wearable you can wear in multiple ways is closely modelled on the Shine 2, Misfit's most expensive tracker. There's the same aluminium finish on the disc shaped sensor and thin plastic strap. I've had bad experiences with Misfit straps in the past, and unfortunately it's been more of the same with the Speedo Shine 2.
Read this: Waterproofing and wearables explained
It doesn't benefit from the improved strap now available for the Shine 2 (which we really like) and has a tendency to fall off in the silliest of ways. It's absolutely no problem in the pool, but if you're whipping a backpack onto your back, it can't seem to handle it.
Another issue we've already noticed is that the top of the sensor has already managed to pick up a few scratches. That's only with a few weeks of using it, so I'm not sure what state it will be in over a longer period of time.
In terms of features, you're also getting the same 24/7 activity tracking features and IFTTT recipessupport so you can take control of other smart home and connected devices like Philips Hue lightbulbs or the Withings Body scale. It also inherits the Shine 2's coloured LED display, which still works for smartphone notifications, but in the water it can be also used for a new countdown timer that indicates your progress and indicates how far you are into your session.
But it's the new swimming algorithms that are the real story here. You still have the ability to track lengths and laps in the pool, but Misfit and Speedo is promising a higher level of accuracy this time around. Interestingly, the improved software updates are also on offer for the Misfit Ray or Shine 2 as an $9.99 in-app purchase.
Speedo Shine 2: Activity and swim tracking
We won't dwell too much on the activity and sleep tracking experience as it's identical to what you get on the Shine 2. We compared step data to the Jawbone UP3 and the TomTom Spark and were generally happy with the numbers. It's a similar story with sleep tracking. You're getting a breakdown of awake, light and restful time but like activity tracking, there's nothing really in the way of helping you put that data to good use.
It's ability to measure more intense activity is pretty reliable as well, picking up when we'd gone out for a run or picked up the pace for the walk to the office. While the distance wasn't spot on, it wasn't too far off.
Misfit app (left and centre) and Jawbone UP3 app (right)
In the pool, we pitted it against the TomTom Spark, the GPS running watch that also possesses a pretty solid swim tracker that helped it earn second place in our recent big swim tracker test. The process for recording a session is the same as before. Triple tap on the face of the device to start tracking laps and then when you're done, do the same to end a session. It sounds easy enough, but in practice, it's a bit fiddly. It took a couple of attempts to nail it and it's not clear until you go back to your phone whether you've successfully completed a tracked swimming session.
My first problem here is that when you first start a session, the successive taps activates a ring of red lights and a small vibration to indicate that the session has started. It would make much more sense if these lights were green instead to differentiate between starting and ending a session. It's a little thing, but it could make a whole lot of difference.
Misfit (left) and TomTom MySports app (centre and right)
Another thing to note is that if you've set a timer for a certain length of a session, once that time is up, it will end the session with a vibrating buzz. If you're planning to go further, it's wise to switch off the countdown timer inside the Misfit app beforehand. That way you'll successfully record your longer session.
As far as accuracy is concerned, we were disappointed for two reasons. The first is that compared to the Spark, the lap count was generally 6-7 laps off. 1 or 2 is not ideal, but that's a lot. What's more of a problem is that the distance data just didn't seem to record. We've tried playing around with the settings but we had no luck seeing how many metres we'd notched up. The only data you're getting here is distance covered and number of laps. It can't differentiate between different stroke types. The fact one of those basic metrics doesn't work is a pretty big problem.
Speedo Shine 2: The App
Not a lot has changed on the app front. The same Misfit app used for the Shine 2, Flash or Flash Link is your go to place for reviewing data. So the big activity progress circles are still present, you can break down data easily by sleep and activity tap into social features to compete against other Misfit users.
Swimming sessions are added to the 'Today's story' news stream. If you head into the devices section, you can manually sync the tracker, choose a wearing position to improve tracking accuracy and set up alerts and notifications.
Swimming with wearables
There's also some dedicated swim settings here tucked away in the lap counting section where you can turn on auto lap counting, choose the pool length (25m, 25 yes, 50m and custom) and turn on the new countdown timer. It's an app that's easy to get to grips and that's important. There's not a flood of data to deal with here, which it makes it one of the cleanest, most streamlined fitness tracking apps to use.
Speedo Shine 2: Battery Life
Much like the Shine 2, battery life is not something you need to worry about on a daily or a weekly basis. There's no proprietary charger and it uses a coin cell battery like you find inside most traditional watches. That should get you six months of battery life at the very least, which is a whole lot more tracking time than you can get from a Fitbit, Jawbone or Garmin tracker off a single charge.
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