Homotech :: Speedo Shine Takes To The Pool

by David Foucher

EDGE Publisher

Friday September 11, 2015

The Speedo Shine is a surprisingly elegant look for a fitness tracker.
The Speedo Shine is a surprisingly elegant look for a fitness tracker.  (Source:Speedo)

Misfit scored rather well when it brokered a deal with Speedo to launch the Swimmer's Edition of the Shine; essentially, for swimmers, it logged the gold standard. But while Speedo's lap counting technology adds a much-desired assist to swimming activity, the Shine still suffers in comparison to other swim-specific trackers with full screens. It's a wonderful - and aesthetically pleasing - tool for those wishing to track swimming as part of a larger health effort, and it looks like fine jewelry, but serious lap swimmers will likely wish for more.

As a device, the Shine is a sturdy, elegant piece of tech. It's about the size of a US quarter, and weighs in at only 9g. It arrives with a magnetic clip - handy if you're going to be jogging - and a sports band, which is how you'll strap it on for the pool. The band is a little awkward to clasp, as it tends to slide around the wrist while you attempt to fasten it, but once on it won't easily slide about.

Setup is a breeze; throw the CR2032 battery into the main compartment, snap it shut and go. It's water-resistant to 50 meters and will clock for months without replacing the battery. To pair to your phone, it uses Bluetooth; no cables necessary. Simply launch the free Misfit app and touch the Shine to your phone when prompted. Easy peasy.

To test the lap counting features, I strapped the Shine next to my Garmin swim watch. The Shine is far more stylish and elegant to wear, but what it gains in aesthetic points it loses in data accessibility. You can tell the time with this device, but it's an exercise in imperfection - theoretically all you need to do is double-tap the surface, and Shine will illuminate reference LEDs around the watch face - a bright light will give you the hour, and a blinking light the minute. It takes a few tries to get the hang of it, and my device required a bit of insistent tapping to get this feature to work.

Shine will also track multiple activities, but you need to set them before you get going. The app will allow you to select from biking, tennis, basketball, soccer and swimming - plus it seems to always track your walking or running. It also tracks sleep, provided you remember to set the activity before hitting the sack. With most activities, you'll receive data of time elapsed, caloric burn and the ever-present, albeit less useful, "points." These points add up to a daily goal, which can be achieved via a combination of different activities. With swimming, thanks to Speedo, you'll also get distance and laps. The lap count is quite accurate; it matched the Garmin precisely. At the end of a day, you'll get a good feel for whether your activities are helping you reach your fitness goal, a must-have for any fitness tracker.

To start tracking your swim, tap three times on the face of the device;a fun pattern on the LEDs tells you it got the message, and then one LED will consistently blink to let you know it's on the job. When you've finished your workout - or interval - you tap it thrice again, and the same flash alerts you that the device has paused (or stopped) tracking. It's an elegant solution that might take a few tried to get used to, but then becomes second nature.

The biggest drawback to the Shine is that there's no immediate feedback for your workout. As serious swimmers know, pumping out 2,000 meters is a crapload of laps, and if you're like me, you zone out during the interval. I rely on my Garmin to check in from time to time to see how many meters I've completed. When the workout is over, I can ask it to instantly give me stats down to stroke length and type. With the Shine, you've got to get back to your locker and sync with your phone; then you'll get the relatively meager stats it offers. While Misfit has indicated that they'll ultimately sync with Speedo's Fit app, they're not there yet, and they've not committed to what kind of statistics the Shine will send over.

All of which means that the Speedo Shine might not please the serious swimmer, but it's an incredibly stylish fitness tracker with dead accurate lap counting. As such, it's the first of its breed to integrate swimming this well. And swimmers should applaud Misfit and Speedo on that; its $80 price point brings swim tracking into a more cost-effective, integrated consumer category.

On the web: http://www.speedousa.com/speedo-shine-by-misfit/style-7741000

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.