Misfit ShineA little fitness tracker, about the size of a thick quarter, arrived in a package that looked like a spaceship. It was somebody’s really clever idea, and what we’ve noticed over the years is that people who make these clever packages have never tried to open them.

After only a half hour’s work we were able to open the $100 package from the purple planet and inside we discovered an orb. Very fitting. The orb was labeled “Misfit Shine,” a name that might put someone off at first, but we’re dogged.

There were almost no instructions but we finally figured out it was something you wear on a wristband, a necklace or in your sock. The tell-tale clue was there was a pair of socks in the box. From there we were hot.

The Misfit Shine tracks walking, biking, swimming and sleeping. This is a crucial difference from most other fitness trackers: Very few register biking or swimming. And as for sleep, the long struggle to open the box left us exhausted and we hit the sack early. Joy’s sleep pattern was 62 percent “deep sleep,” according to the gadget enhanced socks; twenty-five percent is average. (Earth to Joy: Wake up, Joy.)

misfit shine on a tuxThe instructions said the Shine disc works with an app in the iTunes App store but we couldn’t find it when we went there. So we Googled it and a link took us straight to the app. (This has been a problem with other apps as well; they don’t show up in the App store but they can be Googled.) You don’t have to carry your iPhone or iPad with you;  you only need one of those when you want to check your progress.

Set a fitness goal and you’ll see a trophy image on your chart when you reach it. (We read about a woman so addicted to getting these little prizes on another device that she’d wake up in the middle of the night to climb stairs.) It was nice to get credit for our biking and swimming, something our regular pedometer doesn’t track. Joy ignored the fact that it didn’t count yoga or weight lifting.

All worked well with our iPad Mini, but the device was not compatible with our Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3. No radiation worries: It emits less than 1/10,000th of the energy of the average cell phone. In October, Apple is coming out with a new fitness watch, and Withings has one that also tracks your pulse, but the Shine is hard to beat.

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