A little Ray of sunshine in the women's wearable world
The gym memberships and ambitious resolutions of January might seem like a lifetime ago, but that’s when we first got our hands on the exciting new wearable from Misfit, the Misfit Ray. At the time, we were dying to see it finished so we could give it a try – and now we have. So does the stylish, sub-£100 fitness and sleep tracker live up to its promise? We’ve been wearing it 24-7 for two months, and we’re ready to call it. Here’s our Misfit Ray review.
Misfit’s trackers are well-known for being some of the best designed for women, in that they’re stylish, sleek, and could pass for jewellery while still offering sophisticated tracking and value for money. When we interviewed Misfit back in February, they summed up their design aesthetic thusly:
We’ve tried to make something that is really elegant, and can be customised to a bunch of different styles.
We definitely don’t think that every woman would want to wear the same thing, so we tried to make something that was really customisable and versatile, so even the same person, even if they’re wearing a different outfit can wear the product.
That ethos is very evident in the Ray, which looks great, comes in a range of colours and can be customised in loads of ways: sports bands, leather bands, multi-packs of different bands to match your outfit – you can even wear it on a necklace.
The main component of the Misfit Ray is the aluminium tube, which easily disconnects from the band to replace the batteries or swap accessories. It takes three small button cell batteries, which you can buy anywhere, and Misfit say those will last you up to six months. We’ve had ours for two months and the battery is still showing as ‘full’ on the app. Even better, the use of proper batteries means no charging – yay!
The cylindrical design of the Ray is for one very good reason: people don’t want to wear a circular tracker like Misfit’s popular Shine range on the same wrist as their watch, because it looks really weird. So watch-wearers can either opt for something circular on both wrists, or pick a different shape entirely – like the Ray. It still looks a bit odd having two devices together, but the core tracks activity equally well on a necklace if you can deal with wearing the same necklace every day.
Since you wear the Ray 24-7 if you want to get the sleep tracking benefits, it’s worth knowing that it’s not the most low-profile device – the circular bit sits a good centimetre off your wrist. This has caused me to accidentally scratch my partner with it a few times, and I ended up having to swap which wrist I wear it on so it wasn’t next to him in bed. It’s not a huge problem, but it does get caught on things (and people) occasionally.
The Ray uses the same app as Misfit’s other trackers, like Shine and Flash. It’s a well-designed app with a few flaws: your progress is measured in ‘points’, which can be hard to figure out, and it tends to overestimate how many steps you’ve done in a day. However, you can choose your own step goals (mine is 10,000 a day), syncing is quick and best of all, it integrates beautifully with other apps like MyFitnessPal. Your Misfit activity appears in MyFitnessPal, and your MyFitnessPal food logs appear in Misfit’s app. Why isn’t everything this easy?!
The Ray is water-resistant to 50 metres, which means you can wear for showers and swimming without concern (unless, obviously, you’ve got the leather band. Don’t take that in the pool). We tested it extensively in a chlorinated swimming pool and the Ray successfully tracked activity, although it didn’t distinguish it from walking in the app. It just records light, moderate or intense activity, with details of the start time, duration, distance (miles/steps) plus calories burnt.
However, taking the Misfit Ray on holiday to Turkey didn’t turn out too well – for whatever reason, the device just didn’t track activity during a large chunk of my time there. It’s not clear if that was because of the heat (it was sweltering), because I got suncream on it, or something else, but a firmware update and landing back in the UK sorted it out. Worth being aware of if you’re going somewhere hot, though.
Most of the time, the Ray makes a perfect fasten-and-forget fitness tracker. You keep it on and don’t think about it, and it quietly monitors your activity and sleep until you fancy checking up on how you’re doing. It’s ideal for keeping a casual eye on your fitness, whereas enthusiasts would probably need more detail. The Ray is very much designed for the majority of us: we want to know how long that epic walk actually was, and that we’re hitting our vague step goals every day, but anything beyond that is just too much hassle. Ray delivers that level of reassurance easily.
There are two ways to measure your daily progress: on the bracelet, and in the app. Double-tapping the bracelet lights up the solo LED in different colours depending on how you’re doing. The first light is red, basically saying “buck up, sunshine, you haven’t done even a quarter of your steps today.” The next three are quarters one, two and three (so if your goal is 10k steps a day, those would be 2,500 each), so four lights in succession means you’ve done three quarters and are well on your way to your goal. When you complete the fourth quarter, double-tapping gets you a highly-rewarding RAINBOW PARTY of lights in all hues, which makes you feel like a fitness goddess. It’s the LED equivalent of confetti, and genuinely makes you feel good.
Once you’ve got used to the Ray, you won’t want to be without it. This kind of light-touch tracking makes it fun to keep an eye on your fitness, and it definitely encouraged me to walk a little bit extra to reach my step goal every day. It’s also very handy for people trying to lose weight, because you can use it to see how many calories you’ve burnt right in MyFitnessPal, next to your food tracking. Although again, it does tend to overestimate slightly, so don’t eat all the cakes.
This is easily the most fun aspect of the Misfit Ray. If you keep it on overnight, it analyses your sleep, and presents it to you in an easy-to-read graph the next day. Tell Ray roughly what time you go to sleep (or don’t, but it’s more accurate if you do) and it’ll tell you how many hours and minutes you slept for, if and when you woke up in the night, and how deep your sleep was. It is ridiculously addictive.
My partner wears a Misfit Shine, and we both became obsessed with comparing our quality of sleep. It was also super-useful for finding out why we felt like doom in the mornings sometimes: “Ah. I hardly got any deep sleep last night. That explains a lot.”
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not the comfiest thing to wear in bed – I’ve had to adjust my sleeping position a few times because putting your arm under your pillow with this on isn’t very enjoyable – but you do quickly get used to it and soon forget it’s there. The design means it goes with pretty much anything (I have the black and rose gold), so you don’t ever have to take it off if you don’t want to. As someone with a billion watches that I never remember to put on once I take them off, that’s a big bonus.
The Ray has a few extra features on top of fitness and sleep tracking: it can deliver call and text notifications, wake you up in the morning, and remind you to get off your bum.
You can choose to turn call and text notifications on individually. A text gives you a buzz and a flashing blue light, whereas calls vibrate continuously and light up green. The best thing about this feature, though, is that Misfit have included notifications for other apps – you can add Instagram, WhatsApp, Calendar notifications and others – and you can choose which colour light each one gets. That’s really cool, and very useful if you’re the sort of person who likes to be connected all the time. However, bear in mind that you’ll need to leave your phone’s Bluetooth on all day, which can really dent your battery life, and more notifications will also mean less time before you need to swap out the Ray batteries.
The alarm clock function is also a favourite of mine, as it wakes you up with silent wrist vibration. I’ve found that ideal for waking up earlier than my partner without disturbing him. Some people who’ve reviewed the Ray say the vibration is too weak and doesn’t wake them up, but it’s always worked for me – if you have this problem, try tightening the band.
If you sit down a lot, you can enable Jawbone-style idle alerts – in other words, your wrist buzzes when you’ve been sitting still too long, and reminds you to move your booty. You can choose how often to get these notifications and between which hours, but I found them an annoying reminder of my own slothfulness and turned them off.
Finally, you can use the Ray as a button using the Misfit Link app (iOS, Android). This means you can decide what triple-tapping the Ray does (double-tapping always shows activity progress). You can set triple-tap to change to the next music track on your phone, take a photo, even make your phone ring. But since there’s only one function available (other Misfit devices allow long-pressing and other interactions, but not Ray), you have to choose just one.
Link is undoubtedly a super-cool feature, but it wasn’t worth the battery drain of having Bluetooth on all day for me, so I had to turn it off. If you skip tracks a lot, have a phone with epic battery life or don’t mind turning Bluetooth on and off as needed, you might find this is the killer feature that makes Misfit Ray worth buying.
No wearable is perfect, and each one will suit some people more than others. But the Misfit Ray comes closer to mainstream appeal than most of the fitness trackers we’ve seen, and it’s one of the best options out there for women.
Should you buy a Misfit Ray? Well, it depends what you want from a fitness tracker. If you’re after something pro-level with heart rate monitoring and in-depth app stats, this isn’t the wearable for you. But if you want to exercise more, set and hit targets, and feel rewarded when you do, this might suit you down to the ground. It ticks off every box on my personal checklist:
The extra band variants, colour choices and necklace option make it easy to create your perfect Ray (although the rose gold with the standard black sports band has been serving me well for both day and night), and while some people will prefer something with a screen, the colourful on-tap updates are just right for the casual user. The app is useful and relatively intuitive, the extra notifications are a nice bonus and the sleep tracking is addictive.
There are a few tiny issues – namely it not working properly in extreme heat, catching on things, and needing constant Bluetooth for some functions – but this is as close to perfect as a wearable has come for me. It’s not for everyone, but it’s an excellent choice for women, and that’s not something we get to say often enough with tech.
If you want the largest range of colour and accessories for the Misfit Ray, you’re best off going directly to Misfit, because not all of them are available in the UK otherwise. It costs just under £20 for UK shipping, although that does include taxes and import duties, so you won’t be surprised with a big bill when they get to you.
Screenshots: Gadgette. All other images: Misfit