Misfit announced its Ray minimalist-looking fitness tracker in January. It was designed to be stylish and never taken off — because the more often a tracker is worn the better it can do its job.
I’ve been using Ray since mid-March and the tracker’s done everything it’s supposed to and it’s done those things pretty well. Also, I haven’t taken the thing off (except to switch the band from one wrist to the other) since the first day I put it on.
The good stuff | Ray’s comfortable, light, looks good and doesn’t require charging. It can be worn with other wristlets (watches, other wearables). The tiny band is essentially waterproof (resistant to 50 meters) and it tracks a lot of types of data. Ray also works with iOS and Androids running Bluetooth 4.0 or later.
The bad stuff | Ray doesn’t have a screen and will eventually require you to replace its three button cell batteries. Many of the bands’ notification and remote features require your smartphones’ Bluetooth to be always on. The tracker does not have a heart rate monitor and the Misfit community is still small.
I had been using a Fitbit Zip and researching fitness bands for a long time before finally deciding on Misfit’s Ray. What sold me was the simple design and the essentially waterproof body. The Ray doesn’t look tacky next to the watch I already wear every day and I can track all the time, even while sleeping and showering. Ray’s also a lot better looking than the Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Alta, Jawbone Up or the Garmin Vivofit 2… in my opinion.
The only checkbox that wasn’t marked off my list was the heart rate monitor function. Though, many hard core runners would point out, monitoring your heart from the wrist is far less accurate than from a chest strap.
Ray is a small cylindrical tube made of anodized aircraft-grade aluminum. There’s a small LED light toward one end of the tube that gives you information by displaying different colored lights (incoming calls are green, texts are blue, etc). It’s actually pretty surprising how much Ray can tell you with its multicolor LED.
If you take Ray off and flip it upside down, you’ll see Misit’s logo in the center and small dot that reminds you which end to twist off if you need to swap out the batteries.
I purchased the sport band version of Ray because I knew I’d be running with the tracker often and didn’t want the leather band to get gross. The sport band is made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). If you’ve never felt this type of material before, it’s fairly soft but a lot stronger than a softer silicone rubber would be. The band is easily adjusted (longer or shorter) to fit ay wearer’s wrist. And, this one’s important, Ray’s band stays securely fastened even during high-intensity workouts.
Inside the ends of Ray’s body are 8mm spring bars (like the ones normal watches have), which means you can really use any watch band that fits or get a creative with your own DIY band or chain. Misfit also designed a few accessory bands and chains for Ray that owners should be able to buy soon on the company’s site.
Even though Ray was designed to be tough, it’s still pretty. I honestly can’t think of a better word to describe it. Ray could totally pass as unique jewelry with the right band. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel feminine. So, you can dress it up or down and really make the Ray fit your style.
I did a few tests to see how accurate Ray is at step tracking by comparing its data to the number of steps taken with my iPhone 5s and my older Fitbit Zip while doing various activities: Going about my business on a regular weekday, going for a 5K (3.1 mile) run and going for a 30 minute walk. All these tests were done with Ray on my wrist, so it’s worth noting that totals could change if you wear it on your ankle, around your neck or keep it in your pocket. You’re supposed to tell the companion Misfit app where you wear Ray to get more accurate counts.
|iPhone 5s||Fitbit Zip||Misfit Ray|
|30 min walk||3,859||3,538||3,528|
As you can see, it’s hard to say which is most accurate at step counting. I feel pretty good about Ray’s data, though. Whereas I feel a little skeptical about the iPhone’s count because I occasionally forgot it on my desk or stored it in different pockets. And the Zip didn’t seem totally trustworthy because it’s so easy to fake out by shaking the tracker. Ray didn’t count my arm-flailing like Fitbit’s Zip would, at least not that I could tell. And I never forgot to put Ray in a pocket or my bag because it was always on my wrist.
Ray automatically creates activities in the app’s log when it notices you get more active. After going for a walk, run, swim, ride (etc), the Misfit app categorizes activities as being “vigorous.” To change it, you need only go into the app and select a label for whatever type of activity you were doing.
I really like Ray’s sleep tracking function. The band automatically switches over to sleep tracking, so you don’t have to tell the app, “OK! I’m going to bed now!” Which is great if you’re forgetful.
If you’re an active sleeper, like me, you’ll like the ability to edit the sleep data. For example, I’ve occasionally had to move the start time up because all my movement made the band think I fell asleep a couple hours later than I actually did.
The main Misfit app is — design-wise — very pretty. Even as far as usability is concerned, it just makes sense. That being said, there are a lot of things that the app tracks and it can be easy to get lost when you’re starting out. I wouldn’t say the learning curve is steep, though.
The app’s main screen is where you sync sleep and steps. That large number in the center is not a step count, it’s actually showing how many points you’ve earned since the last sync. More on the points system in a sec.
On top of the points circle you’ll see the calendar and daily views. The calendar, to the left, shows your data over time. Tap it once to see the week view and tap it again to see the month view. In either measurement of time, swiping right will show you older data. When you’re done, tap the calendar icon again to get back to your home view of the points circle.
If you tap the little bar graph in the upper right corner, you can see your steps stacked by hourly progress. Again, swipe right to see older data. Tap the circle icon in the top right to get back to the main view, again. Just below your points, you can toggle over to see more details about logged Zzz’s or toggle back to steps taken.
In the steps tab, scrolling down shows you recommended activities that you can complete in order to reach your point goal. So, rather than shooting for total steps, users are encouraged to shoot for different cardio activities. And these are more suggestions — so, you can go for a bike ride and it counts toward your goal even though biking isn’t one of the three activities listed.
Aside: The points system is actually one of my favorite things about the Misfit experience. Because why do you buy a fitness tracker? To track steps? Well, not really. Step trackers are a way to remind ourselves to be active. And I much prefer knowing what physical activity I should try to make time for than staring at a daunting 10,000-step goal — which may or may not get my heart beating fast enough to have any real impact on my health.
There’s also an always present bottom navigation bar where you can get yourself to more areas of the app: Social, add data, devices, me and back to home.
The Misfit community isn’t very large — I figured this out after looking for friends by linking my Twitter and Facebook accounts and only finding one person I knew. After that, I didn’t spend too much time on the social tab. This is the exact opposite of how I used Fitbit’s app — because on that platform the community is huge and it’s the best way to motivate yourself. With Misfit, I found the points system and the “activity remaining” information did as good a job (if not better) of keeping me motivated.
There is one useful stat inside the social tab: The app auto-fills information about the average Misfit user for your gender. So, my only friend is “missfit.” I assume if you’re a man, the fake friend is named “mrfit.” If you’re the competitive type, you can spend your days beating “miss” or “mr” fit.
There’s another app that you’ll want to use with Ray called Link. With Misfit’s Link app, you can setup Ray to operate as a remote, to tell you your step progress (this is a default setting), to take selfies, ping your phone and you can setup a custom button function.
I’ve got my Ray setup to tell me my progress on double taps and ping my phone on triple taps. The phone ping comes in handy when I can’t remember where I set my phone down last, but it requires the Link app always being open on my phone and the Bluetooth always being turned on. So, yes, it’s useful but my phone also dies a bit more quickly than I’d like (mostly due to the Bluetooth being turned on most of the day).
Ray is very useful for notifications. I found that it didn’t take me long to remember the meaning of Ray’s different colored lights. And soon after that, I wasn’t checking my phone as often whenever Ray lit up to tell me something. But, again, you’ll need to have your phone’s Bluetooth turned on to get call and text notifications.
I tried to use Ray’s alarm as an actual alarm clock and for naps it was great. But when I tried using it as an alarm to wake me up after sleeping all night long, the light buzzes weren’t strong enough to budge me from sleep. If you’re a light sleeper, Ray’s alarm might work out better for you.
Recommend to a friend?
I’ve been using Ray for nearly a month now and I don’t plan on taking it off anytime soon. I love the chic yet rugged look of the band. The activity remaining suggestions really do motivate me to meet my daily goals. And I get a kick out of peoples’ inquiries: One woman asked me about my “bracelet,” thinking it was a lifeless (yet trendy) little aluminum tube. I tapped it twice and told her it was tracking my steps. She spent the next 5 minutes asking follow-up questions. What’s funny about this particular exchange was that it’s not often you see someone wearing an Apple Watch asking someone else about their wearable.
So, yes, I would recommend Ray to a friend.