Fitness bands are continuing their downward price slide with the Misfit Flash, a $50 activity and sleep tracker.
The Flash is similar to Misfit's previous wearable, the $100 Misfit Shine, but it trades the Shine's anodized aluminum body for cheaper (and lighter) polycarbonate plastic. The Flash is also waterproof to just 30 meters, compared to 50 meters for the Shine.
Otherwise, the two fitness bands have identical capabilities. They both track steps taken, calories burned and approximate distance traveled, as well as sleep quality and duration. Both bands have standard CR2032 coin cell batteries that don't need recharging, but they must be replaced every six months. (They can be as cheap as a couple bucks apiece for a name-brand battery.)
Like the Misfit Flash, the Shine doesn't have a display and shows very little information on its own. When you press the watch face, a set of twelve lights show the time and your fitness goal's progress. For more detailed information, you can use Misfit's companion app for iOS or Android, which grabs fitness data from the wearable over Bluetooth. Misfit says the device can track running, walking, swimming, tennis, cycling, basketball and soccer.
The Flash is shipping in mid-October, with pre-orders starting now. The tracker and accompanying watchband come in seven colors (with yellow and pink as Best Buy exclusives). There's an included clasp if you'd rather attach the device to your clothing.
Even at $50, the Misfit Flash isn't the cheapest fitness band coming to market. A startup called Movo is taking preorders on its $30 Wave fitness band, and China-based Xiaomi has announced a fitness tracker for just $13 that can also unlock your phone.
The reality for the fitness tracking hardware market is that it's quickly reaching commodity status. That may explain why larger firms such as Jawbone and Nike are moving into fitness services that aren't exclusive to their own wearables. While it may be challenging to make money from these services--at least in a way that doesn't raise privacy concerns--standing out on hardware alone isn't going to get easier as device makers like Misfit race to the bottom.