Fitbit rival Misfit Link costs $20, automatically tracks sleep

Misfit's Link fitness device logs a variety of activities, and automatically tracks sleep, for just $20. Unfortunately, the affordable wearable has at least one notable shortcoming.

misfit link
Credit: Misfit

Looking for a quality activity tracker that doesn't cost as much as the latest Fitbit? You won't likely find anything less expensive than the $20 Misfit Link. It's an affordable option for dipping your toe in the wearable pool, so to speak. However, Link is somewhat disappointing, at least in my experience.

Link isn't perfect, but for $20 ...

Did I mention Link only cost $20? That's impulse-item territory, the wearable equivalent of a candy bar at a grocery store checkout aisle. OK, bad analogy; let's go with a bottle of cucumber water at Whole Foods instead.

Like other Misfit activity trackers, Link tracks your activities, including walking, running, cycling, tennis and yoga. It also tracks your sleep — automatically. This bears repeating: For $20, you can wear a device to bed that does a pretty good job of logging your ZZZZZs, without having to push a button to start or stop the tracking.

Why only "pretty good?" Link doesn't come with a wrist strap, as other higher-priced Misfits do. So I clipped the thing to my boxer shorts. During the night, I must have rolled over on the Link and inadvertently pushed its button (the device's display-less face), because Link recorded two distinct sleep sessions in one night with a two-hour gap between them. During a week of use, however, this only happened once.

Link also recorded an admittedly sedentary afternoon as a sleep session. You can easily delete irrelevant sleep records, but it's an inconvenience.

The free Misfit app awards you with daily points based on your activities, with 1,000 points being the default goal. When connected with Link, the app also brakes your activity into "moderate" and "vigorous." (I used an IFTTT recipe to sync my Fitbit Aria scale with the Misfit app, which added my weight to my Misfit records.)

misfit link

When used with the Misfit Link iOS app (separate from the Misfit app), Link's "smart" button lets you take a selfie and stop or start Spotify playlists, among other things. IFTTT connection aside, I'm not sure how useful these features are, though the selfie control is kind of cool.

To sum that up, $20 is ridiculously cheap for an activity tracker, and Misfit Link lowers the barrier enough so that just about anyone can give wearables a try. Before you make the jump, however, consider this: For only $10 more, you can buy a Misfit Flash, which comes in more colors and ships with a sport band. (Flash's regular price is $50, but it's currently on sale for $30.)

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