It seems like fitness trackers are everywhere. Insurance companies are giving them out to inspire their clients, and everyone from granddads to school kids seems to be counting their steps via gadgets around their wrists.
Naturally, with so many on the market, there are huge differences in capabilities, quality and price. Here we compare one of the least expensive trackers, the Misfit Flash, with Garmin’s midrange wearable, the Vivofit.
At a glance
The first big difference between these two fitness trackers is the price. The Misfit Flash retails for $29.99, but you may be able to find it marked down to about $12. The Garmin Vivofit for adults is $99.99 at Garmin’s website, but other retailers may offer it for less. The two trackers share a lot of qualities despite their dollar difference, but they’re different in some fairly major ways.
The Vivofit is sturdy and efficient. The Flash, with its LED-light display and convertible form, is more lighthearted and fun but may not be as durable as the Garmin.
|Misfit Flash||Garmin Vivofit|
|Price||Regularly $29.99||Regularly $99.99 ($79.99 for kids model)|
|Display||LED dots track progress||LCD|
|Colors||Onyx, frost, reef, fuchsia, wave||Black, purple, teal, blue, slate, red, blue/slate, black/red|
|Battery||Up to six months||About a year|
|Music control||No (but with an optional app, yes)||No|
|Water-resistant||Up to 30 meters||Up to 50 meters|
|Buy on Amazon|
Both trackers are available in a variety of splashy colors, along with basic black for the more understated fitness fanatic. With its cheery round face, the Flash looks whimsical, whereas the slim, streamlined Vivofit looks ready to get down to business.
But as different as they may appear on the outside, both are basic activity trackers without a lot of extras to weigh them down or drive their price up.
The Flash weighs in at a featherweight 6 grams, or less than 0.25 ounce. The Vivofit weighs 26 to 28 grams, or just under 1 ounce.
The Vivofit’s LCD numeric display is easy to read. The Flash uses LED dots to convey time and progress and can be a little confusing to decipher, at least at first. Both trackers sync with an app on your smartphone to help you monitor your activity.
While you can wear either tracker around your wrist, you can transform the Flash into a clip-on tracker by snapping the face out of the band and into a clasp. The Flash allows you to check your progress by pushing its smart-button face; the Vivofit has a dedicated button to switch between modes.
» MORE: Misfit Ray vs. Fitbit Alta
Though they look different, these trackers share many features. Here’s what you can do with them:
- Track your activity. The Garmin Vivofit’s 1-inch-by-0.39-inch LCD screen displays a count of how many steps you’ve taken, how far you’ve traveled and how many calories you’ve burned along the way. The Misfit Flash gives you all the same info, using a series of LED dots to convey the message.
- Monitor your sleep. Both trackers record how many hours and how well you sleep.
- Eliminate at least one cord from your life. Both of these trackers run on inexpensive coin cell batteries, so there’s no charging. When they run out of juice — about a year for the Vivofit and six months for the Flash — just change the battery.
- Play many sports. Both devices track your moves in an array of sports and other active pursuits, including dancing, running, shooting hoops and circling the bases.
- Sync with your smartphone. Both work with Android or iOS devices and have their own apps, which break your data down into easy-to-read stats and graphs. The Flash also allows you to sync with fitness apps like LoseIt!, Runkeeper, MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal.
Here are some of the more important differences between the trackers:
- Checking your heart rate. Any athlete knows it’s important to keep track of your heart rate. Only the Vivofit can be paired with a heart monitor (at an extra cost).
- Setting your goals. While both trackers will mark your progress toward reaching a goal, only the Vivofit can set goals for you based on your previous activity levels.
- Getting you up and moving. When you’ve been sitting for too long, a “move” bar scrolls across the Vivofit’s screen and encourages you to take a walk or run.
- Lighting up your life. You can connect the Flash with LED “smart” bulbs at home using an additional app, so you can change the color and mood of your environment.
Which has the right stuff for you?
The Misfit Flash is so much cheaper than the Garmin Vivofit that it’s perfect for people just dipping their toes into the fitness pond. Younger people will love its bright colors and quirky style, and parents won’t have to worry too much about replacement costs if it gets lost or broken.
The Garmin Vivofit is less than $100 and built sturdily, for the more serious athlete. It can withstand up to 50 meters of water pressure, making it great for swimming or snorkeling; the Misfit Flash is water-resistant to 30 meters. The Vivofit’s battery lasts an entire year before you need to replace it, compared with about six months for the Flash’s battery.
If cost is an issue for you, the Misfit Flash is the obvious choice, but if you look at your tracker as an investment in your health, you may want to spend more for the Garmin Vivofit.