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Swarovski's Take on Wearable Tech: Our Hands-On Review

You can't HANDLE this sparkle.
Photo: Swarovski

Photo: Swarovski

The year of wearable tech collaborations has come roaring in, jazz hands flying. On Monday, Swarovski announced that it has teamed up with Misfit, a California-based maker of fitness trackers, to add its glittery touch to the wearable tech market. And oh! Does it glitter!

We got our hands on the device, called the Swarovski Shine, to give it a test drive.

Much like Tory Burch's foray into making jewelry for Fitbit, Swarovski has basically just glammed up the exterior of an existing device, in this case the Misfit Shine, which was first launched in April 2013. The original tracker is a little bigger than a quarter, slim and circular with a matte metallic finish. Lights dotted around the circumference light up to indicate the time and the wearer's progress in his or her activity goals, which also shows up in the accompanying Misfit app. The original goal with the Misfit Shine was to be elegant and unobtrusive; you can wear it on a band, but the company also sells a clip-on version for added subtlety.

The Swarovski Shine is, ironically, the antithesis of subtlety.

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The device itself is essentially a Misftit Shine with a massive crystal situation on top (and, more gracefully, a small Swarovski swan imperceptibly printed on the back). The most apt comparison I can think of is that big blue necklace the rude rich dude gives Kate Winslet in "Titanic."

That one. Photo: 20th Century Fox

That one. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Then there are the accessories: a plain silicone band for spin class, a silicone band encrusted with a whole bunch of crystals for when a celebrity is taking your spin class, a bracelet with lots of crystals and a pendant necklace in crystal pavé. Prices range from $169 to $249 for the sets, while the jewelry costs $69 to $149.

Syncing the tracker with the Misfit app is designed to be easy, and it is. Once you've added your body information and daily goals, you're ready to go. A firm double tap while you're wearing the Swarovski Shine will display the time and your progress. As a desk dweller, mine is a little depressing.

So if there's any critique to be had here, it's just with the look of the thing. The bedazzled tracker looks awkward against the unfussy silicone band and appears much more seamless when paired with one of the sparkly accessories. If understatement is your thing, this device is probably not for you. I've always thought that the Misfit Shine was one of the better looking wearable products out there, and I'd certainly choose the original over this version. 

That said, the Swarovski Shine is going to appeal to someone — a real person made it, after all — so ham-handed as I find it, it's perhaps a little unfair to come down too critical on the basis of style. Hopefully there will be a point down the line where shopping for a wearable device is like shopping for shoes: there will be some that aren't your taste, but you won't pay them much attention but there will be plenty that are. We just don't have that kind of diversity yet.