Anyone who stepped on the Nintendo Wii Fit all those years ago knew that so much more could be done with the basic scales. Since then, a range of devices aimed at the fitness market have tried to offer new ways to help measure your body, all with the aim of being healthier.
The truth is no single device can do that, so don’t accept this or any other product as some magic answer to a get quick fit fad.
This $150 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) device links up to an app to store your data, providing a history of fluctuations in weight, heart rate and body fat through sensors, that can help inform your diet and exercise decisions.
As an aside, Withings has just been acquired by Nokia, so expect big things as the former mobile company attempts to rebrand itself as a smart home and fitness leader.
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Key Features of The Withings Smart Bod Analyzer
The Withings device provides accurate weight and body fat measurement. Weighing people is hardly a new trick. But fat and heart rate are more useful stats. Heart rate is measured by stepping on the scale barefoot.
Fat is measured by a process called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to send a tiny current to measure impedance.
That can then be used to calculate an estimate of total body water, which in turn can be used to estimate fat-free body mass and, by difference with your total weight, your fat mass. Note the word “estimate,” this is not as accurate as a medical test.
This data can be shared with the app via a WiFi connection or Bluetooth to create a health record; they can also be linked to Apple’s Health app and other services to provide more information or be used with other data to help refine a diet or fitness regime.
As a family device, up to eight users can be added and their data tracked. It can measure in kilograms (kg), stones and pounds (lb) for all users.
All of this comes in a smart black or white design, with a digital display on the unit which can also show the weather! Measuring 2.8 x 12.8 x 0.9 inches and weighing 4.4 pounds itself it can be tucked under any bathroom or bedroom crevice for regular use.
The scale has an extra factor for weight accuracy by using your location, to measure local air pressure.
Pros of the Withings Smart Body Analyzer
The key point of the Withings Analyzer is that is can help with a whole host of other fitness services and products like MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, Nike Fuel and RunKeeper.
That means joggers or dieters can link all the information from the scale along with their diet or exercise, and figure out what helps them lose weight best.
A smart and not over-priced unit, it connects easily enough and setting up the Withings app and family account, plus profiles for each person is no big deal. Once that’s all done you can happily track your weight as it comes or goes.
The only real difference between this and a traditional scale is that you’ll need to keep it clean for the sensors to work and you may need to change the four AAA batteries more often due to the radio connections.
The iOS Health Mate app is regularly updated with features and can be used with a host of devices to help measure your sleep, via a wristband accessory, and activity.
It also works on Apple Watch. It does get only average reviews due to a range of connectivity and reporting issues, but we didn’t notice any problems.
At its simplest, using the app you can set weight goals, and then use the scale to see how you are getting along. The scale can show a basic graph of your weight change, but it is best to use the app for a detailed view.
The app can also help drive you on with a leaderboard view of who among your friends has the most points, but that relies on you have lots of friends with the app or scale to compete against.
Cons of the Withings Smart Body Analyzer
An air quality sensor and weather forecast on a fancy scale? This is the point where consumers have to start shouting at smart gadget makers to stop the bullshit. These features have no place on this type of device, it is as pointless as a “Fires of Hades” setting on a smart thermostat.
This kind of feature creep crap has to stop now, the parts could easily be omitted to help reduce the cost.
If people wanted an air quality sensor they could buy a proper one to address their environmental concerns, and as for the weather forecast, it is available on every other device we own, so is hardly needed on a weight machine!
That aside there isn’t much to criticize the Withings for, measurements are accurate for the most part, and as long you accept that fat estimate, it is still enough to work with to set weight loss goals.
With connected health an increasingly popular lifestyle choice, the Withings can play a key part in helping track your weight and fat. The other features seem pretty superfluous and have no place in the product, but you can safely ignore them.
But the core product works well and will be excellent for those committed to their health. For example, if you can’t be bothered to manually enter your weight measured on your old scale regularly into a health app, will doing it automatically really help?
Given the way that you can easily punt the scales under the bed, there’s the risk that people not so committed will let it collect dust along with the step and thigh master gadgets.
So consider if you really plan to go for it before picking one up, and make sure you leave it somewhere that it won’t be forgotten about.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!