Withings WiFi Body Scale: Quite Possibly The Best Way to Live Longer [Review, Fitness Special]

Withings WiFi Body Scale: Quite Possibly The Best Way to Live Longer [Review, Fitness Special]

Despite all our 21st-century technical wizardry, one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get a very basic idea of physical health is through a metric that’s been used for a very long time: body weight.

The Withings WiFi Body Scale ($160) takes this concept to the next level in many ways, including allowing you access to all your data on a gorgeously designed iOS app. It also adds an even more important metric, body fat percentage, and goes a long way to erasing many of the pitfalls using a simple scale can lead to — and it does this all while remaining incredibly easy to use. In fact, it might be the most effective tool I’ve used to keep healthy.

The Good:

The secret to the scale’s effectiveness is its link to the Internet. Once you setup your Withings account online and connected the scale wirelessly over your home network — which like everything else about the Withings, took about five minutes and was practically effortless — the scale will begin sending data to your secure account every time you weigh yourself. This has two big payoffs: a) you no longer have to track your weight by hand, which can be time-consuming and, frankly, too much of a bother if you’re as lazy as I am, and b) it allows Withings’ sophisticated, web-housed algorithm to crunch the numbers and create an easy-to-grasp trend curve.

That trend curve is key, because it shows you where your weight is headed in a much more useful way than single measurements or plots on a graph — which, because weight can fluctuate dramatically from day-to-day, makes you less apt to freak out when you hit a heavy day, and gives you a better idea of whether or not your diet and/or exercise regimen is having the desired effect.

Another key feature is the Withings’ ability to measure body fat percentage, actually a more accurate metric of health than simple weight (again, there are other scales that measure this, but this time we’re getting much closer in price to the Withings). That metric is also uploaded, and can be graphed alongside weight.

Almost all the information is available through Withings’ Universal iOS app. It’s a gorgeous app: hold the iPhone in portrait mode and you’ll see individual entries — which you can scroll through via a virtual dial — with weight, percentage body fat and body-mass index; tilt the iPhone to landscape and the slick, clearly illustrated graph appears. It looks great on the iPad too, but I was impressed at just how well they managed to make the UI look and work so fabulously on the iPhone’s comparatively tiny screen.

Everything smacks of quality and looks well-finished. The scale’s display is bright and easy to read, and I was a little taken aback at how much I admired the good looks of the scale’s polished glass surface. Let’s face it, this is a major bathroom appliance, a little eye candy doesn’t hurt.

Even multiuser households are easily handled. If there are several people using the same scale, you can set up a separate account for each, and choose whether the data is private or not. when someone steps on the scale, it’ll make a good guess as to who’s being weighed and assign the weight to them (it’ll display who it’s assigned the measurement to). It’s very intuitive; my ex-roommate and I are of similar height and build, and the scale surprised us by only very rarely confusing the two of  us. Whan that happened, the scale simply asked whomever was being weighed to step on one side of the scale or the other to attribute the measurement. And measurements could always be easily re-attributed later through the account.

To top it all off, data can be easily shared with friends and family or healthcare professionals. There’s also the ability to take the entries and plug them into other services like RunKeeper, which allows tight integration of cause (calories expended through running) and effect.

The Bad:

About the only thing negative we can say about the Withings Scale is that its price. But taking into account its effectiveness at one of the most important aspects of our lives — our health — it’s worth the plunge.

Oh, one other thing. Because the scale sends a tiny current through your body to measure body fat percentage, it’s not suitable for people with pacemakers or anything that an electrical current could interfere with; if you’re in doubt, check with your doctor first. If you’re not augmented with anything like that, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about and you won’t feel a thing.

Verdict:

The Withings Scale is well-designed, looks good and just works — and therefore fits in perfectly in any Apple adherent’s life. More importantly though, its brilliant combination of features make it a highly effective tool for healthy living.

Rating: ★★★★★

Withings WiFi Body Scale: Quite Possibly The Best Way to Live Longer [Review, Fitness Special]

I lost something close to ten pounds with the help of the scale. The pink area represents the range of plot points, the white line is the trend plot. In the lower right corner is an individual entry.

Withings WiFi Body Scale: Quite Possibly The Best Way to Live Longer [Review, Fitness Special]

Withings WiFi Body Scale: Quite Possibly The Best Way to Live Longer [Review, Fitness Special]

Withings WiFi Body Scale: Quite Possibly The Best Way to Live Longer [Review, Fitness Special]

In the box: WiFi Scale, USB cable (for initial setup), batteries, feet (for stability if using on carpet) and measuring tape.

Related
  • BrianVoll

    I would LOOOVE to get something like this! I’m one of those crazy people that constantly check my weight every morning hoping I’ll magically be 30lbs lighter… I just can’t like the price though

  • jschindeler

    Nice write up, but you should ave also mentioned the optional blood pressure monitor too.

  • prof_peabody

    Actually this is a boondoggle.  It’s just a scale, and it’s 100% physically impossible for a scale to measure body fat percentages.

    Also …  Am I the only one tired of every device and software product nowadays having the requirement to start yet another Internet account with yet another service and providing my details and a password and all that?  How is it necessary to sign up for their web site just to step on a scale?  

    And while I’m being hypercritical, *measurements* are a better way of determining health than weight.  If your weight drops but your measurements stay the same you are likely less healthy than you were previously.  Conversely, if your measurements get smaller and yet your weight stays the same, you are generally healthier. 

  • Ronald Pieket

    I wonder how it measures body fat. All the body fat scales I have tried in the past have been useless at measuring body fat. (Measure body fat — drink two glasses of water — measure again — you just lost 5% body fat!)

  • imajoebob

    It uses resistance – that current referred to in the article.  Despie the opinion proffered by the un-dubitable Dr Peabody, these can be relatively accurate and very useful, if used correctly.

  • imajoebob

    Ridiculous.  You’re paying anywhere from 50 to 150 bucks extra to have this thing input data into free internet apps for you.  If anything, I think doing it manually gets you MORE involved in observing and improving your health over time.

  • John Cameron

    Most use the bioimpedance method.  Other methods are susceptible to this as well.  If you measure at the same time each day (preferably first thing in the morning), and not after a meal or fluids it’s quite accurate.  Under these circumstances, in my experience it’s accurate to within .2%.  Really what you’re looking for is a trend over time.  The Withings website can automatically smooth out the graphs so you can see a trend in your fat and lean mass percentages.  For example, compare the averages or pervious weeks or December to January.

    (I have this scale and have used it for a year.  Love it.)

  • John Cameron

    I manually tracked my body fat and weight for several years with a spreadsheet. The convenience of not having to manually enter this data every morning on my iPhone, iPad, Withings and other partner websites (Training Peaks, RunKeeper, etc.) is well worth the price premium.

  • John Cameron

    I manually tracked my body fat and weight for several years with a spreadsheet.  The convenience of not having to manually enter this data every morning on my iPhone, iPad, Withings and other partner websites (Training Peaks, RunKeeper, etc.) is well worth the price premium.

  • makias

    Why did you turn the comments off on the Cult Of Android news? Lots of people are complaining that you are publishing that here and you are making it worst by censoring us and not letting people express their opinion about it, what’s happening with this site?

  • Dilbert A

    Read the Amazon reviews.

  • Daibidh

    This scale employs bioelectrical impedance analysis.  In recent years, the accuracy of such devices has improved substantially due to improved pathology equations, demographical data, and sensory technology.  It’s true they aren’t perfect even when great care is taken to following the manufacturer’s operational instructions… but no methodology is.  While there are better methods, for SUBSTANTIALLY greater accuracy, the only real option would be a costly DEXA scan.

    But all this really is immaterial.  I agree with you that there are far better measurements for determining health.  It has been proposed that the hip/waist ratio is a more accurate metric… even over the much touted Body Mass Index.  But even this method has its detractors.

  • rckilmer

    I have had the scale for about a year and I totally agree with your review.  Also, you should take a look at the blood pressure monitor from Withings. My doc looks at the charts whenever I go for my BP med script. The weight and BP data collected is integrated in the Digifit workout app.  A really nice bundle.

  • imajoebob

    Really? 150 bucks to avoid entering 3 or 4 numbers a day into a speeadsheet/database? I can think of a few better uses for that money.

  • flyoverland

    I have their blood pressure/iPhone unit and it is top notch. took it to the doctor and it was right on the dot with their reading. 

  • elimilchman

    Hi makias. We certainly don’t want to alienate anyone; not to seem obtuse, but what specifically is the complaint?

  • makias

    Hey Eli, I am complaining because I think it’s wrong that you censor people on the site, I believe we all need to express what we think about any publication. As far as I was reading the comments when they were enabled, no one was insulting the site or make unapropiately comments….

  • elimilchman

    Yeah, I absolutely agree. AFAIK we’re very careful about censorship and only very, very rarely do that sort of thing. There might be another reason the comments have been disabled or gone wonky. I’ll check…

  • joebidness

    We have one of these in the office, it’s great.

  • blipcare

    Looks like Blip Wi-Fi weight scale @blipcare.com removed the bad and added to the good. It is only $79 on indiegogo and also reminds you take readings!

About the author

Eli MilchmanWhen he was eight, Eli Milchman came home from frolicking in the Veld one day and was given an Atari 400. Since then, his fascination with technology has made him an intrepid early adopter of whatever charming new contraption crosses his path — which explains why he's Cult of Mac's test editor-at-large. He calls San Francisco home, where he works as a journalist and photographer. Eli has contributed to the pages of Wired.com and BIKE Magazine, among others. Hang with him on Twitter.

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