Review of the Withings WiFi scales
When it comes to self-tracking, one activity that most people have been doing for a long time, without realising it as quantified self, is weight management.
We step on the scales and memorise the weight, so when we step on next time, we know if we have gone up or down – and how that cheeky BigMac has shown itself to be much worse than cheeky.
But memory is fickle. Scales that memorise our weight measurements for us are a much better system, especially if they also track body fat percentage and body mass index. This is exactly what the Withings WiFi scales do.
Check out our review below for more.
WHAT IS TRACKED?
The Withings Wifi scales track more than just your weight (which can be tracked in the metric of your choosing). They also track body fat percentage, using the bioelectric impedance analysis method – essentially sending a slight electric current through your body to identify how much fat there is (find out more about this method here).
The Withings dashboard also asks your age and height when setting up the scales, so using this information the scales display and record your body mass index too, with a neat sliding scale to show you if you’re getting too close to a danger zone.
Of all the scales I have used, these appear to be the most accurate, however that is mainly for the weight measurement. When it comes to the body fat percentage, the data is a little jumpy.
My body fat percentage is quite high – I definitely need to work on this – but I’m certain it isn’t as high as the 70% recording I once received, nor am I Olympic athlete style lean, like the 3% recording once told me.
In fact, the average it tells me is 13%, but this still does not match the 19% I was recorded with the Bodpod, which uses the air displacement plethysmograph method which is regarded as being more accurate (find out more about this method here).
The WiFi scales connect to the Withings online dashboard and Health Mate app. Both of these will show your weight over time, and this is where the device really shines.
Even if you do have those random readings that make no sense, over time you will really see a good picture of where your weight and body fat percentage is at – plus, using the online dashboard you can remove those anomalies if they’re getting on your nerves.
I find this experience much more useful than memorising my weight, as I can see certain months of the year where weight goes up (i.e. December / January) and see the weight increase or decrease over long periods of time.
The user experience of the Withings WiFi scales is really quite great. WiFi scales are the only quantified self devices to really do everything for you in autonomous fashion. Sure, you have to stand on them, which you could argue is manual, but this is such a normal activity that we don’t give it a second thought.
The data is then pinged to your online dashboard and companion app, and you check in every so often when you remember. It is much better to check in only every so often too, as the longer time period gives you more valid trends to play off. The one off reading will at least give you a shock if you have put on extreme amounts of weight, but they’re usually so different because of the time of day you weight yourself.
You can also have up to 5 family members using the scales, and the scales will remember who is who, based on their weight and body fat percentage. If you do happen to have 2 people who are very similar in these two data points, then it displays both names and asks you to stand on either your left foot or right foot to choose who you are – this is a great solution to what is really quite a rare issue.
There are two variations of the Withings WiFi scales in the market now. The Smart Body Analyzer scales, which also track heart rate and air quality are £130. While the more basic WS-30 scales that track weight and BMI, but not body fat percentage, are £90. While these are both around 2x the cost of regular scales, they are certainly worth it for what they do.
The scales in this review are the previous generation, yet they have lasted for 2 years and continue to work perfectly fine. Plus, unlike activity trackers, there is little need to upgrade because the main feature you’re looking to track is weight, and the software / apps continue to be updated for free anyway.
The Withings WiFi scales are a great piece of digital health kit. Scales are a bathroom staple and to spend a little extra on ones with the capability to track every measurement, and go beyond just weight, is well worth it. Withings have shown their expertise in this area and continue to bring out more advanced products, but even their original scales stand up in today’s market and continue to deliver high quality data. Sure, the accuracy can often be slightly off, but you can still identify long term trends and remove any severe anomalies. We’d certainly recommend this purchase.