Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 Review

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Withings WS-50-0314

Tracking personal health data starts in the home with one of the first things many of us do daily: stand on a scale. Our weight is extremely meaningful to us, and tracking it in the past has been a constant struggle. The lack of actionable and visualized data means most of us will only do so much with a regular scale. The Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 is as smart as it can get, and if it doesn’t motivate (or guilt) you into watching your weight through data, than nothing will.

Withings built the Smart Body Analyzer to be more than just a traditional scale, and more than a “smart” scale that tracks data and sends it to your smartphone (iPhone or Android). The WS-50 shows not only weight, but also Body-Mass Index (BMI), body fat percentage, current heart rate, and even air quality. For $100 you can opt to skip these features by buying the WS-30. I recommend that you spend an extra $50 and get the more advanced model for only one of these features, the body fat tracking.

Of all the additional features on the Smart Body Analyzer, the ability to track your body fat percentage is the most critical when most of us think of weight loss. We’re not actually interested in dropping pounds, but fat. That means if your weight goes up but your fat percentage has dropped, that you may already be doing a great job with your fitness regiment, something that is impossible to tell with a traditional or smart scale. That can make all the difference between continuing a great exercise regiment and switching to something else (or worse, giving up entirely) because you’ve added a few pounds since starting.

With the free accompanying Health Mate app, all of this data is stored and graphed to provide the clearest picture possible. Setup is easy, though the scale does require a Wi-Fi connection, so make sure that it can connect to your home network wherever it is. Otherwise you’ll need to connect via Bluetooth to download your data, which is a more cumbersome process. Connecting and gathering data takes no time at all; open up the app and it’ll download your stats immediately (for some reason there is no option to download the data automatically). The app is simple and does exactly what it needs to do: chart all of your stats in a clear, understandable way. The same app works with all Withings devices, so if you have the Pulse then the combined data will be even more useful and pertinent.

Withings WS-50-0315

As someone with a small bathroom, my biggest problem with the WS-50 is that it just doesn’t fit well when you’ve got very limited room, and that it doesn’t work at all on thick carpet. My bathroom has enough floor space for one, and barely that; the bedroom has space for the scale, but even with the additional pegs for the feet, the weight is not measured correctly on thick carpet. Bathroom rugs work fine.

The scale is fairly intelligent, though many of the features seem almost excessive and don’t always work. Heart rate is almost silly to have (if you weight yourself like most people, that means in the morning and/or at night; your heart rate then is not reflective of you current health), and it fails surprisingly often. The temperature settings are also strange; air quality in a bathroom is not something I’d care about, though if the scale could stay in the bedroom then it would be much more valuable. Again, the carpet issue.

Perhaps the best feature is how it works with multiple profiles based on your stats. Have a family? Everyone can use it together and the scale will know who is who based on your weight, BMI, and all of the other data it’s pulling from when you stand on it. It’s one of those ‘it just works’ things that makes all the difference.

While I do like keeping a mechanical scale handy, I’ve all but stopped using it. The Withings Smart Body Analyzer provides accurate and useful data in an easily-digestible and actionable form. The app even includes benchmarks  that you can set for yourself, like losing a pound a week.  If you’re not already on another fitness/data tracking ecosystem like Fitbit, then I highly recommend the the WS-50. It does everything a smart scale should, and gives users all the reason to want to stand on a scale day in and day out.


 
 
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Price: $150
 
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Positives


Easy setup. Less than a minute to gather a lot of data. App provides data in an easy to understand way.

Negatives


Doesn't work on thicker carpets, though some of the features appear to be made for the bedroom versus the bathroom.


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James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.


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