Things I Like: The Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer

Things I Like: The Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer

A little while ago, I told you about a device that brought some super useful data to my health and fitness awareness: the Fitbit. I won’t go into it again, but suffice to say that nearly a year later, I still use the Fitbit every day, for nearly every activity.

Today, I’d like to tell you about something else I like that’s very much in the same category as the Fitbit.

I train with an online coach, and he requests body composition data from time to time. So to make that happen, I bought a Withings WS–50 Smart Body Analyzer, which is a very fancy way of saying WiFi-enabled scale. But it’s more than a scale: in addition to weight, it tracks bodyfat percentage (using bioelectrical impedance), heart rate, indoor temperature and air quality (measured in CO2 parts per million, or PPM).

For $150, you have the ability to collect data that five years ago would have cost you hundreds of dollars per month to obtain.

You don’t need to be a geek to set up and configure the Withings; I had it ready to go in about 10 minutes.

Once unboxed, you simply download the Withings Health Mate app (iOS, Android) to your smartphone and use it to configure your new scale. The app talks to the scale via Bluetooth.

After you’ve created your Withings account and set up your scale, you have access to a dashboard that contains all your major metrics: weight, weight goal, bodyfat percentage, heart rate, indoor temperature and air quality. And it’s beautiful, too, laid out like an infographic:

Health_Mate(Click to enlarge)

And the smartphone app is no slouch either (iOS version pictured below):

photo(Click to enlarge)

If a scale like this seems like OCD-level self-quantification, I’ll say this: you might be right. You might also be wrong, because I’m a firm believer that if you have body composition and fitness goals you want to achieve, tracking is knowing. In other words, if you don’t know where you stand on certain metrics, you won’t be able to tell if your progress is excellent, average, or non-existent. And knowing your progress – or lack thereof – informs your training and diet decsions.

I had my doubts about the Withings. I thought the accuracy would be terrible, that it wouldn’t feed data into the apps I need it too, that it would be, in a word, flakey.

Nope, not one bit. The Withings set up perfectly and performs flawlessly. I have not encountered a single hiccup with the product at all. (Note: the fat measurement is done using bioelectrical impedance, which isn’t super accurate, but it’s accurate enough to give you a workable trendline.)

Oh, speaking of feeding data into other apps: Withings has partnerships with many popular fitness apps (Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, Training Peaks, not to mention dozens of others), which allow API-level data integration into these popular third-party apps. This means that when you step onto your Withings each morning, your data is logged to whatever services you choose, no hassle, no fuss, no manual tracking or data entry. The simplicity is beautiful.

If you’re a data nerd or even semi-interested in the whole quantified self idea, the Withings is a fantastic base platform to use. It’s easy, well made, intelligently throught out, and tracks what anyone would consider major biometrics for any health and fitness plan.

Seriously, give it a look. I can’t recommend it any higher.