Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 Review

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$149
Editor's Choice

Pros: Attractive design; Tracks multiple measurements; Intuitive app

Cons: Battery life indicator buried in app

Verdict: The Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 not only measures your weight and body mass, but your heart rate and air quality, too.

Not content to rest on its laurels, Withings has updated its Wi-Fi Body Scale to measure several additional metrics. The Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 can now track your weight, heart rate and body mass index, as well as air quality. At $149, it's more expensive than other smart scales, but it does more than them, too. Should this device grace your bathroom floor?

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Design

The Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 looks almost identical to the Wi-Fi Body Scale. The top is black, and has a silver circle in the middle and two lines dividing the top into quarters. The scale measures 12.8 x 12.8 x 0.9 inches, and weighs 4.6 pounds. We like its sleek all-glass top, which will look up-to-date on any bathroom tile floor for years to come.

Its 2.4 x 1.6-inch, 128 x 64-pixel LCD display is plenty bright, and displays your weight clearly --too clearly, if you ask us.

Setup

Getting the scale up and running is slightly more involved than the previous model Body Scale, but not by much. First, you must connect the WS-50 to your Android or iOS phone via Bluetooth. Then, download the Withings app to your phone, and use it to connect the WS-50 to your Wi-Fi network. In all, the setup took a relatively trouble-free 5 minutes.

You also can just connect the WS-50 to your iPhone or Android device using Bluetooth, handy if the room in which you place the scale doesn't get a Wi-Fi signal.

The scale can recognize up to eight people and can track them independently. The scale uses four AAA batteries, which Withings says should last between 8 months to a year, depending on the amount of daily weigh-ins. The WS-50 also takes CO2 readings every 30 minutes.

Performance

For the WS-50 to measure all your data, you have to stand on the scale in your bare feet. That way, the electrodes in the scale can measure your heart rate. After stepping on the scale, the WS-50 first displayed our weight, followed by our fat mass (the percentage of your total weight that's made up of fat). Next, the scale showed the ambient temperature and CO2 levels, and finally, our heart rate in beats per minute. In all, we had to stand on the scale for about 30 seconds, which isn't too bad considering all the measurements it takes.

It was useful to know our standing heart rate as a basis for our optimal heart rate when exercising. (According to the American Heart Association, you can determine your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.) Unlike the Mio Alpha watch, though, it's a little impractical for determining whether we hit our optimal rate while working out.

We were pleased to find out that the CO2 levels in our building remained in a good range (between 379 and 463 parts per million) throughout our testing. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, normal outdoor concentrations are between 200 to 350 ppm, and poor indoor levels (when people will begin to notice air quality) at 600 ppm. At high levels (5,000 ppm and above), carbon dioxide can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and other health symptoms.

After it records all the data, the WS-50 syncs the information in the cloud, and then to your mobile device, where the data is charted over time. We were somewhat dismayed to find we'd put on a few pounds between measurements.

Withings app

Dispiriting or not, the app is intuitive and easy to use. At the top is a cloverleaf, whose four leaves correspond to Weight, Activity, Sleep and Heart. Each fills up with a certain color depending on how many measurements you take. As we used the scale to measure our weight and heart rate, and had not attached a sleep band or fitness app, the Weight and Heart sections were more filled out than the others.

Below the cloverleaf are sections (which Withings calls widgets) that dive more deeply into each area. The Weight section shows your weight, fat mass and BMI; clicking on this section opens a new page showing these charts in more detail. Below the Weight section is Air Quality, which displays temperature and CO2 levels from the time you activated the scale. Underneath that section are your heart rate measurements.

Since we had linked the Withings app to our Runkeeper account, the bottom of the app displayed Distance covered, an account of how much we'd run.

What makes the Withings app even more useful is that you can incorporate metrics from other devices and apps, providing a more rounded view of your overall health. You can sync the Withings app with the Runkeeper app (among others), the BodyMedia Fit armband ($149) and the Zeo headband ($89), so that data from exercise and sleep is also incorporated. This way, the Withings app can provide a more well-rounded assessment of your overall health.

We wish, though, that the battery life gauge were not buried in the app. In order to see how much juice is left, you have to press the icon with the three lines at the top left, then Settings, scroll down to My Devices, select Withings Scales, then Associated Scales.

Verdict

With the WS-50, Withings added some useful health measurements to its smart scales, including ambient air quality and your heart rate. Even better, its app lets you incorporate a lot of other data, from workouts to sleep patterns, giving you a much better picture of your overall health. All these attributes make this $149 smart scale worth more than the sum of its parts.

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Author Bio
Michael A. Prospero
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor
Michael A. Prospero has overseen reviews on Laptopmag.com since 2007, focusing on producing the most thorough and authoritative mobile product reviews. After receiving his Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia in 2003, Mike worked at Fast Company. Prior to that, he worked at The Times of Trenton, George and AlleyCat News.
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor on
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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Accessories Type Apple Accessories
Accessories Type Toys
Battery Type/Life
Size 12.8 x 12.8 x 0.9 inches
Weight 4.6 pounds
Company Website http://www.withings.com