Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 review

Frequent reading errors detract from a brilliant health-boosting device
Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50

Connected tech is transforming all the dumb devices in your home and none needed updating more than that lying, conniving, enemy in your bathroom: the scales.

The Withings Smart Body Analyzer brings the notion of weighing yourself into the digital age, by connecting wirelessly to an app on your smartphone. Every time you weigh yourself these connected scales record the data, mercilessly plotting the results of your fitness regime, or your slow descent into statistical obesity, in a handy graph.

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There are no more flimsy excuses: “I can’t remember what I weighed last time so that’s probably about right,” won’t cut it anymore. Put on a kilo and it’s there to see, plotted on a graph like the economic boom and bust of the gut.

Features and build

The Withings Smart Body Analyzer is beautifully designed, and as far removed from those old bathroom scales as possible. The shiny black finish looks luxurious and at home in any bathroom, although it is a magnet for dirt and dust.

The set up is pretty easy – batteries are supplied so it’s a case of yanking out the tag and pairing the device with your smartphone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi by pressing a button underneath. You’ll need to have the Withings app installed on your iOS or Android device. There’s a second button there which changes the on-screen weight units.

Pairing with the app is easy, and once connected you can stand on the scales and get a series of readings. First the Smart Body Analyzer will read your weight, followed by body fat percentage, which is an enhanced BMI reading that takes into account those stacked out with heavier muscle. Next it will take a heart rate reading, followed by a reading of your home’s air quality. Its final party trick is to tell you if rain’s expected that day, with an unmistakeable umbrella graphic. Pretty nifty.

See also: Withings Pulse O2 tips

Accuracy and performance

The stats on offer are excellent, and to have them plotted so you can see your progress is worth the investment alone. It’s a huge driver to get out and make a difference, and watching your weight balloon on the graph should be enough for anyone to get outside and burn some calories.

However, we do have issues with the reliability.

Firstly, it’s important to note that your weight changes dramatically throughout the day. You can put on pounds just by having a large drink or a carb-heavy meal (carbohydrate loading helps your muscles retain water which equals more weight) and doing vigorous exercise will cause you to lose it all again. To get the best from your Smart Body Analyzer, use it at the same time every day, and avoid abnormal eating, drinking or exercise immediately before.

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The problem, however, is that the scales are perhaps overly sensitive and can produce incorrect results if you’re not very careful.

If you stand a tad too far back on the scale, you can shed three pounds in seconds. Imagine our glee at a huge week’s loss, only to be brought back to Earth with a bump. What’s more, this ruins your graph, so you’ll need to go back removing anomalous results to get a graph that doesn’t resemble an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale.

Like the Withings Pulse O2, the heart rate monitoring was a complete waste of time, registering our pathetic pulses just once out of around 20 tries. Conversely, the CO2 air quality analysis seemed to work, but the on-screen read out was so confusing we literally had no idea what it meant.

We took to shimmying around on the scales trying to make it register our heaviest result, and then standing like a statue to have it saved – a bizarre twist of logic, and not one that’s good for the ego.

It may sound like we’re hating on the Withings smart scales, but we’re not. It’s genuinely excellent, but you have to be very careful with your readings.

Withings Smart Body Analyzer: App

We’re big fans of the app, which is available for iOS and Android. Unlike some competitors, the Android app hasn’t had its features completely culled, making it one of the best in the business.

The Withings app is a one-stop-shop for all its products, so if you have the Pulse O2 fitness band and/or Withings blood pressure monitor, you can collate everything together. It’s a strong proposition.

All the stats from the scales are recorded together on a line graph, but it could be presented a little more visually. The lines are extremely thin and it won’t become a really usable graph until you’ve been using it a few months. We’d also advise not using the scales more than once a week, or you’ll get the aforementioned seismic activity reading.

Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50
By Withings
A brilliant update to the traditional bathroom scales, the Withings Smart Body Analyzer is a huge motivational for hitting your goals. The app is brilliant for both Android and iOS and Withings has created a real reason to buy into the brand with a cohesive experience. We’d like to see improvements in the accuracy and reliability of results, with less failed readings, and the weight tracking graphs given a visual overhaul representative of the rest of the Withings app.

  • An array of new data
  • Tracks your progress in the app
  • Looks smart in the bathroom
  • Promotes good habits
  • Will produce anomalous results if careless
  • The graph in maps isn’t too pretty
  • Heart rate rarely reads
  • CO2 reading is unfathomable

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