​On beat: Steel HR complete guide

The inside story on Withings' latest health watch
Steel HR complete guide
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An update to Activité Steel, the Steel HR is a serious step up in terms of health and wellbeing tracking. On the surface a beautiful analogue watch, the Withings Steel HR is packed with advanced sensors and fitness tracking smarts.

Steel HR is more than just your basic activity band. It's a full-on health watch that's designed to keep tabs on more than just your 10,000 steps per day. Think heart rate during sleep, heart health and gym sessions as well as detailed sleep analysis.

Read on to find out everything you need to know.

Steel HR: Design

On beat: Withings Steel HR complete guide

When it comes to design, few health devices can rival Steel HR. A beautiful analogue watch in a steel case, even a careful look would have most people believing this was just a standard dress watch.

The stainless steel case adds a quality look and feel and it's reassuringly heavy on the wrist. The face is available in black or white options, depending on your individual style.

The face itself is minimal, but punctuated by two elements. The first is the goal dial, which sits at 6 o'clock. Marked 0-100 it represents the progress towards your daily step goal. It doesn't matter whether your goal is the standard 10,000 steps or something more modest, the Steel HR talks to the Withings Health Mate app to get your specific data.

At the 12 o'clock position is a digital display, which is designed to display your health information and a whole lot more. You can cycle through data such as live heart rate, steps and calorie burned, as well as get call notifications from your paired smartphone.

While many smartwatches are too chunky to be worn by women, Steel HR is available in two sizes. In addition to the 40mm version is a smaller 36mm model, which is far better suited to smaller wrists. What's more, it's water resistant to 50 metres, which means it can be used in the pool or taken into the shower.

Steel HR: Health tracking

On beat: Withings Steel HR complete guide

The main feature of the Withings Steel HR is the standard activity tracking, all performed by an accelerometer. This tracks steps by the movement of your arm, which counts towards the step goal set within the app. Using Withings' algorithms, it will then calculate your distance walked or run and a large part of that activity goes towards your calories burned.

The other part of that is tracked by your heart rate. That's achieved via an optical sensor on the underside of the watch. It's invisible when the watch is worn, but shines a light under the skin to monitor the blood flowing through the arteries.

Steel HR also tracks heart rate slightly differently to its competitors. A heart rate reading is taken every 10 minutes, unless an activity is detected, when it ramps up to every few seconds. You can also activate the "Workout Mode" manually by pressing and holding the button.

Your heart rate is plotted throughout the day and you can then use this to see an improvement in your overall cardio health.

Finally, there's sleep tracking. Withings' sleep metrics are some of the best around, offering insights into your deep and light sleep. Steel HR automatically tracks sleep, so there's no need to remember to put it into a specific mode. It can help you analyse poor sleep and, even if you think you're sleeping well, take action to feel more rested in the morning.

The clever way that Withings throttles heart rate monitoring means an incredible boost in battery life. Steel HR will last 25 days with full features and heart rate monitoring, and when the battery dies, it will keep tracking steps and sleep for another 20 days. Impressive stuff. When you do need to recharge, you don't need to open the back and replace a battery. Just place it on its charging cradle to bring it back to life.

Steel HR: Workout mode

On beat: Withings Steel HR complete guide

If you use the "Workout Mode" then you can get a breakdown of your session and the time spent in different heart rate zones. You can use this to get a more accurate analysis of your session and the calories burned.

Steel HR is a comprehensive activity tracker that automatically recognises walk, run, swim, and sleep and delivers in-depth reporting right to your smartphone.

A host of activities can be automatically recognised, ranging from running, walking and swimming to more obscure sports such as ping-pong, volleyball and dancing.

Steel HR: Smart features

On beat: Withings Steel HR complete guide

Aside from health features, Steel HR is also capable of offering notifications from your smartphone. You can be alerted to incoming calls, messages and calendar alerts. You'll get a vibration on the wrist and an icon will be displayed on the small digital screen.

These can be customised within the Withings Health Mate app, which means you can decide how much you want to be bothered by your watch. Some people prefer to know when someone's calling, especially if their phone is tucked away in a bag. However, if you prefer to stay undisturbed, you can block notifications, too.

Steel HR: App

On beat: Withings Steel HR complete guide

Steel HR pairs with the Withings Health Mate app, winner of Health Platform on the Year at the 2016 Wareable Tech Awards.

The app is split into four parts: sleep, weight, activity and heart. Steel HR adds data into three of these four metrics, making it one of the most complete fitness wearables.

The activity section collates data from your step goals and active calories, tracked by the Steel HR's built-in accelerometer. The heart rate section is filled with data from the Steel HR's all-day and nightheart rate tracking. And finally, automatic sleep detection means you just have to wear your Steel HR to bed to fill it with stats on your slumber.

Steel HR is compatible with a host of third party fitness and wellbeing apps, which enables you to do even more with your data. It works seamlessly with MyFitnessPal and Lifesum, for food and nutrition tracking, which can make achieving fitness and weight goals easier.

And there's potential to do so much more. Withings Body Cardio scales will track your weight, body composition, body water percentage and log all of this data within Weight section of the app, as well as taking heart rate readings via your feet. What's more, you can use the Withings Blood Pressure monitor for even more wellness data.

Save 20% on the Steel HR

Steel HR is available to buy from the Withings Store for £169.95. Withings is offering Wareable readers a special 20% off discount on Steel HR, which will run until 30 April 2017. Just click here to view the item on the Withings Store.

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