The Philips HealthSuite isn't for fitness fiends. Rather, the whole platform is geared towards monitoring chronic conditions and targeted at people who want to stay on top of their existing health problems.
It's also a pick-and-choose model, meaning you don't have to buy everything in a bundle. A connected scale, thermometer and blood pressure monitor, as well as the Health Watch, are on offer. Philips says if your focus is losing weight, you can just pick up the $250 watch and $99 scale, or if you want to track high blood pressure, the watch and $99 blood pressure monitor works best.
We've been trying out the ecosystem to see how well it all works together, and find out if it's worth dropping around $500 for all the pieces.
Philips HealthSuite: Connected scale
The Philips connected scale is a large device with a sleek and shiny surface ‚Äď with black or white options ‚Äď that's prone to dust and smudges. The latter will happen often since getting the best reading requires you to use the scale barefoot.
Aside from weight, the scale will also measure your body composition, figure out body mass index (BMI) and send all the numbers to your phone wirelessly. Through bio-Impedance analysis (BIA), the scale sends a small unnoticeable current through the body to figure out body fat percentage. BMI is calculated based on the weight and height of the person.
The scale is fairly simple to set up and requires downloading the Philips app from the Google Play Store or iTunes. Then you just need to hold down the button on the back of the scale to initiate Bluetooth pairing. You can also press the same button to change between kilograms, stones and pounds.
Shortly after stepping on the scale, it will beep to let you know it's done measuring your weight, and then again when it's calculated body comp and BMI. A Bluetooth symbol will appear on the top left corner to show the scale is syncing with your phone's app, which you'll have to have open and nearby for the sync to work. The scale doesn't store your weight, so the information will disappear. If you just want to quickly measure yourself, that's fine, but you might as well get a dumb scale for that since the whole point of a smart scale is to keep track of your data. It can be a hassle to keep your phone on hand with the app open, but it's not a huge deal.
The numbers themselves have been correct when compared to standard scales. For BMI comparisons, I used several BMI calculators online and did the math myself, to get 24.7. The Philips scale determined 25.
So far, I've found the information much more interesting and useful than staring at a standard scale trying to remember what the number was during the last weigh in. Seeing the body composition percentage go up and down is also really handy and lets me know what I need to keep doing in the week to keep the number down.
Philips HealthSuite: Blood pressure monitor and thermometer
The blood pressure monitor comes in two form factors: one for the wrist and one for your upper arm. The review unit I used was for the upper arm. There are several factors to get the right measurement and the Philips app actually helped here.
After syncing up, the 'Newsfeed' section gives tips on the most recently connected device. For the blood pressure monitor, it works best if you're measuring around the same time each day. The manual is helpful here too letting you know how to sit and hold your arm to get the best reading.
The monitor is simple to use, and with only two buttons there's not a lot you can get wrong. There's one to change the user profile ‚Äď only two are allowed, but there's also a guest one just in case. Like the scale, the readings also sync up quickly to the Philips mobile app ‚Äď if you have it open and ready.
Unlike the scale and thermometer, the blood pressure monitor is rechargeable but you won't have to plug it in constantly. It measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as heart rate.
The thermometer is likely the most optional part of the Health Suite package. It's neat to see your temperatures in one place, and of course, comes in handy when you're ill by providing an accessible timeline to track your fever. Outside of that, it's not entirely necessary for someone monitoring their health. If you feel inclined to check it out, the smart thermometer is easy to use and takes readings impressively fast thanks to the infrared sensor.
Philips HealthSuite: Working together with Health Watch
By consistently logging weight measurements with all the devices, over time, the Philips software will get a better idea of how much weight you're gaining or losing, what your blood pressure is like and essentially how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Philips Health Watch tracks sleep, steps, heart rate and calories from your manual food entries. If you choose to watch your weight with the wearable and the scale, you can get a better idea of how the two devices work together by seeing the fluctuations in body comp and weight based on your caloric intake and calories burned from steps taken.
The inclusion of BIA to measure body fat percentage is a huge win here. For my age and height I'm in a good weight range, but my body composition isn't so hot. I found that following both sets of data from the scale has been much more useful than focusing on my weight alone.
The above also helps with keeping an eye on high blood pressure. Losing body fat and watching what you eat along with regular exercise are a few methods to lower blood pressure. Monitoring with the Philips device can help you see it visually charted out through time, while the scale and watch tracking the other bits.
It's not a perfect system, as I've noted a few irksome problems with the HealthSuite, but picking one or two devices would probably benefit those looking to start getting healthier. It would be nice if in the future, Philips allowed other fitness trackers or apps access, so you could incorporate more information.
The HealthSuite is also a good alternative to the Under Armour HealthBox and possibly more affordable if you're only buying the watch and one other device. Additionally the thermometer isn't really a necessary purchase to get a picture of your overall health, so you'd be shaving off $60.
- Scale measures body composition
- Easy to use
- App doesn‚Äôt sync unless open
- Lacks third-party integration