Withings Pulse O2
- Innovative blood oxygen level function
- Well designed app
- Good battery life
- Not water or sweat resistant
- Screen difficult to read in bright daylight
- Heart-rate/blood oxygen monitoring is on demand, not constant - cant take readings with the band on
- Sleep tracking is not automatic
- Design would benefit from improvements
Withings was one of the early entrants in the fitness tracker market with its original Pulse tracker back in 2013. One year is a long time in the wearable technology space. At the time, Pulse was competing mostly against pedometers. Withings was actually one of the first companies that offered a fitness tracker that included heart-rate monitoring.
The company has since come out with a new version of its tracker. It now includes a wristband, blood oxygen readings and a redesigned app. A ‘wear it your way’ device to monitor your activity and sleep, read vital signs and improve your overall health.
Ease of use
Use of information
The Withings Pulse arrives with a clip, sleeping wristband and USB charger in the box. The band and clip are made out of a soft, rubber material. The strap fits well even on very small hands as it is narrower than most other trackers.
There are three straps to choose from, black, blue and leather. They each feature a metallic cradle which houses the tracker. We would not really consider the Pulse O2 to be one of the more fashionable devices. This is one of our main gripes with this product – it is pretty much identical to the original device. We feel that more could have been done on improving the overall design.
The device is designed to be worn on your wrist using the adjustable wristband. However you can also attach it to your belt or clothes using the clip, or drop it in your pocket or bag. It is easy to take the Pulse out of the strap, and thus seldomly, it may fall out by accident.
The device contains a 128 x 32 OLED touch screen, that houses an Optoelectronic sensor on the back. The display is by default off and is activated at the push of a button. As with the original Pulse device, the screen has visibility issues and becomes tricky to read outside in bright daylight.
It should be stressed that the Pulse O2 is not waterproof and is not warrantied against sweat. Not really a good option for exercise technology not to be able to handle humidity or sweat.
The battery life lasts an impressive two weeks. It usually takes 1-2 hours with the micro USB to charge an empty battery. When the battery goes low, the device switches to power saving mode, which provides an extra 24 hours to recharge.
The device is fairly simple to use. Start by navigating to your iOS or Android phone’s app store. When you open the app, press the button on the top of the Pulse O2. The app will recognize the Pulse O2 and begin the installation. Next, follow the instructions on the screen to create a new Withings account or you can log into an existing Withings account. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the set up process.
You can view your fitness activity statistics on the device itsself. There are five displays to cycle through including time, step count, elevation, distance covered and calories burned. There is also a screen to activate heart-rate measurements and sleep tracking. The device offers the option to vertically display the time, for a more watch-like experience.
Syncing your Pulse O2 lets you visualize your activity progress throughout the day, and lets you keep a record of your progress over time. The Pulse O2 syncs automatically every six hours, so you don’t need to worry about manually syncing unless you want to see your latest data right away.
In order to trigger a manual sync – you need to press and hold the button on the top of the device for 3 seconds. When the sync starts, an icon of a cell phone will appear on your Pulse O2’s screen. Then, a progress bar will appear below the phone icon, signifying how much of your data has been backed up. When the sync is complete, your Pulse O2’s screen will show a check mark.
When the sync is complete, you can see your progress in the Health Mate App and on the Withings online dashboard.
The device contains a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, digital compass, optical, heart rate monitor, altimeter, ambient light sensor, vibration motor, SpO2.
The Withings tracker allows you to track your daily activity, steps, distance walked, elevation climbed and calories burned. It has built in automatic run detection. You can go back and access up to two weeks of data.
Unfortunately, the Pulse O2 does not offer ways of tracking specific activities such as cycling for example. But it is a great tool for casual runners as it offers real-time feedback in terms of displaying the distance run and duration on the screen.
It should be mentioned that how the device is worn may significantly affect the accuracy of step counts. Withings provides no specific recommendations, but apparently the wrist strap should be used mainly for sleep monitoring.
What this device brings over the original Pulse device is the Optoelectronics sensor. By pressing your finger against the HR light sensor on the back of the Pulse O2, you can obtain measurements of your heart rate and blood oxygen levels.
The human body requires and regulates a very precise and specific balance of oxygen in the blood. Normal blood oxygen levels are considered 95-100%. The body maintains a stable level of oxygen saturation for the most part by chemical processes of aerobic metabolism associated with breathing. Using the respiratory system, red blood cells, specifically the hemoglobin, gather oxygen in the lungs and distribute it to the rest of the body. The needs of the body’s blood oxygen may fluctuate such as during exercise when more oxygen is required or when living at higher altitudes. A blood cell is said to be “saturated” when carrying a normal amount of oxygen.
Both too high and too low levels can have adverse effects on the body. Blood oxygen levels below 80% may compromise organ function, such as the brain and heart, and should be promptly addressed. Continued low oxygen levels may lead to respiratory or cardiac arrest.
The Pulse O2 also monitors your sleep cycles at night. This includes sleep duration, sleep quality, light versus deep sleep and sleep interruptions. To track sleep, you need to wear the device on your wrist, and set it to “sleep mode” in order to begin tracking the data. You then need switch it out of sleep mode when you wake up.
Withings offers an excellent Health Mate app to accompany the device. The app is refreshing, bright, cheery and easy to use – something that you would expect from a motivational hub.
If you own other Withings products, such as their scale (read review) or blood pressure monitor (read review), you can have all your data in one place. The Withings app was one of the first ones to offer syncing with Apple Health.
The Health Mate app provides ‘Insights’ and ‘Reminders’ to support your efforts and keep you healthy and focused. You can earn badges and unlock achievements along the way to keep you motivated, as well as keep up with your friends using leaderboards. The app also offers real-time coaching.
The Withings Pulse O2 is a very solid activity tracker when considering the price and the number of sensors it houses. It has an excellent battery life, offers heart rate, blood oxygenation analysis and and encompasses an altimeter.
While simple functionality may have been enough back in 2013, these days a sleek and attractive design is a must. Ultimately this is why it is difficult to get excited about the Pulse O2 – Withings is in competition with many more fashionable smartbands.
Withings Pulse Ox Activity Tracker
If you dont mind the outdated look, as a comprehensive fitness tracker, the Pulse O2 definitely offers good value for money. It is unlikely you will buy the device for its oxygen feature alone but if we couple this with its other functions we get a feature packed device that won’t disappoint those who run or walk as their primary activity. We do hope however that the third generation of this tracker comes up with a nicer looking more fashionable solution.