Garmin Smart Index Scale
Garmin has recently announced a new addition to its line of products – a connected smart scale. The Index Smart Scale is the first body composition monitor integrated directly into the Garmin ecosystem of products.
Essential reading: A roundup of the best smart scales on the market
The device fits neatly into its existing line-up of devices. In addition to weight, the scale measures body mass index, body fat percentage, water percentage, muscle mass and bone mass. Garmin is now in competition with the likes of Withings, Fitbit, Polar and Qardio, all of whom have their own smart scales.
Ease of use
Use of information
The scale looks great and feels like quality hardware. It has a sleek, modern design with a bright LCD display and extra large numbers for easy visibility. When you step on the device, numbers and patterns light up, clear white against a black background. The screen is bright and easy to read.
Similar to its competitors, the scale is made of glass-type material, which means you will occasionally need to wipe it down. On the back there is a button to switch between the three display modes: pounds, kilograms and stones.
You can choose from the white or black version of the scale. Measuring 13.8 x 12.2 x 1.2 inches, the Garmin device has a slightly larger base than the Withings WS-50 or Fitbit Aria. This makes it a bit easier to step on and position yourself. The battery life is up to 9 months and the scale uses 4 AA batteries which are included in the box.
All in all, this is a smart looking device that will look well in any bathroom.
Essentially, there are three different ways in which you can set up your device. Via your Wi-Fi router directly using little WPS button on your WiFi access point, your newish Bluetooth 4.0 enabled smartphone or an ANT+ USB stick in your computer using Garmin Express. Depending on your home network, scale setup may take some patience.
Probably the easiest way to do this is via Bluetooth. Open the mobile Garmin app and add the scale under the “other device” category. It should then pair via Bluetooth. Once it does, enter your wifi password to connect the scale to your network.
To set up a Garmin Connect account for another person, add them as a ‘Connection’ and invite them to use the scale using the mobile Garmin Connect app. They will then need to accept the invite. You can connect up to 16 users. You need to enter a four character display name for each person.
Once everything is up and running, the Garmin Index scale will allow you to wirelessly sync your data to Garmin Connect. From your computer or on your compatible mobile device, Garmin Connect lets you see your data in more detail and review your progress against your goals. All measurement can be seen in a graph on Connect. Each measurement graph is individually displayed in a drop down.
As mentioned, the Garmin Index scale measures a number of metrics including weight, BMI, body fat, water percentage, muscle mass and bone mass.
Essential reading: Devices that help you keep tabs on your body fat
This means that it offers more metrics than the Withings or Fitbit scales, by incorporating some of the muscle and bone mass metrics in it. It should be noted, however, that bone and muscle mass statistics are of limited use.
As far as the accuracy of body fat measurements goes, as with all scales, these should be taken with a pinch of salt. Scales that measure body fat do this by sending a low electrical current through one foot and reading the current with a sensor under the other foot. Most of this current will flow through your “lean mass” as this is the most conductive, so none of the current will actually flow through your fat content. Your percentage of fat is then estimated, and highly dependent on variables such as level of hydration, bone density, etc.
We do have a few small gripes with this product. On occasion, it may take a number of times to get a consistent weight from the scale. Garmin does instruct, however, that if the scale has not been properly calibrated, or if on an uneven surface, the readings given may fluctuate and be incorrect.
Our second gripe is that you can only measure once a day with this scale. Your last weigh-in is the only one retained. Which means, if you weigh yourself in the afternoon, any measurements from the morning are overwritten.
For most people this should not be problematic as most experts recommend weighing yourself at a consistent time every day. It may, however, pose an issue, for example, for athletes who want a morning baseline and also use the scale to evaluate post-workout hydration needs.
Smart bathroom scales are one of the best ways to keep track of your health and monitor your fitness goals. If you are interested in monitoring your weight on a regular basis, and having access to your historical data, you will enjoy the Garmin scale.
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The Garmin device will allow you to input a goal, but only a goal weight, not a goal % body fat. You can then track your progress towards this goal which will help you stay motivated. Anyone can write down their weight or enter the numbers into a spreadsheet. But having it done automatically for you takes all the hassle away.
The main selling point of the Index Scale is the ability to connect to the Garmin platform. Which makes sense for existing users of Garmin devices. The company is working with MyFitnessPal, and about a dozen other partnerships to expand functionality. Withings, whose scale has been around for a number of years, has over 100 partners for their platform.
Garmin has a great track record of releasing firmware updates that add additional functionality to their existing devices. We hope the lingering issues mentioned above will be taken care of in time.
Garmin Index Smart Scale
We recommend the Garmin Index scale if you have any of the activity trackers from Garmin. The combined information as displayed in the Garmin Connect app is great. You can track much of the valuable health information all in one spot, and most of the time it is effortless.
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