Withings, the Nokia owned company, has recently announced the availability of its Go tracker. With a price of less than $80, this is a spherical wearable that fits squarly into the budget fitness tracker category.
It’s refreshing to see Withings release an affordable device that does not feature too many bells and whistles we are so accustomed to seeing these days. The robust little device was clearly designed to assist just about everyone to embrace activity tracking.
Ease of use
Use of information
The French company’s latest wearable features an e-ink screen that shows activity, functions as a watch on demand and is legible in bright sunlight. The e-ink screen is an original concept which has the benefit of not draining the battery even though its on all the time. This is similar technology to that we have seen on the Kindle.
The tiny disk tracker comes with two accessories – a rubbery wristband and a plastic belt clip that doubles as a key-chain fob. The central circular base is a simple disk that fits into either the wrist strap or clothes clip. This is a ‘back-to-basics’ design, that feels durable and comfortable to wear. Best for those that care about simple functionality and are not too concerned about style.
For the clip and the strap, you can choose from one of five colours – Black, Blue, Green, Red or Yellow. The disk itself only comes in White. Like Misfit‘s devices, the Go can be worn a few different ways – the wrist, the belt or the shoe. Or simply pop it into your pocket! The tracker is water resistant up to 50 metres and automatically recognises when you start swimming, providing the time of the session and calories burned.
The low power draw of the e-ink screen means the device can keep going an impressive 8 months. Simply change the battery, and you are ready to go again.
In line with the tracker itself, the setup is very simple. Download the Withings Health App and follow the series of onscreen commands to pair Go with your smartphone. Essentially, the device is designed to reduce interaction, being able track activity without the user having to push a single button.
There is automatic 24/7 activity tracking for walking, running and swimming. It also automatically knows when you go to bed, which is convenient because you won’t need to remember to enter sleep mode every night. Auto-identifying activity and sleep is becoming a standard feature for these days and its good to see even budget fitness trackers jumping on the band-waggon. For exercises that are not logged automatically, you can tap the ‘Activity’ tab in the smartphone app and choose from one of 35 different activities.
The e-ink display offers basic functionality and can be used to check how close you are to achieving your daily goal. Your progress is displayed via 88 segments with the middle icon switching from a stick person to a star when your daily goal is achieved. The aim is to fill the entire circle with bars that represent your activity. If you manage to do this, you’ll get a second layer of progress bars to encourage you to keep going. For a more detailed breakdown of activity, head over to the smartphone app.
You can also use the tracker to check the time. Press firmly on the center of the display and the screen will switch to a standard watch display. Click it again, and it will go back to a meter showing your daily activity. Unfortunately you cannot set the device to have the watch as its primary screen, something that we hope will be fixed via a firmware update.
For walking and running, Go counts the number of steps, distance travelled, calories burned and duration of the activity session. The tracker uses your height to calculate distance, so don’t expect the precision of a GPS enabled sports watch or you will be disappointed. As mentioned, for swimming the tracker will only provide you with the time of the session and calories burned. At night, Go can distinguish between light and deep sleep cycles which in addition to time slept is pretty much all you need to know about your sleep patterns.
The app itself consists of a home-screen that offers a timeline of your activities plus a summary of how close you are to achieving your step count for the day. The app acts as a central hub for all Withings devices. So if you own the French company’s scale or blood pressure monitor, all your information is accessible in one place. The convenience of having a host of connected devices all syncing info to a central hub means that you learn more about the benefit of making small healthy adjustments. For example, increase your activity by doing a few extra runs per week, and watch your weight and blood pressure go down.
As you would expect, the app allows you to define daily goals. If you’re someone who’s motivated by reward collecting or gamification, you’ll be happy to know that you can earn badges for certain achievements such as walking the distance of a marathon, doing 10,000 steps in one day and more.
Rather usefully, the app also provides you with healthy tips that are categorised by weight, activity, heart, and sleep. You can set a reminder to pop up on certain days and times to keep you on track. There is a social aspect as well. To keep you motivated, the ‘Leaderboard’ feature in the app lets you check how people in your contacts group are getting on.
On the negative side, Go does not have a vibration motor. This means that you cannot set any alarms, reminders, or inactivity alerts, so the Go just ends up passively tracking your activity. Nevertheless, smartphone-based reminders are useful in helping to build new health habits.
The Withings Go is an attempt to return to simplicity. And a successful one at that. This is a budget tracker designed so that in only requires your passive, not active, attention. Clip it on and forget about it.
A major selling point is the device’s e-ink display and low demands on battery life. The lack of advanced functionality, however, make this a poor choice for serious fitness fanatics. There is no built in heart-rate monitor or advanced activity tracking. Go performs well, though, on the select number of activities it offers.
There is a wide range of options now in the budget activity tracker category. Withings is a bit late to the party, but its new tracker can hold its own against the competition from Misfit, Jawbone, Fitbit and others, some of which have introduced similar trackers years ago. Go comes in at a competitive price point compared to most of these trackers, as its e-ink display gives it an upper hand compared to budget trackers that lack displays.
If you’re a newbie to exercise or someone looking for an affordable, simple, durable tracker with a lightweight design, then this is definitely worth buying. A solid little tracker that does the basics well. Everybody else? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself left wanting a bit more.
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