Nokia owned outfit Withings, is making its presence felt at CES 2017. The French company has unveiled a smart hairbrush developed together with L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator and launched Home Plus, an upgrade to its smart HD security camera.
Withings has also confirmed global availability of its Steel HR connected health watch, announced back in late August. This is the world’s first analog activity-tracking watch with built-in heart rate monitoring. We had a first look at the watch at IFA in Germany, the world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, and walked away very impressed.
Like its predecessors, the wearable looks like a standard analogue watch. The Steel HR takes much of what was great about the Activite range and upgrades it with new features including a heart rate monitor and a digital display for smartphone notifications.
If you are looking for a classy smart watch with discreet activity features, we can safely say the Withings Steel is as good as it gets. You can pick up the Steel HR now on Amazon or withings.com. The 36mm retails for $179.95 and the 40mm for $199.95.
Here is everything you need to know about the watch.
It is not until you hold the watch in your hand, that you realise just how exquisite and polished it looks. The French company paid attention to every single detail when it came to design.
The Steel HR has a stainless steel casing, chrome hands, double-domed glass, and 9 different colour soft silicone sport straps to choose from. It comes in two sizes: : 36mm and 40mm.
The large dials on the watch show the time, while the sub-dial shows how close you are to your personal daily activity goal. You can customise the activity goal within the smartphone Health Mate application.
Steel HR also boasts a new dynamic digital screen at the top of the watch face, which displays health data and smartphone notifications. You can tailor the information to be displayed to your liking via the multifunctional button on the side of the watch.
There are no buttons to push. Steel HR automatically tracks everything via the company’s patented Connected Movement Technology and syncs the info to your app to give you metrics, personal coaching and more. The watch keeps tabs on your activity (steps, distance, running, sport – including swimming), heart rate, calories and sleep.
The main novelty for an analogue type device is the addition of heart rate monitoring. Withings has accomplished this impressive feat through a technology called photoplethysmography (PPG), which monitors heart rate using green LED lights to detect variation in the level of blood in the wrist.
The watch will automatically initiate the continuous heart rate function when you start running. You can also manually launch a continuous heart rate session simply by pushing the multifunctional button on the watch.
Real-time heart rate info is displayed on the watch during your exercise, and more detailed info including time spent in heart rate zones can be seen in the app. The watch also tracks resting heart rate, one of the most important metrics to assess overall health over time.
The monitoring of your ticker is not constant. To preserve battery life the watch will take a reading every few minutes. When you are exercising, the tracking of your heart rate is continuous.
Like its predecessor, the Steel HR automatically detects when you’re asleep and delivers a breakdown of your nights and naps: View deep and light sleep, wake ups, and sleep duration. The silent alarm feature is there to wake you with gentle vibration.
You can tailor the new display to show information such as calories burned, sleep duration and steps taken, and for the first time for a Withings device notifications from your connected smartphone. In terms of notifications, you can have caller ID or incoming emails or calendar events.
The French company’s Health Mate app provides you with detailed picture of your days and nights via clear color-coded graphs that show all your moves — from sleep cycle analysis to calories burned. Now you can also see additional metrics including maximum heart rate and which heart rate zones you’ve been training in the most.
The app also rewards achievements, offers advice and lets you challenge friends to help keep you motivated and push you further. And if you have one of the company’s scales or blood pressure monitors, you can track all your health and fitness information in one place.
Battery life and water resistance
Steel HR is water-resistant (5 ATM). Which is good because the watch automatically recognizes when the user starts swimming, providing the time of the session and calories burned.
The rechargeable battery will keep the wearable going for up to 25 days, the best battery life for a heart monitoring activity tracker available. After that, it will keep plodding along for another 20 days with limited functionality in power save mode.