Smart scales connect wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or computer. Step on one of these, and your weight data will magically find its way to a corresponding app on your mobile device or a Web dashboard. Using the app or dashboard, you can then track your progress over time.
Scales that also 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. The current passes through fat more slowly so the scale calculates the amount of resistance to come up with a body fat percentage. The accuracy of these body fat measurements should be taken with a grain of salt, though, as they can be inconsistent and inaccurate at the best of times.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Consumer Reports tested six popular scales a while ago and came to the conclusion that while they were all excellent at measuring weight, none were particularly accurate when it came to measuring body fat. But they were consistant which means the scales can be used to track relative gains and losses over time as they are comparing like with like.
Generally, we can separate smart scales into two camps. The ones that come from well known brands such as Fitbit, Philips and Garmin, and the dozens and dozens of scales released by the lesser known brands. These are generally cheaper, but in many cases also less precise. This article focuses on the more established brands.
Let’s cut to the chase right away. Scales produced by Withings are our pick of the bunch. They look great and do the job extremely well.
Body+ measures weight and BMI, along with fat mass, muscle mass, water and bone mass. The scale has multi-user support and recognition, a free Health Mate app and syncs to the Cloud. It also has both iOS and Android compatibility.
Having one of these in the bathroom means you can make weighing yourself part of your morning ritual, allowing you to track your progress every day, at roughly the same time, in the same state of undress, with no hassle. It configures relatively effortlessly to your network, and then just goes about its work reliably and quietly enough.
The Patented Position Control Technology delivers highly-precise measurements accurate to .2 pounds. The fat % monitoring and other metrics can sometimes vary but, as mentioned, this is the case with all such scales on the market.
If you love gadgets and find tracking your weight useful to help you diet or maintain a healthy weight, you won’t go wrong with the Body+. This is a quality product that comes at a reasonable price.
Long overdue for an update, the original Aria scale was released back in April 2012. At the time, it was one of only a handful of connected scales on the market.
Aria 2 has a fresh design and a few other updates, but its core features remain largely the same. This means it tracks weight, BMI, body fat percentage, with now the addition of lean mass. Just like its predecessor, it can recognise up to 8 users and you can set weight goals with a daily calorie plan, log food and other workouts.
Fitbit says its much easier than before to set up the new scale and you can do it over the smartphone using the app. It also offers more accurate readings.
If you’re looking to lose weight or just keep tabs on your current weight, this scale makes a good choice. Particularly if you own a Fitbit fitness tracker or smartwatch as it makes sense to buy from the same brand. You step on it, step off – done. Your weight is transferred to your Fitbit dashboard so that it sits there along with all your other stats.
Another option worth checking out is the new Fitbit Aria Air. This one misses out on some of the features of its big brother but is lighter on the wallet.
The Index Smart Scale is the first body composition monitor integrated directly into the Garmin ecosystem of products. In addition to weight, the scale measures your body mass index, body fat percentage, water percentage, muscle mass and bone mass.
Index has a sleek, modern design with a bright LCD display and extra large numbers for easy visibility. Like other smart scales on the market, it allows you to set up multiple profiles for different members of your family. In fact, you can set up to 16 users.
Our main gripe with this product is that Garmin Connect only logs one result per day. So if you weight yourself more than once, the app will override the previous result with the new one. For most people this should not be a problem 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, or those with health issues.
If you are the owner of other Garmin devices though, you might want to opt for this one due to easy integration with other Garmin products.
iHealth is one of the early entrants into the connected scales market. Their third generation scale measures nine aspects of your overall health including weight and body mass index, body fat, lean muscle, bone mass, water weight, daily calories and visceral fat rating. If you have a lot of people in your household, you’ll be happy to know – the scale recognises up to 10 users.
iHealth Core keeps a record of all your readings and provides detailed statistics on a wide range of vitals, which you can then monitor over time. The accompanying smartphone app lets you set goals, view readings, and share results. Measurements are stored on your secure iHealth account, presented in easy to read charts, and weight and BMI are graphed with past readings to view your progress at a glance.
On the minus side, set-up difficulties some users have experienced and occasional inconsistencies in measurements need to be taken into account when considering this purchase.
Perhaps not as feature rich as some of the other connected scales, the Xiaomi scale sells at about half the price of the leading brands.
The device tracks weight and BMI, and connects via Bluetooth to Xiaomi’s Mi Fit iOS and Android apps, so you can track your weight over time. It is capable of managing the weight of up to 16 people with its app, so its suitable for the whole family.
There are 161 LEDs which light up to show your weight. The overall body of the scale has a smooth design and round edges, and is protected by tempered glass panels. The display itself is embedded into the body.
This is a great product, particularly when you factor in the low price.
The Polar Balance scale features a large display, to ensure that the digits are easily readable, and a splash-proof glass design. The scale provides you with your weight and BMI, and can be used by up to 10 different people. The biggest selling point of this device though, is the software.
Once you have customised the settings, the app and web service will provide you with motivational guidance on how to reach your daily activity goal. The app works on the basis that 60% of the excess calories should be cut from your diet and 40% should be burned with activity.
Daily activities such as steps, distance and calories are recorded from one of Polar’s fitness trackers (if you own one), and the food intake you will need to record manually. A interesting aspect is the beautifully designed Weight Loss Speedometer. It comes in the form of an infographic that visually shows how close you are to reaching your weight goals.
This popular budget option comes from a Chinese manufacturer. Rather impressively, Yunmai measures 10 different body composition stats, including weight, BMI, BMR, hydration, bone mass, body age and more.
It also comes with a well designed app that offers you guidance to help you reach your goals. You can chart your weight fluctuations on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. You also get a composite ‘Health score’ each time you weigh yourself, along with a ‘Fitness Age’ score.
We have to commend Yunmai. Rather than just providing you with raw data and letting you make sense of it, the company tries to show you what exactly you need to do to improve your health. After all, a thin person is not in every case healthier than an overweight person.
All in all, in terms of value for money, this is a great choice.
The second generation QardioBase retains the signature circular “floating” look of its predecessor but enhances it with a wider base for added stability. This was one of the main gripes with the previous generation. A new rechargeable battery has also been added that runs for up to a year between charges. The screen is brighter and crisper and there is a better haptic engine installed.
Qardio says it has enhanced the sensor system and introduced new and improved algorithms. This means your weight, body mass index and body composition (% muscle, fat, water, bone) measurements will be more accurate than before. There is also a unique Pregnancy Mode which helps expecting moms safely track their progress during this happy time and beyond.
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