As the New Year approaches many of us are probably already thinking about slimming our waist, seeing as losing weight is the #1 New Years resolution year after year. Or perhaps you simply want to ditch that $20 drug store bathroom scale for something new. Before you shop be sure to check out my quick look at the Fitbit Aria versus the Withings WS-30 and WS-50 smart scales and smart body analyzer.
Ranging from $99 to $149 these devices are all essentially very similar. What do you expect, they are scales?! All three of them offer wifi connectivity to record your weight measurements. Yet each of them is a little different than the next, adding more features as you slide up the price scale. But which one is the best, and why? Let’s take a look.
Withings WS-30 Wireless Scale
Starting at the low end of price is the $99 Withings WS-30 scale. It records your weight, but lacks the body fat and BMI features the other two units below provide. Like the others it has auto detection of multiple users. All of the devices here can be setup with simply the Bluetooth connection on your smart phone (once setup, the device uses your home wifi and no longer needs the BT connection). Since the Withings WS-30 can sync over to the Fitbit ecosystem (if you have a Fitbit tracker), and is cheaper, about 3/4″ larger in each direction, and feels more solid– it is my top pick. If you’re looking to break into the smart scale segment this is definitely the way to go. And for what it is worth, the Withings app works fine too. But for many folks spending this much money, you’ll want more features, so…
Fitbit Aria Smart Scale
Now that Fitbit just announced three new activity trackers you may be quick to jump on the Fitbit band wagon. But before you go snag the Fitbit Aria consider this: it offers almost all the same features as the WS-30 listed above, for more money. Sure it works great (I’ve used one as my primary home scale for a year), but the footprint (size) of the device is smaller than the Withings and the build quality seems decent, but not quite as solid. The ONLY item the Fitbit does that the WS-30 does not is body fat/BMI data. Even if you use a Fitbit tracker, the Fitbit Aria isn’t your only option as Fitbit will allow you to pull data from a Withings scale. With that said, I like the Aria and have been quite happy with mine for the BMI/body fat feedback. Even as my weight maintains it is a great way to keep tabs on fat/muscle gains. If you have the means to sped the extra cash, I do love this unit– but if you’re going to spend that much then…
Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer
Last but not least we have the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer, and as the name infers, this thing does more than just weigh you. Like the two above, it does weight and multiple user support all via wifi. But the Withings WS-50 brings a few new tricks to the table, namely body fat (like the Fitbit Aria), plus heart rate, and indoor air quality. These added features demand a $50 price jump over the Withings WS-30 unit, and frankly I don’t think they are worth the price of admission. Now that Fitbit and other devices are including heart sensors in their trackers, measuring your heart rate on the scale becomes pointless. Indoor air quality is a neat thing to test, but other than a helpful reminder that it may be time to clean/replace your HVAC filter I don’t see any actionable response to that data. If it were my money I’d save that money and get the other scales.
There are certainly other options on the market today beyond what I listed here. For example you can spend below the $99 mark if you don’t mind ditching the wifi and using your iPhone via bluetooth to snag data from the scale. In that instance I do like the Wahoo Fitness Balance Body Scale unit. However I personally don’t have my phone in the bathroom with me, and prefer the wifi connection that just works effortlessly. Another option would be a unit such as the iHealth HS5 scale. Both the Wahoo and iHealth units offer syncing with MyFitnessPal, my caloric counter app/site of choice. Same goes for the Fitbit and Withings devices mentioned above, however– and those use wifi, which I suggest.
In the end then, although there are more and more devices cropping up in the smart scale segment, only two brands stick out as contenders in my book. Those are Fitbit, with their Fitbit Aria scale, and Withings, with either the WS-30 scale or WS-50 analyzer. All of these are great, but the Withings WS-30 takes home my #1 spot for best on the market today for most users looking for basic weight data, tied closely with the Fitbit Aria for the added body fat / BMI metrics. Stay healthy folks!