Withings Pulse review
Withings has crafted an excellent piece of hardware that might actually beat the Fitbit One at its own game. We just wish the company would add more motivational tools to its companion app.
- Small and unobtrusive
- Excellent battery life
- Heart rate tracking will be a gimmick for most
- Rubberized coating chips easily
- Companion app offers little in the way of motivation
Let's face it: the quantified-self movement is all about strapping gadgets to your body and letting them tell you things that you already know. Aside from marathon-running gym worshippers, we're all keenly aware that we could be taking better care of ourselves. Of course, those fancy devices do offer a means to record your data in a way that makes it easy to track your progress, hopefully motivating you to concentrate on getting your activity graph to go up while your weight goes down. We're two or three generations into the market now, and the crude pedometers of yore have been replaced with units packed with altimeters and accelerometers that promise to faithfully track everything from how many stairs you've climbed to how well you slept last night.
Withings is a French company that's synonymous with the whole fitness tracker movement; it's perhaps best known for its heart rate monitors and smart scales that push your weight, BMI, body fat percentage, heart rate and even local CO2 levels to the cloud. But until now, it's had a glaring omission in its lineup: an activity tracker that informs you of your progress apart from your early morning weigh-ins. Worse still, both Wahoo Fitness and Fitbit have encroached on Withings' home turf with their own weighing scales; more than ever, Withings needs an activity tracker to keep people locked into its ecosystem.
That's where the Pulse comes in. Like the Fitbit One, this rubber brick packs a pedometer, altimeter and sleep tracker, but unlike its rivals, it includes an optical heart rate sensor as well. With both the Pulse and the Fitbit priced at $100, is this extra feature enough to establish the French business as the world heavyweight? I spent a month with this device strapped to my waistband, so follow me as I take you through what it's like to have this as a constant companion.