The growing trend of connected devices now extends to your bathroom scale. Electronic scales have been around for years, but with the addition of WiFi, scales can communicate with the web or iPhone weight loss apps enabling a treasure trove of statistics, sharing and weight management. With the battle lines drawn between Withings vs Fitbit Aria, who comes out on top as the best WiFi scale? Read on for our full review of both the Withings and Fitbit Aria.
Setting Up Your WiFi Scale
Opening up the Withings, you’ll find the scale, microUSB cable, 4 AAA batteries, guide and feet for use on carpet. Conversely, the Fitbit Aria comes with nothing but the scale (batteries come installed, with a yellow strip of paper to prevent any drain). Both require a set-up process that requires you connect your WiFi scale to the Internet and create an account on their respective websites. The sparse accessories of the Fitbit actually mirrored the set-up process, which was incredibly easy. The Withings required I insert batteries and connect the included USB cable from the scale to a computer connected via WiFi. Hardly a difficult process, but things like having your WiFi password can cloud the setup process for less technical users. Make not mistake, both are very easy, along with being set and forget type devices. The Fitbit Aria has the advantage here from the pure out of box experience. When you first unbox it, there is a ‘Hello’ message. There’s something about the Fitbit Aria that welcomes you, gives you a hearty embrace and says, “let’s get to tracking your weight”.
When you finish the setup, each will land you at the ‘Dashboard’ section of your account. The Withings dashboard is not something you’ll want to look at daily. The design is not very good, with a look that is dark and dreary. If you want to set a second profile as hidden, you have to select ‘Make Independent’. I never felt comfortable that it was actually restricted to the newly formed user, as the initial set of information was in my dashboard until I completely deleted the user profile. For many, weight is a very personal issue and it’s not something they feel comfortable sharing, even with family members. The dark background, with graphs set on teal is off putting. Luckily, there options that won’t leave you tied to this dashboard.
The Fitbit dashboard was a completely different experience. The clean, minimal and modern design reflects the entire product experience. This is a website that makes you want to visit, which you’ll do often if you use a WiFi scale.
If you find yourself leaning towards the Withings scale, but hesitant due to the awful website, I bring good you news. Using this connection wizard, Withings scale measurements can be set to auto publish to a Fitbit account. Fitbit accounts are completely free and while they are often set-up when you purchase one of their products, it’s not required.
Withings vs Fitbit iPhone Apps
Both manufacturers offer companion apps. These accompany not only their scales, but other product offerings. The Fitbit app does a great job of mirroring the desktop experience, but on your iPhone or iPad. If you have a Fitbit tracker, those stats will also be accessible from the same app. Easy to read charts show your weight over a set timeframe. Swiping to the right will reveal ‘Lean vs Fat’ and ‘BMI’. Rotating your iPhone into landscape mode will allow for the chart to take up the entire screen with drop-down access to other statistics. It’s also easy to switch between various timeframes.
Using the Withings Health Mate app, you can track your weight, activity, heart and sleep. You’ll need additional products, beyond the scale for the other three. The main screen with display your weight. The dots below allow you to swipe left for Fat Mass, BMI and Height. Tapping on the weight brings up a chart showing your progress over time. You can rotate your iPhone in landscape mode to view longer charts and set the timeframe for viewing your weight. Within this screen you can tap the menu at the top, just right of the arrow to bring up all of your recent weigh-ins in a handy list. Tap on any if you feel like sharing this information via email or on gasp, social networks.
The Withings app is very basic, but gets the job done. If you add products the RunKeeper or BodyMedia armband, you’ll get more use from the Health Mate app. If your simply tracking weight, it’s hard not to recommend the gorgeous Weightbot app. There is no more beautiful way to track your progress and it supports data syncing with your Withings account.
Third Party Apps
Both of these scales allow for sharing of data with some of the best weight loss apps for iPhone and iPad. Fitbit lists twenty different iPhone apps which will work with the Fitbit website. Different apps will pull in different data. In addition to weight, the Fitbit site allows you to track meals, water intake and so much more. So if the Fitbit app isn’t working for you, you can easily switch to others that include Lose It!, MyFitnessPal or one of the many other compatible apps. Withings offers similar and a more robust selection of apps. They have over 60 partners, including RunKeeper and Weightbot.
Third party apps can be invaluable to achieving a weight loss goal. Both offer a good number of apps and I’d recommend seeing if your favorite app is supported by either or both companies.
It’s All About Data Utah
Your reason for considering a WiFi scale is in their ability to collect and crunch data. Both start with your estimated weight which you enter at the time of setup. I used a trusty $20 scale from Target. As you weigh yourself, data gets uploaded where it gets parsed into charts that detail your progress. Both recommend that you weigh yourself at the same time each day. During my tests, I weighed in twice – once in the morning and once in the evening. These include your weight, fat mass percentage and a calculated BMI (body mass index). Body mass index (BMI) is relative to both your weight and your height to show what a healthy weight for your height might be. BMI is available for both, with the Fitbit dashboard providing a breakdown of where you fit within the healthy BMI chart.
Both scales are meant for flat, even surfaces. I have tumbled stone in my bathroom and felt these scales might be adversely affected, so for testing I used wood floors for a uniform surface. The Withings comes with attachments which work for carpeted surfaces. Scales remained in one location, side by side. Despite keeping the testing area uniform, my weight values differed between the scales. On the FitBit Aria, I was typically one pound heavier. The Withings scale was more in line with my $20 scale. Ultimately, it’s not where you start so much as where you hope to finish and both will track your descent or in some cases ascent (muscle building).
When you first step on the Aria, the circular display lights up with a bright readout of grey text on a light background. In seconds, it’ll display your weight, followed by fat percentage and then BMI. Your initials will then display, followed by an indicator that your information is being uploaded. During your weigh-in, it repeats the information read-out, which I found helpful for early mornings when I’m operating on less than a cup of coffee. It was easy to tell this was a vast improvement over my Target scale. There isn’t a terribly large surface area, but it’s more than sufficient. Flipping over the scale reveals a bubble design, made of plastic. The Aria ships with AA batteries pre-installed.
Moving to the Withings, I immediately noticed the build quality of the scale. The wider glass surface area was more welcoming and to my feet and felt incredibly solid and stable. Not taking anything away from the Aria, but the Withings impressed me as something that would last for quite some time. The back of the Withings is an aluminum like metal material. The display uses a white high-contrast display over a black background, which I preferred.
With both of these scales, the fat percentage is certainly something I question, but did not have any method of comparison. I do think that you can successfully work from the baseline of either scale. When I started using these scales, I went on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet – a big change from my fast-food ways. Within a week, I saw a slight drop in my fat percentage. I would not recommend weighing yourself twice a day, since your night weigh-ins might be adversely affected by meals creating unwarranted spikes in your charts.
- Great out of box experience, easy to set-up
- Less expensive
- Very good app and online dashboard
- Better social, community
- Trouble with Fat Mass %
- Smaller scale surface
- Great build quality throughout
- High contrast display
- Expansive set of third party app support
- Supports syncing through Fitbit’s desktop dashboard
- Poorly designed dashboard, online portal
- Set-up might be difficult for less technically inclined
- Trouble with Fat Mass %
Before considering either of these two scales, you have to ask yourself if a WiFi scale fits into your digital life and will help you with your personal weight management goals. Having a digital archive of your weight can for some act as inspiration to push toward your goals. It also has the added benefit of sharing with a personal trainer, doctor or for those willing, social networks.
If you looking for the best WiFi scale from a pure hardware perspective, it’s the Withings. It’s slightly more expensive, but how often does one invest in a $100 plus scale. The $30 premium is justified with the high contrast display, fast read-out and overall build quality that should last you for quite some time. You should however be prepared to jump through a few hoops to get it working with your preferred apps and Fitbit dashboard. If you are uneasy configuring multiple accounts and third party apps, the Fitbit Aria was the friendlier of the two (what other scale says “Hi”), with a user experience that was consistently great from the easy setup process through the best dashboard of the two. Fitbit has certainly put a tremendous effort into providing a truly superb out of box experience. If you pair with a Fitbit One, you’ll be able to track your weight and activity with ease. Whichever direction you go, you’ll be happy with either the Fitbit or the Withings. Both are fantastic products with a wide array of online and mobile tools to help you achieve your weight goals.