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Getting fit with Withings Activité Pop and Activité Steel Fitness Tracker Watches (Review)

January 22, 2016 Comments off


Activité Pop
Activité Pop and Activité Steel Fitness Tracker Watches
Withings
$149.95 (Pop) and $169.95 (Steel)

When I first heard of so-called wearables, I was skeptical–skeptical of the hype, the price, and the practicality. I was curious though, so I decided to check out the Withings Activité Pop (Pop) Fitness Tracker Watch–or rather I decided to let my wife check it out, since she’s the avid walker/half-marathoner in the family. I’m also a walker/runner, but I am more in the category of fan/support rather than competitive walking and running.

I reviewed the black Activité Steel (Steel) Fitness Tracker Watch. I believe that the Pop and the Steel are very similar in functionality, workmanship, features, and look. The Pop came out first and we had time to work with it a bit before I received the Steel.

Activité SteelOne word of caution before I start the feature overview and review. The Activité Fitness Tracker Watches might make you obsess over your activity to the point where you are cognizant of every step you take. I’m not kidding.

Here’s an example: One day I went to the local Sam’s Club store to shop. Of course I had on my Steel, because I seem to wear it 24 hours a day now and I haven’t worn a watch in years. Anyway, I walked around pushing a shopping cart for about an hour, when I realized that I hadn’t received any steps (I’ll explain later) for this activity. I was annoyed. After I came home, I told my wife about this. Apparently, she had already solved this problem, by pulling the cart and not pushing it.

You see, the way most of these fitness trackers record your steps is by recording your arm swings as you walk. It is pretty accurate too. At first, the Pop was not so accurate, but there’s been an update since that time and now it’s spot on. If you walk 1,000 steps, the watch registers 1,000 steps. I’ve tested it, so you can trust that you have walked the number of steps that shows up on your watch and on your app.

Unlike some fitness trackers, the Withings ones do not have to be tethered to a phone. In fact, I never carry my phone on a walk. It’s too heavy and it just bugs me, so I leave it at home, while I torture…I mean while I walk.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a single Step

Daily Step GoalI set my daily steps goal at 10,000. That’s a convenient and widely accepted target. You set your daily goal when you setup your Withings app on your mobile device, but you can also change it at any time by swiping in a new number. Whatever number you select for your daily goal will be fed into the watch and split into tenths. As you can see on the dial face, there is an analog tracker that shows how close you are to your goal. Since mine is 10,000 steps, each large tick mark is 1,000 steps or around my block one time. It’s good that I know my target goal and a simple milestone, such as my block, that way I can compare the two results to be sure that I’m tracking correctly on walks in which I’m not sure of the distance.

Downtime

Sleep AnalysisThe Pop and the Steel both also track your sleep patterns. This is a bonus feature because sleep patterns are directly related to health. And the Withings products give you a sleep pattern assessment for each night’s sleep and then a weekly assessment. By assessment, you can see how long you slept, how many times you were awake during a night, and even see your sleep patterns of deep and light sleep.

Oh, and it knows when you take a nap. On a recent trip, I took a nap and it knew. One hour and thirty-three minutes of monitored bliss.

Take it for a Swim

App and SteelAnother bonus feature that surprised us is that the watch knows when you’ve gone for a swim. My wife went for an hour-long swim one day and exclaimed, “It knew I swam for an hour!” She didn’t have to tell it, nor do you have to do anything special when you sleep. I call these the Santa Claus watches because they know when you’ve been sleeping, they know when you’re awake, and they know when you’ve been bad (not reaching your goals) or good (when you have reached your goals). The watch is water resistant to 50m/150ft.

Get a Move On

To encourage you along the way, you win fitness badges at milestone distances. You also receive encouraging messages along the way, when you achieve your goals. Seriously, it becomes a personal competitive thing once you get into this whole fitness tracking shtick. You’ll find yourself taking more steps, making sure that your arm is swinging appropriately for the steps to count. You’ll self deprecate when you don’t reach your goal, but the app no longer scolds you for missing a goal. Originally it did.

Although I’ve never done it, you can set a wake up alarm on the watch. My daughter and my wife did this on the Pop, through the app.

Stylistically Speaking

I want to turn your attention to the look of the Withings Fitness Tracker Watches. Personally, I think they’re the best looking ones out there. They look like normal watches. They’re normal watch sized and they don’t have any unnecessary do-dads on the face or on the body of the watch. If people don’t know that you’re wearing a fitness tracker, then they don’t know from the Withings watch. They’re stylish, come in many colors, and all perform the same functions.

Withings Fitness Tracker Watches

I’ve looked at several different fitness tracker type watches over the past year and I really like the Withings ones. I like that they don’t have that blocky, ugly look of some fitness trackers or a huge profile. I like the watch-sized footprint and the fact that the watch itself is analog. I’ve never thought digital readouts looked like watches. It’s a personal thing. I love watches. I have a whole collection of different ones and they’re all gloriously analog. Not a digital readout in the bunch.

The Bumsters

What I don’t like in these fitness trackers is that I have to have a free swinging arm for it to measure my steps. But, to do it any other way would require a GPS unit and that would spoil the small, watch-like footprint of the Withings watches, so maybe that’s only half a bummer.
The app won’t update unless it is in the foreground on your mobile device–or at least it doesn’t on mine, although I receive messages that I need to open my Withings App to get background updates. Mine won’t do background updates. Be aware of that and your mileage may vary. I have an Apple iPhone 5 with iOS 9.x on it, so maybe that’s the issue.

Pricewise

At 149.95 for the Pop and 169.95 for the Steel, I’d say that they’re a little high for me. I’d prefer something a bit more competitive at say $99.95 and maybe as high as $129.95 for the Steel. When I see a price for a watch/fitness bad that approaches the $150 mark, I tend to drift away and look at the other options available to me.

The watches themselves are quality made. The bands are made of a silicone rubber material that seems durable and sturdy. The watches are certainly not afraid of water and that’s worth something too. The Withings watches would make great gifts, especially for those who want a simple fitness tracking experience. There’s no plugging in of the watch to sync it, no charging, no messing about with any on-watch apps, and no need to always have the phone nearby.

Bottom Line

The Withings watches do exactly what they say they’ll do. They accurately measure your steps, your sleep, your swimming, and they record the whole of your activity into an app that does not have to be constantly tethered to your phone. The watch connects via Bluetooth when in range and updates for you. I suggest not letting it go more than a couple of days without updating so that you don’t lose any data. If you take the steps, you want them to count.

There are features of the watch and of the app that I’m positive that I’m not using. I have simple needs. I want it to measure my steps and my sleep and it does.

The Withings Fitness Tracker Watches are simple to use and that’s a huge plus for me. If you know someone who wants a fitness tracker, but is afraid of all the complexity, these are the ones you want to buy–no doubt about it.

A well-made, well-supported, simple-to-use wearable that’s both stylish and functional.

Rating: 8.5/10

Recommendation: Buy as a gift or for yourself. At half the price and size of other fitness trackers, you’ll like it a lot.

Withings Home HD Monitor is Now the Most Advanced Baby Monitor

November 24, 2015 Comments off

Withings HomeNovember 24, 2015 – BOSTON, MAWithings, a leader in the connected health revolution, today announced updates to its Withings Home HD camera, making it the most advanced baby monitor on the market. The aesthetically beautiful home and air quality monitor now includes Baby Monitor Mode with continuous alerts and monitoring, interactive push-to-talk, and improved Lulla Light & Music programs.

With the connected Withings Home application (available on Android, iOS, Apple Watch, and tvOS), users also gain access to the other new “Control Center” modes including “Active Monitoring”, “Do Not Disturb” and “Camera Off”, extending the capabilities for users wanting to stay connected to their family from anywhere.

With the new “Baby Monitor Mode”, keeping an eye or ear on a baby was never easier with the new robust baby monitor capabilities that include alerting parents whenever Home detects noise or movement regardless of whether the app is running in the background or the smartphone is in lock–mode. The push–to–talk feature allows family members to interact from their phone in a meaningful way with their baby. With the enhanced infrared night vision, Withings Home sees in the dark, allowing parents to not be disruptive when they want to peak in and see how the baby is doing. Withings Home also has environment sensors which alert to changes in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), unseen participles that could originate from cleaning products, baby wipes, etc. and can cause harmful health effects. This one additional health tracking feature shows how Withings is truly innovating the connected health environment.

Preparing little ones for sleep time is now a breeze with the dynamic LED–connected Lulla Light & MusicTM sound programs, developed by infant specialists who carefully curated the best lullabies to help babies fall asleep. The nightlight uses the light most conducive to sleep — the red light in the narrow end of the spectrum — which is synchronized with soothing music. If the baby wakes up, parents can launch the Lulla Light & Music programs from their phones to help lull their baby back to sleep.

Withings Home showing AlertWith the three other modes, Home gives users more options on how they can interact with the device. “Active Monitoring” lets users have full control by sending all alerts when the camera detects unusual movement and noises, or a change in air quality. For those times that users don’t want to be interrupted, the “Do Not Disturb” mode allows Home to keep recording any activity or noise but doesn’t send notifications. For those times it’s unnecessary to record motion or noises, the “Camera Off” mode turns off recording but keeps monitoring the air quality inside the home. All modes include a detailed timeline in the app to keep track of all notifications, animated timelapse, and options for Cloud Video Recording plans to save video up to 30 days.

“With our new Control Center, Home becomes the touch point for families to stay connected and keep their homes safe while still giving users choices on how they want to be alerted,” said Cédric Hutchings, CEO of Withings. “Living in a healthy and safe environment are two crucial components to raising a child with the new baby monitor mode that includes innovative advancements and helpful, fun features to our original product, giving parents that extra sense of security and peace of mind.”

About Withings

Withings leads the connected-health revolution by inventing beautiful, smart products and services that help people become happier and healthier. Founded by visionary innovators Cédric Hutchings and Eric Carreel in 2009, Withings is committed to creating enjoyable, empowering experiences that easily fit into our daily lives.

Withings Home with Night LightWithings has built a range of award-winning products across the health spectrum including activity trackers (Withings Pulse and Activité), the Wifi scale and health station (Smart Body Analyzer), the Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, the security camera with air quality sensors (Withings Home) and an advanced sleep system (Withings Aura). Every piece of collected data comes to life in the Withings applications where users can find coaching, motivation and insights to shape key aspects of their health.

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