How to Choose the Right Smart Scale
What Is a Smart Scale?
The bathroom is probably the first room you think of when it comes to health, and the last room you think of when it comes to technology. But as health and fitness become increasingly connected, it makes sense that more and more smart home devices are popping up in the bathroom, starting with the humble scale. Yes, some smart bathroom scales can tweet your weight (with your permission, of course), but that isn’t really what makes them smart. The main reason to pick up a smart scale is that it can give you a clear picture of your health and fitness without making you do a lot of work.
Track Stats Automatically
Unsurprisingly, the best smart bathroom scales are compatible with the best fitness trackers. When you pair a Wi-Fi- or Bluetooth-connected scale with a fitness tracker, you typically use just one app to see data from both devices. Add in a heart rate monitor or at-home blood pressure cuff, and a smart water bottle, and you have even more information being collected and correlated, no spreadsheet and daily note-taking required.
Maybe you don’t want to track your weight over time, but chances are, your doctors and healthcare team do. Or maybe it’s not you, but someone in your family who needs to keep an eye on their body weight. Smart scales are smart enough to know the difference between a few different users and can track their weights separately and privately. Sharing data among family members and doctors is usually an option, too.
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When you start using a smart bathroom scale, your weight is automatically logged every time you step on. Many of the best scales also measure body fat, and some track bone density and water percentage. Some can even read your resting heart rate through your feet.
Smart Scales for Training
While many people want to track their weight and the number of steps they take in a day to get a better sense of their health, some people are a little more, shall we say, excited, to get on the scale every morning. Athletes and people who train regularly will want a scale that has not only great features, but a lot of other companion apps and tools that can help them on their journey.
We note in our reviews which fitness and health tracking apps each of these scales work with, and which support apps that do things like calculate your training intensity day by day, charting your VO2Max and lactic acid threshold, and more. But if all this talk of VO2Max makes your head spin, you’re much better off with a smart Wi-Fi scale that has a simpler user experience.
Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi Scales
Smart scales are either Bluetooth-enabled, or both Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled. Wi-Fi scales generally cost more because they require more components to work. They’re also much more convenient.
To get your daily weigh-ins off of a Bluetooth scale and into the app where they’ll be tracked, you need a Bluetooth device by your side. If you leave your companion smartphone, fitness tracker, or running watch in the other room, you’re out of luck until it’s within Bluetooth range. (Some scales can save a recorded weight until the next sync, but the cheaper ones do not.) A Wi-Fi-enabled scale doesn’t have this problem. It syncs your data as long as it has a signal from your Wi-Fi router. In our testing experience, Wi-Fi syncing is also more reliable, whereas Bluetooth syncing fails from time to time.
Women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant have unique needs when it comes to tracking their weight. Plus many pregnant women do not want impedance measurements, which are taken by way of mild electrical impulses sent through the feet to estimate body composition (things like body fat, bone density, and water percentage). People who have an implanted health device, such as a pacemaker, are often warned not to use impedance scales either.
While a few scales that support impedance measurements have an option to turn them off, only one scale, the QardioBase 2, has a full pregnancy-tracking mode. When enabled, impedance is shut off, and the scale flashes a happy face every time you step on it, rather than showing your weight in numbers. The companion Qardio mobile app helps new moms slowly work back to their pre-pregnancy weight, if that’s their goal.
If you’re looking for a new bathroom scale, we highly recommend buying one that’s smart. There’s real value for individuals, families, and health care providers to be able to track weight accurately and effortlessly over long periods of time. No matter your needs, you’re sure to find a scale that suits them on this list.
For more, see 5 Ways Smart Scales Can Help You Stay Healthy. And make sure to check back soon, as we regularly review new models.