The basic bathroom scale hasn’t seen a lot of changes over the year and is really made for one thing — your weight — but what if it could do more?
If there’s one gadget that evokes fear in the house, it’s the scale. Whether you fear or embrace the result, scales are typically made for one thing: telling you what you weigh.
What if they could go beyond that one metric, and what if that weight could tell you so much more?
The French health gadget makers at Withings have been working on something that does exactly that, building a scale that can dive deep beneath the surface and look at your weight and what it means for organs, fat, bone, and water.
And that’s not all.
The technology inside the Withings Body Comp can also give you an understanding of your heart’s health and whether you may be at risk of diabetic complications.
More than just “yet another scale”, it’s an intriguing addition to the bathroom and one that might sell itself. But at $359 in Australia, it also arrives with a hefty price tag, especially for a scale. Is the Body Comp worth the time and money?
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What is the Withings Body Comp?
You’ve heard of the smart home and probably have one of those internet-connected smart TVs, but the smart gear probably hasn’t entered your bathroom as of yet.
Smart laundry gear definitely exists, and there’s even a smart toothbrush, but the gadget you possibly haven’t considered could be net-connected is the scale.
And that’s exactly what the Withings Body Comp is, providing a web-connected approach to weight and body measurement, and offering more than just your overall weight as it is.
Running on four AAA batteries and connecting to the web by way of WiFi or Bluetooth (WiFi normally, Bluetooth for setup and backup), it’s a little different from the regular scale your bathroom might already have.
What does it do?
Like most scales, checking your weight is the primary purpose of the Body Comp, though Withings digs a little deeper beyond the surface to give you more health insights. Your weight is one part of what you’ll get, available in pounds or kilograms, and since we’re metric, we took the latter.
However, there’s more Withings can give you.
Thanks to the use of bioimpedence technology, Withings can fire a small electrical charge from one end of your body to the other, using algorithms to measure the organs of your body and provide a little more than just how much you weigh.
If that sounds like too much jargon, think of it like this: when you stand on the Withings Body Comp, the scale will send a small imperceptible electrical charge from one foot to the other, measuring the weight of things inside your body.
It’s not exactly a new technology and found on wearables made by Samsung, to name a few, but it’s certainly handy, provided you don’t have a pacemaker or some other electrical component inside your body. If you do, this scale may not be for you.
Everyone else should be fine, however, with the scale giving you basic information first followed by a little more when you stand on it for a few extra seconds.
Does it do the job?
Step on the Body Comp bare foot and let the tech go to work, and you’ll find an interesting assortment of details about your body waiting for you, plus a way to manage the screens and the order they appear in.
- Overall weight
- A weight trend graph
- Fat weight
- Muscle weight
- Water weight
- Bone mass
- Visceral fat
- Heart rate, and
- Vascular age
- Nerve health
You’ll also find a few extras, such as a metabolic age to give you an idea on your metabolic rate, as well as weather and air conditions, and if it’s your birthday, there’s even a “Happy Birthday” birthday message with digital on-screen fireworks.
Greetings aside, it’s a handy selection of details that can give you that little bit more information about yourself, and the Wthings app goes one step further by compiling the information in a handy little report for each section.
If you’re trying to lose weight (like we perpetually are), these little tidbits can give you an idea of where your work is actually going to and what you can spend your time focusing on depending on your overall end goal.
Vascular age is particularly interesting, because it provides an idea of the strength of your heart and the age you’re roughly in. If you can get in under where you are, you’re probably in better shape than you realise.
Meanwhile, the addition of nerve health is interesting simply because it may provide an indication to diabetes based on sweat gland activity in the feet. In our tests, we found we had normal ratings, but your mileage may vary.
It’s important to note that the app also syncs with the health metrics in your phone’s native features, so as we reviewed the Body Comp while using an iPhone, our Apple Health information stored on the phone and watch also saw updated weight reflected there, as well.
You can use any other health wearable with the Body Comp such as an Apple Watch, but if you use a Withings model such as the ScanWatch Horizon, you may find more complete metrics inside the Withings app specifically.
What does it need?
The issues with the Withings Body Comp are minor, but feel very much about polish. Take the interface, which can be difficult to get used to.
The Withings app is great to jump around in, even if individual family members lack their own login and are forced to use the email and password of the main account holder. That’s one of those weird teething issues.
But there’s also a secondary interface on the scale itself, and if it picks up on a measurement that it doesn’t think makes sense, you’ll likely need to lean on one foot over the other to move to a different user profile. We get it, controlling anything using a scale was always going to be awkward, but this is a method of control that’s revives weird vibes like the old Nintendo Wii, only worse.
Is it worth your money?
The other issue with the Withings Body Comp is the price, because at $359 in Australia, it’s about the priciest scale you can find.
Keep in mind that scales are typically an inexpensive item. You can pick up a cheap analogue scale for less than ten bucks, while a digital “body analysis” scale using similar concepts (at least based on the warnings) can also be had for around $30.
The Withings Body Comp is roughly eleven times the cost of that cheap-as-chips variant, and may not be worth it for everyone. It’ll likely be better at analysis and use more reliable algorithms, while also arriving with a better app that plays nicely with the rest of the Withings gear, but there’s a definite cost argument here.
If money is no object and you yearn for as much detail as possible from your weigh-in, the Withings Body Comp makes sense.
But spending over $300 on a scale isn’t going to be for everyone, so tread carefully. Pun intended.
Yay or nay?
Despite this, there’s ample reason to consider the Withings Body Comp. Just about the most detailed health gadget around, it’s especially handy if you want an eye on your health .
From head to toe, no other health gadget delivers as deep a look at yourself as this. It’s more than just another scale.
There are still improvements that could be made, but if you want that deeper look at yourself and don’t mind spending up, the Withings Body Comp is a clever addition to the bathroom.
It might just encourage you to use the scale more often. Recommended.