Wi-Fi Smart Scales
Why you might need a better weight measurement tool (an example). You get up in the morning, get in the buff, go to your scale and weigh yourself. You’re supposed to record your weight because your weight loss surgery support group, counselor, personal trainer or doctor told you that you must measure to manage your weight loss program. To manage it you must see your progress, or lack of it. You may have a paper worksheet or a computer spreadsheet or program into which you log your weight. Maybe your worksheet has a line graph where you draw a line up or down (hopefully) so you can visually see the direction of your progress. Maybe your spreadsheet or diet/fitness software graphs your weight loss progress automatically. In any case, you have to log your weigh in results which means you have to find your paper worksheet or you have to turn your computer on.
What happens to some people is that they sleep too late and don’t have the time to make the log. When they get home at night after a long day’s work, they are tired and forgetful. They might have to feed their kids and their pets and get them to bed. They just want to go to bed themselves. And that’s what they do. They just aren’t going to remember to make that log. Next morning they get up, go to the scale and are mad at themselves as they realize they forgot to log yesterday’s weight. They weigh themselves again and maybe today they have the time to make the logs. But what happens very often is they grow out of the habit. Usually because they forget a few days in a row maybe because they always get up too late. After missing a bunch of days, they become accustomed to forgetting and the whole program – even the weigh in – goes over the cliff. When they remember again after a series of misses, their anger and shame causes an aversion to grow and their measurement and management program is permanently dead until their weight increases to a new level that embarrasses or scares them and the cycle begins again. This new level is usually many pounds higher than the last so what they are measuring and logging is a typical yoyo diet.
If you can’t see your weight gain, you will gain weight if you have a tendency to gain weight. The only way to control weight gain is to measure your weight and log it so you see it sneaking up on you. When you see your weight gain in small increments at the outset, you can counter it before it becomes substantial. Then you follow a low fat, low glycemic carb diet and choose not to skip exercise, and within days you can reverse a small trend. So if you have a problem with weight loss you must measure and manage your weight. You can’t let that drop off the cliff. Because when you get back up again you typically have gained 20 pounds or more and that’s going to take a long time to lose. That can destroy your determination and cause you to give up.
A smart scale simplifies weight management into merely the act of weighing yourself…
….and looking at your progress graphs on your computer. It becomes just that simple. You just get on the scale. Everything else is taken care of for you instantly. Almost everybody has a wireless network in their home nowadays. A smart scale is a measurement device and a computer that resides on your network. The smart scale is smart enough to automatically know all your family members and keep separate data records for each and every one of them (Fitbit Aria and the Withings scales have a limit of 8 accounts). It records and stores your weigh in data and automatically syncs through your network or directly to compatible wireless phones and tablets. Typically, data is forwarded via the internet to your database on the scale manufacturer’s website where it is stored. You get on the internet using your computer or use your smart phone app and then you can privately look at your data in many different ways – the ways that are most useful and make the most sense to you. But these hi-tech scales measure more than your weight.
The Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi smart scale
Fitbit calls the Aria a body composition scale because it measures body fat percent and computes BMI. Your body weight consists of lean body mass and body fat. Body fat is simply the percentage of fat that your body contains. Body fat is essential to good heath. You must have some fat. The percentage of essential body fat is 3–5% in men, and 10-16% in women. It is essential that you have at least this much fat to remain healthy. Some people believe that calculating and recording body fat percentage is a better way to determine and maintain weight loss goals. Determining body fat used to require specialized instruments. But that’s not true anymore with the event of smart scales. Fitbit’s Aria scale has a glass surface that contains electrodes that send a small, safe signal through your body to measure body impedance, giving you accurate data on your body’s fat and lean mass Body Mass Index (BMI) is a formula based on your weight and height (BMI = ( Weight in Pounds / ( Height in inches) x 703).
The Aria scale connects though Bluetooth or your wireless network to your database on Fitbit’s site. Fitbit makes a point of saying that a wireless internet connection has much more range than a Bluetooth connection which is used exclusively on some other scales. Bluetooth lets your scale sync directly with iPhones iPad, some iPods and android phones and devices. What is really sweet is that you can share your data with friends in your weight loss surgery support group (or your doctor). You can compete if you want to. Stats can be shared with friends or support providers on Twitter and Facebook too.
Fitbit lets you look at your long term progress to determine your goals rather than looking at short term fluctuations which tell you nothing. Because a weight gain can be nothing more than water retention. So your weight will fluctuate over the long term path to realizing your goals. On Fitbit’s site or smartphone apps your progress can be viewed with your “Dashboard” in really sweet graphs which show real long term weight loss (or gain) instead of temporary short term fluctuations. You can learn more about what can be tracked by reading our article on activity trackers. Fitbit’s activity trackers and scales connect to the same database. A database where you can log everything: hydration, sleep, diet, exercise, and body statistics (to name a few), and get reports and guidance to obtain all your health and fitness goals. Fitbit online software and apps used along with a Aria scale and a Fitbit Activity tracker are a unique combination of tools that covers all the bases required to measure and manage fitness, wellness and weight loss. It’s all about ease and convenience – like one-stop shopping. One database records it all. There is nothing else like it. At this price, no one else offers the combination of these tools at the time of this writing..
The Withings Wi-Fi body scale and Wireless Scale WS-30
The Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale is smart too! For some reason the manufacturer calls it a “body scale.” Like Fitbit they also give you an online database and they also call the program you view it with on your computer or smartphone app a dashboard. In addition to your weight it also measures your body fat and computes your BMI. It also allows 8 users to have database accounts. You can also share data with your friends on the Withings website and Facebook and Twitter. Withings will send you a weekly progress report that lets you know how you’re doing in respect to your goals. Like the Fitbit Aria, Withings also provides you nutrition coaching and what they call a “Sports Program.” Other than the weekly progress report email and sports program features, the products appear to be very similar. This scale was available for $135.13 on amazon at the time of this writing.
The Withings Wireless Scale WS-30 has just come out. This scale measures weight and computes BMI – no body fat (so it is not comparable to the Fitbit Aria or upper Tanita models). They have added Bluetooth connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi connects to your home internet router and then to the Withings database online. Bluetooth allows the scale to sync directly with apps loaded on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You can use an app for your coach instead of or in addition to the Withings online database. The Wireless Scale WS-30 will work with over 60 third party fitness and weight loss apps. This scale was available for $ 99.99 on amazon at the time of this writing.
Tanita BC-1500 Ironman® Radio Wireless Segmental Body Composition Monitor
These might be the King of Wi-Fi Smart scales. It’s the “Segmental” aspect of this unit that makes it very interesting and unique. It measures body fat and lean mass in individual body segments: trunk, right arm, left arm, right leg and left leg. You get a much more fine grained analysis that tells you precisely where fat is residing within your body. Tanita says the scale allows you to balance the right and left side of your body. The Tanita BC-1500 has two electrodes in each footplate allowing body composition (fat and lean mass) in each individual leg. What’s really unique is that the scale has a set of handgrips that each have a set of electrodes in them. They make body composition analysis possible in each individual arm. That is what they mean by “segmental” body composition analysis. The included Tanita Healthy Edge™ Lite software generates a complete body composition profile: weight, body fat, body water and muscle mass percentages. In addition to BMI, It also generates some interesting reports: physique rating, BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) , DCI (Daily Caloric Intake), metabolic age, bone mass and visceral fat (abdominal fat). Output from the Tanita BC-1500 can also be viewed on selected Garmin fitness watches and Cycle Computers. Tanita uses an ANT+™ USB Adapter to make the wireless connection possible. They don’t have an online database where your physical data resides. What you get is FREE TANITA Healthy Edge™ Lite Software a local program that you install on your computer. You can also use the BC-1500 with an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app. You can buy the optional Tanita Wi-Fi network adaptor for devices that are not compatible with ANT+. This scale has the most capability by far – it’s an exciting scale! But the BC-1500’s price at around $575 (on Amazon at the time of this writing) might be an icy bucket of water for a lot of people.
But wait! – there’s more Tanita Wi-Fi scales available at every capability and price range
BC-1000plus ANT+ Radio Wireless Body Composition Monitor – Measures: Weight Body Fat %, Body Water %, Muscle Mass, Bone mass, Visceral fat. Records your Daily Caloric Intake. Gives you a Physique rating and computes your Metabolic age. Has a 440 lb. capacity. Uses ANT+ open protocol to transmit readings wirelessly, Includes the FREE Healthy Edge Lite software. Measurements are for the entire body – this model does not segment the body. Tanita says it is exclusively sold by: TheCompetitiveEdge.com, 3R Resources.com, and REI. We found it sold by The Competitive Edge for $279.99 on Amazon (at the time of this writing).
BC-590BT Bluetooth Radio Wireless Body Composition Scale – Measures and reports all the things the BC\-1000plus does but only has a 320 lb. capacity. Includes the FREE Healthy Edge Lite software. Measurements are for the entire body – this model does not segment the body. Note that it transmits using Bluetooth. Costs $249.99 on TheCompetitiveEdge.com at the time of this writing.
BC-1100F ANT+ Radio Wireless Body Composition Monitor – Measures: Weight, Body Fat %, Body Water %, Muscle Mass. Has a 440 lb. capacity. Uses ANT+ open protocol to transmit readings wirelessly, Includes the FREE Healthy Edge Lite software. Measurements are for the entire body – this model does not segment the body. Costs $189.95 on Amazon at the time of this writing.
BF-2000 IronKids Radio Wireless Body Fat Monitor – A scale just for kids – talk about a large line of products. Measures: Weight, Body Fat %, Body Water %, Muscle Mass. Has a 320 lb. capacity. Uses ANT+ open protocol to transmit readings wirelessly, Includes the FREE IronKids by Tanita software. Measurements are for the entire body – this model does not segment the body. Costs $179.99 on Amazon at the time of this writing.
The following Tanita scales only measure weight and so cannot be compared to the Fitbit Aria or Withings Body Scale
Tanita HD-351ANT Radio Wireless ANT+™ Digital Weight Scale – This one only measures weight. It has a 440 lb. capacity. Uses ANT+ open protocol to transmit readings wirelessly, Includes the FREE Healthy Edge Lite software. Costs $149.99 on Amazon at the time of this writing.
FitScan® HD-400F ANT+ Radio Wireless Digital Bathroom Scale – Same features as the HD-351ANT. Costs an amazingly low price of $74.95 on Amazon at the time of this writing.
HD-351BT Bluetooth Radio Wireless Digital Weight Scale – This one also only measures weight. It has a 440 lb. capacity. This model transmits using Bluetooth. Includes the FREE Healthy Edge Lite software. Costs $77.99 on Amazon at the time of this writing.
The output from the above Tanita scales that transmit using ANT+ wireless technology can be viewed on selected Garmin fitness watches and Cycle Computers: Garmin F60, FR70, FR60LTD, 310XT, Forerunner 210 & 610 watches and Garmin Edge 800. The Bluetooth models do not advertise this capability.
Which Wi-Fi smart scale is the best choice for you?
It’s a matter of how much you want to know versus price and versatility. The Tanita BC-1500 and BC-590BT offer many more metrics than either the Fitbit Aria or the Withings scale – they should given their hefty price tags. If you don’t have the bucks and just have to have all the features of the BC-1500, they offer the BC-350 for much less – but it is not wireless. You might say that you don’t need all the extra measurements that the better Tanita scales can record. But consider Body Water %. Weight gain can be nothing more than retained water. It might be nice to know that the extra 5 pounds you weigh today is nothing more than retained water. Tanita must be the mother of all scale manufacturers because they offer a ton of wireless scales at every price range and capability (and another world of scales that are not wireless) – too much information for this article. Amazon gives the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale a 4 star rating out of 356 reviews at the time of this writing. The Fitbit Aria got a 4.25 star rating out of 602 reviews and it costs a few dollars less. Considering that you can have the Aria scale ($125) and the Fitbit One activity monitor ($100) all for $225 – this integrated system seems to be an unbeatable combination of tools and value for the money.