Withings Body Cardio Scale review: Smart scale at a serious price

Quick verdict: If you’re keen to be mathematically encouraged – or possibly pestered or frightened – into losing weight and improving your overall health, the Withings Body Cardio scale is a great but seriously premium-priced scale.

Pros

  • Tracks a huge range of health factors
  • Vascular age feature
  • Can track multiple users
Cons

  • Pricey
  • Can stress you out if the numbers aren’t great
  • Doesn’t always pick the right person

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Withings
Finder score: 4
How we score our reviews

While your body weight is often given as a simple metric of your overall health, there's an awful lot more to a healthy body than simply keeping your relative level of fat down. The Withings Body Cardio scale promises to deliver a more rounded picture of your possibly rounded form with a quick daily measurement, making it rather easier to manage your health goals, whether they're simple weight loss or something more complex.

It generally works well, and the ability to manage up to eight people does help mitigate its asking price, at least a little.

The Withings Body Cardio Scale is a very smart scale that carries a premium price point, but if you're keen to know more about your body than just your mass, it's a good overall choice in smart scales.


Design

Design

  • Heavy as a scale
  • Suitable for carpet or solid floors
  • micro USB recharging
Withings Body Cardio Scale

There's really only so far you can design a scale, and anyone looking at the Withings Body Cardio Scale for the first time isn't likely to mistake it for anything else.

Bands that run horizontally across the scale body make it easy to line up your feet for measuring your vital statistics, sitting beneath a simple ~2.8-inch high contrast LCD display. A power button on the side allows you to power it up, alongside a simple micro USB charging port. It looks like a fancy scale, and that's precisely what it is.

The Withings Body Cardio Scale is pretty heavy, which lowers its utility if you wanted to travel with it. The advantage here is that it'll work just as nicely on carpet as it does on tile or other hard floor styles. I've tested it across hard wood floors, carpet and tiles, and seen little variance in the way it measures or its measurement speed. Presumably very thick carpet might add some variance. Keep it out of that shag pile rug in the corner and you'll be fine.

The use of rechargeable batteries is a nice touch, but it does mean that some years down the track the Withings Body Cardio Scale might become less useful as battery endurance degrades. The core idea is that you actually leave it on most of the time, ready to measure your weight over time whenever you need it.

Setting up the Withings Body Cardio Scale revolves around pairing it to an Android or iOS phone running Withings' Health Mate app. Like every other health app you've ever used, it'll also ask for a few basic metrics like your age, height and weight to get started. Finally, you're encouraged to sync the scale to your home Wi-Fi to make it quicker to sync data collected by the Withings Body Cardio Scale.

The Health Mate app then becomes the central repository of health wisdom collected by the scale. It can also work with third-party health data sources such as Apple Health, Google Fit, Runkeeper, Fitbit or Strava. Again, the focus here is on helping you along your health journey, no matter what that journey might be.


Performance

Performance

  • Provides lots of useful data
  • Can be an utter bully with numbers
  • Vascular age is good but scary data
  • Good encouragement to keep going
Withings Body Cardio Scale

Like any scale, the Withings Body Cardio Scale relies on you standing on it to grab its core measurement.

Unlike a regular dumb scale, this isn't just a pressure sensor of some kind to gather your mass, but instead a mixture of pressure sensitivity and electrical impedance to measure a very wide array of body composition metrics.

Before you panic, that's electrical at a level where you'll never feel a thing during measurements for the easily worried. Less than a minute on the Withings Body Cardio Scale can give you a measurement of your weight, fat mass, water percentage, bone mass, heart rate and BMI with no straps, bands, wires or pressure at all.

The Withings Body Cardio Scale has been on the market for a few years, but it's great to see the company not only still supporting the scale, but expanding its feature set too.

The new kid on the block in terms of measurement is vascular age, measuring the time it's taking for a blood pressure pulse to move through your system and comparing it to the known averages for people in your age bracket.

That's a potentially very useful metric, because if your vascular health is poor relative to your age, it's a clear sign that you'll need to make some life changes of some sort to adapt back into a more regular vascular age bracket.

Yes, it's also kind of scary, not entirely helped by the fact that it needs at least five measurements to measure your vascular age before giving you trends on it. That last measurement before it tells you whether you're good or not is a doozy. For the record, at the time of writing I was bang on the average for my age bracket, which was rather a relief.

It was one of the only reliefs that the Withings Body Cardio Scale would give me though, because the damned thing is a bit of bully if you're trying to lose weight, albeit in the best possible way. Like many, I'm keen to improve my fitness and overall health, so having a diverse array of metrics at my disposal can make it easier to stay motivated… as long as the numbers are working my way.

Which is the nice way of saying that the Withings Body Cardio Scale has made rather painfully and depressingly aware of just how fat and unfit I currently am. I'm working to improve that, but the journey is long and the going is slow.

Picture not described

Having the scale constantly remind me of my body fat percentage and hydration rates can be a little galling some mornings. I could see it being just as discouraging as encouraging if all you had were the numbers, especially because it's perfectly normal – and indeed healthy – for your weight to fluctuate over time in both directions.

Where the Withings Body Cardio Scale earns its asking price is in the supplemental material that the Health Mate app brings into play, reminding you that details like changing weight – or even just a flat line of very little weight loss – isn't in itself a bad thing. Indeed, a lot of research suggests that gradual sustained weight loss is way healthier and substantially more sustainable than rapid-fire weight drops through dieting or excessive exercise.

You can set the Withings Body Cardio Scale to show you the specific metrics you're most keen on, plus for some reason the weather forecast if you like.

Withings even claims it can be used to accurately track pregnancy weight, but there are some limits to what I'm willing to do for a product review, so I'll have to take its word for it.

It can be set up to track up to eight individuals, so it's also technically suitable for family usage. The one catch here is that every once in a while it couldn't quite pick whether I was standing on it or my wife was, despite some significant differences in our weight. When that happens, you've got to tell the Health Mate app directly who it was in each case or ditch the measurement if you're not sure.

The other catch with the Withings Body Cardio Scale is that it's not exactly inexpensive. $319.95 is a lot of money to drop on a scale. While its insights can be quite valuable, especially over time, that's realistically going to put it out of the price range of many.


Should you buy the Withings Body Cardio Scale?

  • Buy it if: you want a high-end scale to measure your ongoing health metrics
  • Don't buy it if: you want a low-cost smart scale
Finder score: 4.0

The price point of the Withings Body Cardio Scale is easily its worst attribute, because it really does provide a complex and engaging picture of your overall body health in a smart and premium way. It's expensive for a scale and clearly if you just wanted to measure, say, heart rate and mass you could do so for substantially less money with most fitness bands and a simple mechanical scale.

That won't give you the Withings Body Cardio Scale's more nuanced picture of body health though.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go on a 5km bush trek. My Withings Body Cardio Scale is informing me that my body fat percentage is creeping up again…


Pricing and availability

Price

The Withings Body Cardio Scale retails in Australia for $319.95.

Where to buy


Specifications

Connectivity

App
Withings Health Mate
Wireless sync
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n

Device

Four weight sensors
Weighing range: 5 -> 180kg (9 -> 396lb)| 100g (0.2lb) graduation | Units: kg, lb, st lb
Patented body position detector
Highly-accurate weighing via Position ControlTM technology
Dimensions
12.8 x 12.8 x 0.7 in. / 327x327x18mm
Display
128x64 pixels
Power supply
Rechargeable li-ion battery

Metrics tracked

Weight
Four weight sensors
Body composition
Unit: body fat %, total body water %, muscle mass kg or lb, bone mass kg or lb
Heart rate
Unit: bpm (beats per minute)
Automatic user recognition
Up to 8 different users

Images: Alex Kidman

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