Weight loss is something lots of people target when they start a fitness regime and weight management become important if you want to achieve optimum fitness levels. And even if weight control is not a target in itself, keeping an eye on your weight is a good thing. And it’s not just about the kilos you will want to watch. Body Mass Index (BMI) is also something many active people like to measure. This is the ratio of your body’s mass set against your height – a high BMI can indicate you are heavier than you should be.
Traditional bathroom scales can measure weight, but they won’t reveal your BMI. You need more specialist scales to do that. And if you want to keep a record of weight, you’ll likely be thinking you need to jot readings down into a notebook. Well, that’s not the case.
There are several scales that can record both weight and BMI. Wahoo’s Balance Smartphone Scale is one. Not only does it record these measurements, it sends them to an app via Bluetooth – so you don’t need to worry about jotting them down. The app graphs your weight over time, so you can see at a glance if you are dropping, or gaining. Give it a target weight, and it will watch progress towards that target.
The app currently only works with iOS and only the latest Apple products. You need an iPhone 4s or later, a 3rd generation iPad or newer, iPad mini or iPod Touch 5th generation or later. The app won’t work with the with older iPhone 3G, 3Gs or 3 or older iPads.
The scales themselves are pretty normal to look at – they won’t be out of place in your bathroom and certainly don’t give the impression of being high tech. Only the Wahoo logo gives a clue to the fact that these scales are related to your fitness goals. They are solidly built and feel stable to stand on. They calculate weight quickly too.
The display on the scales is large and clear to read. It shows your weight first, then your BMI. There’s a smiley face if you are on a downward trend, a sad face if you are going up. And there’s a little Bluetooth symbol to let you know that Bluetooth is all OK.
The scales are powered by a pair of AAA batteries that fit into a slot on the underside. Batteries are shipped with the device, and you just have to pull away the plastic strip that separates the batteries from their connectors to get started.
Your next step is to download the app and set it up. When you open the scales packaging it looks as though this will be a doddle – there’s a welcome sheet with a QR code sitting in its centre – scan it and you’ll be taken to a web page with setup instructions. Or there’s a web site address you can type in if you don’t like QR codes.
Well, that all works fine, and you learn that you’ll need to download the Wahoo Wellness app.
I did hit a snag at this point though. I wanted to install the app to my iPad Air. What you’re not told is that if you are using an iPad you shouldn’t check iPad only apps in the store. If you do that a search for ‘Wahoo Wellness’ won’t turn the app up as it is an iPhone app and there’s no version optimised for the iPad at this time.
Of course if you look for iPhone apps up it pops when you search. It’s easily installed on the iPad, and it runs fine, you just don’t get an experience that’s optimised for the tablet’s big screen.
With the app installed you set yourself up as a user. This involves entering a name, deciding whether you want metric or ‘English’ units (this is an American product hence ‘English’ units are Imperial), entering a goal weight and height and entering a weight range.
The weight range might sound like an odd thing to enter, but the scales use this to identify you. You see, the Balance Smartphone Scale can be set up to cater for up to 16 different users. I should think that will handle weight measurement needs for most families in the UK. Sports clubs could get away with a couple of scales, numbered so that each member knows which scale to weigh themselves on, making a very cost-efficient way of monitoring some key statistical information.
The Wahoo Wellness app is not particularly sophisticated. Its role is simply to capture information about your weight and show this as a graph that plots weight against time, provide a simple weight and BMI readout and allow you to set up the scales.
The scales store up to 130 measurements, so if you weigh yourself and your phone isn’t in range to receive the latest data, the scales just wait till it is in range and then do a mass transfer.
If you weigh yourself somewhere away from the scales and you want to update the app’s information, making a manual entry is easy too.
It all worked faultlessly once I got over the annoying hiccough of installing the app to my iPad Air. Still, if you want more from a scale then it is worth also taking a look at the Withings Smart Body Analyzer. It’ll cost you more, but it adds more features to the staples of weight and BMI measurement.
In the three weeks I’ve been using the Wahoo Balance Smartphone Scale nothing has gone wrong. It may not have a huge array of tools on offer, but it wields them well and efficiently. I’d like to see more sophistication from the app, for example it could estimate how long it will take you to reach target weight at the current rate of loss. Visually it is not great, either. Withings would do well to redesign the look for the iPad screen instead of relying on running the iPhone app there. And it would be great to see an Android app in the mix.
- Easy to set up
- Nice scales design
- Reliable data transfer
- No Android app
- iPad app is not optimised for big screen
- App features are basic
Manufacturer: Wahoo Fitness