I used to think fitness and health wearable devices were for people who are concerned about well, fitness and health, so I have never paid much attention to them (it’s a bad theory I know). So when I took on the Withings Pulse, I wondered if it would work well for an average Joe like me, who only gets exercise when running after the bus in the morning.

The Withings Pulse is a small, unobtrusive little device with a design that reminded me a lot of the iPod Shuffle. It has a touchscreen display that lets you swipe left and right to view all the recorded information, as well as a button at the top right that you press to switch functions as you go through the day.

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Getting started

To get started, I had to charge the Withings Pulse using the tiny USB charging cable provided in the box. While doing that, I downloaded the Withings app from Google Play to my Android phone (iOS users can download the Withings app from iTunes) and from there on it was pretty much plain sailing because the app gives you step-by-step instructions on how to set everything up.

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Next I had to sign up for an account via email, log in and enter my weight, height, gender and date of birth. If you’re looking at losing a few kilos, the Weight Goal function lets you type in how many kilos you want to trim down to and shows you how many you need to lose each week to reach that goal.

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Using the Withings Pulse

There are three ways to attach the Withings Pulse to your body, you can either use the clip to clip it to your clothing, slip inside the wrist band and wear it like a watch or simply put it in your pocket. I used the wristband as it was the best way to use it without the chance of it falling out and I found it most convenient when I wanted to have a look at how I’d been doing throughout the day.

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The functions I used the most were the heart rate monitor, sleep monitor, activity monitor, distance measure and calorie counter. If I were still an active jogger (which I should probably get back to doing), the timer would’ve come in pretty handy as well. Each of these, as well as the other functions, fall under four sections in the shape of a butterfly, where all your data is logged on the app daily, namely: Weight, Activity, Sleep and Heart. The more data is collected, the more colourful the wings of the butterfly become.

Syncing the data from the pulse to the app only requires a Bluetooth connection, so it works even if there’s no internet connection.

Inaccuracies

The activity monitor had me a bit worried about accuracy mainly because it counted every single step I took whether I was walking or just shuffling around in the same spot, so it’s not giving you a count of how many steps you took while walking a certain distance throughout the day, but how many steps your feet took while wearing it.

SONY DSCAnother inaccuracy I  picked up on was the weight goal monitor. When I started using the Withings Pulse, I entered my weight as 75kgs but after a week, it said I gained weight and went up to 75kgs. What I did like however was that the app calculates your Body Mass Index (BMI) for you based on all your measurements and displays it along with your weight on a dated graph so you can track it.

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What I loved

I’ll admit, I was a bit obsessed with the heart rate monitor because I like the way it works. You press the top button and look for the heart icon, tap on it, place your finger on the sensor at the back and wait for it to scan and reveal your heart rate.

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I loved the sleep monitor (accessed through the crescent moon next to the heart icon) because it gave me insight into some of the facts and tips on sleep that I’ve seen and heard about on medical shows. It basically tells you if you’ve slept for the recommended eight hours, how long it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up and how much time you spent awake, in a light sleep and in a deep sleep.

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I didn’t get the complete Withings experience because in order to achieve that, you need to use it together with other Withings ecosystem devices such as the Withings WS-50 scale which tells the app if you’re breathing in too much carbon dioxide and there are over 100 partner apps such as the Runkeeper, Bodymedia and Myfitnesspal app that specialize in tracking weight loss coaching, calorie tracking or cardio fitness. This wasn’t too much of a let down though.

Conclusion

I love the Withings Pulse. In fact, I loved it so much I wanted to keep it, it motivated me to get more active and move a little more, it gave me insight into my overall health and fitness and direction on what I need to improve on. It’s perfectly sized and lightweight, easy enough to get the hang of and understand. I can put it on, go through my day and have a quick look at all my day’s activities. I would definitely get myself one and recommend it for anyone who isn’t active and doesn’t exercise regularly. Those who are active might be looking for something with a bit more to offer such as the Nike FuelBand.

Design: 5/5

Performance: 4/5

Battery life: 5/5

Value for Money: 4.5/5

Display: 4/5

Interface: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Detail

Price: R 1 599

Lasts up to two weeks on a single charger

Large OLED screen

128 pixels x 32 pixels resolution

Weighs 8 grams

Comes in black only

View the gallery below to see more images of the Withings Pulse:

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