Withings Body Scan in the test: bad news for fitness muffles

The most popular scales on Amazon cost less than 20 euros. There are 400 euros that Withings calls for the “networked health station” Body Scan, a real shock. And rightly so, one asks oneself: does a body scale really make sense for so much money?

First of all: If you are looking for a simple body scale, you are completely wrong at this point. This will be noticed at the latest when the price of the Withings Body Scan is mentioned. The manufacturer wants a whopping 400 euros for this “networked health station”. For that you get about 20 average scales. Even in-house, Withings is competing with the body scan. The next best product costs half, the entry-level model, which can do more than just record the weight, costs only 100 euros – i.e. a quarter. Anyone who buys the Body Scan should therefore be very interested in the data that the device provides.

Withings Body Scan: A clinic on the bathroom floor

But that’s a lot. The body scan collects a multi-step process of: weight measurement in 50 gram increments, standing heart rate, pulse wave velocity (PWV), vascular age, six-lead ECG, detection of atrial fibrillation, nerve health, and detection of signs of autonomic peripheral neuropathy. There is also a daily weather report and an assessment of the current air quality from the Internet.

Withings packed the measuring devices in a very nice scale. In order to be able to carry out the ECG and other analyses, a handle is integrated in the head of the body scan and is attached with a rope. The company can also operate without this handle, but whoever picks it up gets more information. The device itself consists of a dark glass plate and a matte plastic base. Instead of batteries, the Body Scan uses a rechargeable battery that is charged via a USB-C connection and only has to be connected to the cable once a year.

The scale cuts a fine figure in the bathroom or bedroom – at least as long as it stays clean. Water stains or skin cream turn the health station into an unsightly object that calls for cleaning in no time at all. In other words, if you use the Body Scan often, you also clean it often. It is very heavy, which makes it annoying to carry around frequently. The best thing to do is look for a nice permanent home.

Easy to get started, data for professionals

The establishment of Withings Body Scan is very easy. There is only one single button, which is pressed once to install. The rest is done via an app. If you only want basic information, which would be an incredible waste of money in the case of the body scan, you can skip all the steps and use the scale from now on without opening the app again.

The situation is different if you want to carry out all measurements. Then there are some videos and guides to watch to unlock. It makes sense, though, because it’s important to know how to step on the scale correctly and what the data you get from each analysis means.

A measurement run looks like this: First the weight is displayed. Then all other information follows. If you hold the rod in your hand, also an EKG. However, a quick up-down is not enough. If you want to go through all the functions, stand on the Body Scan for about a minute. Compared to an analog scale, this is a umpteen time investment. But: Afterwards you know pretty much everything you want to know about your own body. Depending on the condition of the body, this can be quite depressing, but more on that in a moment.

Withings body scan instructions

Important when measuring: No contact between arms and upper body, no contact between the thighs. This falsifies the results.

© Withings

As for the accuracy of the measurements, there is not much to complain about. The weight is correct except for 50 grams, the other analyzes largely correspond to the values ​​of other devices, such as an Apple Watch. The position on the scale is always important. Withings writes: “It is very important to avoid skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, make sure that your hands and arms are not touching the skin of your torso and that your thighs are not touching. If this proves difficult , is an easy solution to take the measurement in light clothing. This fabric barrier prevents skin-to-skin contact.” There are more tips here. Small downer: skin contact is difficult to avoid without clothing, but with a t-shirt and shorts the otherwise accurate weight is higher.

Most importantly, none of the claims are medically watertight. There are tendencies and developments, sometimes warnings, but not diagnoses. The information can be an indication that a visit to the doctor is a good idea – but it is never a substitute for it. After all, you can print out information from the app for doctors or trainers and use it as a basis for further diagnoses.

Data for the fitness app

After the measurement, the data migrates to the cloud. According to Withings on servers in Europe, which has a positive impact on data protection and should give at least a little security. Without the data transmission, however, the core could not function. The app.

A separate app is a constant companion to the Body Scan. Withings has set up a kind of health center. In the “Home” area you can see what came out of the latest measurement. Weight, body composition, vascular age, pulse wave velocity, nerve health, EKG and heart rate – all with clickable submenus and graphs that track progress.

The age of the vessels in particular can hurt, because here you are shown an age that does not necessarily match the actual information – and makes it clear that something is wrong. The exact details of where excess body fat can be found are also unflattering. But: They give clues as to where work would be necessary if there was a change request. Of course, this also works the other way around: If you are very healthy, the scales confirm this.

If you connect your app to “Apple Health” or “Google Fit”, you also get step counts and workouts – which all in all paints a remarkable picture of the body. If you then want to change something, you can subscribe to numerous programs with “Health+”, which offer ideas and instructions for more sport or better nutrition. Participation in “Health+” is initially free of charge, after a few months it will cost around 10 euros a month. A somewhat stingy decision given the purchase price. “Health+” should simply be part of the body scan – at least for two years.

The Withings Body Scan offers profiles for up to eight people. Either the users are recognized by their weight or you can switch through the names after the first measurement by balancing your foot until the right profile is selected. Unclear measurements can be assigned later.

Conclusion Withings Body Scan: Fitness freaks get their money’s worth, but less money also leads to the goal

It has never been so easy to gain so much information about your own body so quickly. The scale records an extremely large number of measured values, the ECG is unique. The optical processing within the app is a great success, the connection to other data sources (“Apple Health” or “Google Fit”) rounds off this oasis of self-evaluation. The accuracy of the measurement data is good, in line with other domestic measurement devices.

But is the Withings Body Scan worth the money? Depends for who. As an athlete or a person with a medical condition, it can make sense to place this analysis and early warning system in the bedroom or bathroom. If you only want to monitor weight, fat and maybe your heart rate, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive scale from Withings.

On the contrary: The Withings Body Comp for around 200 euros can do everything except EKG and the detection of atrial fibrillation, the Body Smart for 100 euros takes weight and body composition as well as the heart rate. The body scan is an absolute health luxury that is not absolutely necessary, but can be used sensibly if the wallet allows it.

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