Activity Trackers: Withings Activité review

1

What is the Withings Activité?

Most activity trackers are ugly, awkward things. Their rubber straps and little LED displays are fine at the gym, at home or anywhere that’s informal, but you don’t want them dangling from your arm when presenting to the board, attending a wedding or in any setting where you need to ‘look the part’. The Withings Activité is the exception.

It’s a marriage of the old and new. Old-school watchmaking and watch design; new-school wireless technology and sensors. It tracks your steps, runs and sleep, but it has the style and pedigree of a Swiss-made watch. Many will prefer the cheaper Activité Pop (£120), but if you have a taste for the finer things in life then the Activité is a luxury statement worth considering.

Withings Activite Activity and Sleep Tracker

$244.99 450.00

Here is a list of steps you can try while setting up your Withings Activit

Made by: Withings, Available: In stock

 

The Activité ought to look good given the price, and it does. It’s available in white with a brown leather strap and blue accents, or black with a black leather strap and orange accents. We tested the white and brown one, but both look great.

But looks alone don’t explain why the Activité costs more than twice as much as the Pop. It mainly comes down to materials and pedigree. The Activité is made from stainless steel, comes with two straps – a leather one and gym-friendly rubber one – and has a domed sapphire crystal. The latter is impervious to scratches and is very strong. Withings also throws in an extra battery and each lasts eight months – no chargers here.

The other key difference is that the Activité is ‘Swiss-made’. We’ll leave you to debate the point, but the key benefit is you can tell people it’s Swiss-made. It’s like Champagne versus Cava – they both have bubbles, but you feel superior drinking one and drink the other ironically. The Activité is as much a fashion item as a gadget.

That’s where the differences between the Activité and Activité Pop end. They share the same basic watch face design and have the same tracking abilities, which comprise steps, running, sleeping and – in a future update – swimming. Neither, sadly, feature an altimeter, so they can’t measure the number of stairs you climb. They’re both waterproof to 50m and are dustproof.

The Activité is the nicer looking of the two, though, even if it’s by a small margin. The stainless steel finish and leather strap give it a more classical look, whereas the coloured metal and silicone strap on the Pop has a more everyman, Swatch-like appeal. The straps are removable on both, though, so no there’s no reason a Pop owner can’t buy a nicer leather strap – the width between the strap lugs is 18mm, so there’s plenty of choice out there.

What makes both so attractive is their neat simplicity. The Activité isn’t a smartwatch in the modern parlance – it’s a ‘smarter’ watch. Yet the only visual evidence is the smaller dial on the watch face, which tracks your daily step goal progress. It’s an elegant, at-a-glance reminder that works perfectly.

There’s nothing particularly ostentatious about the Activité, either – a likeable trait. It’s stylish and classy, but not in a “look at me!” way. It’s also very comfy, in large part thanks to the slim unisex leather strap – I’m not a habitual watch wearer, but the Withings doesn’t irritate me the way smartwatches often do.

It’s debatable whether this is truly a unisex watch, though. It’s not huge – the case is 36.3mm in diameter – but ladies with slim wrists might find it a tad large. It also protrudes further from the wrist than you’d expect, thanks to the extra sensors inside. I got used to it quickly, but it’s not the best if you prefer a super-slim watch.

But these are just small quirks. If Withings’ aim was to create an outstanding watch that just happened to be an activity tracker, it’s succeeded.

3

Withings Activité – Setup & Healthmate App

No activity tracker is complete without an accomplished app to go with it. The Withings Healthmate app is just that, but it comes with one huge caveat – right now, the Activité isn’t compatible with Android. Withings promises an Android update in the coming weeks, but until then Android users are bang out of luck.

This large oversight aside, the Healthmate app is good. It’s not the very best among its rivals, but it delivers where it needs to. It’s colourful, easy to navigate and presents information in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way. It also supports Apple Health app syncing, something rival Fitbit has shied away from. Excellent support for third-party services, such as MyFitness Pal, ensures it plays nicely with other apps you’re likely to use.

What it lacks is the more proactive, analytical feedback offered by some rivals – Jawbone is especially good for this. For example, it has a section for setting up helpful, life-enriching reminders – such as sticking to a single bedtime, taking a walk after dinner, and remembering to weigh yourself regularly – but it doesn’t dynamically prompt you based on your activity.

This means it’ll often congratulate you on hitting records, but it won’t nudge you when you’re falling short, and a well-directed nudge is often more important. Moreover, as most notifications are scheduled, they’re also repetitive. The more repetitive they become, the easier they are to ignore and the less effective they become.

Withings wins points for its excellent ecosystem, however. There’s a myriad of clever and effective accessories that hook into the Withings Helathmate app, such as the Smart Body Analyzer and Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor. It also has some neat touches, such as the ability to read your resting heart rate using your phone’s camera. There’s so much room to grow here and the Activité proves that Withings is dedicated to real quality, which shines through in all its products. You could do worse than to invest in the Withings ‘health ecosystem’.

Setting up your Activité is very simple, too. It connects to your phone using Bluetooth 4.0, which means you don’t have to anything to setup the connection – the app automatically connects when you open the app. It sometimes takes a little longer than we’d like to make the connection, which is irritating when you launch the app and you want to see the latest data straightaway, but at least there’s no messing about involved in making the connection.

4

Withings Activité: Performance & Tracking

We had no problems with the Activité’s tracking through our use. It accurately recorded daily steps with great consistency, and did the same for running. It struggles more with ‘mixed activities’ where you’re switching between running and walking – or slouching – but that’s not unusual for this kind of tracker.

Sleep tracking works OK, too, though we often feel there’s lots of guessing involved in judging light versus deep sleep in all trackers. The total sleep stats are the most instructive and provide a useful guide to whether you’re getting enough shuteye. The Activité also features a ‘silent’ alarm – it vibrates when it’s time to get up. This works well enough, though it’s quite a light vibration – heavy sleepers may want to set a fallback alarm in case it doesn’t stir them.

Our only serious complaint with the alarm system is the inability to set a different one for the weekend. Perhaps this is intentional so you stick to your routine, but waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning isn’t a routine we’re keen on. You can turn the alarm off, of course, but that relies on your remembering to do so, and turning it on again before Monday morning.

5

Other things to consider

One small feature that doesn’t work as well as advertised is the ‘responsive glass’ feature. The idea is you can tap the glass to reveal your alarm time, but it often takes several attempts before the arms actually move.

We do like the timezone feature, though, which ensures the watch will automatically switch to the timezone you’re in when your phone does. It’s a neat piece of attention to detail and a cool thing to brag about to ‘luddite’ watch lovers.

 

6

OtShould I buy the Withings Activité?

Inevitably, it comes down to whether you think it’s worth spending extra for the Activité over the Pop version. The difference in price – £320 vs £120 – is large and the difference entirely down to the design and materials used. A high-quality leather replacement strap and a Pop will still come in at less than £200.

We can’t answer that question for you, but we can confirm that the Withings Activité is an exquisitely made watch and a very capable tracker. We love the long battery life, the beautiful and comfortable leather strap, and the faultless build quality. You’re paying for quality and getting it.

That may be enough if you value its finer design and ‘fashion statement’ it makes. If not, go for the Activité Pop – you won’t be disappointed either way. If you’re less fussed about looks but want a tracker that shows the time and some useful info, take a look at the Fitbit Charge, though the Jawbone UP24 remains our no.1 best fitness tracker overall.

7

Verdict

An outstanding and stylish tracker and watch, provided you don’t mind the price attached.

Withings Activité Steel - Activity and Sleep Tracking Watch -
9 Total Score
Start from: $73.90

Enter your model number to make sure this fits.; Activity tracking: steps, distance, swim, running and calories burned; Sleep monitoring: sleep cycle analysis (light and deep sleep) silent alarm to start your day with a gentle wake-up vibration; Free health mate app for real-time coaching.With a...

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Product Dimensions

2 x 2 x 2 inches ; 6.6 ounces

Shipping Weight

9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

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Item can be shipped within U.S.

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Item model number

HWA01_68

I have been using the Withings Activite Steel for 2 weeks. While I was really excited to get this, especially as a Lightning Deal, and I really WANT to like it, it's just "okay".APPEARANCE AND BUILDThe watch looks classy, and notice I call it a watch? It truly looks like a normal watch, people are amazed when I tell them it is an activity and sleep tracker. The steel case has held up well, I don't have any scratches or nicks(yet). Same with the glass. I have rubbed/bumped it against door frames when moving furniture and worn it while working outside(horse ranch), so I didn't expect it to survive the first two weeks how it did. There literally isn't a mark on it yet. I had planned on replacing the silicon band with a steel or leather watch band, but I just haven't gotten to it yet and the silicon band has kind of grown on me. It stays relatively clean, washes easy(even dried paint on it), and dries fast.FUNCTIONThis is where it is just okay for me. I was shocked when my first few days didn't count many steps. Granted, a lot of my steps I am carrying items- so my arms don't swing free. But other activity trackers have managed to still be fairly accurate. I compared this to the built in iOS Health app(which isn't very accurate) and this consistently counted 20-40% less steps! Call me a baby, but I felt cheated on my daily steps. I contacted Withings about it and they had me perform a hard test of syncing, walking exactly 50 steps, then syncing again and reporting to them how many steps it counted. Well, it only counted 40/50 steps. That's exactly 20% off! Their response- "It appears that you [sic] watch is properly counting steps." SERIOUSLY?!?! Twenty percent off is within their standards?The sleep tracking function is also just okay. It is strictly movement based. The minute I hit the pillow and my arm is stationary- I am in "light sleep". It normally takes me about 30-60 minutes to fall asleep, but I lay still. I don't expect this level of sleep tracker to notice that, but I know some others do if they track heart rate and perspiration.The alarm function needs improvement, and everyone has been asking for it. You can only set one alarm- PERIOD. You can specify which days of the week it goes off, but that is it. You cannot set a weekday alarm for 6:00 AM and a weekend alarm for 8:00AM, you would have to modify your one alarm each time you want to change the wake up time. This seems to me it would be a simple fix in the app, but it has yet to come in the updates. Also, the alarm vibrates a predetermined number of times then STOPS. There are no options to have it snooze or vibrate later if you don't go into the app to tell it you are awake. I am a deep sleeper, I have slept through the vibrating, but I always have other alarms on my phone since I knew this going in. Also, it has never woken me up at any other time except the exact time I tell it to. It is supposed to wake you during light sleep(I set it for within an hour of my wake up time). I have had light sleep in that period but it has not taken advantage of it. I have even woken up before the alarm and thought "I wonder if it will vibrate since I am awake... (roll over) ...nope, I guess not".So, overall, I'm undecided if I will keep this. It might be going back to Amazon as right now it is just a fancy looking watch. I can't rely on the steps, or sleep, but the alarm has potential. The fact that Withings' goal is less than 80% accuracy doesn't convince me to hang around and see if the bugs are worked out.
April 22, 2016
Here are my initial thoughts after owning this for 11 days now.First, I want to start by stating that I have owned an Apple Watch Sport for a year now. While I have had fun with it for the past year, but the novelty has worn off for me. For starters it is bulk, heavy, not really that great looking, and just seems to constantly interrupt my life with notifications and information.I was eyeing the Activite Pop when the Apple Watch was announced, but decided against it. So, as I grew tired of my Apple Watch, I turned back to Withings and saw they released the Steel and decided to give it a try. I have to say that this thing looks really sleek and stylish. I actually like it more than the Apple Watch as far as form goes. The round dial, simple minimalistic markings, and steel case and hands make this look very nice. If you pair this with a nice leather strap it really makes it look great.This leads me to the included watch band/strap. First, the thing is cheap as heck. For $170, they could include a much nicer band. The material is very cheap and uncomfortable. I used to think that Apple's fluoroelastomer was a joke, but there is a huge difference in comfort between the materials. Even the buckle and loop are crappy, with sharp edges that kept catching on things or stabbing me. The first thing you will want to do is buy some replacement straps.The only style element that I am not pleased with is the 18mm strap width. It is obvious that Withings was trying to strike a balance between male and female sizing and decided to try and strike a balance. The end result is that watch bands are not quite as easy to find at this size, most are female oriented, and on a thicker wrist the watch band looks just a bit too dainty for my taste. I would prefer a 20mm or 22mm strap width for my wrist, so I wish they made this in two different sizes.As for performance, the watch seems to measure steps relatively accurately. I state relatively as I seem to log about 40-100 steps while I am sleeping, so it is not the most accurate. My Fitbit would always show less than 10 and I charged my Apple Watch at night (since it doesn't do sleep tracking), so I can't speak to how it compares in this regard.As for sleep tracking, well this is a complete joke. Out of the 11 nights I have slept with the watch on, it has only tracked sleep 5 nights. This is less than 50% of the time that it has accurately identified that I actually slept. Out of the 5 nights it said I slept, 3 of them it said I slept less than 4 hours (which is about 3-6 hours off depending on the night). Only 1 night (the first night oddly enough) did it actually log my sleep correctly. So as far as I am concerned, it has tracked my sleep accurately 9% of the time I have owned it.Because of this poor performance, I opened a support case with Withings and it was closed the following day without anyone contacting me. I replied to that email and never heard back. I then opened a second ticket and had not heard back as of 7 days later. I also opened up 3 other tickets about other questions and issues and have yet to hear back on those after 8 days. I just reached out to them on Twitter to see if that helps, but as far as I am concerned anything over a 1-2 day response time for a $170 product is pretty bad customer service.The app seems to be syncing periodically in the background, but I try to open it a few times a day to make sure it keeps things synced up. That was definitely a nice feature of the Apple Watch, never having to worry about the steps syncing. The app syncs steps and sleep activity with the Health app in iOS. One odd thing I notice is that sometimes the time shown under my step count is a couple hours in the past, even though the app claims to have synced everything up to the current moment.I was disappointed to see that you can only log weight automatically if you have the Withings scale and to log calories you have to use MyFitnessPal. The app does not read from Health, so if you use other apps or devices it will not sync back to the Health Mate app. For example, I log my food using LoseIt and I have the Fitbit Aria scale. I have to manually log my weight in the Withings app (even though MyFitnessPal is synced with my scale) or I can go and buy another $100 WiFi scale, which seems ridiculous to me. I don't know if I want to abandon all my food logging history by switching apps, so I haven't yet made the move.In the end, I haven't decided if I am going to keep the watch. Part of me is frustrated with the support experience and this is making me question if I should keep it. The app itself could use several improvements and the lack of support for LoseIt and Fitbit Aria (or an API to load these data points) is also pretty annoying to me and has created a disconnected experience for me as a user. Lastly, the lack of accurate sleep tracking is another issue for me. Basically, if I keep it, then ii is most likely due to style and not function.
March 22, 2016
Activity Trackers: Withings Activité review
9 Total Score

Durability
9
Portability
9
Ease of use
8
Design and form factor
10
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1 Comment
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