The market is saturated with so many fitness trackers that finding one that works for you can be a minefield. New Year will always see a spike in the sales of these gadgets as we try and work off all that Christmas excess. The point of having it in the form of a watch is that it then starts to become more than a step counter and something a little more versatile and useful.
The Withings Pulse Ox is a slim, sleek device that I have tested over the festive period. Visually, having the ability to see and check your steps is motivating and keeps you working towards your goal.
As part of your purchase, you get a watch strap, a belt clip, a micro USB charger and the tracker itself. The tracker can either be worn as a watch or can be attached to your pocket or belt, or you can just simply slip the unit itself into a pocket.
The unit charges really quickly, which is always a bonus. It uses a standard micro USB, which most people will have lying around the house, so you can charge it at home or at work quite easily. Once fully charged, the battery will last around a week.
The tracker is extremely light and you barely notice that you're wearing it, although this can be a downside as the unit is not waterproof so you have to remember to take it off before a shower or swimming. The unit just slides into the watch strap, and it is pretty secure. On occasion, it did become dislodged when sleeping, resulting in a hunt for it in the morning.
The watch starts tracking instantly, but you will need to download the Withings app. The app is easy to use, and anyone should be able to use the simple interface. It isn't complex and it is quick to set up. With this simplicity does come a slight downside in that the information you receive is quite basic, but I felt it was enough to keep me motivated. You can see your daily steps, elevation, active calories (and total calories) burned, along with timed segments showing activity.
There is a small button on the side of the device which enables you to cycle through the various screens which display steps, time, elevation, distance, calories and has a screen for heart rate and night time modes. Whilst on any one of these screens, if you touch the screen with a finger and slide it, you will see results for the previous 10 days.
As a step counter, it works really well at keeping you on target. The screen automatically switches to black after a period of inactivity, which is great for the battery life.
It has a running tracker, which tries to automatically detect movement. This doesn't always work as well as you would like it to and having something which you can turn on and off yourself would be easier.
I found the sleep tracker to be quite basic. It records you lying down rather than tracking your sleep. I have had sleepless nights with this on and it has told me I have had a good night's rest when actually the opposite was true.
The heart monitor works really easily. You simply place the light over a finger and wait for a few seconds. This proved to be pretty accurate as far as I can see, although I did note on a couple of occasions that my heart rate seemed to be pretty high when I didn't feel I was over exerting myself.
Overall, the Withings Pulse Ox works well as an activity and fitness tracker. It is simple, has a fun and good looking app, and will keep you motivated. You can invite friends and follow each other on the app’s leaderboard. Withings also have other bits of tech (scales etc) that can work alongside the Pulse Ox, making it pretty good value. I would say it is better suited to those who are more interested in general fitness, rather than those who are in serious training for an event such as a triathlon, for example.
The downsides are that it isn't water resistant and the sleep tracker is poor. However, the target audience here is not athletes but more your average gym-goer. It is a great general all-rounder for those just wanting to make sure they move enough or are just starting out on their journey to get in shape.