Withings PulseThe Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker tracks sleep like the Fitbit Flex but it also features an altimeter, a heart pulse measurement as well as run stride tracking unlike the Flex. So it seems like a good choice to research as it also is on the top of Amazon’s bestseller list with great customer ratings.

The Withings.com website, it is easy to navigate offering useful information and support. You can download a Quick Installation Guide to get you set up that gives easy-to-follow illustrated instructions from charging your Pulse to downloading the free App and syncing it up. Although the information is presented in a clear and uncomplicated way, unfortunately, I came across a few instances of discrepancies concerning product information important to consumers. I have outlined in bold the relevant text so you will be sure not to miss it.buy1._V192207739_

Table of Contents
Click ahead!
1. Tracking Modes 2. Tracking Accuracy 3. Buttons & Controls
4. Computer & Mobile Device Connectivity 5. Logging Data 6. Dimensions & Weight
7. Ways to Wear 8. Battery Info 9. Accessories
10. Pros 11. Cons 12. Consumer Reviews 13. Price

What Does It Track?

  1. Number of steps taken: The daily step goal is set at 10,000 steps by default.
  2. Elevation (stairs climbed): The Pulse tracks elevation only when combined with walking. If you climb the stairs on a moving escalator, the number of steps taken are counted. But if you just ride the moving escalator passively, no number of steps are counted. You physically have to cause the elevation, so according to Withings, the Pulse will not record step counting on workouts done on stationary exercise equipment like incline treadmills.
  3. Distance traveled: This is based on your daily number of steps taken and the profile information you entered when creating your Withings account with regards to age, gender, height and weight.
  4. Calories burned: The Pulse displays only the active calories burned, for example, while walking. The Health Mate App allows you to view both the active calories burned as well as basal metabolic calories (these are the calories burned even while your body is at rest).
  5. Run: The Pulse automatically displays the Run Screen after 1 minute of running or jogging activity.
  6. Instant heart rate: Spot checks your resting heart rate.
  7. Sleep quality: Tracks light sleep, deep sleep and sleep interruptions when you were awake.

How Accurate Is It?

Withings Pulse sleepThe Withings Pulse Activity Tracker also uses a MEMS 3-axis accelerometer which basically means that it accounts for more accurate movement and step tracking with the pedometer worn in any position.

From scouring a multitude of customer reviews, I found the majority were very pleased and satisfied with the Pulse’s tracking accuracy. Some preferred it to the wristband-type pedometer because they didn’t have to worry about arm movements being misread and counted as steps.

Users report positive feedback even after comparing the Pulse’s accuracy against the results of various other devices and apps. To name a few examples:

  • Distance was tracked pretty accurately when compared with a GPS tracked activity.
  • Heart rate readings were consistent with other heart rate measurement devices.
  • When compared to other activity tracking apps like RunKeeper, the results were similar.

With regards to questions about tracking accuracy of the Pulse when it comes to certain activities or use of certain exercise equipment, these are the actual results from actual users:

Treadmill (and Elliptical) – Although Withings claims its altimeter will not record movement on an incline workout equipment, customers have said the step counting of the Pulse was pretty close to what their treadmill or elliptical trainer registered.

Cycling – Good accuracy was noted when the Pulse was worn on the sock or shoe.

But if you find you are not getting accurate step tracking with the above, keep in mind that they are indeed being tracked accurately as active calories burned. Also Withings is partners with over 100 apps that will allow you to add or track further data that you may want.

Users also offered helpful suggestions to improving the tracking accuracy of the Pulse:

  • Make sure you have the latest firmware upgrade installed.
  • After purchase your Pulse may take about a week to adapt to your stride and give you a more accurate reading.
  • Make sure your finger is not moving and very still for several seconds to get an accurate reading of your heart rate.

Press and Swipe

Withings Pulse heart rate2The Withings Pulse has an optoelectronics sensor with Green/Red LEDs (OLED) touch screen display. All you need to do is press the button at the top of the unit to browse through the following data:

  • Steps taken
  • Elevation
  • Distance
  • Calories burned
  • Clock/Battery level
  • Run (time and distance): Displays automatically display after you have been running for 1 minute. You can access the Run Screen at the end of your run on the Steps Taken screen by sliding form right to left.
  • Heart rate: Press the button at the top of the Pulse Withings until the heart /sleep screen shows up. Then put your finger over the light sensor at the rear of the Pulse and your measurement will display to the left of the heart/sleep screen.
  • Sleep: After placing the Pulse tracker into the sleep wristband included on your non-dominant wrist, press the top button of the tracker to access the heart/sleep screen. (Hmmm… I wonder what with the tracker sitting in the wristband if the top button is accessible. I would assume there is a cutout to make it so.) Then place your finger on the sleep symbol (the moon) for 1 second and slide screen to the left. You will see a display wishing you a good sleep… how sweet! When you wake up in the morning, press the button but slide to the right and this time you will be greeted with a “Good Morning” with a recap of your sleep quality stats.

DISCREPANCY WARNING:
If you slide your finger across any of the different screens you will have access to stats for the 10 previous days. (I noticed a discrepancy on the Support section of the Withings website/Understanding Your Pulse’s Display dated June 23, 2013 compared to their product page where it said you have access to only 2 previous days. Hmmm… so which is it 10 or 2 days?). This is a handy way to check your progress without having to use your smartphone.

You can reset your Withings Pulse by pressing and holding the top button for 15 seconds. Don’t worry, none of your data will be lost.

Connectivity

Withings Pulse syncImportant to note right at the start that you can only install your Pulse from a mobile device and NOT from your computer.

You can use your computer only to charge the Pulse (but not synchronize your data) with the cable provided.

If you are considering buying the Pulse, check that you meet the following requirements:

  • Internet connection – either mobile data or Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0-enabled mobile devices (Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology is backward compatible with Bluetooth 2.0 or later)
  • iOS 6 or later
  • iPhone (3GS or later), iPad (2nd generation or later), iPad mini, iPod touch (4th generation or later)
  • Android 4.0 or later

DISCREPANCY WARNING:
I noticed a discrepancy on the Withings Support/Technical Info webpage dated June 23, 2013 compared to their Pulse product page where they state the hardware and software requirements to be:
– iOS 5.0 or later, iPad (all versions), iPod touch (3rd generation or later)
– Android 3.0 or later

These are important details that need to be corrected. There is no excuse for giving out conflicting information on their own website. So if you have older mobile devices, I would strongly suggest contacting Withings to make sure your device is compatible to avoid the hassle of having to return your purchase.

You can also easily check if the Withings Health Mate App is compatible with your smartphone by downloading it (it’s free) from the App Store (for iOS) or Google Play Store (for Android).

The Setup:
Installing the Pulse on an iOS or Android mobile device is very easy. Withings provides easy-to-follow illustrated steps on their website. I am a very visual person and really appreciate when images or illustrations accompany instructions. It makes following the process so much clearer.

  • Press the button at the top of your Pulse tracker to start it.
    If nothing displays on the screen, the Pulse needs to be charged (see the battery info section below on how to charge your Pulse).
  • Make sure your Pulse is in close vicinity of your mobile device.
  • Go to the Settings option on your device, select Bluetooth and connect your Pulse.
  • Create your free Withings account to be able to access your online dashboard.
  • Download, install and launch the free Withings Health Mate App for your smartphone and Android devices.

Syncing your data:
Basically you don’t need to do anything to synchronize your Withings Pulse data to your mobile device as it syncs automatically (what Withings calls Smart Sync). You don’t even need to open the Health Mate app but you need to make sure it is running in the background and that Bluetooth is enabled on your smartphone.

After the Withings Pulse syncs with your device, the data is automatically uploaded to your Withings account which you can then view it at my.withings.com.

That’s it. Pretty easy, right?

Extra bits of information:

  • Always make sure your Pulse firmware is up to date to avoid battery, touch screen or tracking measurement issues.
  • The USB cable provided is used only to charge the Pulse and not to synchronize your data.
  • You can do a forced sync simply by pressing the top button on the Pulse for 3 seconds.

Logging It All In

With the free Withings Health Mate web and app account you can access all your latest stats and follow your fitness progress from your online dashboard on your computer, smartphone and mobile devices.

DISCREPANCY WARNING:
On Withings’ support webpage for the Health Mate App dated December 12,2013 they state that the free app is only available for the iPhone and Android devices and that they are working on providing an iPad version at a future unspecified date and that for the moment you can use their older, limited Wiscale App for the iPad.

However, on their main product page for the Pulse Withings states “Free iOS application available from the App Store: compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.” I tested this out on my own 3rd generation iPad. When I tried to find the Heath Mate App from the App Store, I got a message saying it was not available for the iPad and indeed only the older Wiscale app was available.

Again big fail on Withings’ part for conflicting information that needs to be corrected ASAP!

Withings-Pulse-walkingIf you don’t have a smartphone or Android mobile device, you will only be able to view your tracked data on the online dashboard from your computer or on the Pulse tracker itself (your daily stats and those for the 10 previous days).

Withings has partnered with over 100 health and fitness apps (even with competitors’ apps like FitBit and Jawbone UP) so that allows you to share your stats in even more detail with your own preferred app assuming it’s compatible. You can view the list of compatible apps on the Withings website.

You can also enter and share data using Withings’ other products like their blood pressure measurement device and their weight scale to keep track of your cardiovascular health and weight loss program.

The best advice to follow is to download the free Health Mate web and app software to see if it is compatible with your smartphone or device and also if the interface appeals to you.

Dimensions & Weight

Dimensions and weight of the Withings Pulse are as follows:

Height: 43 mm (1.69″)
Width: 22 mm (0.87″)
Depth: 8 mm (0.31″)
Weight: 8 g (0.28 oz., 0.018 lb)

How To Wear It

Withings Pulse wear2The Pulse Tracker can be worn in a shirt or pants pocket with or without the clip, however, the clip will definitely keep it more secure when worn on a waistband or bra.

The Pulse is water resistant so you will have no problems with rain, splash, or sweat. However, it is not waterproof so you should not wear while showering or swimming.

If you accidentally drop it in water, you could try quickly placing it submerged in rice for a period of 24 hours, then charge it. Hopefully when you press the button, the display will light up and your Pulse will be fine.

You should only wear the wristband while sleeping. That is what it is designed to track. Wearing it any other way will compromise its accuracy. The wristband can be washed by gently rubbing with soap and then rinsing with water.

Battery Details

The Withings Pulse Activity Tracker uses a rechargeable built-in lithium-ion polymer battery. You charge the battery using the included standard micro USB to USB power cable which you plug into your Pulse and your computer (or mobile device charger) on the other end. If your battery is fully drained, then it will take 1 to 2 hours for it to be fully charged. If you charge more often, it should take less time. You can view the battery level on the clock screen.

The battery should last 2 weeks before needing to be recharged. I found it interesting in my product research that customers were reporting battery life of only 4 days all the way up to 3 weeks. That was rather an unusually wide range. Upon further research it seems that syncing your data and taking your heart rate are the primary causes for battery drainage. So to stop your battery draining too quickly, avoid checking your heart rate and stats on the Pulse too often. Another way to make your battery last longer before recharging is to charge your Pulse and sync your data at the same time.

Should your battery conk out, don’t panic because the Pulse has a power save mode which will continue to track for another 24 hours even though nothing shows up on the display.

You will receive a notification warning when your battery is running low.

What You Get

  • Withings Pulse
  • Silicone and metal clip
  • Sleep wristband
  • Micro USB to USB charging cable
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Free Withings.com account
  • Free Heath Mate App (iOS and Android)

The standard color for the Pulse tracker and clip is black but you can order a pack of 3 clips in the stylish colors of orange, blue and green.

At the time of this review, no option is available to order replacement sleep wristbands.

The Good

  • Easy to use and set up
  • Conveniently small and light
  • The majority of users report excellent customer support
  • Tracking accuracy is reported by customers to be satisfactory
  • Withings has over 100 partner apps
  • Withings Health Mate web and app software ties in with their other products like their blood pressure monitor and weight scale.
  • You can choose the software settings for kilometers/24 hour time display or miles/12 hour display.
  • Allows you to provide valuable fitness statistics to your doctor to monitor your health
  • It is rain, splash and sweat proof
  • Battery life of about 2 weeks is one of the longest available for rechargeable batteries.
  • Instruction manual available online for download
  • Up to the previous 10 days stats accessible right on the Pulse tracker’s touch screen
  • Has an altimeter for tracking stair climbing
  • Ability to measure heart rate
  • Automatic syncing via Bluetooth

The Bad

  • Discrepancies with regards to product information on the Withings website.
  • Customer have complained of a lack of crispness in the display readout and difficulty reading the display in sunlight
  • Customers report the sleep wristband is flimsy and wears out quickly and sometimes comes undone during sleep
  • The sleep wristband is not sold separately
  • Warranty is lacking with no Satisfaction Guaranteed Return Policy
  • Problems reported with the Pulse tracker popping out of the matching clip
  • Comes with default target goals and default stride length
  • No alarm feature
  • No GPS feature
  • Health Mate App not available for the iPad yet

Consumer Reviews of the Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker

At the time of this review, over 100 users gave the Withings Pulse a 5-star rating. They reported being satisfied with tracking accuracy. They found it comfortable and light to wear, easy to set up and easy to use. They also liked using it in combination with the Withings blood pressure monitor and weight scales and the numerous partner apps available. All of the above explain perfectly why the Pulse is on Amazon’s bestseller list for pedometers.

The Price of the Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker

At just under $100 the price is still reasonable for what it delivers especially if you are looking for a pedometer with an altimeter and an instant heart rate reading.

I would suggest purchasing the Pulse from Amazon to take advantage of their free shipping on orders over $35 and avoid Withings’ extra shipping fees. In addition, since the Withings’ warranty seems a bit vague and offering no guaranteed satisfaction return policy, should a problem arise it would be much easier to deal with Amazon and their excellent customer service.

Filed under: Reviews

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