The Withings Pulse is an activity tracker that joins the Fitbit One, Jawbone Up and Nike Fuelband in the quest to get you into shape. This is Withing’s first attempt at a wearable device but this not new territory by any means.
On a larger scale Withings has already launched the Smart Body Analyzer and blood pressure monitors. The Fitbit One is a tracker laden with features we’ve seen before, but has a few more tracking tricks to pack into the small body.
The matte black Pulse is a tiny little thing and looks like the spawn of a Nokia Lumia and an iPod Shuffle. It weighs the same as the Fitbit One at a supremely light 8g and is 8mm thick, making it as slim as a smartphone.
Like the Fitbit One, there’s a variety of ways to wear the Pulse. The easiest way is to simply slip it into your pocket. The most secure method is to use the clip with a clamp-like grip to clip it on a trouser waistband or onto a shirt.
At the heart of the Pulse’s controls is the OLED touch surface that boasts a not so great 128 x 32 pixel resolution. Here you can see the data and swipe right to see activity data from the last 14 days. It also responds to gentle presses to activate sleep tracking and heart rate monitor modes.
Elsewhere, there’s a single on/off button, a micro USB charging port and the heart rate sensor at the back.
Inside the box you’ll find the micro USB charging cable and a Velcro wristband that looks very similar to the one included with the Fitbit One.
The Pulse is extremely light and we’d recommend wearing it with the clip. You’d never notice if it went missing from your pocket.
A pedometer is at the heart of the Withings Pulse. Using a MEMS 3-axis accelerometer, the Pulse can track steps walked, elevation, calories burned and sleep. Additionally it can measure running distance with the run detection mode. This is activated by the Pulse as soon as you begin to pick up the pace.
One thing that the Pulse has over its rivals is the ability to monitor heart rate straight from the device. The importance of that information is that it will tell you whether you are working hard or not hard enough. The Pulse uses an Opotoelectronics sensor that flashes green and red LEDs against the finger to generate the reading.
Getting enough kip is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle so like the Fitbit and the Jawbone Up, the Pulse can monitor sleep quality. Once you swipe down on the crescent moon icon on the touch surface, the timer begins and all you need to do is slip it into the wristband.
When you wake up in the morning, a simple tap on the screen will tell you how much of the recommended eight hours of sleep you’ve managed in a percentage. There’s further analysis you can see which is covered in the smartphone and web apps.
If you need to see more than 14 days of data, you can get a more in depth look via the smartphone and desktop applications.
The Withings smartphone app is free to download on the App Store for iPhone 3GS up to iPhone 5 and on Google Play for Android 2.3.3 smartphones. Setup is straightforward and requires the type of information that most fitness apps. So you’ll need to input weight and height data.
The Pulse supports Bluetooth 4.0 for real-time syncing. It’s also compatible with smartphones that support Bluetooth 2.0 upwards syncing data every six hours. You can’t however, see the current day’s data until the following day.
Inside the Withings app the dashboard includes sections for weight, activity, heart rate and sleep data. A butterfly icon offers a visual representation of the data to show the areas you need to work on most.
There’s also third party app support which includes MyFitnessPal for calorie counting, Runkeeper and Zeo sleep tracker. It also works in conjunction with the Withings Smart Analyzer and blood pressure monitor.
The desktop application offers the same information but offers more detailed data for sleep and activity tracking. Here you can see sleep and activity broken down precisely by the half hour. You can quickly establish how many calories you’ve burnt in the afternoon and see sleep patterns broken down into deep and light sleep.