Wearable technology has a bright future and, even though it has yet to see mass adoption in all areas, fitness enthusiasts have found wearable tech to be quite useful. Between the Fitbit and FuelBand, the activity tracker market is far from empty but at a fair price point and with a good design, Withings's Pulse may be a great option.
For the most part, activity trackers have similar features and, when compared to the Fitbit, the Pulse is not outright different. However, the addition of a heart rate monitor is something that does make the Pulse unique and while it may be somewhat difficult to use, consumers that are interested in optimizing themselves may find a heart rate monitor incredibly useful when exercising.
When it comes to design, the best way to describe the Pulse is elegant. At 1.69 by 0.87 by 0.31 inches, the Pulse is one of the smallest activity trackers on the market and, since it can be carried around in a pocket, it is easy to keep out of the public eye. At first I did not expect the Pulse's touchscreen to be very responsive, but after using it on a daily basis for weeks I have yet to experience any issues with the screen.
Unlike the Fitbit, Jawbone, or Fuelband, the Pulse rarely needs to be attached to the user's wrist, and the only time that Withings recommends using the wrist attachment is when tracking one's sleep.
Just like Withings's other products, the Pulse connects to smartphones via Bluetooth 4.0 which makes syncing convenient. However, that also means that you cannot use the USB cable to sync up the device with a computer.
Speaking of the USB cable, it is incredibly short, making it easy to lose. However, just like the Pulse itself, it is convenient to be able to carry all of the Pulse's accessories within a pocket.
Connecting the Pulse to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone is very easy and simply requires you to download Withings's Health Mate app. The application is capable of holding onto a record of your weight, heart rate, exercise, sleep, etc. - all depending on which Withings products you own.
When it comes to wearable tech, one of the most important features is battery life, which is the same reason that many smartwatches have already failed with consumers since they do not last long enough on a charge. Since the Pulse does not actually do as much as a smartwatch, Withings rates the battery for two weeks, which seems accurate from our testing.
One of the downsides of having a device like the Pulse on you at all times is that checking body statistics such as heart rate can become a bad habit. While your heart rate is an important thing to monitor, being able to accurately check it with a small pocket-size device can result in someone checking their pulse in an obsessive way.
For $99, the Withings Pulse is easily one of the best activity trackers on the market and, while it may not blend in as well as the Jawbone Up, it is still a small and lightweight device which works quite well.
Price: $99.95 (Withings)