Digital devices are so woven into the fabric of today’s society that there’s little that isn’t now possible. We’re all used to TVs, computers and the like - you know, the usual couch potato kind of kit - but recently it’s health and fitness gadgets that have come to the fore.
The FitBit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scales is one such device. These digital scales can measure your weight and fat percentage before sending the results via Wi-Fi to your personal online account where BMI (Body Mass Index) and other measures can be tracked.
Wanting to give the scales a thorough testing, the Aria has been set up in this Pocket-linter’s bathroom for a full month now.
Setting up the FitBit Aria is a doddle. There’s an easy to follow leaflet included in the box. All you need is a computer, Wi-Fi network with password and, er, your hands and feet.
Once the device is synched with your Wi-Fi network it won’t forget it. It makes it fuss free - an essential for a device such as this.
Setup includes creating a personal online account. This will act as your base to record, track and follow your weight and fat. What’s particularly cool, however, is that the Aria allows up to four users. It automatically spots who’s weighing-in - assuming not everyone in your family weighs exactly the same, we presume - and can send information to their accounts, too.
The Aria is available in black or white. The "black" model we had delivered is closer to a navy blue on its four teardrop-like shapes on the top. The rounded edges and glossy, shiny top give the scales a modern look and the circular display in the middle delivers info in an easy-to-read yet crude resolution.
The Aria is fun too. The "text speak" smiley face that pops up from time to time is all in good spirits (we’re not sure if there’s a sad face when you weigh more than a bus though - the top-end weight limit is 25 stone) and, crucially, the weight and fat percentage information is clean and clear to read on the spot. This means you don't have to look at your online account every second of the day if you just want to use these as "normal" scales, but there's value in analysing your data from time to time too...
To The Cloud!
All your data is stored in "the cloud" - ie, your online account - and it's here that data can be delivered to show your BMI. As the Aria doesn’t just take your weight but also fat percentage, those with higher muscle percentage won’t have inaccurate indexing. Common bathroom scales - and even most NHS nurses - can’t account for that.
Everything is well laid out in the personal Dashboard area. It’s possible to analyse by day, week, month or year to track your progress.
But there’s more: the inclusion of a downloadable app (iOS or Android) means you can always plug in and see how you’re doing while on the move.
And things aren’t limited to just the Aria. FitBit is a whole fitness concept. Buy into the Ultra Wireless Tracker (pedometer), for example, and the amount of steps taken in a day will also be sent to the cloud. This extra data helps to make sense of how much working out you need to do to achieve your goals.
If you want to get into extensive detail then it’s possible to generate a food plan - known as a diet to the common man - if you’re feeling particularly in need of dropping the pounds.
The system - which can be accessed via the online or app service - contains loads of food products and measures that you can pop into your daily plan as you go.
But there are time issues here: it’s not quick to enter loads of information and the system is, for now, not very UK-friendly. Shreddies? Nope. You’ll have to find out all the nutritional information yourself and add that into the system.
It’s good that you can add your own foodstuffs, but the choice of measures is often rather crude. For example, the choice between spoon or cup might not make sense for a certain food type.
If you’re really hardcore and want to lose weight, then keeping on top of this system does make sense. Tied in with the Ultra Wireless Tracker and Aria system you have a comprehensive system to track activity, weight and BMI. Different grades of "difficulty" - from Easy, to Normal, Kinda Hard and Harder - put you in control of how much (sensible) weight to lose, with information on how many calories you should eat in a day.
Stand on basic bathroom scales and there tends to be a bit of "wobble" between one pound and the next, which makes the result tricky to read sometimes. The Aria doesn’t have this issue and appears to be decisive when recording your weight, but we did find some accuracy issues.
We tested repeat weigh-ins mere seconds and minutes one after the other and the recorded weights differed by between one to three pounds, without trying to fool the scales. Fat percentage, too, differed by up to a few percentage points. This was tested on several different days with a variety of short intervals between weigh-ins.
If hyper-accuracy is what you need then the Aria might not suit your needs. However, the online algorithm adjusts for anomalies to provide a projected weight, so this will make the Aria good enough for most. We’d advise a daily/regular weigh-in to get a more reliable overall record.
On one occasion the Aria failed to sync and it then displayed weight in pounds rather than the stones on the display. Other than this one and only blip, a full month of use went without incident.
We think the FitBit Aria scales are a cool digital addition to any bathroom. They look decent, they work well, don’t cost a fortune and are fuss-free to set up.
The main problem is accuracy, however. It’s not so far out that it’s wrong, but you'll need to weigh yourself often and base overall weight on the online tracking system's results to gather an accurate overall read.
If your goal is to lose weight then there are lots of tools on offer here, and all for just under £100. No subscriptions, no fuss. The food plan system may take too long for most to fill out, but if you’re determined and a good self-manager then it's comprehensive and capable. Plus it ties in seamlessly to your, and, indeed, your family's digital lives.
The big question, though, is do they work? This ‘Linter lost 5lbs in a month (admittedly they were probably five easy-to-lose "beer pounds" though), so it would seem that the Aria - even if it’s just a subconscious tool in the background - does have the potential to make a difference.