The Withings Pulse Is A Step Closer To Activity Tracker Perfection

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The Withings Pulse is the latest device in the personal activity tracker category, and it isn’t a wristband, which runs counter to the latest fad. Instead, it’s a portable rectangle not unlike the original Fitbit devices designed to be carried in a pocket or attached to clothing via an included clip. The Pulse fills out Withings’ line of home health monitoring gadgets, pairing up with its smart scales to deliver info about steps walked, calories burned, altitude traversed and heart rate.

Basics

  • 128×32 OLED touchscreen
  • 43mm x 22mm x 8mm
  • Heart rate sensor built-in
  • Micro-USB charging
  • MSRP: $99.95
  • Product info page

Design

The Pulse is a small package, but as per the old adage, it’s a good thing. It’s not tiny enough that it’s hard to find in your pocket, and yet it’s thin enough that it doesn’t add a bunch of bulk. The rubberized finish means you won’t lose it, and the way the OLED display is invisible when inactive is very cool. It’s got a single button, and touchscreen functionality to let you swipe through previous day totals, and it all works quite well.

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The actual pulse tracker on the back of the device is the one break in the smooth exterior (barring the micro-USB port) and that aspect of the Pulse is highly functional, so the fact that it mars the unbroken surface is forgivable. I like that Withings has opted for an external clip that can be removed instead of building one in, as I’d much rather have just thrown the thing in a pocket. And the micro-USB is great, since it means you don’t have to use a specialized cable to charge the Pulse, as you often do with wristbands.

Features

The Pulse has a step counter, calorie counter, altitude meter and distance travelled tracker. All of that is pretty standard among these devices, and about as accurate as you’ll find elsewhere (which is to say not very), but the Pulse also has a pulse sensor and a time/battery indicator, as well as a sleep mode that works in tandem with an included wristband accessory. The wristband is a soft material that’s perfect for sleeping, too, and far more comfortable than the Jawbone UP or the Fitbit Flex.

I’m addicted to the pulse sensor aspect of the device, and in tandem with the Withings Smart Body Analzyer, it really helps paint a more full picture of your overall personal health. The Pulse offers the best value for money of any fitness tracking device I’ve tried so far, and that’s saying a lot.

The Bottom Line

The Withings Pulse is probably the best available option in fitness trackers, but that might depend on how you want to wear one. For wristbands, I’d still go with the Fitbit Flex, but the Pulse is my overall pick. It seems like companies operating in this space are doing a very good job of watching their competitors, gauging the needs of their users and iterating based on that information to improve things overall.

Withings just closed a big round last week, and that’s helping them grow internationally. The Pulse is a key tool in the arsenal the company has to help fuel its growth, and it’s a solid ambassador for the company’s line of devices.