Tech

Withings Pulse HR evaluation: An extended-lasting competitor to Fitbit’s Alta HR

Valentina Palladino

Withings has returned as its personal firm after a brief stint underneath Nokia, and it is introduced out some new health trackers to tackle the highest contenders. The $129 Withings Pulse HR appears and acts very like Fitbit’s Alta HR: its svelte, rectangular module tracks coronary heart fee all day and night time in addition to every day exercise and exercises.

Loads of health trackers have debuted up to now couple of years, however the Alta HR stays our prime choose for many customers. Withings is hoping to dethrone it within the minds of the general public by providing a tool that is much more refined in design and guarantees weeks of battery life. However these issues aren’t achievable with out sacrifices, and the choices Withings neglected of the Pulse HR could deter some from selecting it.

Design

The Pulse HR could also be nondescript, however that does not imply it is not strong. Chrome steel makes up a lot of the module, together with a polycarbonate floor coating that makes the highest half mushy to the contact. The OLED show is simply as large because it must be—it would not take up the whole flat floor of the modular, relatively solely the center third or so.

Its minimalistic nature makes viewing it in direct daylight simple, however the display is faucet solely. A press of the one aspect button or a faucet on the show’s floor cycles by the time and stats together with coronary heart fee, steps, and battery life. Tapping did not at all times register for me, so I used the aspect button more often than not. It additionally has the normal raise-to-wake characteristic that reveals the clock everytime you flip your wrist upward. Sadly, that characteristic was finicky as properly, with the system solely waking the display about half of the instances I consulted my wrist for the time.

At 45 grams, the Pulse HR is kind of gentle, making it one of the vital snug gadgets to sleep with. Its heart-rate monitor retains observe of pulse all day and all night time, so its design needed to be appropriate for 24-hour put on. You might even put on it within the bathe due to its 50m water resistance, however I opted not to try this.

Its bands are additionally interchangeable, extending the lifetime of the system in the long term. Extra wristband colours and types shall be obtainable from Withings this 12 months, and I hope they embrace extra wristband sizes in these new choices (presently, the Pulse HR is available in only one measurement). Fitbit’s Alta HR additionally has interchangeable bands, however I favor the softer, extra versatile silicone of Withings’ bands over Fitbit’s. Bands for the Alta HR are most inflexible within the areas related to the module itself, giving them an odd C-like form if you take away them. The hinge and band type of the Pulse HR makes it so the tracker lies flat on any floor that you just place it on if you’re not carrying it.

Aesthetically, not a lot makes the Pulse HR stand out amongst different health trackers. Nonetheless, Withings strategically sacrificed some design flare and laborious in favor of battery life. The Pulse HR lasts as much as 20 days on a single cost or as much as 5 days in “exercise mode,” which principally implies that the battery will drain quicker the extra you’re employed out. My system was right down to 70 % after 5 days of all-day and all-night use, with three one-hour exercises recorded in that point as properly.

Withings’ $129 Pulse HR health tracker.


Valentina Palladino

A single button controls the OLED show.


Valentina Palladino

It has a really small and skinny profile, weighing simply 45 grams.


Valentina Palladino

The guts-rate monitor retains observe of pulse all day and all night time.


Valentina Palladino

Tiny pins allow you to change out the tracker’s bands simply.


Valentina Palladino

The battery lasts as much as 20 days, which is nice for a tool that is meant to be worn all day and night time.


Valentina Palladino

The Pulse HR would not make use of many smartwatch options, making it primarily a exercise and sleep companion.


Valentina Palladino

Health options

Coronary heart fee and related GPS

The Pulse HR tracks train in two methods: robotically or by the on-device exercise menu. Just like Fitbit’s SmartTrack, the Pulse HR can detect if you’re exercising for a sure time frame and file it as a exercise interval. It is extra correct than I anticipated: on a number of events, I discovered 10- to 15-minute intervals of “health” robotically recorded within the Well being Mate app that coincided with the instances I used to be scrambling to run errands. It seems that the system acknowledges most classes of elevated heart-rate exercise and data it—when you do not need to embrace these classes in your every day log, you possibly can delete them within the cell app.

Arguably extra handy for many who make a degree to train commonly is the exercise menu, which is accessible by long-pressing the Pulse HR’s aspect button. Six exercise profiles stay right here and you’ll change which present up in your system from inside the Well being Mate cell app. On this method, the Pulse HR is a little more like Fitbit’s $150 Cost three, and it is smart contemplating its module and display measurement are someplace between that of the Alta HR and the Cost three. There’s extra space to incorporate the graphics essential to compose the exercise menu.

I not often overlook to file a exercise, so I appreciated the inclusion of the exercise menu. Quick presses of the aspect button allow you to flip by all on-device exercise profiles, and a long-press selects and begins a recording of the profile that is on the display. Whereas exercising, stats like period, coronary heart fee, and distance fill the carousel spots on the display, so you possibly can faucet or press your method by them.

One other long-press of the aspect button instantly ends and saves the exercise if you’re completed. Each time you do that, the session is robotically saved, guaranteeing that every one recorded actions are locked in till you select to edit them within the Well being Mate app.

Most exercise profiles have the choice to hook up with your smartphone’s GPS; the Pulse HR will seek for your smartphone with the Well being Mate app working on it if you start a exercise in makes an attempt to seize that GPS sign. You’ll be able to start figuring out earlier than the sign has been captured—the characteristic works within the background, mapping your route as you train and presenting you with a map within the particulars of the recorded exercise within the Well being Mate app.

The few maps I recorded had been correct, and that is not stunning for the reason that characteristic feeds off the close by smartphone and would not depend on the of the Pulse HR itself. Even with out GPS connectivity, I used to be stunned at how correct the running-distance calculations had been. The Pulse HR’s measurements of my treadmill walks and runs had been nearly similar to these of the machine itself.

The guts-rate monitor tracks pulse constantly when you train, and it is a fairly correct sensor, too. It normally measured my coronary heart fee inside 5 BPM of the Polar H10 chest strap, but it surely did take a couple of minutes to heat up and file excessive coronary heart charges (within the 170 BPMs) precisely.

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