Fitbit and Withings are both consumer electronics companies that have made their names from creating personal health devices such as fitness trackers and smart scales to help people understand their health and fitness levels better, gain insights on their weight management and exercise program, and easily track fitness metrics.
While Fitbit continues to create fitness trackers, Withings has since been acquired by Nokia. Notable devices from each of these companies are the Withings Pulse and the Fitbit Flex.
The Withings Pulseis an activity tracker that you can slip into your pocket and it is primarily a pedometer, which is a device that counts your steps and estimates the distance you have traveled. However, the device remains true to its name by adding a heart rate monitor into the mix.
The Withings Pulse is notable in that it is the smallest device that can monitor your heart rate, measuring only 1.69 inches long, 0.87 inches wide, and 0.31 inches thick. It is also very light at only 8 grams.
The Withings Pulse has a beautiful design and a modern-looking screen. It does not have a clip but it comes with a silicone clip case and a night wristband made out of Velcro. It might have a small display, but the OLED touch-screen has a resolution of 128 pixels by 32 pixels.
The screen allows you easy access to several information, including the time, the number of steps you have taken, the distance you have travelled, the amount of calories you have burned, and the number of floors you have climbed. You also get sleep and heart rate data.
The Withings Pulse uses Bluetooth to synchronize information with your mobile app. Once paired with your smartphone, all the device needs is for you to give its Pulse button a long press for it to sync.
Heart rate and sleep
To measure your heart rate, you would need to activate the feature by pressing the Pulse button to call up the heart menu. You would need to touch the heart graphic and wait for the back panel to light up. Once it is lit, you would need to hold your finger to the back panel and wait for the reading. You can also do this when you wear the Pulse on your wrist using the band.
If you want to track your sleep, you need to touch and hold the moon icon instead of the heart icon. It will start the timer and record your sleep. You will need to end the tracking when you wake up. The Pulse is able to determine heavy and light sleep, as well as interruptions to your sleep.
The Withings Pulse comes with a rechargeable battery that you can charge using a micro-USB port. The recharging time is fast enough and you can get two weeks of operation on a single charge. The Withings Pulse also has a low power mode that will give you 24 hours more power even if the battery charge hits low.
This is perfect for those who are forgetful as they can still use the Withings Pulse to keep track of their steps.
The Withings app works rather well, but the features it offers are rather limited. However, it does a fine job of showing you your data, including activity, sleep, and heart rate. If you have other fitness devices, such as the Withings scale, blood pressure monitor, and Zeo headband, you can use the same mobile app for all of these devices.
You can also access more than 100 apps and have them work with the Withings Health Cloud. That means you can have a fuller and more comprehensive view of your health.
What you would like about the Withings Pulse
For a small device, the pedometer shows you a lot of information. Plus you are easily reminded of the goals you have. For instance, when looking at the number of steps, you would see your goal along with the actual number of steps you have taken thus far. The recommended exercise time for the week is also shown.
What could be better
Without a strap, it is very easy to misplace the Withings Pulse. If you want a Withings Pulse with a strap, you can check out the Withings Pulse Ox Tracker, which has a suggested retail price of $99.95, but is now available for only $59.99 on Amazon (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
The tracker already has a microUSB port, but does not allow you to sync data to your computer. You can only use an iOS or Android device and you would need to sync via Bluetooth. Also there are some data that you cannot see on the device but is available on the mobile app.
For instance, the intensity of your exercise is only viewable on the mobile app, which means you need to take out your smartphone to see that information.
The Pulse is not water resistant, and even with the OLED display, it is really not that visible when you look at it outdoors.
What’s in the box
- Withings Pulse
- Sleep wristband
- Silicone and metal clip
- Micro-USB to USB charging cable
- Quick Installation Guide
The Fitbit Flex makes it easier for you to track your steps and monitor your sleep. The first thing that you would notice is how sleek the design is; it looks like an ordinary baller band with five LED lights. Nevertheless, the design is beautiful and can be described as understated elegance. Not bad for a fitness tracker with a suggested retail price of $99.95 when it first launched (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) .
The elegant and simple look of the Fitbit Flex is somewhat contrasting to what it can do, and considering the size and the price of this fitness band, it can certainly do a lot!
The Fitbit Flex can record the number of steps you make, keep track of the calories that you burn, monitor the quality and length of your sleep and even keep count of how many times you wake up during the night.
The lights can tell you how close you are to achieving your fitness goals, whether your tracker is in sleep tracking mode, if it is charging or updating the firmware, or if an alarm is sounding off. Aside from the LED lights, the Fitbit Flex also uses silent alarms to alert or wake you up.
The Fitbit Flex uses a lithium polymer battery that you would need to recharge every five to seven days.
The Fitbit Flex is water-resistant, keeping it safe from sweat and the elements. The device is quite light that you could easily forget to take it off when you shower, or when it suddenly rains. Do not worry because the Flex is safe from water splashes and even when you shower with it.
The mobile app
When it comes to the Fitbit Flex, the mobile app is a necessary component. You would certainly need to have your smartphone around to see your fitness data, as well as the nifty graphs and infographics of your stats. It also allows you to do some quick data analysis on your fitness data to help you gain insights on how to improve.
One great feature of the app is that it makes calorie counting so much easier. Not only does it allow you to log your food intake, you can also access a food database and create custom foods to better track your calorie intake.
The Flex uses Bluetooth to wirelessly connect and sync your tracker with the mobile app.
What you would like about the Fitbit Flex
The Fitbit Flex really makes activity tracking a whole lot easier for you. You can interact with it through simple taps, and you get instant visual feedback from the LED lights and even get feedback from the silent alarm.
It is very comfortable and comes in a variety of colors, such as tangerine, green, slate, pink, and red, just so you are not forced to settle for boring black if that is not your personal style. The Fitbit Flex also comes with both the small and large wristband out of the box, ensuring that you have a snug and comfortable fit no matter how thick or small your wrist it.
The small wristband is anywhere from 5.5 inches to 6.9 inches long, while the large one is 6.3 inches to 8.2 inches long. Both have the same width of 0.6 inches.
The Fitbit Flex is also incredibly lightweight, with the tracker embedded on the large band weighing only 14.6 grams.
What could be better
For some people, it can be a little difficult to put on the Fitbit Flex, as it requires quite a bit of force in order to secure the device on your wrist.
The Fitbit Flex relies on the LED lights to tell you what it is doing. You also cannot see your fitness data and it does not even tell you the time. You would need to sync the data to your PC or smartphone in order to check it.
Furthermore, charging the Fitbit Flex can be a little bothersome as you need to take the Flex off, remove the tracker from the wristband, and then insert it into the charging cable. Speaking of batteries, the device itself does not have a battery indicator and you would need to check the battery level on Fitbit.com
Lastly, even with the mobile app, you would still need to log into the Fitbit.com site to customize your tracker’s settings, set goals, and set up the silent alarm. It would have been easier to include these functionalities on the mobile app itself.
What’s in the box
- The Fitbit Flex tracker
- Charging cable
- Wireless sync dongle
- 1 small and 1 large wristband
Comparing the Withings Pulse and the Fitbit Flex
There are areas where the Fitbit Flex wins over the Withings Pulse. For one, you can sync your Fitbit Flex to a PC, Mac or laptop computer, on top of your mobile devices. The Withings Pulse does not sync to a computer, even with its microUSB port. Moreover, the Flex has a comfortable and eye-catching strap that allows you to wear it on your wrist and just forget about it.
The Withings Pulse, on the other hand, is much more convenient when it comes to quick checks on your fitness data. Everything is there on the device. This is especially useful when you do not have your smartphone with you. If you want to know the number of steps you’ve made, you can just scroll through the screens of your Pulse and see the numbers. This is not possible with the Fitbit Flex.
The biggest advantage of getting a Withings Pulse is the fact that the Fitbit Flex does not track your heart rate. If you want a more comprehensive view of your health and fitness, then you should just get the Pulse and take better care of your heart.
|Fitbit Flex||Withings Pulse|
|Quality of sleep||Yes||Yes|
|Can sync with PC||Yes||No|
|Battery running time||7 days||14 days|
All told, the Fitbit Flex is a good choice if you want a fitness tracker that you can wear on your wrist and if you do not mind having to check your statistics on your smartphone. It is also good for those people who want a water-resistant tracker.
But the Withings Pulse is much more affordable. You can buy a new one for around $30 less than the Fitbit Flex. With its display, you can view your fitness data right on the device itself. It is also the better choice for those who want to monitor their heart rate.