The everyday bathroom scale hardly seems to get much love these days. It is often approached with much fear and anxiety, dismounted with a dissatisfied sigh, and falsely accused of being “broken”. FitBit, the company behind the popular FitBit Ultra smart fitness tracker, is hoping that stepping on the scale will be a more enjoyable, motivational experience with their new FitBit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale.
Aria goes far beyond simply making you feel guilty for snacking on that gallon of ice cream the previous night. In addition to tracking your weight, Aria also tracks body fat percentage and calculates the BMI for you and up to seven other people. All the data is privately and securely uploaded with built-in Wi-Fi to FitBit’s online tracking portal, which contains social networking, weight management, and motivational tools.
We had the opportunity to try out Aria this past week to see for ourselves if it could help people reach their fitness goals (and were humbly reminded to step up our gym visits this summer). At $129, is it worth the extra cost over regular mechanical or digital bathroom scales?
Appearance and Design
Aria features a sleek and glossy look that should complement any bathroom attractively. We received a black scale, but it’s also available in white. Both colors feature a simple, but attractive LED display on top that will show your weight and body fat, as well as other status messages. We like the design, as it’s modern without looking too futuristic, but after comparing Aria side-by-side with our other digital bathroom scale, we wonder how easy it will be for dust, water spots, and feet to dull its glossy surface. Time will tell.
We should also note that we weren’t able to test Aria’s battery life. We anticipate, though, that even with the built-in WiFi, it should about as long as most other digital bathroom scales on the market. When Aria does run out of juice, three regular AA batteries (which were included) are all you need to get it running again.
We had a few hiccups in setting up Aria to connect to the internet. The process that FitBit recommends is through their automated setup program that you download from their website. The process requires that you disconnect your computer from any wired/Ethernet, VPN, or any other connections beside Wi-Fi, so that your computer can communicate directly with Aria and configure it to detect your network. We had some issues as the setup program wouldn’t continue the process despite the fact that we were connected only using Wi-Fi. Luckily, FitBit provided a web-based setup that got us up and running without any further interruptions.
Aside from setting up the scale itself, the rest of the process involves setting up an account with FitBit, putting in your vital statistics (gender, height, age, etc.), and setting up a weight goal if desired. You’ll also want to set up Aria so it knows who you are when you step on it. For us, that involved taking a few weight measurements, logging into the FitBit dashboard, and selecting our initials for each of the measurements. From then on, Aria should be able to recognize you based on your weight and body fat measurement history.
Tracking your weight and body fat can’t get much simpler. Simply step on the scale, and after about five seconds, Aria displays your weight on the LCD display. Wait another five seconds, and it’ll display your body fat percent measurement, followed by your initials. Aria does the rest, sending the data wirelessly to the FitBit dashboard where it can be analyzed. It should also be noted that Aria can also be used as a regular digital scale if you don’t have wireless, but of course you won’t be able to harness the power of the FitBit dashboard.
Speaking of the dashboard, it gives you so much more than just historical weight data. You’re able to set a weight goal and a body fat goal, which FitBit uses to customize a basic diet and exercise plan. FitBit’s dashboard becomes much more powerful if you own a FitBit Ultra, which will integrate its data into your fitness goals. FitBit also provides logs for manually keeping track of your heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose. Perhaps they’re getting ready for a future line of FitBit heart rate monitors, sphygmomanometers, and glucose meters? We also love how your health data can be integrated with a number of third-party apps, such as Microsoft HealthVault and MyFitnessPal.
If you own an iPhone or Android, it’s also worth downloading the free companion FitBit app. While the Aria doesn’t sync directly with your mobile device, the app does automatically sync and display information from the FitBit dashboard. The mobile app also provides a quick and easy way for you to log food, physical activity, and water intake.
Aside from the initial setup issues, our experience so far with Aria has been smooth and painless. Tracking our weight is fast and simple, and we dig having the information available on both our computer and our phone. With bathroom scales as cheap as $20, is it worth the extra cost for this high-tech, wireless scale? We think it depends on how you plan on using it. FitBit offers a great number of resources to improve your health, and while it can take much effort to log every meal and every workout, these tools make Aria worth it if you use them. We’re inclined to say you’re better off saving a few dollars on something else if all you plan on doing is occasionally stepping on the scale and looking at a number. We should also note that because we had the $99 FitBit Ultra, it made the FitBit dashboard much more useful in determining how we were doing with our fitness goals. Aria alone is a great tool, but without the FitBit Ultra to complement it, we wonder how empty and less useful the dashboard would be. Overall, we’d say take a look at Aria yourself and see if $129 (plus possibly $99 for a FitBit Ultra) is worth the cost for you to meet your fitness goals this summer.
Product Page: FitBit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale…