The Withings Pulse O2 is alike and unlike similar sport and fitness bands available on the market today. It has many of the same functionalities, although falling short in some areas, as its competitors but one unique feature not found among other big name brands. The Pulse o2 can tell you what your blood oxygen saturation levels are. While it can be worn many ways and comes in a couple of colors what you should be wondering is “Why should I consider this?” as the sport/ fitness band to take home. Below I will outline the features, benefits, and drawbacks, as well as briefly pointing out how this band compares to a few of it’s competitors.
A large part of choosing a specific item when you have multiple choices and options is knowing what that item has to offer you and what it means for you specifically. I will be drawing your attention to the features of the Withings Pulse O2 and what those features are capable of.
- Pedometer (Tracking Step/ Stride Count)
One of the main features of the Withings Pulse O2 and its primary use is its ability to keep track of how many steps you take throughout the day, and the distance walked. We all know that walking is good for you, but can it make that big of a difference? It sure can, The same philosophy can be applied here as saving money, it all adds up. Whether you choose to take the stairs instead of riding the escalator or elevator could burn off a decent amount of calories and just choosing to do this two, three, or four times a day can add up! An excellent feature of the Surge is that it allows you to pull up a ten-day history to see how you are stacking up against yourself. Not only in the amount of steps you have taken, but the distance walked, altitude ascended and descended, and the calories you’ve burned. It’s easy to understand how this can impact your daily routine in a positive way if you think you can take advantage of it.
- Measure Your Blood Oxygen Levels (Built In Pulse Oximeter)
This is the feature I was referring to in the introduction, while a useful piece of data to have may not be entirely necessary for many athletes unless you train at high elevations or are an alpinist like me (climbing high mountains) to monitor the threat of hypoxia. While nowhere near as accurate as a blood test done in a laboratory, this will give you a good idea.
Many people won’t know off the top of their head what this means for them, so let me break it down for you in a very simple way. Your blood oxygen saturation level or oxygen saturation should be higher, around 95 to 100 percent. This test is a way of assessing the overall efficiency of your respiratory function, When your saturation levels are lower it can cause faster muscle fatigue and longer recuperation times, and in extreme cases, sickness. Your blood needs oxygen in order to keep your organs and tissues beautiful and healthy.
- Sleep Monitor (Monitoring your Sleep Cycles)
THe sleep tracking feature of the Withings Pulse O2 is very simple to use once you keep a few things in mind. First you have to use the wristband so that it lies against your skin enabling the sensors to work properly. Second you have to start and stop the sleep monitor which is easy to navigate to and terminate. Third you sleep. Lastly, you should review the data collected on your smartphone or the dashboard on your PC. Why is this important? The different sleep cycles and how long you spent in each of them will affect how well rested you are when you wake up. Not getting enough deep or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep can impact the healing your body does both mentally and physically, Knowing this you now have the options of changing a few things to spend you time abed more effectively, and in some cases reduce the amount of time you sleep giving you an efficient edge on the upcoming day.
- Instant Heart Rate Monitor
The Withings Pulse O2 heart rate in a heartbeat can give you a near instantaneous reading heart rate reading by sensing the time between pulses and extrapolating the data from there. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage and makes me wish that they gave you a choice between the instant reading and a more classic method. While conducting the reading during a plateau, this will give a surprisingly accurate read, however while warming up and cooling down, for instance, your rate will change moderately quickly providing you with wildly inaccurate results.
- Calories Burned
The Withings Pulse O2 can actually tell you how many calories you’ve burned and lets you compare that number to its history and also syncs the data to the Healthmate app. Monitoring your calorie intake and having a more active view of your burn rate can help you melt off the pounds. If you use it! You want that extra cream cheese for your morning bagel? Treat yourself, but then pick a couple things throughout the day to burn it off, like walking to the diner and back instead of taking a cab or driving.
- A Simple Running Monitor
You can analyze your jog or run in real time with the Withings Pulse O2. It’s the easiest function this little gadget boasts, and the first stats that come up when you touch the Pulses one button. Having stats like that are helpful especially when they are that readily available. Just a tap away from the duration of your workout and the distance you have gone.
- An Excellent Battery Life
The Withings Pulse O2 has an exceptional battery life averaging out to about 14 days or two weeks between charges and you can eke out a little more power by turning off the screen as well. It’s simple enough and you probably already have an extra charger or three to take care of this though one comes with it in the box. It uses a standard Micro USB charging cable and only takes between one or two hours to completely charge it. This short and speedy charge time means that if you actually only plugged it in while you are in the shower it could be worn continuously without ever having to worry about your Withings Pulse O2 ever running out of juice. Another benefit to the half month-long battery life and my favorite is that it is perfect to take with you on a week long hiking/ camping trip or an interstate cycling marathon.
- The App Bundle
Well, not a bundle, more like a single app and website that keep track of all your stats called “Health Mate” and your Withings.com account. With your purchase of the Withings Pulse O2 you get a free membership and access to all of the cool things you can do with your Pulse O2 like “Manage your weight”, “Be more active”, “Control your heart”, and “Sleep better”.
- With the “Manage your weight” section you can:
- Keep track of your weight and even purchase on of the Withings scales to wirelessly sync your data and track your progress.
- Track your calorie intake and burn rate with “My Fitness Pal”.
- Keep track of your short and long term goals and create daily and weekly achievements.
- The “Be more active” section helps you to:
- Track steps walked.
- See calories burned.
- Keep track of distance traveled 24 hours a day seven days a week.
- Challenge your friends to certain criteria.
- View badges you earn through benchmarks and milestones.
- “Control your heart” lets you track your blood pressure and give you instant feedback on norms and averages and also allows you to share the results with your doctor or friends.
- The “Sleep better” section is great for:
- Precisely assessing your sleep.
- Showing you your sleep habits in charts and graphs.
The two biggest benefits to the Withings, Pulse O2, are its two-week battery life which for what this device can do is truly inspired. The other is its built-in pulse oximeter a unique (for now) addition. The versatility to carry this tracker with you in so many ways will make it something you will soon not leave home without it. Having the option to put it in a bag or your pocket will appeal to certain people while others may choose to utilize the included clip that can be hung from your belt, waistband, shirt, or pocket. As far as using the wrist strap which many may prefer to the other methods of tote, you may be surprised to find that the case the strap attaches to is standardized giving you the option to choose your own band, allowing for further versatility for fashion and or function.
When you take into account the above mentioned benefits and remember that the Withings Pulse O2 also has built into it a pedometer, GPS, heart rate monitor, and sleep sensor you might find that this is the device for you, but I beg of you, read a little more before you make your final decision,
While I believe to have pointed out all of the features and benefits for the Withings Pulse O2 I would be remiss if I did not mention the drawbacks I have noticed in my review of the item. While the Pulse O2 has some amazing functionality, it is not in essence a standalone device. It is more of a peripheral intended to be paired with a smartphone and or a tablet. Without such a device, the Pulse O2 is a little more than a glorified pedometer, and heart rate/ oximeter monitor needing more than is natively equipped to compile the raw data it stores and collects. While I am talking about the heart rate monitor, I would like to point out the way that it measures your pulse again if you did not catch it earlier in the review, It measures the time between your pulses and extrapolates the rate from there instead of monitoring your pulse rate for a specified amount of time and averaging out the heart rate. This is a very inaccurate method and is sporadic in it’s results. With the exception being, for instance, you have been running steadily at the same rate and range of incline where your pulse is steady in its rhythm. In this and similar instances, you should receive a moderately accurate reading. As an additional warning, I would like to stress this device is not waterproof and should not be put in situations where that might be an issue. This is in reality an ideal device for someone who is not regularly and intensely active, more for the casual hobbyist, so, not for enthusiastic runners, cyclists, or swimmers to name a few.
What else is out there?
The Microsoft band is an alternative, but with a little more options and usability it may still fall short of what you are looking for. It isn’t waterproof either and only has a two-day battery life, not to mention the fitness software leaves one wanting. While it does incorporate many similar features, it seems mostly to be a smartphone peripheral with some fitness sensors thrown in very similar to the Withings Pulse O2.
The Nike Fuel Band doesn’t have a heart rate monitor or GPS but can boast of a battery life that can be stretched to over a year. It just doesn’t do it for me as a health and fitness accessory especially with the lack of a display beyond a few simple LED indicators.
The Garmin Vivosmart seems to be a leader as it contains many high-end features and is built more for the active enthusiast. The battery life is half the life of the Withings Pulse O2, offering you a realistic usability especially if what you are taking a weekend hiking trip. While the Vivosmart is a great straightforward device with many capabilities such as a digital compass, GPS, and heart rate monitor, the Pulse O2 also allows you match and compare a record of your prior activities and also that of your friends adding a competitive nature to your workout routines if that is what you enjoy, or even just competing against yourself if that is what you want,
The Withings Pulse O2 comes in two different colors, well, the device only comes in the one color, but the bands and clip cases they come with come in black and blue. In the box, you can expect to get a Withings Pulse O2, silicone and metal clip, the wristband, a micro-USB charging cable, quick installation guide, and a free Withings account. The 128 by 32 pixel large OLED touchscreen screen is quite durable but not indestructible. All in all this is a nice device for the fitness hobbyist that would love to augment their daily gear with a smart little piece of wearable technology for a very reasonable price, this little wonder retails for under $120 in the US.