It's big, black and wireless - we review the Withings WS-30 scales and find that they punch well above their weight
Fans of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey will fall in love with the Withings WS-30 wireless black scales on first sight. The device is big, black and featureless; it is like having the movie’s monolith in your bathroom.
So far, so impressive. The build quality is solid, the looks are sleek and stealthy – all we need to do now is set it up…
While the hardware engineers and designers deserve a pat on the back, the software team should get a collective slap in the chops. The set-up process is a convoluted mess of software updates, restarts, app searching (the pitiful instructions don’t even the tell you the correct name of the Withings companion app – Health Mate) and Byzantine switching between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.
Eventually we got the WS-30 connected to our Wi-Fi network and syncing with the app on our iPhone, but it was a frustrating and bewildering process to get to that point.
Perhaps the main issue is that the scales do not immediately relay their data to the iPhone – it can take up to 5 minutes for a reading to transfer – which makes it hard to work out if the set-up process is complete.
Once you’re up and running, the WS-30 works like this. First you stand on the scales. The 128×64 pixel display kicks in automatically and starts measuring. The Position Control feature stops you from skewing the measurement by ensuring that you’re standing correctly on the scales – little arrows point out if you’re leaning too far in one direction.
Once you’re stable and standing in the right place the final weight will flash, and then it will match that to a profile set up in the Withings app. A few seconds later, your Body Mass Index (BMI) figure will appear. Finally, if the weather outlook is suitably inclement, sn umbrella icon may appear to remind you to prepare for the worst.
At some point over the next 5 minutes the weight and BMI reading will be transferred to the Withings app. You can track both stats over time, set goals and challenge friends to match weight loss targets or calories burned. The app itself is a bit of a dog’s dinner, with poorly layed out screens, confusing UI and a general lack of focus.
This is because it’s designed to work with a range of Withings accessories, from blood pressure monitors to fitness bands to sleep trackers. This means that there are a lot of features and functions that are peripheral to monitoring your weight or setting up the scales, hence the confusion and overall sense of bloat.
The good news is that the app plays nice with other more polished pieces of software, so the weight and BMI stats can happily be shared with apps like Runtastic or with Apple’s own Health ecosystem.
So there you have it. As a set of connected scales, the Withings WS-30 perform admirably. The measurements are remarkably consistent – if I weigh myself twice within a few moments I nearly always get readings that match or are within 0.1kg of each other.
The scales transfer their data consistently and can recognise the difference between users, if both are sharing the same scales, with comfortable accuracy.
The build quality is exceptional – these scales will last for years, though perhaps not the aeons endured by the monolith they resemble so much. The software is functional if uninspiring, but you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, as the scales mesh seamlessly with Apple’s Health app. With that in mind, we’re happy to give the Withing’s WS-30 Wireless scales a solid recommendation.