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420 of 433 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little better than the excellent Fitbit One
New info added April 22, 2014

Before you buy a Withings Pulse, you should know about the new Withings "Pulse O2" which is just now hitting the store shelves.

The Pulse O2 appears to be a new version of the Pulse. But it's actually identical to the original Pulse with a wrist-band holder added. The Pulse O2 retails for $20 more than the Pulse, and...
Published 11 months ago by Ron Cronovich

versus
153 of 162 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this.
I wanted to like this device, I was trying to convince myself that it was better than the Fitbit One, but it just can't beat 4 years and 3 revisions of experience. I own the Withings Smart Scale, which is amazing, and I wanted to keep within that ecosystem, but it isn't cutting it.

I owned both the Pulse and the One at the same time for a few days and I had my...
Published 11 months ago by L. Thomas


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420 of 433 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little better than the excellent Fitbit One, August 3, 2013
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
New info added April 22, 2014

Before you buy a Withings Pulse, you should know about the new Withings "Pulse O2" which is just now hitting the store shelves.

The Pulse O2 appears to be a new version of the Pulse. But it's actually identical to the original Pulse with a wrist-band holder added. The Pulse O2 retails for $20 more than the Pulse, and you can buy the wrist-band holder separately for $15 (directly from Withings, and probably from Amazon before long).

The Pulse O2 has the ability to measure your blood oxygen level. But so does the original Pulse after you download the latest firmware update. This new feature uses the same hardware as the original Pulse--the sensor on the back of the device where you place your finger to measure your heart rate.

The Pulse O2 comes with a wrist-band holder. You can slide the Pulse into it and wear it like a wrist-band style tracker, such as the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP. But please note: the Pulse is not as water-resistant as other wrist-trackers, so you must take it off when showering or when jogging or cycling in the rain.

Also, note that in order to use the heart rate or O2 sensor, you must take the Pulse out of the wrist-band holder so that you can place your figure on the sensor on the back of the device. In other words, you don't get real-time heart rate monitoring with the Pulse. (But to be fair, most other trackers in this price range don't measure heart rate or O2 levels at all.)

Again, the only difference between the original Pulse and the Pulse O2 is the O2 costs $20 more but includes a wrist band holder that's available separately for $15. I recommend buying the original Pulse instead of the O2 and saving $20. You can always get the wrist band holder later if you want.

My original review follows:
----

I'm a big fan of activity trackers. After buying my first one, an original Fitbit when they first came out, I started paying attention to how much walking I was doing, which motivated me to walk more. I upgraded to a Fitbit One when they came out, and loved it. Now I have a Withings Pulse. If you're trying to choose between them, you can't go wrong with either, the similarities outweigh the differences. But there are some differences, I think the Pulse is a little better, on balance.

Both of these activity trackers use accelerometers and altimeters to track your steps and elevation gain, and both provide rough estimates of calories burned and distance traveled. Both can be used to track your sleep (albeit somewhat crudely and inaccurately). Both are tiny and easy to wear (and to lose, if you're not careful!). Both allow syncing to smartphones via bluetooth.

Reasons why I like the Pulse better:

The Pulse has better battery life: I'm getting 11-12 days between charges, with frequent syncing and pulse checking. With the Fitbit, I never got more than 6 days from a charge. (UPDATE: My first full charge with the Pulse lasted 11 days. My second lasted 15 days. I think this is because during the first week, I was checking the display and/or syncing with my iPhone very frequently because the Pulse was new and novel.)

The Pulse can measure your heart rate, the Fitbit cannot. It's easy to do, though you have to press the button a few times to get to the heart rate screen and then touch the heart icon on the screen in order to activate the feature. The readings are accurate in my experience--I compared them to the readings taken at about the same time from a drug store blood pressure cuff and also my Withings BP cuff.

This feature is important to me. Your resting heart rate is an important indicator of your level of cardiovascular fitness, and for most people the Pulse will be their only gadget to regularly measure (as well as track over time) their heart rate.

The Pulse's altimeter is a little more accurate than Fitbit's. It only counts elevation gain when it also senses that you're walking, so it won't count elevator/escalator rides.

With the latest firmware update, the Pulse can display data from the last couple of days, not just the current day, so you can see how many more steps you need to take to beat yesterday's total.

You'll need to use the Withings health mate app on your smartphone to initially set up your Pulse, update its firmware, and of course track your measurements over time. I think the app is perfectly adequate but I'm not crazy about it. It shows all the information it collects from the Pulse, and shows neat graphs of your measurements over time, and more. I already had the Withings scale and blood pressure monitor, which use the same app.

The Withings app connects with lots of other fitness apps to share each other's data. I've connected my Withings app with MyFitnessPal (for tracking food consumption) and RunKeeper (for tracking my bicycle rides and jogs). There are some apps it doesn't work with, such as MapMyRide, my preferred bike ride tracking app. But it works with many apps, and more are added every few months. The Withings app also works with competitors' apps, like FitBit and Jawbone UP, so you could get a FitBit One or FitBit Flex and use it with the Withings app (though not sure why you'd want to do this, unless you already have the Withings scale or BP cuff). The extent of integration and information sharing with external apps varies from app to app; it might be that your favorite app can import just a little of the data collected by the Withings app, or vice versa.

The Fitbit has one feature the Pulse lacks: you can set an alarm and the Fitbit will vibrate when the alarm goes off. I never used this, but some people find it helpful. A friend must sleep with ear plugs (her husband snores), so she can't hear her alarm clock in the morning; the vibrating FitBit alarm is therefore really handy for her.

On the negative side, the Pulse's display in direct bright sunlight is very faint and almost impossible to read.

Another negative for some people: you MUST have a compatible device with Bluetooth 4.0 to setup and to sync the Pulse. Compatible devices include most Android phones and iPhones/iPads/iPod touches released in the past few years. It doesn't sync with Blackberries, Windows phones, certain older Android phones, or even computers. The Fitbit One can sync with computers (using a tiny USB dongle that comes with the Fitbit) or with a smartphone with Bluetooth 4.0.

This is a dealbreaker for people without the right gear. So, please check that your phone or tablet is compatible before buying.

If you DO have a compatible smartphone or device, the setup and syncing in my experience work perfectly (though after browsing other reviews, I see a few people have had some issues).

The Pulse syncs with your smartphone/device periodically, maybe 3-4 times a day. If you want to see up-to-the-minute data on your smartphone, you can force a sync by long-pressing the button; this works fine.

Whenever the Pulse syncs with your device, the data is automatically uploaded to your Withings account in the cloud, and you can then view it at my.withings.com. This is useful if your phone has a small screen, and you'd rather see the data on a bigger display.

I've tried the sleep monitoring with the Pulse and the Fitbit One. I have sleep apnea so I was particularly interested in this feature. I think the Pulse and Fitbit One are not especially accurate at measuring sleep time or quality. But, if you track your sleep regularly over time, you can see the trends, which can be helpful. Just don't expect too much.

Bottom line: If you're trying to decide between the Fitbit One and Withings Pulse, I recommend the Pulse (as long as you have a compatible smartphone--check this first!). If you already have a Withings scale or blood pressure cuff (both of which are excellent in my opinion), it's a no-brainer.

Yet, I think the Fitbit One is also very good, and does almost everything the Pulse does; at the moment I'm writing this, Amazon has the Fitbit on sale (it's normally the same price as the Pulse).

If you already have a Fitbit, it's probably not worth buying the Pulse unless you really need the integrated heart rate monitor.

If you're trying to decide between the Pulse and a wrist-band type tracker, like the Jawbone UP or Fitbit Flex, I can't help you--I haven't tried those. The wrist band format is great for some folks, but not for me.

---
UPDATE October 2013:

I've had this for a few months now and wanted to address a couple issues that keep popping up in the negative reviews.

1) Defects. I haven't had any problems; all functions of the Pulse work as advertised for me. But it looks like a fair number of people have had problems with syncing, or the heart-rate feature not working, or other issues. It's possible that there's a higher-than-normal defect rate. I'd urge anyone considering this product to purchase from a retailer--like Amazon--that has an excellent no-questions-asked return policy of at least 30 days. It is not at all uncommon for the earliest production run of a brand new product to have a higher than normal defect rate, which gets ironed out in subsequent production runs. So I expect that, going forward, the defect rate will be lower and most people will get perfectly functioning units. But still, be safe and make sure you get a 30 or more day return policy.

2) Accuracy. My Pulse is "reasonably" accurate. Sure, there are days when it shows much more or much less steps/distance than I've actually covered, and nights when it shows I'm asleep when I know I was awake. But when I look at the long-run trends on the Withings Health-Mate app or the withings website, they look pretty accurate. I've had two previous fitbit units, and the same was true with them. These activity trackers all work pretty much the same way, and are not going to be perfectly accurate on any given day; where they're useful in my opinion is seeing patterns and trends. Now, a few folks here report their Pulse (or their Fitbit) is wildly inaccurate every day, like showing they climbed 50 floors when they sat at their desk most of the day. That sounds like a defect. Send it back for a new one (if you're within the return period--and if you have a defective unit, you're likely to see the problems within the first 30 days). My point here is that we should have reasonable and realistic expectations about what these little gadgets can do for us. For some people, the accuracy (of a non-defective unit) is not good enough; fine, send it back. But I think the fitness trackers in this price class provide highly useful and motivating information when used daily over time.

3) Heart-rate feature. Some people expect that the Pulse can constantly monitor their heart rate during exercise, like a Polar heart rate chest strap / wristwatch monitor. It cannot. The Pulse will measure and record your heart rate if you push the little button a bunch of times then put your finger on the back. I consider it best for taking your resting heart rate a couple times a week, and seeing how this changes over time as you get more fit. If you want real-time heart rate monitoring during exercise, a very reasonable thing to want, then the Pulse is not the right product for you.

* * *

Still happy with my Pulse after all these months. But, I've ordered a new Fitbit Force, which should arrive in a few weeks. Looking forward to comparing them.
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153 of 162 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this., August 10, 2013
By 
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
I wanted to like this device, I was trying to convince myself that it was better than the Fitbit One, but it just can't beat 4 years and 3 revisions of experience. I own the Withings Smart Scale, which is amazing, and I wanted to keep within that ecosystem, but it isn't cutting it.

I owned both the Pulse and the One at the same time for a few days and I had my gripes with both, but the Fitbit won in the end. I will list how the Withings is better:
- Easy to slip in and out of the belt clip
- Touchscreen and history is a great addition.
- Bluetooth 2.0 support, no need for a dongle for your PC. (I own an Android)
- The heart rate monitor is a neat feature, but it is nothing my phone can't do.
- Micro USB charging is convenient and you don't need a proprietary device to charge.
- Elevation is measured in feet, and not floors.
- The battery life is impressive, but isn't any better than the Fitbit One. I never went over a week without the "20%" notification popping up.

Now I will list its drawbacks from the One:
- The overall build quality feels cheaper.
- Belt clip is not as tight and it HAS disconnected from my body a couple times.
- Soft touch plastic scratches way to easy.
- No vibrate function, which is honestly very handy with my Fitbit.
- No right/left handed options. So when it it clipped on your right side the display is upside down.
- No way to calibrate your stride.

** 8 Aug 2013 - I don't know if the Fitbit does this, but I lost an entire day of activity because my Pulse didn't turn off of sleep mode. I think that this device would benefit from a firmware update that would automatically turn off sleep mode when it detects steps for a certain amount of time. I was running around airports all day and noticed tonight that I slept for 22 hours...**

Sure the ability to view history and take your pulse is neat, but those functions are rendered obsolete when you are using the device with a smartphone. I can view history on my phone, take my pulse, track my diet, and much more. Fitness trackers are made to show you how active you are in the day and night. At the end of the day, Fitbit has a much more refined product. Sure it isn't compatible with USB 2.0, but the Fitbit can be synced using the computer. I spend hours of my day next to a computer, and syncing is no problem. Just not immediate.

It's the small things that the Withings wins in, but that's what they are, small things. Fitbit has used their experience in the fitness market and made a great upgrade to the older devices that were already fantastic. Maybe Withings will come out with a armband that will blow things out of the water.
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100 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad...., August 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
I own both the Fitbit (the old school simple one you put on your belt) and Nike Fuel, and now the Pulse. My comments below reflect the first few days w/ the product. I'll update this review once I have more time with the unit.

It's very small, almost too small. I am very concerned about losing it, but I love the way it integrates into the Withings ecosystem.

The build quality is not bad, it is only 8grams so it's feather light. BUT: Don't wear it in the shower like you can w/ the Nike Fuel, or it will end poorly - it's not water resistant.

1) I am having trouble getting to read my pulse. I can't seem to figure out the 'sweet spot' for my finger on the rear sensor. I with the display would tell me when I am in a good spot and it's measuring my pulse so I know to stay still.

2) I like the sleep analysis...but I have NO idea what to do w/ the data. Deep sleep? Ok? Light ? Yup. But how do I make my sleep better?
Also, I wish I could set it up to automatically detect the time and flip to sleep mode. I don't like having to manually do it.

3) I wish there was more feedback on the UI. Beeps or haptic feedback would be great. I also wish it had an alarm and vibration to wake me up. It's on my wrist, why not take advantage of that placement and be a wake up alarm?

4) The UI is simple and very nice but not very readable in direct Sunlight

5) The iPhone App is great - I can manually sync the data even while the app is not open

6) No way to sync to a PC or Mac...you must have an iPhone or Android device to set it up.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But Could be Better. Wait for 2nd Generation *Updated*, August 20, 2013
By 
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
I pre-ordered the Pulse from the Withings website. I have a Withings Scale and Blood Pressure Monitor and couldn't be happier with either of them. The Pulse has nearly all the functionality I wanted in an activity tracker and has great potential. I've worn it daily for just over 6 weeks. It's a good first offering. However, it isn't perfect.

The good things:

It integrates very well into my Bluetooth phone and the Healthmate application. Setup was painless.

The battery life is excellent. I use it 24/7 and it the battery lasts well over two weeks. Recharging is easy and takes very little time. When I sit at my desk to work for a long period of time, I put the Pulse on the charger and in a couple of hours, it's full.

It's small, lightweight and unobtrusive. I clip it on my belt during the day and forget its there.

It uploads its data throughout the day without intervention.

Its firmware upgrades via Bluetooth from the phone app.

Now, for the not so good:

My first concern is there is no way to calibrate stride. There is absolutely no way for it to accurately measure distance without knowing the average stride of the wearer. The further you walk, the more the error accumulates. If you have a short stride, then your distance will be overstated; a long stride understated. I've addressed this with Withings and asked for a way to calibrate the Pulse, but have received no response to date.

Second, the Elevation measurement is suspect. I've actually measured my elevation change and compared it to the Pulse. For several days I kept track of the number of times I climbed the stairs in my home. The elevation change is ~9 feet from top to bottom. Some days, the Pulse did a reasonable job, but most days it underestimated my elevation change by at least 60%. Walking from my car to my office is an elevation change of at least 18' involving a hill and stairs. I've made the trip twice today. I've also climbed the stairwell in my home twice, yet the Pulse only shows a total change of 22'. It's neither consistent nor accurate.

Third, the protective coating which covers the soft plastic body is flaking and peeling. This is a bit disturbing considering this device is to be worn during vigorous workouts, can be kept in your pockets and is potentially subject to harsh use. The front of my Pulse is beginning to show surface scratches in the plastic as a result. So far, it is still operating as designed.

Fourth, there is no way to clear measurements nor is there a way to take intermediate measurements. For instance, if I wanted to take a walk during lunch and only measure the distance I traveled during this walk, I could not do so. Of course, you can manually display and remember the step count when you begin and check it when you end. An option to force an upload, clear today's measurements and start over today would be acceptable, but it's not available. Currently the software begins measuring your day's activity anew at 12:00 AM. This can't be altered.

I am still using my Pulse and will continue to do so until a better product appears or it ceases to function. However, having experience with it now, I probably would have waited until the second generation came to market before purchasing. Withings will undoubtedly continue to update the firmware to increase the functionality and accuracy. There has already been one update and there was a noticeable change in step count and distance. However, until they provide a way to calibrate a person's stride, I'm not sure how accurate it can be made.

*** Update 8/20/2013 13:32 ***

In all fairness to Withings, their customer service has always been responsive as witnessed by the comment posted below. Long term, I believe the Pulse will become a great asset to those who are electronically monitoring and tracking their health.

I'm glad to have learned that there are updates coming for the stride calibration and the elevation issues. This demonstrates to me that Withings is working to make a good product even better. Once these issues are addressed and I've had a chance to use them, I'll revise my review. If the solutions are workable, I'll likely up my rating to four stars.

I also should note that I contacted Withings Customer Service for a remedy to the peeling of the outer coating on the Pulse. Without any further inquiry on my part, I was sent an response saying that a replacement is on its way! This is only a few hours after my original contact. This is how customer service should be run! If I could give Withings Customer Service five stars, I would do so without hesitation.

Again, I'm not disappointed in the product overall. It does provide me with some very useful information on my activity. Like all new products, there are teething pains and I believe Withings is working to correct the Pulse's shortcomings and deliver a superior product.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I join the ranks of other disappointed users, September 18, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
My unit worked fine for about two weeks and then it stopped updating the sleep pattern data. After that it stopped updating all info. It no longer syncs with Bluetooth. I have gone to the withings website and followed the instructions for these problems, including a hard reset of phone and the Pulse unit itself. Still not working.

Most of the bad reviews here are for exactly the same problem and nobody seems to be getting good answers.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good luck if this dies!!, September 11, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
I gave it one star only because I really enjoyed using this product while it lasted. Had it all for 5 days when it completely stopped working. No problem, I thought, I will just contact customer service and get a new one shipped out. It has been 2 weeks more than 4 times longer than I had the device and I have had virtually no response from customer service. They still have not authorized a return. This is beyond frustrating and a shame, because it is really a great product when it works. My responses I have received from customer support have been sparse or in my case the last 3 emails I have sent have completely ignored and unanswered. This is not cool, after spending 120 bucks (after shipping) on this product, I am feeling completely ripped off.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing by any measure, September 18, 2013
By 
Shawn M (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
The Pulse has been a disappointing purchase. I don't trust the accuracy of any of its measures, making for a mere novelty toy. Most of the reasons I purchased it turned out to be illusory.
-- The namesake measure, heart rate, is not a monitored rate. Moreover, it's so frequently comically inaccurate that there's no reason to trust any of its measurements.
-- The sleep measure, like the heart rate, requires you interact with the device to get a measurement, unlike competing pedometers. I thought the pulse would tell me how many times I woke up at night, but it doesn't. It would only record a wake-up if I got out of bed.
-- It's dead-on accurate for the amount of time I spend running: it also thinks I run a 7 minute pace. But I don't. So all the runs were off by 20-40%.
-- Similarly the measure of steps seemed practically invented since I could compare it to the actual distance when I run. It's inflated.
-- I bought the pulse for, among other reasons, integration with myfitnesspal. Nope. Doesn't work either.

About a month after purchasing the device, I went for a run on a humid day. The pulse got sweat on it and no longer works (making it far more sensitive to sweat than my iphone). Withings recommends wearing the pulse in its rubber case during activity. But the case collects sweat, making it more likely to get wet. Withings did not respond to my request for support. I can't recommend a device that can easily be bricked by normal use. I'm now the proud owner of a nearly new $100 1 oz paperweight.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not ready for prime time and no support for android users, September 1, 2013
By 
Erin M Flanagan (STERLING, MA, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
My husband and I were really excited to get the pulse (we pre-ordered even) we have used and loved the scale for over a year. Unfortunately, there are lots of problems getting it to sync on our android. We are both very computer savvy but patiently went to customer service. Despite trying many times to email support Withing has left us and our 2 non working devices in the cold and refuses to help. Please realize that there is no support (at least for Android users). This was a very expensive mistake. Please don't make the same mistake. I highly recommend letting them fix the bugs for the next few years.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not ready for release, September 12, 2013
By 
Ryan P (Seattle, WA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
I've had this thing for three weeks now, while some people have mentioned the pulse missing 3-7% of their steps, in my case it only is recording 3-7% of the steps, missing the vast majority of them. This results in some bizarre numbers like having climbed 2450 ft in 1200 steps! (I went on a 8 mi, 3450ft hike that day). Customer support claims software issues, but with little-to-no information on when they're actually going to fix it. Avoid this product for a good long while, they clearly needed to test their software a lot more before releasing it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good start. Too fragile, 70% Replacement Cost, September 26, 2013
By 
andreas838 (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker + Sleep and Heart Rate Monitoring, Black (Sports)
Already have a Withings scale which we're very happy with and so was very excited to try the Pulse.

Initial experience was great but by accident the unit was damaged in way that it should have been built to survive. This device is not robust enough to be an activity tracker.

Customer Service offered a replacement unit at 70% of the purchase price. My view is that this is far too high.

Given its fragility and the high replacement cost, I wouldn't recommend entering into a relationship which will probably cost hundreds to maintain over time.
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