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For many years I used a digital scale that gave me a different readout each time I used it. I like to weigh daily but found that stepping up and down on the scale several times to get an average weight was frustrating. I thought that was the norm with scales until I started reading scale reviews and discovered that many people found the Tanita line to be accurate. If they weighed several times in a row they got a consistent readout. They did not have to take an average as I did with my Health-O-Meter. As a treat to myself, for losing 10 pounds, I decided to purchase a Tanita and after doing some research opted for the Tanita BC533.

The Tanita BC533 is a state of the art scale that measures your weight (to two-tenths of a pound), body fat, visceral fat, bone mass, metabolic age and muscle mass. It is very simple to operate. You input your height, weight, average physical activity level and age. The Tanita will remember this information for up to four people so you only have to do it once, unless your information changes. (There is also a guest mode if a visitor wants to try it.) Once you have programmed the scale you toe tap your number, step on the platform and you will see your weight and body fat measurement. (Note - If you wear socks the body fat measurement will not work.) Then you can toe tap other buttons of your choice. A little figure gives you a visual cue as to what the buttons are. For example for muscle mass the figure is holding weights. For bone mass there is a tiny skeleton inside the figure. You decide which body composition features you wish to check. You may for example want to check your bone mass once a month, or then again you may want to check it weekly. It's up to you. It's as simple as pressing the corresponding button, and takes only seconds.

Tanita has also introduced the Ironman Innerscan line. I was not sure of the difference so I called customer service. Amber went out of her way to explain the benefits of the Innerscan line, and the basic difference between the regular Innerscan and the Ironman. The Ironman gives you your BMI or basal metabolic caloric rate. This is the basic number of calories your body needs. The regular Innerscan (like the BC533) gives you your DCI instead. The DCI is a calculation where the BMI is multiplied by your activity level to tell you the number of calories you are taking in to maintain the weight you are. When you see this information you can then adjust up or down to help you gain or lose weight or stay the same. Nifty!

Tanita includes a guide with the scale that explains exactly how the scale works. The scale is a bioimpedence device. A low level current (which you don't feel) passes through your body and the impedance or resistance level is used to calculate body composition. The booklet explains healthy ranges of body fat and also explains what body water percentage, visceral fat, etc. mean.

The scale is also very attractive. Sleek styling and easy to use. Those with poor vision may find the buttons a little hard to see. But the visual clues will help. Despite the glass surface the scale stays very clean.

The BC533 is an outstanding tool to help you accomplish your health goals!
33 comments|652 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 17, 2005
Being an avid swimmer, cyclist, runner, and outdoors fanatic, I decided to buy the Tanita BC533 to monitor my fitness beyond just body weight. I researched around the web and found mostly positive reviews on Tanita scales. I've also considered the Tanita Iron Man BC554 with similar user modes and more recall capabilites but the BC533 just looks more stylish: shaped like a chromosome. Amazon offered a good price with free shipping and a $30 gift certificate for Tanita Body Composition Monitors. Subtract another $30 from that if one applies for the Amazon visa: an Win-Win transaction!

To get accurate measurements, one would need to obtain readings under consistent conditions, i.e., approx. same time of the day, no meals within 3 hrs., similar hydration conditions, etc. I found most of the functions to be helpful: Weight, %Body fat, %Total body water (makes sure one is not dehydrated), Visceral fat % (getting rid of fat around the waist), Muscle mass & Physique rating (making sure one is not losing muscle mass while reducing fat), Bone mass (making sure one is not calcium/mineral deficient and losing bone mass), DCI (Daily Caloric Intake=amount of calories one need to intake the next 24hrs. to maintain current weight)& Metabolic age (calculates one's Basal Metabolic Rate and age associated with that age). The BC533 comes with batteries, an easy to understand manual, and a body composition measurements guide. Holy moley, my metabolic age is 16!

Updated 12-31-06: My Tanita BC533 is still working well. Periodic cleaning of the sensor surfaces has kept the weight measurements fairly consistent. The % body fat and other measurements tend to vary since users can't duplicate exact measuring conditions EVERY time. For <$50, don't expect "sports clinic" accuracy levels of physiological measurements. I exercise regularly and eat healthy foods (as much as I want) so preventing weight (fat) gain and maintaing muscle mass is not a problem; and this scale has been helpful.
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on July 7, 2008
I purchased this product several weeks ago and was a little hesitant to do so based upon the many negative reviews regarding how the scale calculates one's bodyfat (and several other tests). Let me first say that my primary goal is tracking how much I weigh on a daily basis and keeping close tabs on my bodyfat level and lean mass numbers. Back to my story though: I was very hesitant to buy the scale because there were quite a few reviews that said that the bodyfat readings were off (some claimed way off) and that the scale was only useful to get an accurate bodyweight reading. After quite a few tests and comparisons, I have to disagree with many of the reviewers. I was pleasantly surprised at how accurate the bodyfat readings are.

I routinely get my bodyfat tested via a technique called BodPod. Hydrostatic weighing is the gold-standard when it comes to figuring out one's bodyfat and lean mass but finding a facility to do hydrosatic weighing has proven very difficult for me and from what I understand it is quite a production and I'm sure not inexpensive. To make a long story short, I had a BodPod test done just this past weekend and I weighed myself on the Tanita BC-533 and the Tanita scale was off by by less than half a percentage point. The BodPod test showed that my lean mass was about 5 pounds more than what the Tanita was showing but the fact that it showed virtualy the same bodyweight and same bodyfat as an expensive BodPod unit really impressed me.

So what about the discrepancy in lean mass? Well, the way that I look at it is if my lean mass goes up on the Tanita then I've gained muscle. Period. To me it's not a big deal if my lean mass is not dead accurate - I'm mainly concerned with knowing if I've gained or lost lean mass. The precise number is not so important as knowing if you're regressing or progressing. That's the big thing that I think a lot of the negative reviewers are missing.

Second of all, in many of the negative reviews, not many people have a reference to what their accurate bodyfat or lean body mass is to begin with. Frankly, I think people who step on the scale think they're in far better shape than what they are and get offended when they see a hight bodyfat percentage number. The only rational scientific way to compare is to have hydrostatic weight, BodPod, or ACCURATE skin-fold caliper numbers and then compare those to the Tanita products. Sorry to tell ya people, but skin-fold calipers numbers can vary widly due to the accuracy of the practitioner and quality of the calipers themselves. It's probably safe to to say that there is at least a +/- accuracy of 5 percent when it comes to skin-fold calipers...and probably even more if your practitioner is trying to make you feel better by fudging the numbers. Not to say that skin-fold calipers are a waste; if that's the only option available to you then use it but don't be surprised if your 10% skin-fold caliper reading is really 15% when done by more accurate, alternate testing.

Anyways, for people who are very concerned about keeping track of their bodyweight and bodyfat, I highly recommend this product. Yes, it's expensive but if you're someone who values the features that this scale offers, then it's not a bad deal. If you're someone who just wants to keep track of your weight, I'm sure there are other less expensive alternatives available so you may want to look at something else (by the way, my Homedics scale that I had previously been using is consistenly 2 pounds heavier than the Tanita and it also fluctuates more widly than the Tanita).

Setup was pretty easy and straightforward. The only issue that I had was deleting the programming that I had entered into the #1 button on the scale. It took me several minutes to figure out how to reset the programming for a particular button. I did manage to figure it out though. The other thing that I feel I should point out, because it is important, is the "average vs. athlete" setting on the Tanita. I found that only after setting my particular setting to the athlete mode did I have accurate bodyfat readings. I'm not privy to the equation that makes the "average vs. athlete" settings different, but when I plugged in all of my numbers into the Tanita, I got a bodyfat percentage that was higher than what it should be. I want to say that it was 3 to 4 percentage points higher than what my BodPod numbers reflected. After I saw that, I went through and reset my settings to have the "athletic" setting. Keep in mind that Tanita says you should excercise for 10+ hours a week and have a resting heart rate of 60 or less to qualify for the "athletic" seetting. I'm somewhat close to both of those criteria so I went ahead and reset my settings to reflect the "athletic male" setting and I've been very happy thus far.

I've found that the scale is most accurate after I've been up for 4 to 6 hours and have had a meal and am properly hydrated. I always weigh myself in the morning, upon awaking, and the bodyfat numbers that I get are about 2 percentage points off. Big deal, right? Nope. Because I weigh myself first thing every morning I know that if the bodyfat number goes up (even if it is not dead-on accurate) then my bodyfat has increased. If it goes down, then I know that I've lost bodyfat. The morning is the only time that I can consistently weight myself under the exact same conditions and that's why I don't rely on the Tanita solely in the evening. Things like caffeine consumption, hydration levels, last time you ate, etc., can affect the numbers that you get on your Tanita so even though my numbers aren't completely "true" in the morning they are the baseline that I write down to see where I stand.
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on November 4, 2005
The scale seemsd accurate for body weight and relatively consistent with expectations for body fat %. Their algorithms for the other, dependent variables leave a lot to be desired. Their estimate of my skeletal mass, lean muscle mass, and required maintenance calories can vary by more than 10% overnight! Visceral fat rating shows much more stability. It's pretty hard to assess even the average accuracy of any of the outputs except for weight, for lack of comparison standards.

The stability of the displayed weight measurement is nice, especially compared to the touchiness of analogue scales.

Not exactly intuitive to set up and use, but not too hard to learn.

Atractive, convenient structural design - I love the thin-ness - but it is tippy, so care must be exercised.
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on June 7, 2005
After reading the review for the Tanita BC533 Glass Innerscan Body Compositon Monitor in the U.S. News & World Report, May 16, 2005, we decided to buy one. The scale is well worth the price, $119.99, for it provides so much more information than just weight. It calculates body fat and water percentages, visceral fat (the amount of fat around the organs), bone mass, metabolic age (the average age associated with your metabolism), a physique rating, and an estimate of daily calories to maintain your current state.

This scale is a real motivator to get into shape. Everyone who has tried the scale wants to eat healthier and can't wait to get back onto the scale to see the results. It is a real eye opener!
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on October 21, 2005
My family has been using this scale for about 3 weeks. Our initial observations are:

1. It measures more consistently than our previous spring loaded scale;

2. It was fairly easy to setup and program for each person;

3. During the initial "Gee Whiz" stage, everyone goes through all the information it calculates. After about a week, the only thing we are using is weight and body fat percentage;

4. It is not calibrated for kids;

5. I like it enough that I am buying one to give as a gift for Christmas.
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on October 3, 2005
I've used this scale and i've found some serious flaws. First, besides the weight measurement, none of the other readings are TRUE readings. All the readings such as Fat%, Body Muscle%, Water% is ESTIMATED. When you first get the scale you have to enter in your height, age, sex, and level of activity. The level of activity is the most important factor, basically you tell the scale if you live a normal life of activity, moderate life of activity were you do some excercise or your an athelete with intense physical activity a few times a week.

The scale uses the bioimpedance and then calculates all of the results using the information that you provided which I believe is not that accurate. For example, I'm 5'11", 27, male however not all 5'11", 27 yr old males are the same, do you see the problem? So basically alot of their readings are CALCULATED based upon information that you give it, not true measurements of yourself. These are ASSUMPTIONS!!

To test how unaccurate this weight scale is, I stepped on the scale, saying that I live a moderate life style of activity. The scale said my body fat% is 14.3%. I IMMEDIATELY set up the scale again, this time saying i live an atheletic life style and my body fat% is 9.7%????huh?

Which one is it???? And why are they different, shouldn't my fat%, just like my weight be the same??? I mean nothing in my body has changed, just the setting on the scale. Also, all the results of the other features are skewered downward when I choose athlete mode, and vice versa when I choose normal mode. I personally think I'm in pretty decent shape, I don't work out like an athelete, but I do hit the gym, it's probably not "intense" but I do some excercising a few times a week. Quite frankly, I'm not sure if I should be using "athelete" or "moderate" mode, so I really just have no exact measurement of my body fat% or any other measurement(besides weight). I just know I'm somewhere between 9% and 14% which I coulda told you by looking in the dam mirror.

This goes to show you that the scale is using the bioimpedance, but it estimates everything based upon factors. If you read the guide it states that some of the measurements are based upon studies. Like the BMR is based upon some famous study or something....

The scale has always measured my weight consistently. I'll get on the scale weigh myself and then get off and immediately weigh myself again and the weight is the same. HOWEVER, i've weighed myself a few times within a minute and I notice that the body fat%, muscle%, etc. are ALL DIFFERENT. The weight was always the same, but the body fat% was 1/2% off???? the time between weighings was about 10 seconds!!!! I kept doing this over and over and noticed that my body fat% could swing by as much as 1% +/-. More proof this thing is inaccurate.

As this thing goes for over $100 I wouldn't recommend anyone getting it. Unless you really really want to monitor your progress. For example, if your on a diet, you could monitor your progress with this scale, just know that its not the most accurate thing and that the readings are really just BALLPARK. If I could do it all over again, I would buy a Tanita scale, but not this top of the line one, I would get the mid grade were you would still get the fat%, less some of the other features, like metabolic age....I mean who needs that??? And what would you do with it? And of course you would save some money.

PROS: Accurate in reading body weight. Lots of features.

CONS: fat%, muscle%, etc. are all based upon bioimpedance and assumptions according to the info you enter into the scale. So it's not truly accurate. Most of the features are really useless.

BOTTOM LINE: Not worth the $100+ in my opinion. If fat% is important, your better off just getting a Tanita scale, but a mid-grade model that reads weight, fat% and muscle%. It's really all you need.
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on May 22, 2008
Be wary of Tanita and their warranty claims. The product itself was decent, and fairly accurate, however Tanita is not a company that prides itself in customer service and product support. I used my scale in a normal bathroom environment, and after just 3 months you could see evaporation underneath the screen. I don't know if a gasket had a crack in it, or what the issue might have been, but the unit couldn't withstand the normal humidity of a bathroom. In fact, the unit was a good 20 feet from any active water, like a shower and tub.

I shipped the unit in, and without even so much as a courtesy call, the "customer service manager" returned my unit with a note that my warranty claim was refused, even though I had spoken to someone before about the issue, and said it would be replaced no problem. The customer service manager was nice enough, but said that even though it was well within the boundaries of his discretion, he was going to refuse the claim, because they refuse all like claims regarding evaporation. He even admitted that it happens fairly often.

Stay away.

His recommendation? Buy another Tanita, and not place it in the bathroom. Right.
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on March 24, 2006
I was fairly disappointed in the scale. The body fat % is pretty far off from a caliper test. If you just want to know if you are losing body fat it's ok, but if you want to actually know your correct body fat it's off by a few degrees. Also, there are so many restrictions as to when you can weigh in if you want an accurate measurement. Not until after 3 hours after waking, 3 hours after eating, 3 hours after exercise. Since I eat every 3 hours and exercise often it's almost impossible for me to find a time. I am using their suggestion of right before my evening meal which does seem to give me a body fat % close to my caliper measurement but it gives me a higher weight total because I have been eating during the day.

Overall it looks nice and the weight itself seems to be right on compared to my other scale. I don't use the other buttons much because they always read the same thing. And I wouldn't trust the calorie counter that lets you know how much you can eat in calories to maintain your current weight - mine was off by 500 calories per day!! With that I would have been gaining a pound a week.
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on February 2, 2006
The Innerscan was very easy to set up right out of the box. Within minutes, I was stepping on the scale and seeing weight, which I was already painfully aware of. But seeing the body fat percentage really woke me up. I'd already begun changing my diet and exercising more, but knowing that I can now watch the fat percentage go down (please!) and muscle mass increase, I am more inclined to use the scale. I know that watching just weight can be frustrating, as fluctuations due to water weight can be annoying. But I am now even more motivated to continue improving my lifestyle.

I do believe that some convenience of use was traded off for style and appearance... you basically have to step on the scale, wait for weight and body fat % to be read, then get off the scale and either get down on the floor or pick the scale up to check the other readings. The buttons that you press to view bone mass, muscle mass, water %, etc. are fairly small and use icons that aren't easy to see six feet away. But frankly, the two readings that are important to me are weight and body fat %, and those are displayed automatically, so this is a minor inconvenience. And bottom line, it just looks cool.

The documentation provided with the device is excellent, including not just usage instructions, but some real information on what the numbers mean, an overview of healthy goals, keys for getting the most accurate readings, etc.

After using this just once, I'm convinced that everyone should check their body fat percentage on occasion... it may very well come as a surprise.

One extra cool thing is that it measures the fat around the abdominal area, which research is showing is a significant contributor to heart disease. The one area I'm normal on!!
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