Customer Reviews: Tanita BC554 Ironman Glass InnerScan Body Composition Monitor Elite Series
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on August 17, 2005
I've used a simple model from Tanita for over 5 years and was as happy as a man with one clock -- I knew exactly what time it was. The added features of the BC554 were irresistable, but now I had 2 sources of data and they were not in agreement by a significant amount (e.g. 3% body fat difference on a base of 16%).

The weight measurement is as good as ever: precise, accurate and consistent. The best that can be said of the other functions is that they seem to be directionally correct and some are simply 'figures of merit', not measurements at all.

Customer support is surprising. When I asked the inevitable questions via their web site, I received a phone call from them. The answers made sense, but only reinforce my assessment.

It seems that the algorithms are based on a statistical sample using gender, age, height, and 'athleticism'. If your actual profile is close to the sample population, the accuracy is probably pretty good. But as you progress toward 'athletic' and away from the calibration population, accuracy declines.

It seems to me that anyone purchasing this model is serious enough about fitness to fall into this 'no man's land'. The other issue is that I would expect some continuity between the measures for 'standard adult' and 'athletic adult'. But there is a chasm! I measured 19% at 'standard' and 9% at 'athletic'. The first is clearly too high and the second is too low. Maybe a calculated average is closer to an accurate reading, but that is a serious shortcoming in a top-of-the-line product.

So, simpler & cheaper is my recommendation. Accept the idea that you are getting directionally correct numbers that are only accurate if you match the calibration population profile.
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on August 16, 2005
This is a great looking scale, I just wish they hadn't put stickers on the glass part that leave residue which is close to impossible to remove. (see the comments for some excellent tips on how to go about removing this - thank you to all who posted.)

There are several types of Tanita scales out there for choices in functionality. This "high end" model only really gives you an expanded recall function over most of the others, that recall function is horribly engineered by the way. It only recalls the LAST measurements, shows no statistics and is pretty much useless in my opinion. I use a pad and pen, it works ten times better.

The manual that comes with the scale is essentially non-existant, it has a five sentence explanation of what most of the measurements are looking at. It never explains how it comes to these conclusions, mostly for the reason that to explain the calculations, would invariably reveal how innacurate the result set would be.

The other issue with this scale is that the icons backlight by LEDs are about a 1/4 inch big, making it impossible to see them when standing on the scale. The only way to recognize the setting that you are currently looking at is by memory or getting off the scale and down on your knees.

The accuracy of the weight function seems dead on, however, I have had four people step on this scale and the body fat, muscle mass and other "features" are ridiculously off. One of the people to step on the scale was a nutritionist who was very familiar with her measurements and it was way off, by at least 20% in fat measurements.

The biological age feature is a joke, I change ages daily according to the scale. The thing that I will say is that the fluctuations are registered so that you can see if the measurements are either decreasing or increasing.

My suggestion is that if you are interested in these scales, and they do have their merits, go with a lower end model than this one as it is really not worth the extra fifty or so dollars from much similar models. Go out to Tanita's website and compare them to see what you would like to have as far as options are concerned.

For myself, it does give me some record to set goals against and I like that, I just wish I had gone with a more reasonably priced model.

UPDATE: (07/25/2013) - This scale still performs flawlessly in measuring weight so I can say that Tanita scales have longevity as it gets close to daily use, all despite a crack in the glass which although not pleasing to look at has not hindered the functionality. Overall, I certainly do not feel the need to replace it and that it gets the job done.
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on March 9, 2006
This was the top of the line consumer Tanita scale when I bought it ($115 US), and I'm glad I chose this model. I'm sure I won't use it as much as time goes on, but currently I am using it 3 times a day for the last month and plotting all the readouts in excel. I know you don't care, but just to prove that it does work, I have been constantly adding reps to my workout, and I am seeing results only a scale like this could tell me. My weight is staying constant, but my body fat is dropping by 0.06% per day and my muscle mass is increasing by 0.1 lbs per day. That's 3 lbs of muscle and almost 2% body fat in only a month! I only regret I didnt get this scale sooner. Oh, and it only stores your last measurement, so don't expect to track your changes with just the scale.

Their instructions say to take your reading just before your last meal of the day. I also take mine right when I wake up and just before bed, but the afternoon reading seems to be the most reliable (smallest standard deviation from the trend for those math majors out there).

If you are what Tanita considers to be an athlete (10 or more hours of workout per week or resting pulse of 60 beats or less), then you definitely need a scale with an athlete mode, bc otherwise your body fat % will be discouragingly high. I have had a few other people take their measurements using this scale (different heights, ages, body types, and genders), and the consensus is that it is pretty accurate for them as well.

Yes, it does use electrical resistance for the readings, but you could chew the two AA batteries it uses and not feel anything. (I disclaim any liability for injuries resulting from chewing batteries)

The instructions and reading material that come with it are informative and gives you explanations of all the extras (like BMR and visceral fat) along with the healthy ranges for both male and female.

If you are serious about getting in better shape, I encourage you to get this scale or one like it. It will motivate you to keep going and think twice about that fourth doughnut. If you just want to lose weight, don't waste your money, any scale can tell you that.
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on October 18, 2006
As long as you realize that this is not a precision measuring instrument, you'll be happy with this scale. What it is good for is monitoring trends in your weight and body fat.

There are about 10 functions on this scale. Two, maybe three are useful. Your weight. That's a good one to have. Body fat %. This number will fluctuate considerably depending on many factors. Perspiration is one. So you have to get into the habit of taking readings in consistent environments, like the same time of day, x hours after eating or exercising, etc. Again, you're not getting an exact number, you're tracking trends. There are numbers for bone mass, body moisture %, calories required (BMI I think), visceral fat (or something like that. The fat around your organs), age (or what age your body's shape is in) and a physique index. My physique is up to 2 (I started at 1 having done little exercising lately). My age reading was 50 (being 54 I thought I was doing good till I read that the scale doesn't go over 50).

So I check my weight, body fat, age, and physique rating, and pretty much ignore the others. Although some of the other readings can indicate that your environment is uniform. So I don't really need to know that I have 7lbs of bones, but that if that number changes, maybe some other factor has changed, too.

I'm pleased with this scale. I've had it about 4 months now, and all is well. I just need to get that physique rating up, and body fat % down. The scale won't make you exercise, but it will make you glad you did.
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on September 6, 2005
OK... This scale is expensive. In this case, you get what you pay for. Why did I buy a scale that is so expensive? Because I did the research and this scale gives the most details and is super easy to use. You simply pick what button you want to be. (1-4) and you enter your weight, height, and age. Also you can select if you are an athlete...this makes the measurements accurate for people who work out 10+ hours a week. This scale is a must for athletic people because the other scales out there will say that you are fat and out of shape...even though you are looking in the mirror at your finely sculpted six pack abs and rock hard biceps.

So how do you use it? You push the number you set up for yourself and stand on it. It gives you your weight and then does the other test. It is absolutely painless, in case you are wondering. Also, it takes between 5-10 seconds to do the measurements. I haven't timed it with a stop watch but it is quick.

Then it gives you all this info. Weight, Body Fat%, Body Water%, Muscle Mass (nice), Physical Rating, BMR (This is the calories you need to survive through a day.), Metabolic Age (sweet), Bone Mass, and Visceral Fat (This is the fat you have around your stomach and organs.)

Also when you don't need all this info and you just want your weight. There is a quick weigh option that just measures your weight. Very simple, quick and easy.

Can you hit these buttons with your big toe to work them? Yes you can.

So what do you do with the info? Well I made an excel spreadsheat with charts so that I can keep track of the data and also keep notes on what I did. For example one week I did cardio for an hour every night, in addition to my regular weight training and my body fat% went down, and my muscle weight increased. (awesome) Then another week we had a hurricane, so I didn't do any work out for 5 days straight. I measured myself after this and I was the same weight. Woo hoo, I lucked out right? Wrong...Even though I weighed the fat% was up and my muscle mass was down. (bummer) So this of course motivated me to work out like crazy the next week to get my numbers back in line and even drop some weight. Can your scale do that? Or would you just look at the weight, see that it's the same and say, great I'll take another week off. This scale tells you the truth while other scales don't give you the complete picture of what is going on with your body.

I am the type of person that likes to buy the very best and I am very happy with this scale.

Bottom line is that this is the best scale...period.
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on April 13, 2006
After recieving this scale I got answers to a few questions I had wanted to know before I ordered it that I couldnt find in the online manual (from tanita's website) or from the reviews that I did read. First of all, I was disappointed from what I read that the recall was only for some readings not all. HOWEVER, what no one mentions is that you can (once off the scale) scroll thru ALL the readings using the arrows keys as long as the scale hasn't turned off. You WILL have plenty of time to record your readings...all of them.. one by one. Don't worry about the limited recall. Secondly, the scale will beep twice to let you know when it's done recording and when you can step off. These are petty, but since I can't see anything while I am on the scale, these two features make this scale simple to use and important to me. Don't listen to people complaining about the small icons. Just step on, wait for the double beep, step off and record.
I know a lot of people worry about the acurracy. It is clearly stated in the manual that it is more accurate to take the average number of all the readings. I personally use a spreadsheet and have it average the numbers every time I add in a new days worth of numbers.
I am using this scale to track weigh loss and I tend to get hooked on a number even though I know I shouldn't (it's easier said then done). This scale keeps me focused on the overall picture. Also, once I started to exercise my weight didn't seem to change for the better which is descouraging. I found it helpful to see the muscle mass increase while my weight sometimes increased!
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on November 13, 2011
The BC-557 is very similar and was a good scale while it worked. I found it accurate consistent with other "expensive and precise" scales and I liked the multiple features. Then one day it stopped working after approx 3 yrs (has a ten year warranty). I had not dropped it, batteries good, no explanation. I sent in for warranty, with receipt, RMA, etc. and it was rejected saying I had abused the scale and that it was corroded inside. I was astonished and couldn't imagine how it could be corroded. When it arrived back, I opened it up and these was no corrosion inside, no signs of being wet, etc. I am an engineer and know these things - the Tanita position was bogus. The error code I was getting was written up in several internet locations with others having the same problem and no explanation.

I sent detailed closeup pictures to the President of Tanita and asked for reconsideration of their position. There was no corrosion, the scale failed and was still under warranty (7 yrs left), and I wanted a replacement. It was not a ranting letter.... I did not get so much as a reply from Tanita. So... my next scale was as you might guess not a Tanita. I bought an Omron scale and have been very pleased. Tanita and me no more, not never, not no way. Your mileage may vary.
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on December 22, 2011
Eight months after spending $130 for the Tanita BC554 Ironman scale, it died. It just says "error" on the LCD screen when we attempt to use it.

If that wasn't bad enough, when I called Tanita to inquire about a return or repair, they told me that I have to pay for shipping an 10lb scale from California to Illinois. Again, this is AFTER paying over a hundred dollars for one of their products.

When I tried contacting The Competitive Edge-the vendor that actually sold the scale, they shrugged and said it's Tanita's problem. That does not make me want to ever order with them again.

Unbelievable! I'll never purchase a Tanita product again, or deal with The Competitive Edge.
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I have always said, as a weight loss coach, to ditch the fat monitor scales and get a hand held monitor. In the past, that was true. They were always far more accurate.

Until now.

In studying the new monitors on the market, this puppy wowed me.

First of all, the FDA does not test supplements, vitamins, scales...those are fluff. They only monitor medical devices and things to treat or cure or measure health.

Hence, it's pretty darn rare to find a body composition scale tested and approved by the FDA.

Enter the Tanita BC554 Ironman, y'all.

Yep, it's FDA approved AND the Tanita body composition scales are the ones used in hospitals because of it.

Tanita actually invented the fat monitoring scales years ago and they have apparently worked to improve them greatly because, quite frankly, the old ones didn't wow me. I tried them.

Anyone who reads my reviews knows I'm all about research and studies outside of just my own opinions and this one fills the bill for the scientists as well. Columbia University actually studied all the body composition scales and this one was found to be the most accurate with the very smallest possible margin of error.

But the wow factor didn't end there for me.

You won't just find out how much fat you are carrying this holiday season after mom's pumpkin pies and all the sugar'll know how much of your weight is muscle (no more foolin' yourself that those 5 holiday pounds must be muscle due to all the walking you did shopping. Now you'll know on a daily basis if you gained muscle or if you gained fat and if you lost muscle or if you lost fat.) BUT for even more accuracy, you'll also know if the extra pounds you put on is water weight from the salted dressing or if the pounds you lost were just water. It also measures the water in your body AND...get this...unlike most scales it also measures your BONE MASS and metabolic age.

For reals.

So how did I rate it? I know how to use a hand-held monitor and I know how to use a manual monitor and I own both. I also own a bodybugg to measure my caloric burn. I have it all.

THIS, for me, was beyond accurate in syncing up with all other device measurements. There just was no error. In fact, I waited to review it until after I got to be measured at the Cooper Center professionally.

And this met the results there.

Better yet, 4 family members can program in their own "page" of measurements for their own results.

Even better, it's good glass.

I thought Health-o-Meter would have a better model. I've always been a big fan of theirs...but it doesn't have near the bells and whistles that impressed me here. Nor is theirs FDA approved. That was a brand I always felt ahead of ALL other scales.

Note: as per directions on any fat monitor measuring device that's a good one, there will be an "athlete" setting. This is for bodybuilders not just fitness buffs. It ensures accuracy when there is extreme muscle. Bypass it unless you fall into that category. This is a great addition to have, however, as otherwise bodybuilders always will fall into a poor reading.

This is a keeper.
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on October 12, 2005
This scale has so many functions. It is really cool. As for consistant readings, I get almost the same readings day after day. But if I change how much I eat or exercise more I can see the change.

This scale is almost the same as the Tanita top of the line. Except this one lets you view the readings you want, rather then wait for the scale to cycle through the readings. This scale will also cycle through the readins, but you can stop them and go to any reading or let it cycle then go back to any reading you want. Also this has nice big preset number buttons. Which is important since you may be hitting them first thing in the morning when you are not awake yet. This scale also remember more readign from the last time. It has BMR instead of the daily calories reading.

I find this scale is very close to another much cheaper Tanita scale in weight and body fat. Of course the cheaper scale doesn't have all the extra readings. My wife finds the metabolic age reading to motivate her. She likes thinking she is younger then she is. (What ever helps...) I like the muscle mass wieght reading along with weight and body fat%.

The scale looks really good being half glass. The glass is strong and won't break unless you tried hammering it, etc. It is easy to use and does a reading in about 10-15 seconds. It takes more time if you are moving around as it waits for a reasonably steady weight reading.

I wish it had the daily calorie reading and it was more accurate. It would be nice if the body fat could show accuratly that I had burned off half an ounce of fat... But no scale today can do that, or any other method while you are alive. So I will live with the best that is out today, October 2005.

Thumbs up.
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