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Withings Pulse HR review: A longer-lasting competitor to Fitbit’s Alta HR

Valentina Palladino

Withings has returned as its personal firm after a brief stint below Nokia, and it is introduced out some new health trackers to tackle the highest contenders. The $129 Withings Pulse HR seems to be and acts very like Fitbit’s Alta HR: its svelte, rectangular module tracks coronary heart charge all day and evening in addition to every day exercise and exercises.

Loads of health trackers have debuted up to now couple of years, however the Alta HR stays our high decide for many customers. Withings is hoping to dethrone it within the minds of the general public by providing a tool that is much more refined in design and guarantees weeks of battery life. However these issues aren’t achievable with out sacrifices, and the choices Withings disregarded of the Pulse HR might deter some from selecting it.


The Pulse HR could also be nondescript, however that does not imply it isn’t strong. Chrome steel makes up many of the module, together with a polycarbonate floor coating that makes the highest half smooth to the contact. The OLED show is barely as massive because it needs to be—it would not take up all the flat floor of the modular, moderately solely the center third or so.

Its minimalistic nature makes viewing it in direct daylight simple, however the display screen is faucet solely. A press of the only aspect button or a faucet on the show’s floor cycles by way of the time and stats together with coronary heart charge, steps, and battery life. Tapping did not at all times register for me, so I used the aspect button more often than not. It additionally has the normal raise-to-wake characteristic that reveals the clock everytime you flip your wrist upward. Sadly, that characteristic was finicky as nicely, with the machine solely waking the display screen about half of the instances I consulted my wrist for the time.

At 45 grams, the Pulse HR is sort of gentle at 45 grams, making it one of the snug units to sleep with. Its heart-rate monitor retains observe of pulse all day and all evening, so its design needed to be appropriate for 24-hour put on. You can even put on it within the bathe due to its 50m water resistance, however I opted not to do this.

Its bands are additionally interchangeable, extending the lifetime of the machine in the long term. Further wristband colours and types will probably be obtainable from Withings this 12 months, and I hope they embrace extra wristband sizes in these new choices (at the moment, the Pulse HR is available in only one measurement). Fitbit’s Alta HR additionally has interchangeable bands, however I favor the softer, extra versatile silicone of Withings’ bands over Fitbit’s. Bands for the Alta HR are most inflexible within the areas linked to the module itself, giving them an odd C-like form whenever you take away them. The hinge and band type of the Pulse HR makes it so the tracker lies flat on any floor that you simply place it on whenever you’re not carrying it.

Aesthetically, not a lot makes the Pulse HR stand out amongst different health trackers. Nonetheless, Withings strategically sacrificed some design flare and laborious in favor of battery life. The Pulse HR lasts as much as 20 days on a single cost or as much as 5 days in “exercise mode,” which mainly implies that the battery will drain sooner the extra you’re employed out. My machine was right down to 70 % after 5 days of all-day and all-night use, with three one-hour exercises recorded in that point as nicely.

Health options
Coronary heart charge and linked GPS

The Pulse HR tracks train in two methods: routinely or by way of the on-device exercise menu. Just like Fitbit’s SmartTrack, the Pulse HR can detect whenever you’re exercising for a sure time period and report it as a exercise interval. It is extra correct than I anticipated: on just a few events, I discovered 10- to 15-minute intervals of “health” routinely recorded within the Well being Mate app that coincided with the instances I used to be scrambling to run errands. It seems that the machine acknowledges most periods of elevated heart-rate exercise and information it—if you happen to do not wish to embrace these periods in your every day log, you may delete them within the cell app.

Arguably extra handy for many who make a degree to train frequently is the exercise menu, which is accessible by long-pressing the Pulse HR’s aspect button. Six exercise profiles reside right here and you may change which present up in your machine from throughout the Well being Mate cell app. On this means, the Pulse HR is a little more like Fitbit’s $150 Cost three, and it is smart contemplating its module and display screen measurement are someplace between that of the Alta HR and the Cost three. There’s more room to incorporate the graphics essential to compose the exercise menu.

I not often overlook to report a exercise, so I appreciated the inclusion of the exercise menu. Quick presses of the aspect button allow you to flip by way of all on-device exercise profiles, and a long-press selects and begins a recording of the profile that is on the display screen. Whereas exercising, stats like period, coronary heart charge, and distance fill the carousel spots on the display screen, so you may faucet or press your means by way of them.

One other long-press of the aspect button instantly ends and saves the exercise whenever you’re completed. Each time you do that, the session is routinely saved, making certain that every one recorded actions are locked in till you select to edit them within the Well being Mate app.

Most exercise profiles have the choice to hook up with your smartphone’s GPS; the Pulse HR will seek for your smartphone with the Well being Mate app working on it whenever you start a exercise in makes an attempt to seize that GPS sign. You may start understanding earlier than the sign has been captured—the characteristic works within the background, mapping your route as you train and presenting you with a map within the particulars of the recorded exercise within the Well being Mate app.

The few maps I recorded had been correct, and that is not shocking for the reason that characteristic feeds off the close by smartphone and would not depend on the of the Pulse HR itself. Even with out GPS connectivity, I used to be shocked at how correct the running-distance calculations had been. The Pulse HR’s measurements of my treadmill walks and runs had been nearly an identical to these of the machine itself.

The center-rate monitor tracks pulse constantly whilst you train, and it is a fairly correct sensor, too. It normally measured my coronary heart charge inside 5 BPM of the Polar H10 chest strap, however it did take a couple of minutes to heat up and report excessive coronary heart charges (within the 170 BPMs) precisely.

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Withings Pulse HR review: A longer-lasting competitor to Fitbit’s Alta HR


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