April 23, 2012 -- I don't like stepping on the scale. That weight readout always reminds me how I should be eating less dessert and more salad. Oh, and going to the gym more.
For that reason, scales are intrinsically motivating, but a new, high-tech scale from FitBit might be the most motivational scale ever made. The $130 Aria takes the once-simple function of a scale -- to read you your weight -- and steps it up with a number of different technology-based features.
It's not only Wi-Fi-enabled so it can upload your weight to the Internet and your FitBit account, but it can also tell you your Body Mass Index (BMI) and fat/lean percentage. You can then view charts about your progress (or lack of progress in my case!) online.
Before you can get to that you have to set-up the Aria, but it's actually a fairly simple process. Take the scale out of the box, pull the paper out of the battery compartment, and download the FitBit software to your computer. The software will then pair the scale to the same network that your computer is connected to — even if the network is password protected. Within five minutes my Aria was connected to my home network and was ready to be stepped on.
As a scale, the Aria is quite attractive and comfortable to stand on. The flat glass plate is smooth and comfortable on the feet -- though sometimes a tad cold. And the availability of both black and white versions is bound to make interior decorators happy. A circular LCD screen displays your weight and other indicators -- battery life, wireless signal, etc. -- surround it. The screen is backlit so you can make out those three digit-numbers in the dark.
The scale takes four AA batteries and is said to last for a minimum of three months. You can also view the battery life through the online portal.
The screen displays your weight, and the number is instantly sent over the Wi-Fi in the scale to the online cloud and to your FitBit account. No matter where you are you can check your last weigh-in and see a record of all your other weigh-ins.
And that's really the beauty of the scale. When you log in to your FitBit account (which is free) you can see your weight plotted on a line graph. You can also see your lean vs. fat breakdowns and your BMI. You can customize the dates you'd like to see on the graph as well. Hover over the plotted dot and you'll see the exact weight and the date. FitBit says you will also be able to view this information in its iPhone and Android apps later this summer.
The idea of putting my weight online was a bit unsettling at first, but FitBit assured me that it has very strict privacy settings. You don't have to share any of the information uploaded to your account, though if you want to you can share it with others within your FitBit network. If you happen to use the FitBit tracker, a $99 gadget that snaps to pants or clothes to track steps taken and calories burned, you can get an even better view of your activity and how it affects your weight. There is currently no view in the FitBit online dashboard, though, where you can see how many calories you burned on a day and how much you weighed.
The scale can accommodate up to eight accounts and it will only send the weight to yours -- so you shouldn't worry, the maker says, if you're squeamish about sharing your weight with members of your family. It will know the difference between people based on weight, but if two people weigh within a few pounds of each other the scale will prompt you to select your account on the LCD.
Overall, the Aria is easy to set up and provides a nice view of your weight data. $130 might seem like a lot for a scale, especially when most basic digital scales cost $30, but the online data and self-tracking capabilities tell you a lot more than what you weigh this morning. And that means more motivation, even for those like me, who won't ever like stepping on a scale.