Weighing scale reviews

IMG_5229It’s been a few months since Garmin announced their Index WiFi Scale (at $149), so it’s time to dive in on an in-depth review and see how things have shaped up. Most importantly: Is the scale worth the premium over others on the market?

While Garmin has a long (and mixed) history of scale integration with 3rd parties via ANT+ scales, this is actually the first scale they’ve made themselves. And unlike those past scales, this one is all about WiFi. Sure, it has ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart – but only for setting it up.

I’ve been using the scale now for a few months, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of how well it works. Like always, I’ll be sending the loaner scale back to the folks at Garmin here shortly. So, if you found what you read here useful, consider using the links on the side to support the site.

With that – let’s begin!

Unboxing:

The scale comes in a box not unlike most other scale boxes. Except, this one is lime green.

On the back, there’s the circle of life logo. This serves to remind you that the extra 18 chicken wings you ate at the Super Bowl after the generous helping of 9-layer dip will require more than just a walk around the block to clear out.

Cracking open the box you’ll find the scale wrapped in a protective sleeve. It’s also got a paper manual sitting atop it:

Below that you’ll find four little black pods. These are for use on carpet. If you only have hard wood/tile/etc floors, you can throw these at unsuspecting people within your household. There’s also four AA batteries.

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If we unwrap the scale, here’s the prettiness that we get:

Ok, with that in mind, let’s get this thing setup.

Setup & Configuration:

While the scale is wireless, it is not powerless. For that you’ll need to grab those four AA batteries that came with it, and crack open the compartment door on the back of it.

You’ll also notice two buttons/sliders right near it. One button allows you to change between stones (weird British thing), pounds (weird American thing), and kilograms (everyone else on earth).

The other button is for triggering a reset and/or pairing of the scale. Before getting all press-happy though, you’ll need to know that in order to setup the scale you have to have either a computer (with the ANT+ adapter), or a mobile phone on iOS/Android/Windows Phone. If you lack at least one of those things, I really can’t help you.

In my case, I’m going to use the Garmin Connect Mobile app for my phone. But I’ve also done the computer route too. Once you’ve got the app open you’ll search for a new device, and specifically, the Index Smart Scale:

Now is the time you finally get to press some buttons. Or rather, one button. On the back of your scale go ahead and press that little reset button to get the scale all excited. This may or may not be the first time someone has thrown a wrench at you for pressing their buttons.

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The app will find the scale via Bluetooth Smart, and then confirm pairing with it:

A few seconds later it’ll complete pairing and then go on to ask you for your name. This is the name that’s displayed on the unit itself when you step on (so multiple people can use it). It also needs you to validate height and gender, so it can do its math magic around other metrics.

Next, it’s time to pick out a WiFi network. Typically, you’ll choose your own here:

Then it asks you for the password:

Note that the scale won’t work with WiFi networks that require you to sign-in (such as at a hotel). And while we’re at it, note that it does indeed require WiFi. The Garmin Index scale DOES NOT transfer weight data over Bluetooth Smart or ANT+. Both of those channels are ONLY used for setup. Again, it must connect to a WiFi network to be useful.

With that – we’re setup and ready to roll!

In the event you have others in your family, you can invite them to use the scale. This allows their Garmin Connect accounts to tie into the scale. Garmin supports up to 16 people to use the scale at once (making it appropriate for the Brady Bunch, or your entire tri team). But more on that in a later section.

(In case you’re wondering, the scale can only remember one WiFi network at a time. I actually brought it with me while travelling in November and December, pairing it to my phone at the time. And then re-pairing it back when I got home.)

The Basics:

Now that the setup is done – here comes the complex part: Stepping on the scale. I know, there are so many ways you could approach this. From the left…or the right. Or just stepping straight on top. But no matter how you mount your scale, the result is the same: It wakes up and tells you your weight.

You need not kick it first to zero it (though sometimes I do). Rather, you just get on. Within 1-2 seconds it’ll have your weight and blink it at you. It’s exceedingly quick.

Next, it’ll ask you your name. Why? Well, because it needs to validate that before giving you other body metrics. It’ll take its best guess at who you are, and as long as your weight and others in your household are semi-far apart, it’ll likely nail it. But if you’re within a few pounds of each other then you’ll just tap your foot until you see your name listed.

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