Before buying the Fitbit Aria scale, I wondered what all the fuss was about. A smart scale, really? Whatever next!?
In the past I’d been quite dismissive about products like smart scales, calling them gimmicky. But being a sucker for gadgets, curiosity got the better of me – and in the end, I couldn’t resist.
At the time of purchase, I didn’t believe that something like the Aria – and a Fitbit account could help me lose weight… but boy was I wrong!
It’s coming up to two years since I bought the Fitbit Aria WiFi smart scale – and in that time – I’ve gotten to know the product extremely well. Not only has it helped me lose weight and reduce my body fat percentage, it’s given me real purpose and direction.
After reading this Fitbit Aria review, you’ll have a better idea of whether this product could motivate you – and help you achieve your weight goals.
WiFi Smart Scale with: weight, body fat, and BMI tracking, access your stats via smartphone or online
Fitbit Aria is a wireless scale that records your weight and body fat percentage.
Sounds good, right – but what is it that makes this scale so smart?
Every single time you use the scale it effortlessly sends the measurements (over your home WiFi network) to your Fitbit account, which charts your progress and calculates your body mass index (BMI).
Aria takes away the hassle of writing down your weight and body fat measurement – or having to manually entering them into an app, (if you were ever even bothered to do this in the first place!)
You simply step on the scale, let it take your measurements, and step off – it really is as straightforward as that. Aria is at your service 24/7 and does all the laborious work for you.
Would I record my weight without a smart scale?
Tracking and reviewing your progress is done online, by accessing the desktop interface on a PC or Mac – or alternatively, by using the Fitbit mobile app, which will work on most modern smartphones (Android, iOS or Windows devices).
Now to the clever part – and what I love best about Aria:
A minute or two after you’ve stepped off the scale you can open up the Fitbit app (or login on your computer) and see your measurements.
Not only does it keep a log of your weight and body fat readings, it charts them so you can monitor your progress, and lets you set goals:
How the Aria scale and Fitbit provide motivation
Some of the benefits are more obvious than others – here’s a list I put together of ways the Aria scale and your Fitbit account can motivate you:
- Charts: seeing your progress (or lack of) either encourages you or kicks you into action
- Goals: by setting your desired weight and body fat percentage you have a defined target to hit – this gives you real purpose
- Reward badges: your goals may seem some distance away but reward badges – as you go along – offer further encouragement and a welcome pat on the back
- Social: share your profile and stats with friends on Fitbit – don’t worry, it’s totally optional and you have privacy settings so can choose what to share and what to keep private
While it might seem a bit trivial – and there certainly is a fun element to the badges – for many people (including myself) they really do work. There’s nothing worse than a target being so far away that you don’t believe you can reach it.
I think of the badges as being the equivalent of mini goals, they help keep your spirits up and inspire you to go on and achieve. Receiving a badge makes you feel like you’ve taken a big step towards your ultimate goal.
Incidentally, I was reading an article from CNN recently about the power of tapping into friends for motivation. According to the piece:
- Fitbit users who use the social features tend to be more active
- Even light positive feedback from friends can act as a motivator
With a standard bathroom scale you’re able to weigh yourself and that’s about it. Take it to the next level and you have scales that can do things like calculating your body fat percentage and BMI.
Fitbit Aria, however, is in another league due to its wireless communication and automatic transferral of your measurements.
This short video gives an excellent overview of what the scale does:
For the gadget crazy, there’s even a scale on the market that can do a couple more things than Aria – and that’s the Withings Smart Body Analyzer (also known by its model number, WS-50).
That scale also measures your heart rate and monitors your indoor air quality and room temperature. It’s a nice concept – but be aware that particular scale will set you back around $30 more than the Aria.
If you’re an existing Fitbit user like me, you may be more inclined to keep it in the family and opt for the Aria.
The extra features on the WS-50 do sound great but they wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. What attracted me to the Aria was being able to add it to existing my Fitbit setup – and turn that into an even more powerful health and fitness monitoring system.
In fact, guests can even weigh themselves on the scale as well, although it won’t give them a body fat calculation – just their weight. It’s worth noting, the Aria has a maximum weight limit of 350 pounds.
If you are considering the scale and are over that, you may like to turn your attention to the aforementioned Withings WS-50, which has a limit of 396 pounds.
Fitbit Aria’s feature set make it best suited to somebody who wants to monitor their weight and see trends in their body fat percentage.
There have been question marks raised over the accuracy of the bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), which the Aria uses to calculate body fat.
What I would say to this is:
It’s the exact same technology that other popular brands like Withings, Tanita and Omron incorporate into their body fat scales.
If you’re a professional athlete or somebody in training and really need to take precise body fat measurements at home, there’s only one way I’m afraid – and that’s the good old-fashioned one, with skin calipers.
The main downside to that method is it takes a lot of time and you’ll need to know exactly what you’re doing. And don’t forget, you’ll have to enter the data somewhere if you’re keeping a record.
If, however, like me, you want hassle free calculations – and the general trend is most important to you, Aria is going to be just fine!
Despite being very keen on health and fitness, I’m not a professional athlete looking to keep and record precise measurements of body fat.
What I want is something that can give me a reasonably accurate measurement and indication of where I’m at.
Convenience far outweighs absolute precision for me. Like I said earlier in the review, if it involved me writing measurements down or having to enter them manually, I know I wouldn’t bother.
The real magic is in the Fitbit dashboard – seeing these measurements plotted on charts motivates you and enables you to track your progress and analyze it over time.
Who can’t use the scale?
I’ve never had any thought to question the accuracy of the weight measurements.
I have however (for the purpose of this review) checked the weight readouts from the Aria against another old bathroom scale, one I believe to be very accurate:
The readings were practically identical – and over a few readouts, there was never more than a pound difference.
The only small issue I’ve had, was sometimes I’d weigh myself and the first measurement would be about 3 pounds out.
Fortunately, I realized what was going on – soon after I’d purchased the scale. Turns out I’d not been storing the scale on a flat surface… d’oh! I learnt the hard way. This excerpt from Fitbit explains what was happening to me:
If your Aria is picked up and moved between measurements, or stored sideways against a wall when not in use, the scale will calibrate the next time it is used for weighing. Up to two consecutive weigh-ins will then be required before your scale is recalibrated and again displays consistently accurate measurements.
Because it’s so quick and easy, I’ll often take 3 or 4 readings when I weigh myself – just to check my scale is calibrated correctly.
Then next time I log into my Fitbit dashboard (or I’ll just open the app on my iPhone), I delete the first one if it’s wrong and then keep one of the other two or three – it’s as easy as clicking the mouse button on the “x” next to the weight record you want to discard.
You can see exactly what I mean in the image below:
Operating the scale
Once you’ve setup the scale (I’m going to come onto that in the next section) it really is a piece of cake to use!
There isn’t a single button or control to press.
All you do is step onto Aria, it recognizes you, and then takes your weight and body fat measurement. I’ve never experienced any problems with recognition or the scale not working.
Aria has a sleek round digital display that shows various pieces of information.
Depending on what stage of the weigh-in process you’re, you will see things like:
Your weight, body fat percentage, and initials, along with a syncing icon and check-mark to confirm your weight was successfully measured – and uploaded to the Fitbit server.
It’s even backlit – so if you happen to want to weigh yourself in the dark – or have the scale in a dimly lit room, you can still read the display and use it, without any difficulty.
Here are some of my favorite tips for getting the best out of the Aria scale:
- Weigh yourself at the same time of day: your weight can vary by a few pounds throughout the day, for many reasons. Weighing yourself at a set time of day provides a level of consistency.
- Place the scale on a hard, flat surface: Fitbit recommends you don’t use carpet as it may result in inaccuracies.
- Stand on scale barefooted: otherwise you won’t get a body fat reading. The BIA can’t work unless your bare feet are in contact with the scale.
- Set realistic goals: you may want to lose a lot of weight – but that goal could be a long way away. For example, setting a goal to lose 10 pounds, achieving that – and then setting another goal to lose a further 5 pounds may be a better way to lose 15 pounds, than setting an initial goal of losing the total weight.
- Store your Aria scale flat between use: don’t make the same mistake as I did!
- Don’t weigh yourself too often: you can look at things too closely. I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past. It can be demoralizing if you look at the scale the next day and still haven’t lost any weight. I’m not saying you should do the same – but I weigh myself about once a week – and think that’s a good gap between weigh-ins.
For me, setting the scale up only took a few minutes.
Installation was a doddle and is all done wirelessly, over your home WiFi network. Aria WiFi scale can be setup from a computer or mobile device.
I used the downloadable software Fitbit provides and set everything up from my Mac, although there is also a web-based method where you can do it through a browser.
Either way will do and you’ll achieve the same result – so it’s down to you to choose whichever suits you best.
Integration with apps
The most obvious (and logical) choice is Fitbit’s own interface, which you can access through a browser on your PC / Mac – or by using their dedicated app, available for Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices:
Fitbit also integrates with a number of popular 3rd party applications that let you export your Fitbit data to them, like MyFitnessPal and Lose It!.
There is however one popular app that became a little problematic…
A while ago, Fitbit stopped allowing its data to sync with Apple’s Health app.
Not so cool if you own the Aria scale or an activity tracker and want to send your data to the Health app. For a while, users were unable to do anything about it. Fortunately though, there is a nice little workaround now:
I guess if you’re already a Fitbit user (I was when I purchased the scale), it’s not going to matter to you – as you’ll already be using their interface – and probably have their app installed on your smartphone.
For others, however, if you’re using an alternative health app or service, it may not sync with Fitbit. This is one area where the Withings Smart Body Analyzer has a slight edge on Aria, it’s compatible with over 100 partner apps.
Just something to bear in mind if you already have an activity tracker or similar gadget as it may mean you need to swap apps. Those who aren’t yet tied to a health or activity app, have a much easier decision to make!
The scale runs off four AA batteries, and ships with the first set so you can start using it straight away.
I guess it’s a shame you can’t charge the scale but I don’t think there’s any need to even think about battery life with this scale.
I’ve had mine just under two years and I’m still using the original set that came with it! (Although I did get a message on my iPhone recently, telling me they were running out of juice – another thing I like about Fitbit.)
The first screenshot below is the Aria battery level warning. The other two are examples of push notifications relating to my activity tracker and daily step target.
I think Fitbit uses the push notifications really well, they’re useful and actionable:
While I did go through a period of not using my scale, I’m still impressed the batteries have lasted so long. I’m not somebody who weighs myself every single day though – and I am the only person who uses the scale.
More regular weigh-ins and multiple users will inevitably affect battery life.
Because of this I decided to research further and scoured forums for some other consumer feedback and reviews:
I found the overwhelming consensus was that battery life is excellent.
One reviewer I came across was a lady who had been using the scale, along with another member of her household for over 8 months. They both weigh themselves once a day and still have the original set in there.
As an example:
If you replaced the batteries every six months that would require a total of 8 per year.
A quick look on Amazon and you can find a 24 pack of Duracell AAs for a very reasonable price. Based on that you’re not even going to be looking at $5 to power the scale for a year.
It really isn’t too much – and if you don’t like spending money on standard batteries you could always go down the rechargeable route.
Aria ships with a one-year limited warranty, which covers against defects in materials and workmanship under normal use.
What this means is:
Fitbit will either replace or repair the scale at their cost, if it breaks within a year and it wasn’t through your misuse of the product.
The other scale I’ve mentioned in this review, Withings WS-50 (the closest alternative) also has a one-year limited warranty.
A year seems to be pretty standard for electronic gadgets (most products we’ve reviewed on the site have this), although you will find a few items with only 3 months and the odd thing with 2 or 3 years cover.
One of the things Aria receives a lot of praise for is its appearance. The Apple-like design and finishing ensure it looks great – during your weigh-in – and when it’s sat on your bathroom floor, between uses.
While looks and esthetics are completely subjective, I believe this is an area where (without doubt) it has the upper hand on rival products. Its design is very simple and clean, the beveled edges are finished beautifully – and what’s more – it feels solid.
The top of the scale is made out of tempered glass, and there’s a set of ITO electrodes on the surface. These electrodes are what send the small (safe) signal through the body – which is used for the bioelectrical impedance analysis (the method Aria uses to estimate body fat percentage).
On the underside of the scale there’s a bubble pattern that looks very futuristic.
This part of the scale is made out of ABS, a plastic that’s used in the medical and automotive industry due to its strength, durability and impressive shock absorbance.
The batteries are housed on the underside and it’s straightforward to access them, simply push the release on the cover and it’ll pop open. You don’t need any special tools or even a coin to get in there.
Pros and cons
Here are my thoughts condensed into a series of points. Note that these are echoed by a huge number of other online consumer reviews, who also rated the product highly.
Firstly, let’s take a look what I love best about my Fitbit Aria scale:
- Sends your measurements wirelessly to your free Fitbit account
- Charts your progress and lets you set goals
- Motivates you to manage / lose weight
- Fully automatic – step on the scale, weigh yourself, step off, job done
- Has a backlit display
- Superb battery life
- Solid and sturdy construction from high quality materials
- Looks great!
Naturally, there are a couple of things here that should be taken into account:
- Initial investment higher than a standard bathroom scale
- Potential accuracy issues with body fat estimation
- Won’t exercise and prepare healthy food for you!
With an MSRP of $129.95, some may be put off. After all, you can find a decent scale that will weigh you and use the same technology (bioelectrical impedance analysis) to calculate your body fat percentage for substantially less.
However, for me I view the extra initial cost as an investment. The amount of time and hassle the scale saves – not having to manually enter readings into an app is immeasurable.
I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t make a record of these readings if I was using a regular bathroom scale, one that didn’t send the measurements somewhere.
Because I own this scale, I have my measurements plotted on charts for me.
I love to look at my progress, goals and analyze where I am with it all.
Looking at this gives me the motivation and encouragement to manage my weight and level of body fat. It’s all contributed to me creating a healthier lifestyle for myself.
If I was to compare the pricing of this Fitbit scale to the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer it would be a little tricky.
This is because of the three extra features WS-50 has, to recap, it measures: heart rate, indoor air quality and room temperature.
It would be down to you to decide – firstly, whether you would use those features – and secondly, whether you value them at approximately $30 more.
Personally, I like the idea and sound of those features – but they wouldn’t tip the balance for me.
When I was doing the research for this review, I kept an eye on the Aria’s listing on Amazon – for a few days. The price does seem to move a little bit and you might be able to find it for less than the list price (MSRP).
I even noticed one color is sometimes priced lower than the other! So you may be able to get a slightly better deal if you’re open to either black or white.
Due to the excellent battery life and a Fitbit account being completely free, there are no real ongoing / running costs.
The only thing I will say here is, if you don’t already have an activity tracker and buy the scale – I bet you’ll end up with a tracker soon after!
It was the other way round for me, I had the Fitbit One for a week, loved it and couldn’t resist the Aria scale. You have been warned!
In case you haven’t guessed from reading this review, I’m a big fan of the Aria smart scale – and rate it very highly!
Because I already owned – and was enjoying the Fitbit One, buying this particular wireless scale was a no-brainer for me.
The big attraction was being able to add it to the existing setup, it enables you to take your own health and fitness monitoring to another level.
Aria makes the perfect companion for existing Fitbit users. If you already have an activity tracker or use the Fitbit dashboard you’re going to love the Aria scale – no messing about, hassle or changing health app.
Simply set the scale up, sync it with your existing account – and all your important health and fitness stats will be in one single convenient place – for you to access in an instant.
If, however, you’re already using some sort of app or service to track activity or weight and Fitbit won’t sync to it, Withings WS-50 might be a smarter choice, because it’s compatible with more apps.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to start monitoring your weight and you’re not using anything to do so already, Fitbit is worth serious consideration.