At $450, I had no intention of buying the original Withings Activité watch. That’s a bit steep for my watch buget, even if it does incorporate activity tracking and is Swiss-made. Seeing an opportunity to use a similar design, Withings announced at CES 2015 a new version of the Activité called Pop ($150).The Pop looks almost identical to the Activité, except that it is made with cheaper materials which brings the price point down to a more reasonable $150. The features remain the same across both trackers. The Activité can record steps, track if you are running, and can automatically log sleep at night. These features are very similar to the new Fitbit Charge, but it’s safe to say that one of these looks more stylish than the other. :-)
Read on for additional impressions of the Activité Pop!
Unboxing and Setup
Unboxing the Activité Pop, you are greeted with a fairly simplistic-looking watch. It reminds me of a Timex Weekender, or similar. In the box is the Activité Pop, a battery change / reset tool, and instruction manual. When you are ready to start using Pop, you need to fire up the iOS Health Mate app. The Activité is currently only supported by iOS devices with Bluetooth 4.0. Android compatibility is supposedly coming next month.
Upon opening the Health Mate app, you first need to go into My Devices and select the Activité to begin. The screens will prompt you to install now. At this point, you need to use the battery changing utility to press the reset button on the back of the Activité Pop. This will start a pairing mode so that the Health Mate app can find the watch. Once the watch is found, it will automatically check for any software updates. This particular action felt strange. Here you have a “normal” looking watch that you are upgrading to the latest firmware. Just seems weird. :-)
Once the update is completed, the Health Mate app will then ask you to calibrate the hands. As the Activité Pop does not have any dials whatsoever, you must calibrate using the app and twisting the on screen ring to align the hands. This calibration is done for both the time and the activity hand.
The main feature of the Activité Pop is to make all other activity trackers look bad…just kidding. The main feature is step tracking. The Pop has a step goal of 10,000 steps a day with the smaller, second dial displaying your daily progress towards this goal. But, you’re unable to change the 10,000 step goal which is a shame. The step goal should be adjustable. Maybe in a future update, Withings can add this.
As for syncing, the Withings Activité Pop uses Bluetooth low energy (BTLE) to send data to the Health Mate app. When you open the app, it will begin to search for the Pop and once found, will sync your most recent data. The process is straight forward and only takes 30 seconds to a minute to complete. Background syncing has not been enable yet.
During the night, the Activité Pop automatically tracks sleep. This is similar to the Fitbit Charge or the Misfit Shine/Flash. I think it’s a good feature as most of the time, people forget to enable this function as they doze off to dreamland. The alarm is set via the Health Mate app. Unlike the Jawbone Up or Misfit Shine/Flash, there is no smart alarm. The time you set is the time the watch will begin to buzz. The Activité Pop vibrates 12 times during the alarm. This also can not be adjusted or stopped. To view your current alarm time without going into the Health Mate app, the Pop allows you to double tap the top of the watch to show your current alarm.
One of the things I hate about activity trackers is the need to constantly charge them…even if it’s weekly. The worst tracker for this was the Microsoft Band, only being able to hold about a day and half to two days of charge. Over the past 6 months, we have a seen a slew of trackers take advantage of a regular watch battery. Products like the FitBit Zip, the Jawbone Up Move, Garmin Vivofit, Misfit Flash/Shine, and now the Withings Activité products provide an enormous boost in usage between battery swaps which is a great thing. This means not having to worry about charging your tracker, and eventually forgetting it for the day. I can’t stress enough that the more seamless a product can be, the more you will use it and have it integrated into your daily life.
Misc and Looking ahead
In the future, I would like to see the ability to set more than one alarm at a time. Having only one alarm is very limiting. We need to have the ability to set a Monday through Friday schedule. I’m sure I’m going to get bitten and wake up a 5:15am on a Saturday. :-) I would also like to see a smart alarm feature built in. The Jawbone Up can already do this. As your near your alarm time, if the band senses you are in a light sleep mode, it will start the alarm within a certain timeframe. Again, this should be a feature added to the Withings Activité.
If you are looking for an activity tracker that breaks the mold in terms of style, the Withings Activité Pop is a keeper It blends both a traditional watch form with modern activity tracking in a nice compact package.The ability to update the firmware within the watch will hopefully allow Withings to add features over time.Withings has stated that swim detection is something that will be included in an upcoming release. Currently the Activité will only automatically tag walking and running.