Philips HealthSuite is not about fitness tracking. It is a health tracking ecosystem for everyone, whether they’re an exercise enthusiast or not. After all, the more informed we are about what’s happening in our bodies, the better we will be able to make informed health choices. With all the fuss in the news about fitness trackers not leading to weight loss and such, a new approach is necessary — one that Philips aims to may have hit on. We got a chance to try out the Philips Health Watch, Body Analysis Scale, and Ear Thermometer. Here is what we thought of them.
The Health Watch
In a world of flashy smartwatches, the simplicity of the Health Watch is nostalgically refreshing. It comes with a plain black band made with a soft biocompatible TPU strap that is interchangeable, along with a Gorilla Glass display face that is seriously hard to crack, making it a durable choice. Runners will like that it is water-resistant to 1 atm as well as splash and sweat proof. The Health Watch face has a touch-sensitive circle that takes a little getting used to when you first wear it. Triple tap the bottom to unlock, so you aren’t accidentally activating it all the time. Swipe side to side to see statistics. You have to fight the urge to touch the middle of the screen and get used to touching the sides of it. It took me an afternoon of wearing it to become accustomed to it. The monochrome, 192 x 192 resolution display that is feels retro a la Casio watches, but is far more advanced in function. You can turn the backlight on or off and customize quite a few features.
The Watch was plenty comfortable to wear. I got a small/medium size, and even having quite large wrists, it fits well. The look of the watch is no-frills serious, and if you are looking for something suitable for everyday use, you may want to look into some cute watch straps for it. It charges up really quickly and lasts about four days on one charge. The device memory is seven days, so be sure to turn Bluetooth on and sync it regularly.
How are the tracking metrics? On par with the most expensive brands of smartwatches we have tried out. No glaring problems, smooth as butter. It tracks steps, heart rate zones, resting heart rate, heart rate-derived metrics, heart rate recovery (the difference in heart rate at peak exercise and the rate as measured after a one minute recovery period), resting respiration rate, activity, active minutes, calorie burn, and overall condition indicators. Yeah, that’s a lot. Don’t forget it also tracks sleep movement and reminds you to move when you have been sedentary for too long.
Overall the Philips Health Watch is a good product. It is easy to use and the metrics are useful, as we will discuss in the below section on app integration. However, one thing we would like to see for a watch in this price range is smartphone notifications. Beyond that, it has a lot to offer.
The Good: Comfortable, accurate tracking, easy to learn
The Bad: No smartphone notifications (messages, phone calls, etc)
Body Analysis Scale
The Philips Body Analysis scale sells for $100 and runs off of four AAA batteries. It comes in a sleek black or white glass with black or white trim lines on it. It is Bluetooth connected and pairs with your smartphone app to let you track your weight, BMI, and body fat percentage. Setup is very simple. Just put the batteries in and push the button on the back of the scale to start pairing it via Bluetooth to the Philips smartphone app. Once it is set up, it automatically feeds the info to the app. The scale can accommodate up to eight users, making it usable for the whole family. It does this by analyzing data within the companion app, Philips HealthSuite, which can be used to automatically tell the scale who’s on it. Each user can see their own statistics on the app.
It should be noted that the scale cannot be used on a carpeted surface, only a flat one, such as that which is usually found in your bathroom. And, how does it calculate your BMI without use of the dreaded caliper? Well, “bio-impedance analysis (BIA) sends a small unnoticeable current through the body and establishes the body fat percentage. BMI is calculated based on weight and height of the user.” So, a little scan, some math, and there you have your info.
The Good: Fairly priced, app integration is easy and useful, elegant, handles eight users
The Bad: Can’t be used on a carpeted surface
A thermometer under your tongue when you are sick is simply the worst. That’s why the Philips ear thermometer is super handy for old and young alike. It is Bluetooth connected so you can keep track of a fever even if you are delirious, and then you can send that info to your doctor. Pairing it with the Philips app is fairly simple. After it is paired, it shows up on your dashboard of statistics. It should be noted that it is useful not only for tracking high temps, but low temps, which can also give you insight into other health problems.
Two AAA batteries power this thermometer, so no charging is required. Keep some alcohol swabs nearby, as the tip is reusable and should be cleaned after use. This thermometer is particularly useful as a non-intrusive way to take kids’ temperatures when they are fussy and sick. Just pop it in the ear, click the button, and you have your answer in two seconds. It will tell you if the temperature is low, normal, or high. Then, use Bluetooth to store those measurements on the Philips HealthSuite app to keep track of it or share it with your doctor.
The Good: Non-intrusive, reads in two seconds, reusable tip, Bluetooth connectivity for use with app
The Bad: Nothing
Philips HealthSuite App
All of the above products tie into the Philips HealthSuite app. It is a streamlined way to access all your health metrics in one place and get a really good snapshot of how you are doing. A highlight of this app is the simple and straightforward way it presents overall health, with a color-coded gradient circle moving from green (good) to yellow (OK) to orange (uh-oh) to red (bad). The same non-colored circle shows up on the watch face to let you know how close you are to completing your daily activity goal. This consistent approach to reading metrics means you can, with a brief glance, know how you are doing instead of digging through graphs. This is numerically represented with a score at the top of your screen. You can also input nutrition data to really complete your overall health picture.
Open the app with Bluetooth on and it will start scanning for paired devices to sync with. Then, you can tap on data from any individual device, such as temperature from the thermometer, to see what the trend has been and learn more. It is one of the more straightforward approaches to recording and using health data that we have seen. Philips tells us that there is more to come in the app department and we look forward to seeing what that is. Of particular interest, the Philips Heart Health app will be a behavioral change program designed by cardiologists and behavioral change experts featuring a 24-week program to help you create and maintain sustainable changes in health behaviors.