The Withings Body Cardio isn't your typical smart scale. While it can measure weight and sync its data online like Withings' other scales, this new version's selling point is being able to measure cardiovascular health. This is the first scale that can measure Pulse Wave Velocity, a term I wasn't even aware of before. It's a measurement used to determine arterial stiffness and is said to be a key indicator of heart health.
In addition to this new metric, the Body Cardio can also measure weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), body fat percentage, total body water percentage, muscle mass, bone mass and standing heart rate. And since it's a smart scale, there's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to automatically upload your information to the Withings HealthMate app on Android and iOS.
All of this sounds appealing, until you you consider the $180 (£140, AU$290) price tag, which makes the Body Cardio one of the most expensive consumer scales on the market. After using it for close to a month, I wasn't sold on its value.
The scale failed to measure my Pulse Wave Velocity on numerous occasions, and even when it worked, I still found it hard to decipher what its value was to my everyday health. I recommend the more affordable Withings Body smart scale for $130 (£100). It's essentially the Body Cardio, but without the standing heart rate data and the finicky Pulse Wave Velocity measurement. Trust me, you won't miss them.
What is Pulse Wave Velocity?
Pulse Wave Velocity is used in clinical tests, research labs and some hospitals. My personal cardiologist and three others I called in New York City didn't measure it, but studies have found it to be a reliable measurement for heart health.
To determine your Pulse Wave Velocity, the scale is equipped with special sensors that are said to be able to determine the exact moment when blood is ejected from the aorta and when it reaches blood vessels in the feet. The time between the two is then compared to your height (which you provide during the initial setup of the scale) to determine your Pulse Wave Velocity, a number that is measured in meters per second. If your eyes glazed over during that explanation, you're not alone.
The entire process of measuring this and all other metrics takes about 30 seconds from start to finish. Unfortunately, it didn't always work. About one out of every five times I received an error that stated the scale was unable to measure my Pulse Wave Velocity, but I didn't know this until I opened the app on my phone. That's because the small display on the scale only shows weight, BMI, bone mass, muscle mass, standing heart rate and a timeline of past weigh ins. It doesn't actually show the Pulse Wave Velocity measurement.