With the Steel HR, Withings presents a new wearable concept based on an analogue clock with a small display as well as a heart rate sensor and with a running time of up to 45 days a very good picture in the test.
- 1Withings Steel HR in test: Hybrid on new paths
- Housing and carrying comfort
- Display only for short overview
- Convincing app and accurate sensors
- running time
Withings Steel HR in test: Hybrid on new paths
If analogue clocks combined with fitness tracker functions have not been a real innovation at the latest since the IFA 2015, the manufacturer Withings has presented a new interpretation of the topic at last year’s IFA. Compared to the numerous rivals such as the Runtastic Moment and the Fossil Q Grant, the Withings Steel HR offers a heart rate sensor and a small info display.
Housing and carrying comfort
Both innovations integrate Withings perfectly into the accustomed design of the Activité series, albeit with slight changes. Both the small display and the activity scale, which is arranged at 6 o’clock, are easily set, giving the design more expression and making it even more elegant. The case, the indexes, the hands and the dial still remind a little of the minimalistic Max-Bill style, which is not disturbed by the info display.
Tadellose processing and timeless design
Regardless of the design, which in any case has to be viewed subjectively and according to one’s own preferences, there is a very good processing picture, which (especially) does not suggest a smart gadget. The polished stainless steel case is made from one piece and, together with the slightly curved watch glass, above all the worn wearables. The supplied bracelet made of matt black plastic, on the other hand, is less suitable for the otherwise solid appearance of the watch. Nevertheless, plastic tapes are more suitable for hygienic activities. The 18 mm wide bracelet can easily be changed over the spring bar.
In addition to the 36-millimeter variant of the Steel HR, Withings also offers a 40mm version of the watch. The diameter of 36 millimeters proved to be very comfortable to wear in conjunction with a normal wrist. As an addition, the larger offshoot has a wider housing frame, on which minute indexes are engraved. The width of the bracelet is 20 mm. The weight increases compared to the smaller model from 39 to 49 grams.
Display only for short overview
How much display does a wearable have to offer? A question that can not be answered easily and is very much dependent on the usage behavior of the wearer. It is clear that a display requires additional energy. Again the clock – much more the smart functions – through a display self-sufficient to the coupled smartphone.
The small display shows the most important parameters and notifications. The latter gave the previous wearables of this class only by means of vibration or lighting up a status LED. Notifications are currently only available for calls, calendar entries and SMS messages, but according to Withings. The change between the displays is by means of a button on the right side of the housing. There is no interaction.
Of course, smartwatches with Android Wear, AppleWatch or Tizen offer much more features, so the user can respond to notifications, but need to be differentiated between fitness tracker and the pure smartwatch. The concept of Withings Steel HR pleases very well. Withings finds a very good middle way and shows with an analogue digits sheet and the small black / white display a very nice combination of both elements. The brightness of the display can be adjusted automatically or via the app. A small negative point, however, is shown: the display is not permanently active. It only lights up when incoming notifications or at the push of a button, which is the case of the energy saving, but the quick overview is less conducive. Activation when lifting the arm or a dimmed always-on mode is missing in everyday life.
Convincing app and accurate sensors
With the app Withings convinces as in the previous tests. Devices are simply coupled and the respective data are output in a structured overview. Here the experience of the manufacturer pays off. The synchronization time of the fitness data, which was criticized in the Activité Pop test, is a thing of the past. Negative points do not exist, so the overall harmony between App and Wearable is very good.
Average but reliable sensors
With regard to sensor technology, the Withings Steel HR rides in the middle of its smartwatch counterparties, but can not climb the throne. For heart rate measurement, the watch was tested in three scenarios – before sport, during sport and after sport. The Polar H7 chest strap also serves as a reference. If the Steel HR can precisely determine the resting pulse, slight deviations of about two percent are reflected in the remaining measurements. In sum, this means an average deviation of 1.38 percent, which places the Steel HR, at least in the heart rate measurement, in the midfield.
The Steel HR, on the other hand, plays on the front and can even leave behind the Partnermodel Withings Activité Pop. With 1000 steps counted, the watch records an excellent value of 1.007.
Also the sleep measurement works subjectively very well. Without a possible reference value, the watch takes a short time after going to bed sleeping, which is subdivided into the phases awake, low and light sleep. As with the Activité Pop, the analysis is based on the motion sensor, which does not mean that the simple movement of the arm is already determined as the beginning of a wakeful phase. In the same way, a standstill does not necessarily suggest a deep sleep phase. The categorization of the phases is, however, based on an algorithm tested in the sleep laboratory.