Withings Pulse Functions

The Pulse has moved ahead of the Jawbone UP in terms of packing functionality into a small package. Clearly, integrating an HRM and tracking changes in elevation contribute to this success.

FUNCTIONS CriteriaWithings PulseFitbit FlexJawbone UPNike+ FuelBand
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Baseline functionality has emerged in the industry and the Pulse clears this hurdle by tracking activity, steps, sleep, and calculating calories. It’s at this point that the Pulse strides ahead by including a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM), tracking elevation changes, and thanks to the display, a watch – something only matched by the FuelBand.

The HRM functions by shining two LEDs through your skin and tracking the changes associated with a heart beat. The process is simple – use the device’s button to scroll to the HRM screen, tap on the heart symbol, and place your finger on the sensor on the back of the Pulse. Wait a few seconds and you have your reading. Note that these won’t be like the continuous measurements you’d get from an HRM using a chest strap. Instead, they’ll be spot measurements that you’ll take from time to time.

It seems to work fine. Without clinical tools it’s hard to gauge the accuracy, but after years of monitoring my own heart rate the results seem to be on track with expectations. LED-based HRMs are relatively new technology which means they’re going to get better, cheaper, and smaller. If you can’t wait for that to occur, the Pulse is a very convenient way to get started with tracking your heart rate. Naturally, all data is stored for later recall via the Withings Health Mate app.

You can also track changes in your elevation with the Pulse. Note that you won’t be getting absolute measurements of your elevation relative to sea level, but you will be able to track changes in your elevation.

Let’s see how Withings overall portfolio of products helps in our next category, Personalization.

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