Wearables

Withings Activite Pop is pretty but falls short as a fitness tracker

Fitness trackers usually come in the form of a wristband, but the Withings Activite Pop looks like an analogue watch instead.

The main watch face has a minimalist design, with only the hour and minute hands. There is a smaller dial that shows your progress in percentage towards your daily step target.

The Pop is a wear-and-forget fitness tracker. It automatically tracks your daily steps taken, calories burned, sleeping patterns and running activities. It is water-resistant down to 50m, so you can dive into the swimming pool with it and it will track your swim.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $269

    COMPATIBILITY: Android and iOS

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 40g


    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

Unlike many wearables in the market, you do not need to charge it. It uses a CR2025 coin battery that is supposed to have a battery life of eight months. I have been using the Pop for nearly three months and it is still going strong.

Setting it up is easy. It comes with a metallic tool that lets you press a tiny button at the rear of the watch. Doing so starts the pairing process. Download the Withings Health Mate app into your smartphone, pair it with the Pop via Bluetooth and you are all set.

Once paired, the hour and minute hands will move to show the current time on your smartphone.

When you travel to a different time zone, sync it again with your smartphone to change the time. You also set your daily target of steps taken using the Withings app.

The watch is very lightweight and comfortable. Its 36mm-diameter watch face should go well with both men and women.

Unlike the Apple Watch and other smartwatches, the Pop feels inconspicuous on my wrist. The biggest plus is that you do not need to wear a separate fitness tracker with a watch.

Unfortunately, the activity-tracking functions of this watch seem a bit off.

Compared with my calibrated Jawbone Up3, it consistently tracked around 20 per cent fewer steps. The same goes for running. My usual 4km jogs showed up as 3km jaunts.

Sleep tracking, though, is pretty spot-on. The app will show the period you are in light sleep, deep sleep or when you are awake.

You need to be swimming for at least five minutes before the Pop is able to start tracking your swim (breaststroke or front crawl only).

I also found that the tracking is prone to stopping when my swim is interrupted. So it may not be able to track well if you are in a crowded public pool and need to avoid other swimmers.

Swim tracking is pretty basic. It captures only the duration of your swim and calories burned. It does not record stroke count and type, or lap times.

Another downer is that the Pop can hold only about a day-and- a-half's worth of data. You need to sync it with its app every day.

There are no built-in heart-rate monitor, Global Positioning System and notification capabilities. Plus, you cannot read the time under dim conditions as the hour and minute hands are not luminous.

• Verdict: The Withings Activite Pop is a good-looking fitness tracker that doubles as a watch. It is a pity that its automatic activity-tracking performance is a mixed bag.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'Pretty watch falls short as a fitness tracker'. Print Edition | Subscribe