Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

Dave Bullard
1 January, 2012
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Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

Household Technology, www.householdtechnology.com.au

Pros 

Well made; easy and fun to use; many sharing options; good price

Cons 

Readings can differ from other monitors

$179

Reviews

It’s said that about a quarter of the world’s population suffers from hypertension, or high blood pressure.

You might be one of those, and have been using a home blood pressure monitor to keep an eye on the situation between doctors’ visits.

The Omron IA2 we’ve been using is a well-designed little unit but it has one drawback – while it can store 90 readings in its memory, those readings are stuck there and can’t be viewed on a graph or viewed remotely by a doctor.

The Blood Pressure Monitor from Withings addresses this problem in a big way, allowing you to view your results in a free iOS app or in a web browser on any computer, and share those results in a number of ways.

The monitor isn’t new – we first tried it out at CES in Las Vegas exactly a year ago – but it’s taken this long for Withings to get going in the Australian market.

The company had previously brought out a similarly connected Wi-Fi Body Scale, which we reviewed in our May 2010 issue, so it made sense to bring out this monitor. Like the scales, it’s beautifully designed. A semi-rigid, highly adjustable cuff is attached to a small, silver metal tube 15cm long and 3.5cm in diameter. After downloading the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch app, you wrap this cuff around your upper arm, tube innermost, and connect the USB cable to your iOS device.

The app fires up automatically and presents you with a measurement screen featuring a large green Start button. Tap this and the cuff inflates and deflates and your reading is shown on the screen.

The iPhone/iPod and iPad apps work a little differently because of the screen sizes involved, but both can show your readings as a graph or text. If you have a Withings scale as well you can see your weight charts at the same time. Multiple users can easily use the devices and apps at the same time.

So you have your reading, but is it accurate?

We’ve been using a Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale off and on for a year and a half now, and have found it to have occasional wild readings – up to 4kg in a day. Over time this doesn’t really matter as the Withings graphs can be converted into a curve of averages, but it does matter if you’re trying to track your weight day-by-day.

It’s harder to gauge the accuracy of the Blood Pressure Monitor, as your blood pressure itself can vary greatly from one day to the next, and from hour to hour. Withings promises accuracy to within 2 percent.

While writing this, we took our blood pressure with both the Omron and the Withings, just a couple of minutes apart. The Omron returned 128/76 at 69bpm, while the Withings was 120/73 at 72bpm.

We spoke to a doctor about this, and she said that as long as all the readings are done on one device, they are useful despite slight inaccuracies. If incorrect readings worry you, there is also an auto mode available, in which the monitor takes three consecutive readings and calculates the average.

Sharing your data is super-easy. It can be emailed, shared with other Withings users (your doctor could get an account), published privately on the web or shared with Microsoft HealthVault, Google Health, RunKeeper, Facebook, Twiiter and more.

Use of Withings’ online services is included in the price.

Macworld Australia’s buying advice.

The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor is easy to use, less trouble than older style monitors and presents its data in easy-to-understand graphs. It makes monitoring hypertension far easier and more fun, it’s reasonably priced and is highly recommended.

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