Woes with Withings blood pressure monitor
It was supposed to help track blood pressure – but in consistently failing to work, it ended up simply sending our readings shooting for the sky. That’s why only days after its purchase, we’re returning the faulty Withings blood pressure monitor.
There’s always a deep sense of disillusionment when a shiny new object of desire fails. This is why we’ve been suppressing a desire to throw the Withings blood pressure monitor across the room.
Wondering why we had a ‘wobbly’? While the Withings won’t work. In our tests, the Withings Smart Blood Pressure monitor consistently failed to produce a blood pressure reading.
Much like the English nursery rhyme Solomon Grundy, our wearisome Withings was bought on Saturday, tested on Sunday, and will be returned on Monday. That will be the end of our EUR 129 Withings blood pressure monitor.
It started off so promisingly. The OOBE (out-of-the-box ‘experience’) was positive and the set-up was straightforward: the device connected first time to an iPhone via Bluetooth (you can also use a USB cable) and reported that it was ready to measure and track both blood pressure and pulse rates.
Withings blood pressure monitor fail
Yet in taking blood pressure readings, the Withings blood pressure monitor failed every time (but one), all at the same point. We followed the instructions – to the letter, and changed the “brand new” batteries – yet the device contined to fail: After successfully inflating to record systolic blood pressure, the Withings would suddenly go all limp while deflating to track diastolic pressure.
Frustrating. We tried it on several arms – belonging to different people – all with the same dismal result.
Withings’ help desk could only offer the all-to-familiar “we are experiencing a high volume of inquiries, and will be delayed in our response”. We have heard that excuse too many times and think it actually means “we’ve over-anticipated the reliability of our products”.
Good idea – on paper
On paper, the Withings monitor is a great idea, and a money-spinner: Take a regular upmarket standard blood pressure monitoring cuff, link to a smartphone (iPhone only, according to the Withings packaging) and sell for at least double the price of a top-of-the-range stand-alone device.
The smartphone is the remote control to start blood pressure readings, then track data in the Withings Health Mate app. This looks promising and offers an easy introduction to the quantified self, tracking well-being in four areas, displayed in a so-called butterfly graph covering weight, activity, heart and sleep: you could call this the nexus of the four health forces.
Withings’ approach is also a clever way of making sure that once you’ve bought one of its products, you’ll want to buy more, facilitating more accurate health tracking, although it’s also possible to enter data manually in all four areas: you don’t actually need a single Withings device to use the app.
For WTW, it’s back to our EUR 15 old-skool blood pressure monitoring cuff while we wait for a response from Withings. A price premium of more than EUR 100 for an Internet of Things-connected device is a lot, especially when it doesn’t work.
If you’re looking for alternatives to the Withings blood pressure monitor then consider the iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor (some EUR 40 cheaper than the Withings in the Euro zone) and the promising-looking QardioArm, retailing at EUR 109.