It looks like a watch, feels like a watch and works like a watch -- and that's the point. The Withings Activité Pop hides a lot of fitness tracking features in its fashionable frame. It tracks all your steps, calories and sleep, and it's fully waterproof so you can take it swimming. While it lacks advanced tracking features such as heart rate and GPS monitoring, the $149 Activité Pop makes up for that in style, acting as a wardrobe staple rather than just a geeky band that lives on your wrist.
You could easily mistake the Withings Activité Pop for a regular watch. It's simplistic and modern, like Swatch's demure cousin, but a regular watch nonetheless. It looks similar to the $400 original Activité, but the main differences between the two are in design: the Pop has a silicone band, which feels thin but is comfortable and easy to secure around your wrist, and a watch face made from PVD-coated metal. The device is waterproof up to 50 meters, so you can shower and swim without worry of damaging it.
This construction makes for a chic, minimalist design, but you can truly see the difference when the Pop is placed next to the $450 Activité. Boasting a genuine leather watchband and a body made of sapphire and stainless steel, the Activité has the "Swiss-made" stamp of approval, whereas the Pop does not. Then again, the Pop is $250 cheaper.
The Pop is available in Azure blue, Sand white and Shark grey, but since the watchband is a standard size, you can also swap it out with one you prefer.
After unboxing the Withings Activité Pop, you download the HealthMate app for either iOS or Android. Open the app and you'll be prompted to either log in or make a Withings account. Then, you can pair one of the company's devices with the app.
Choosing "Activité" from the menu brings you to a new screen, where it asks you to press the small button on the back of the watch face to reset the Pop; you'll need a pencil or a small, pointed object to do this. (A small tool, used to press this button as well as pry the back off the watch to change the battery, is included.) The watch will vibrate and then the app will start pairing with it.
Once paired, you'll have to calibrate the watch by using the app to turn both hands of the watch to noon and the hand of the goal indicator to zero. After that, you're brought back to the home page of the app and you're ready to use your Pop.
Withings has one app, HealthMate, for all of its health and wellness products. It's easy to use, featuring big typefaces and a bold gray, orange, blue and pink color scheme. It's in the same vein as Jawbone and Fitbit's companion apps - friendly, yet bright, with your health data at the forefront.
HealthMate's home screen shows your timeline that has activity at the top, including the number of steps you've taken and the percentage of the goal you've already reached for the day. Scrolling down shows you a plus sign to add your weight, heart rate or blood pressure reading (only the heart rate, which uses your iPhone's camera, doesn't require another Withings product to log it in), and your most current weight record.
Swiping to the right brings up the app's menu, with the four other main pages: Dashboard, Leaderboard, Profile and Reminders. Dashboard is much like the home page Timeline, with dedicated widgets for each stat that you can move around to your preference. Leaderboard is where you can link up with friends who have a Withings product to see their stats and compete, and Profile is where you can edit your personal settings and add a photo of yourself.
Reminders is where things get interesting. Here you can set the app to alert you of healthful habits at a certain time on certain days. The reminders are broken down into categories: weight, activity, heart and sleep. Each reminder explains why the activity is important, and when or how often you should be doing it.
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Since I have a bad habit of going to bed later and later every night, I set the "try to adopt fixed sleeping habits" reminder for 10 p.m. At the designated time my phone buzzed and alerted me with “Time to go to sleep. Regular sleep times will help you rest better." While it’s just a regular notification on my smartphone, it was a gentle nudge for me to get off YouTube and hit the sack.
The only thing I wish HealthMate allowed you to do is input exercises like the Fitbit Charge and the Jawbone Up24. If you're someone who regularly works out, you'll want to keep track of the exercises you complete, and you won't be able to do that with the Pop.
The Withings Activité Pop counted my steps accurately and monitored my sleep comfortably. All of the reminders I set lit up my phone at their designated times, and the vibrating wake-up alarm was strong enough to awaken me from my slumber.
My biggest regular issue with the Pop was its syncing. Most of the time, the Pop didn't automatically sync when I opened the app; it automatically connected to the app, but no data was transferred. I had to swipe down in the app to start the sync. While it's not a huge problem, the experience isn't as seamless as it could be.
The Activité Pop runs on a coin-cell battery, and the company promises up to eight months of battery life. It's the same type of battery that the Misfit Flash and the Jawbone Up Move use, to save you the hassle of charging it. This becomes especially important for the Pop as an everyday watch, considering you wouldn't normally charge your wristwatch on a regular basis.
Subtle but effective, Withings has managed to merge a solid activity tracker with an attractive watch. The Activité Pop tracks steps and sleep accurately and its helpful reminders may help you adopt better habits, if you take them seriously. I also like the alarm feature and the fact that this device is completely waterproof, though I wish it synced with phones more quickly.
The Activité Pop is not the activity tracker for intense athletes. It's for those who are style-conscious, are curious about how much they move and who want to develop healthier habits. And at an affordable $149, there's nothing else like it.
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