Withings Steel HR

Tech Advisor - - Contents - Chris Martin

A lot of peo­ple will be wait­ing for the re­lease of An­droid Wear 2.0, but some­times a semi-smart­watch is a bet­ter choice. Withings is be­com­ing a mas­ter of the hy­brid wear­able and its lat­est re­lease is the stylish-look­ing Steel HR.

De­sign

Withings’ £320 Ac­tiv­ité set a high stan­dard when it was re­leased and the firm has done a great job of main­tain­ing that level of build qual­ity with its cheaper watches.

You won’t be sur­prised to hear that the main body of the HR is made from steel. It also looks a lot like the orig­i­nal Steel, al­though the HR comes with a heart-rate mon­i­tor. It’s avail­able in two sizes: 36- and 40mm. Our re­view unit was the larger model, which has a wider bezel around the edge with en­graved num­bers.

The 40mm ver­sion is only avail­able with a black watch face, so if you want white one you’ll need to opt for the smaller op­tion. Each model comes with a smooth silicone strap (18- and 20mm re­spec­tively), which uses a quick re­lease mech­a­nism. A leather strap priced £70 is also avail­able from Withings, though it won’t fit the 40mm model.

Aside from the heart-rate mon­i­tor there are two ma­jor dif­fer­ences be­tween the Steel and the Steel HR. For starters, the ac­tiv­ity track­ing dial, which goes from 0- to 100 per­cent of your tar­get, now goes full cir­cle in­stead of 12- to 9 o’clock and sits cen­tred. The other is the ad­di­tion of a small dig­i­tal screen, which pro­vides in­for­ma­tion and no­ti­fi­ca­tions. This is slightly hid­den when not in use on the black model, but stands out on the white watch face. A lone but­ton on the side op­er­ates the dis­play.

As with pre­vi­ous Withings watches, the Steel HR is wa­ter­proof up to a depth of 50m, though the firm points out that it can’t be used for snorkelling or div­ing.

Fea­tures

Ac­tiv­ity track­ing One of the Steel HR’s main sell­ing points is ac­tiv­ity track­ing. On top of walk­ing, run­ning and swim­ming, the watch tracks sports such as danc­ing, vol­ley­ball and ta­ble ten­nis.

You tell the Steel HR your daily ex­er­cise tar­get (10,000 steps is the de­fault set­ting) and the ad­di­tional dial will let you know how you’re do­ing. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing Health Mate app (avail­able for An­droid and iOS) is easy to use and de­liv­ers de­tailed in­for­ma­tion such as calo­ries burned and distance trav­elled right to your phone. This data can then be shared with other fit­ness apps.

If you wear the Steel HR at night, it mon­i­tors your sleep pat­terns and can be set to wake you up with a silent alarm us­ing a vi­bra­tion mo­tor. Heart-rate mon­i­tor The heart-rate mon­i­tor is lo­cated on the de­vice’s rear and uses green LEDs to mea­sure your pulse . By de­fault, it takes a read­ing every few min­utes, but will start con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tor­ing your heart beat while you’re ex­er­cis­ing. Dur­ing test­ing, we found it did a great job and this is a good choice for fit­ness fa­nat­ics.

You can also take a one-off scan by click­ing the but­ton on the side, though this didn’t work as well in our tests and the re­sults jumped around. Dig­i­tal screen The HR’s dis­play is easy to use: push the but­ton on the side re­peat­edly to cy­cle through the dif­fer­ent modes. It pro­vides in­for­ma­tion such as the date and bat­tery per­cent­age, but there are more use­ful items on of­fer. These include no­ti­fi­ca­tions for phone calls and texts, though you don’t get a pre­view of what a mes­sage says even though a cal­en­dar re­minder pro­vides scrolling text. Bat­tery life At the time of writ­ing, we’ve been us­ing the HR for al­most two weeks and it still has 53 per­cent left in the tank, so is on track for the firm’s claim of 25 days. At around the 25day mark, the watch au­to­mat­i­cally turns on a power-sav­ing mode, which Withings says will give you an ex­tra 20 days’ bat­tery life.

We do, how­ever, wish the watch came with a charg­ing stand rather than the sup­plied ca­ble, which doesn’t al­ways con­nect prop­erly.

Ver­dict

If you’re not fussed about a touch­screen smart­watch, the Steel HR is stylish, well-made and of­fers ex­cel­lent bat­tery life. Plus, we’re glad to see the ad­di­tion of the heartrate mon­i­tor and the screen. Over­all this is a great semi-smart­watch for the price.

You tell the Steel HR your daily ex­er­cise tar­get (10,000 steps is the de­fault set­ting) and the ad­di­tional dial will let you know how you’re do­ing

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