New Fitness Tracker Review: InBody Band Is First to Measure Body Fat


By Cat Perry


There seem to be more choices of fitness trackers than there are decades of crazy workouts to use them with. Yet there's always one more improvement that tweaks the rules. For a year now I've been saying that there is one thing missing from them all, the one thing that a home scale can do in less than 10 seconds with just two metal strips beneath each foot: calculate body fat and muscle mass.


For those looking for those important measurements to give their weight loss and strength gains a new momentum, the InBody Band is the first band to do it—but I don't predict it will be the last. Introduced in CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2015 as the company's first wearable technology, the InBody Band is entering the competitive fitness tracker market with the ability to test muscle, mass, fat mass, and percent body fat. Here's how it works:


WHAT IT DOES: It combines a fitness tracker with the technology of InBody's hyper-accurate stand-atop commercial body composition analyses machines—which some weight loss clinics use to help participants break through weight-loss plateaus by using these more accurate metrics of body fat and muscle mass, far beyond calories in calories out. That detailed BMI info helps those who want to lose weight to do so more effectively than they could with just tracking their weight. So they know what they're losing (or gaining) when, whether it is unwanted fat or precious muscle.

 

The affordable ($179) Band calculates these metrics utilizing two finger electrodes on the screen in less than ten seconds. And with those same electrodes it also measures your heart rate, plus the Band also tracks your sleep patterns, calories burned, miles moved, and steps taken automatically. It pairs with its own InBody app or the Body Key app.

FEEL: A superlightweight band that comes in 11 colors, the InBody Band looks like a Garmin Vivofit 2, with a couple more accents. It's light due to its plastic, ribbed band. One of the lightest I've tested. The band itself fits even small wrists perfectly right out of the box, which is a bonus, since many bands have a hard time fitting the range of wrist sizes needed without clunky solutions or several wrist straps. The screen is easy on the eyes, not a harsh, overly bright LED. The screen is about two inches long, but only has a readout at the top third of it, so it begs the question why the display itself is the size it is in the first place. Why not shirk it a bit? Either way, it doesn't get in the way, though, and looks convincing as a bracelet for either men or women. Not an overwhelming display whatsoever. 

 

FUNCTION: Easy does it. This band is simple to use and very quick to charge, which is more than I can say about a lot of fitness trackers. Charge lasts with standard use, plus a run or two for up to 5 days, in my experience. Per, the norm, it tracks steps and distance automatically, in addition to when you start exercising (which is measured by vigorousness in steps I believe). To get a heart rate reading or body fat reading, just place your index finger and thumb on the to surface sensors. It tracks steps pretty accurately, if not just a touch higher than a Jawbone Up 3, but both were on average in a 200-step ball park of each other. And it syncs quickly and easily.


DRAWBACKS:

The biggest pitfalls are the need to place your fingers on the monitors to get your body fat and your heart rate. In a fully connected day and age it seems antiquated to have to hold anything down for 10 seconds for it to read. But the reality is, it's not really THAT big an inconvenience. For example, to get a weight reading on a scale you just step on. But on a scale that measures body fat, muscle mass, and water weight, plus calories you should eat during the day based on that data, like the Taylor Scale with its connected app, you're standing on it for about 10 seconds as well. So in the long run this is no big inconvenience at all. Having to hold your fingers on the sensors for heart rate isn't ideal either. But the catch is that some other trackers I've tried that claim to measure heart rate automatically aren't always able to find your heart beat half the time. So in those cases you have to hold it flush against your skin until it can find it anyway. So apples to apples, that also isn't enough to count this tracker out. 


Another drawback is the rather simplistic app that loos like the first iteration that it is. And though most apps would track your heart rate or steps taken or sleep over time, the look and feel of the InBody app seems really basic design-wise in comparison to others. In a space where Apple now occupies the same market, that should be upgraded quickly if InBody wants to compete.


The plastic band, though light, feels a little cheap compared to than some of its competitors, but again as a first generation product, that may change with time.


It's an approachable fitness band with a set of high-tech features—a few that all current bands on the market lack. For those fitness junkies who thrive on metrics like weight, body fat, muscle mass, etc. this tracker represents a new turn. Tech that gives you more than you want, so you can truly track your body's every change.

 

But as far a fitness bands go, it's not slick, but it offers a whole lot of info in a light form factor for a $179 price tag.

The InBody Band is available at Amazon.