Although Fitbit built its reputation on activity trackers, its offerings have since expanded to include smartwatches, smart water bottles, and — the driver of this trial and article — smart scales. The Aria Air, priced at $49.95, is the company’s latest bathroom scale that offers several features that make it easy for existing Fitbit customers in particular to track one more health- and wellness-related metric. Whether the scale caters as well to non-Fitbit users is up for debate.
If you’re wondering whether the Fitbit Aria Air scale is right for you, here’s what you should know:
The setup is simple
To start using the Aria Air, all you have to do is remove the plastic tab from the battery compartment on the back, at which point the scale turns on and is good to go. (That Fitbit includes the 3 AAA batteries required is a minor but appreciated feature.)
To record and track your weight, you’ll then need to set up a Fitbit account if you don’t have one already. To do so, install the Fitbit app on a compatible phone or tablet, follow the prompts to create an account (or log into your existing account), and follow the instructions to add a device (Aria Air) to your account via Bluetooth.
While the default unit of measurement is pounds, you can switch to kilograms or stones (used primarily in the United Kingdom and Ireland) by pressing the button on the back of the scale.
The scale is sleek and unobtrusive
With its curved corners, minimal design, and cloudy black and white color options, the Aria Air bears a clear resemblance to Apple products. At just 3.9 pounds, 1 inch thick, and just under 1 square foot, it’s also lightweight, and its grippy bottom ensures that it won’t slide around during use. I’m of the opinion that a scale should never be more than a low-profile accessory in whatever room you keep it in, and this one blends in well — especially if your floors are similar in color to that of your scale.
The weighing process is straightforward
Whether it’s a barebones scale or a Bluetooth-equipped one, the weighing experience should be uncomplicated. Fortunately, that is the case with the Aria Air. Just step on up and watch your weight appear almost instantaneously in the backlit LCD display in the top-middle of the scale. (Since the scale only displays weight, you have to log into the app to see your body fat percentage and body mass index, colloquially known as BMI.)
It’s also a good sign when a scale consistently reports the same weight, as the Aria Air did to the tenth of a pound when I measured myself at roughly one-minute intervals several times in a row.
As with all other scales, there are some general rules of thumb that increase the Aria Air’s accuracy and longevity. Fitbit recommends placing it on a hard, flat surface (read: not carpet); using it while you’re barefoot and dry; trying to distribute your weight evenly between both feet; weighing yourself at roughly the same time and under the same conditions each day; and avoiding exposure of the scale to extremely high or low temperatures, open flames, or direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
But, to record your weight, you have to use the scale with the app open
The biggest drawback of the Aria Air is the fact that your weight does not get recorded unless you weigh yourself with the app open and then click “save” when the number pops up. Sure, you can check your weight at any given time, with or without the app open or your phone nearby. But if you care to document the numbers on the display, you either must open the app within moments of stepping on the scale or manually enter your weight after the fact — both of which make the whole process more of a production than it should be.
The app makes it easy to detect trends over time
If you’ve been diligent about documenting your weight (either weighing yourself with the app open or manually entering your weight each day), the Fitbit app makes it easy to see how your weight is trending over time. When you click on the weight tab, there’s a clean-looking graph at the top of the screen that shows how your weight has fluctuated over the last 30 days. Scroll down to see your daily weight and body fat percentage measurements in a table format, as well as your average weight for each week and the days in which your weight goal was met (designated by a green star). Swiping right in the weight tab displays additional graphs showing your lean versus fat weight, body fat percentage, and current BMI.
The best fitness trackers for keeping up with your goals
It may strike you as a negative that the Aria Air tracks fewer measurements than some other smart scales on the market. Unlike the Renpho Body Fat Scale, for example, it won’t show you your metabolic age or subcutaneous versus visceral fat mass. But given how inaccurate those measurements tend to be when generated by at-home scales, you may actually be better off without them.
The reported weight is likely accurate, while the body fat and BMI are less so
When shopping around for a scale, one thing you’ll definitely want to know is how accurate it is. The answer here depends on the metric you’re talking about. When it comes to weight, the Aria Air is probably close to reality, as weight is a straightforward measurement that Fitbit takes using four load cells.
The supplementary metrics of BMI and body fat percentage, however, are rough estimates at best. (The BMI you see in the app is calculated based on your weight and height alone.) Home-use body scales such as the Aria Air simply can’t account for variables that may skew the numbers such as hydration, location of body fat storage, and current menstrual cycle phase, so they’re more useful in showing changes over time than in offering an accurate read of any one moment in time.
It can support your weight-related goals
Whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight, the Aria Air can help you work toward your personal goals. In the app, you simply choose which of those three categories you fit in, and then enter your weight goal (and body fat percentage goal, if you choose to). Then you can clearly see on the app’s home page and in the weight tab where you are in relation to that goal.
It accommodates multiple users
As you’d expect from a smart scale, the Aria Air can accommodate multiple individuals. Anyone, obviously, can step on the scale and see their weight in real time. But those who also have the app and connect it to that particular scale can also track their weight (given that the app is open while they weigh themselves). Fortunately, the default setting is that only you see your data; anything you want to share is up to you.
The measurement range is 10 to 400 pounds
This is not necessarily a knock on Fitbit, as most bathroom scales have an upper limit in the 250- to 400-pound range — but individuals who weigh more than the Aria Air’s 400-pound maximum deserve a heads up that this is probably not the scale for them. Likewise, if you’re hoping to use it as a food or newborn scale, you’ll want one specifically designed to measure lighter things (and people) with greater precision.
Your Fitbit account is compatible with Fitbit Premium and major partner apps
Lastly, if you want to elevate your health-tracking experience, Fitbit offers two major ways to do so. First, for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year (after a free 90-day trial), you can upgrade your account to Fitbit Premium, which gives you advanced personalized insights and guided programs such as a daily readiness score, sleep tools, workout videos, and various games and challenges.
Secondly, you can connect your Fitbit account (and thus weight records) to a surprising number of health, fitness, and nutrition apps. These include MyFitness Pal, Weight Watchers, Lose It!, Peloton, and Strava.
If you’re already in the Fitbit ecosystem — meaning that you use a Fitbit smartwatch or fitness tracker — there’s good reason to add the Aria Air scale to your fittech arsenal. It’s compatible with the Fitbit app you already have, and, when combined with other metrics such as daily steps and hours slept, can offer a more complete picture of your overall health and wellness.
If you aren’t a Fitbit user, however, the Aria Air scale may not be the best scale for you. You’d still need the Fitbit app even though you’d only be utilizing just one small part of it, and there’s no getting around the fact that you have to remember to weigh yourself with the app open every time, unless you’re diligent enough to enter your weight manually. For $49.95, you should be able to find a more streamlined way to measure and track your weight.
Paul is a freelance photograher and graphic designer and has worked on our most recent media kit.
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