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Friday, December 22, 2017

First Impressions: Garmin Index Smartscale

The most dangerous aspect of the human mind is its ability to deceive itself. I discovered that when I was done with my weight loss program: all through the years when I was gaining weight, I rationalized that this was a good thing. Even when I shot way past my goal. It took my doctor and a nutritionist to tell me that what I was doing was just plain wrong.

The thing about weight is that it fluctuates naturally, depending on your state of hydration, what time of day it is, and whether you just recently ate. That makes it easy for you to rationalize it. Even if you have the discipline to write down your weight every time you weigh yourself, it's easy to lie to yourself and say: "Oh, that was because I just drank a ton of water." A smart scale is the way around this: it's always at home, and you can always make yourself weigh in say, before your daily shower. Over time, the trendline and graphs will keep you from lying to yourself about your weight gain. (Or if you're not gaining weight, you'll stop being neurotic about the weight fluctuations on every weigh in!)

For better or worse, I'm part of the Garmin ecosystem, as opposed to the Apple or Fitbit ecosystems. The reason is fairly basic: Garmin is for athletes, the other devices are for people who want to be "fit." (i.e., they'll never do a bike ride for more than 4-5 hours and still expect their devices to still be powered on). That meant that the Garmin Index Smart Scale is the device that will provide weight data to all your devices. This makes the calorie counter more accurate (again, not significant unless you gain or lose a lot of that).

Set against that is a bunch of lackluster reviews, including from DC Rainmaker. (By the way, if you want the short summary of his reviews, just checkout the statement where he says he returns the review unit. If he says he'll run out and buy it from a retail store, then it's good, otherwise, it means that he doesn't care for it)

I didn't fully understand the lackluster reviews until I received the unit. Basically, if you're a single person using the scale, it's great. You sync it to your Garmin Connect app on your phone, answer basic questions about yourself (height, approximate weight, etc so that the BMI calculations are correct), and you're done. If you're setting it up for a family, however, it's counter-intuitive in multiple ways that are designed to drive you nuts. Your family members cannot add the device to their Garmin Connect themselves. What they must do is to connect their account to yours (an obscure, unituitive process that requires them to search for your Garmin Connect handle, and then request to be your friend, and then you have to accept), and then YOU have to invite them to use the Smartscale, after which THEY have to accept the invitation, and then go on to answer the questions.

Fortunately, I have access to everyone's smartphone, so I went ahead and created accounts for everyone and went through that rigmarole. After that the scale is like magic. In fact, when my wife stepped on for the first time and she saw her initials she said, "Hey wait, how did it know it's me?!!" The scale is fast, just a couple of seconds and it'll give you all the details like BMI, body fat percentage, amount of your weight is water weight, how much muscle mass you have, and how much bone mass you have. It then updates your Garmin Connect account wirelessly, and you're done. No hassle.

The other big issue is of course, how durable/reliable the device was. I bought the refurbished version from Amazon (and it looks brand new) with a credit card that extends the manufacturer's warranty by a year just to be safe. But now that I've gone through the setup, I think I understand how people can fail to set it up for a family and rather than deal with the hassle of figuring out all the vagaries, would rather just return it to Amazon. Oh yeah, if you buy refurbished, the first thing to do after installing the batteries is to hold down the factory reset button for 5 seconds.

If you've read with this so far, you now have all the information to take advantage of the certified refurbished prices on the scale on Amazon. It really is a decent device, just silly expensive for what it does, but if you're like me, Garmin has their hooks in you nice and deep and no other Smart Scale will integrate with the ecosystem anyway, so you might as well just buy it. At least, if you're the type of person who's capable of lying to themselves about weight gain (and my history has proved that I am!), a Smart Scale is probably a good idea.


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