Withings Activité :: Elegance and Motion

by Volker Weber

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Before we all go crazy about the Apple Watch tonight, I would like to talk a bit about the Withings Activité. This is a fine watch that also tracks your motion. And your sleep. It wakes you up in the morning. After a future software update it might also track your swimming.

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But most importantly, it is a fine watch. Only a few people will notice that it is also a connected device. Let's compare this for a second with a Pebble Steel, my favorite smartwatch.

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The difference is striking. No charge connectors, no buttons, not even a crown, just very thin and elegant. It is as reduced as it can possibly be. Form and function are one.

What does Activité do besides showing the time? It automatically adjusts the time by talking to Withings Health Mate on your smartphone. When your smartphone changes time zones or adjusts the time, so does Activité. That's why there is no crown on the watch. You also set your alarm time in Health Mate. In the morning Acitivité will vibrate 12 times to wake you up. You can't cancel the alarm on the watch itself, you can't snooze it. No buttons, remember? The only thing you can do is tap the watch twice and it will adjust the hour and minute hands to show you the alarm time you set.

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When you go to sleep, it will track your sleep. You don't have to switch modes. Activité does it all by itself. Same thing in the morning. It does not yet track swimming - this will require a software update. But it discovers running, I assume by the faster cadence.

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You set your step goal in Health Mate and Activité will show your progress from 0 to 100 %. When you exceed your goal, the dial goes back to 0 and starts counting again. Much like the minute hand travels around the watch each hour. There is only one thing you need to do: open Health Mate on your smartphone once a day to sync data. Activité only holds 36 hours of data.

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Acitivité comes with a leather band and an additional sports band. You can swap bands without tools. And it comes with a spare CR2025 battery. Withings promises it lasts eight months or more. No charging, just wear the watch and sync once a day. That's it.

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Acitivité is the opposite of Microsoft Band. Thin and light. Always on. No charging. No apps. No notifications. No email. No texts. Just a watch that motivates you to keep moving and watches over your sleep. If you are not attached to your smartphone, if you can go for hours without checking your email, and if you want to do that while tracking your active life, this is what you get.

At 390 € it is quite expensive. If you want the same functionality without the fancy glas, steel, and leather there is a cheaper option: Activité Pop sells for 150 €. While the more expensive option is almost flawless, I am reading reports that Pop has some issues. Check them out before you buy.

Comments

I really like the simplicity and elegance of this watch. That's exactly why I bought an Activité Pop as soon as the local dealers had it. Unfortunately the time was off by up to 6 minutes per day. Might not seem much but made me miss a train. So I returned it but the replacement wasn't any better. I hope the swiss clockwork in the non-Pop is more precise.

Florian Driever, 2015-03-09

Did you calibrate the minute and hour hands? it does not help if your watch knows the time but is pointing the wrong way. Mine is fine.

Volker Weber , 2015-03-09

waiting for this since a while....

Stephan Bohr, 2015-03-09

Yes, I did. A few times. Because at first I thought it was my fault, but there isn't much you can do wrong.

Florian Driever, 2015-03-09

I think I did not get it the first time. The watch wasn't off my 6 minutes, it would slow down by up to 6 minutes a day? That's indeed unacceptable. Mine does not appear to divert at all. The only thing that I noticed is that you can't really calibrate the minute hand. It is ever so slightly right of the twelve. Not by a minute, but my a small fraction.

Volker Weber, 2015-03-09

I am now switching off Bluetooth for 10 hours to prevent the Acitivité from syncing. On close inspection I suspect my watch is rushing. I will know in the morning.

Volker Weber, 2015-03-09

10 hours later: running perfectly. Minute hand moves the same second as the iPhones time. Switching Bluetooth back on to sync.

Volker Weber, 2015-03-10

Thank you for testing. It seems I have to go for the big one then.

Florian Driever, 2015-03-10

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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