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Published on May 3rd, 2012 | by Greg

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iHealth: Better Living Through Gadgetry

It’s be­come a punch­line: “there’s an app for that”. To­day’s pair of items are from iHealth, and their name is quite suit­able. They aim square­ly at iOS users, those with iPhones, iPod Touch­es, or iPads. At press time, they on­ly of­fer two prod­ucts, each ad­dress­ing health from a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion. As with oth­er sim­i­lar prod­ucts, you’ll need to down­load the app, and make sure that you’re up­grad­ed to a re­cent firmware. An­droid, Black­ber­ry, and Win­dows Phone users are out of luck for the mo­ment, but for those of you with an iDe­vice, we’re ready to an­swer the ques­tion- can your mo­bile de­vice help you be­come health­i­er?

Well, we’ll spoil the sur­prise. The an­swer is a qual­i­fied yes. We’ll start with the iHealth Scale- we’ve seen oth­er odd iOS ac­ces­sories, like a kitchen scale, or a grilling ther­mome­ter. And we’ve seen one oth­er com­peti­tor in the field, though it’s been a cou­ple of years. In that time, the app world has changed a lot, and we’ve seen some ma­jor up­grades to iOS as well. But some things haven’t changed- track­ing your weight via your phone is still a pro­cess with some ma­jor down­sides.

As with most sim­i­lar gad­gets, this one us­es Blue­tooth. We had some dropped con­nec­tions, re­quir­ing man­u­al re-pair­ing, which was frus­trat­ing and a bit time-con­sum­ing. We al­so tried us­ing the scale be­tween mul­ti­ple users, which re­sult­ed in a few is­sues be­cause the scale doesn’t read­i­ly han­dle this and we didn’t see an easy way in the app to in­di­cate er­rors like this. Of course, if you’re just a sin­gle us­er, then this shouldn’t be an is­sue. The scale looks good, and seemed ac­cu­rate in our tests, and an LCD dis­play is built-in for quick checks and when you don’t want to go through the pair­ing pro­cess or sim­ply don’t have your iOS de­vice handy. The app is free, and works al­right, but the sys­tem won’t com­mu­ni­cate with oth­er fit­ness de­vices or sys­tems out there (like the Fit­Bit or Body­Media Fit). Avail­able on­line and in stores for around $70, though, we ex­pect­ed more from the scale, as it sim­ply didn’t work con­sis­tent­ly enough to rec­om­mend. Weight track­ing should not be hard­er than it al­ready is!

The iHealth Blood Pres­sure Dock doesn’t suf­fer from the same flaws, thanks to the fact that it’s a dock rather than re­quir­ing a finicky wire­less con­nec­tion. In­stead, there are some oth­er small draw­backs that come with dock­ing- like the fact that most cas­es will not work with the dock, so you’ll need to un­case (de­case? un­wrap?) your phone or tablet. Unique in our ex­pe­ri­ence, we en­joyed the pro­cess quite a bit, though none of our staff was in dire need of reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing. The vi­su­als and dis­play are quite good, and the build qual­i­ty is OK, though the cord is fair­ly short and the dock felt a bit pla­s­ticky. Da­ta ex­port op­tions are lim­it­ed- no Ex­cel spread­sheet ca­pa­bil­i­ties that we could find- but you’ll be able to track your stats over time eas­i­ly, and even share them via email with fam­i­ly or your physi­cian.

How­ev­er, one odd­i­ty was the in­clu­sion of the USB ca­ble- used here to charge the bat­tery of the dock. Nor­mal­ly, we’d ex­pect a wall charg­er, but in the­o­ry a recharge­able bat­tery is nice, as it al­lows some porta­bil­i­ty. The unit and ca­bles, though, aren’t de­signed for trav­el, and pack­ing it up is awk­ward and a bit heavy. The tar­get de­mo­graph­ic- old­er folks, most like­ly- is al­so go­ing to have a bit of trou­ble with the poor in­struc­tions. All in all, it’s a pret­ty in­ter­est­ing de­vice, and can get the job done. But com­pared to oth­er blood pres­sure de­vices, like the Om­ron we test­ed a while back, it just doesn’t meet our ex­pec­ta­tions. Avail­able for about $90.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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