These bathroom scales won't lie about your weight
Modern bathroom scales are a far cry from yesterday's models. Mechanical scales, once the only kind you could buy, are still available and are still favored by some. However, these scales also have some downsides. They display weight with an analog dial and needle pointer, which introduces some imprecision compared to digital displays (see below). In addition, the inner workings of a mechanical scale can be surprisingly delicate, made up of small pieces, including springs that lend themselves to wear and tear, introducing inaccuracies.
While mechanical scales are purely mechanical in nature, digital scales use load cells to convert the physical weight on the scale to an electrical signal that's displayed on a readout with a precision that's as close as a tenth of a pound. In addition to greater accuracy, the advantage of having weight represented by an electrical signal is that it allows for a lot of added functionality. Some of that is fun stuff -- like the ability for the scale to speak your weight aloud, though those that are overly self-conscious about their weight might not find that a particularly helpful attribute.
Other features are more useful, however. Some digital scales will also display your Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of fitness that's based on your weight and height. Some are body fat scales, sending small electrical pulses through a user's body in an attempt to gauge body weight/density.
Smart scales are digital scales that take things a step further. They wirelessly connect to a smartphone, tablet or directly to the Internet via Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth, and integrate with compatible apps and web sites to help you keep tabs on your overall fitness. Data transmitted includes weight, of course, but often other measures such as body fat, BMI, and more, such as heart rate. Many smart scales include built-in memory to store multiple user profiles and allow a single scale to serve the needs of an entire family. Some can display information collected from the web, such as the predicted weather.
Finding the best bathroom scales
While mechanical scales are still very much available, digital scales tend to score more favorably in user and, especially, expert reviews, and are the best choice these days for most buyers. To find the best basic, body fat and smart digital scales, we turned first to a bevy of experts, including ConsumerReports.org, TheSweethome.com, Good Housekeeping and others, putting the most weight (pun intended) on those sources that perform hands on testing. We also looked at the extensive user reviews available at sites such as Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Walmart.com and elsewhere. These user reviews help us fill in the gaps regarding factors such as real-world ease-of-use and long term reliability. The results are our selections as the Best Reviewed bathroom scales for any user and any budget.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Digital Bathroom Scales | Best Body-Fat Scales | Best Smart Scales | Buying Guide | Our Sources