What the best bathroom scale has
- An ample weight capacity. Bathroom scales designed for home use have weight capacities ranging between 300 and 550 pounds. Newer models typically have higher capacities between 350 and 450 pounds.
- Small measurement increments. Scales with smaller measurement increments offer more accurate readings. Better scales offer increments of at least 0.2 pounds.
- Several mode options. The best bathroom scales offer weight measurements in both pounds and kilograms, while some models also offer measurements in stones.
- Multi-user memory capacity. Some bathroom scales have an internal or cloud-based memory, which can store historical data for one or more users. If your whole family will be monitoring their progress, multi-user tracking capabilities are helpful.
- Large, backlit display. When standing on a bathroom scale it can be difficult to read the display that sits at your feet. The best bathroom scales offer larger displays with backlighting, so they're easier to read in dim lighting.
- A suitably-sized platform. The wider the platform the easier it is to stand on, especially for users with larger feet or mobility issues. Look for a bathroom scale with a platform of 12 inches or more. Keep in mind, however, that a wider scale will take up more floor real estate, which can be an issue in a smaller bathroom.
Know before you go
Are you interested in measuring more than your weight? Some scales have the ability to measure body fat and other body-composition metrics, which can be a more accurate prediction of overall health than a simple weight measurement. However, if just measuring your weight is your primary goal, a simple bathroom scale will be enough.
How accurate are body-fat scales? Home body-fat scales make their measurements using bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), which is less accurate than professional techniques, such as hydrostatic weighing (water displacement method), but the latter techniques are not practical for most home users. However, if you're careful to take body-fat measurements under consistent conditions, body-fat scales can provide a relative gauge of any gains or losses of body fat.
What about aesthetics? Modern bathroom scales take great pains to avoid being an eyesore. Chrome accents, glass platforms and/or colors to match any décor are common. Keep in mind that while portable scales that you can hide away are available, many digital scales work best when kept in the same spot for all measurements, which can make size a concern.
Are you a high-tech junkie, or do you want to access your stats on the go? Users who are looking to improve overall health, and love having access to their personal data via their smartphones or on the web, will appreciate the functionality of high-tech smart scales. These scales can upload data to mobile and web apps, and make it easy to track your weight, general fitness and more. However, smart scales are also pricey, and don't always get great feedback for their added functionality.
Read the instructions. Unlike mechanical scales, digital scales, even basic ones, are electronic devices that need to be used a certain way for the most accurate and consistent results. Bloggers Rick Jamison and Kathy Schmidt Jamison at RickandKathy.com look into the sometimes stark disparity between user reviews and expert reviews of scales and conclude that in many cases, they are the result misunderstandings and improper use.
What's to come
The past few years have seen the emergence and growth of connectable smart scales. These scales connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to mobile and web-based applications to let users track and share fitness data -- the latter being optional, of course. The increase in competition has led to more and more functionality, though not necessarily easier use. Our top rated smart scale gets some complaints on that score when it comes to its added features -- but is still worth considering because it's also one of the most consistent performers when it comes to measuring weight. We're not so sure about its step up version, however. It adds a feature that's said to measure overall heart rate, but that function draws expert and user complaints over set up and performance.