Updated March 2014
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Scales are changing with the times

The most popular bathroom scales are available in two types -- digital and mechanical (also known as analog or dial). Mechanical scales display readings with a mechanical needle. Their delicate internal framework, made up of small pieces including springs, lends itself to wear and tear. Weight is measured in larger increments than digital scales, making them slightly inaccurate. They're inexpensive, generally costing between $20 and $50.

From voice-activated readouts to multi-user memory, digital scales have plenty of bells and whistles. Additionally, Wi-Fi connectivity is a growing trend. High-tech digital scales allow users to easily track changes in body weight by wirelessly sending information to apps and mobile devices. More advanced models offer cloud-based tracking for fitness results and caloric intake. Their broad price ranges make some affordable at between $20 and $70, while more high-tech versions will cost about $130 to $200.

Some digital scales can also monitor body fat by sending small electrical pulses through a user's body in an attempt to gauge body weight/density. However, hydration levels, a full bladder or foot calluses can throw off body-fat scales causing inaccuracies. That said, some experts say, if used regularly under similar conditions (at the same time of day, etc.), a body-fat scale can be a useful tool for monitoring progress. They cost between $60 and several hundred dollars, depending on their capabilities.

Lastly, professional mechanical scales (similar to what you'd find at doctors' offices) are more accurate than those designed for home use. That's because professional mechanical scales employ a sturdier, heavy-duty lever arm to calculate weight rather than the delicate springs. As a result, they also have larger weight limits. They can accommodate users up to 500 pounds but tend to be bulky and quite expensive. Professional mechanical scales usually cost between $130 and a few hundred dollars.

To find the best bathroom scales, we looked for positive feedback for accuracy and reliability. Scales that can be used by a broader range of people, such as those with higher weight capacities and wider platforms, are also given preference. Finally, we looked at both professional and user reviews to determine each scale's ease of use, from programming to daily functioning, and display readability.

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