Today's bathroom scales are available in two main varieties -- digital and mechanical (also known as analog or dial). Mechanical scales, which possess a more delicate internal framework of small springs and pieces, display readings with a mechanical needle, but this lends to the potential for parts to wear over time. Analog scales also measure weight in larger increments than digital scales, a trait which can make them less accurate. These scales are the least expensive type and generally cost between $20 and $50.
Bells and whistles on digital scales can run the gamut from voice-activated readouts to multi-user memory. Additionally, we found Wi-Fi connectivity to be a growing trend. These high-tech digital scales send weight information wirelessly to a computer or mobile phone, allowing users to easily track changes in body weight. More advanced models offer additional cloud-based tracking capabilities, including fitness tracking and caloric intake. Digital scales can also be quite affordable but have a broader price range between $20 and $70 for basic digital scales. High-tech, Wi-Fi-enabled scales typically cost between $130 and $200.
Some digital scales can also monitor body fat by sending small, harmless electrical pulses through a user's body in an attempt to gauge body weight/density. However, body-fat scales have been found to be inaccurate by experts, since readings can be thrown off by a number of inconsequential factors including a person's level of hydration, a full bladder or foot calluses. That said, some experts say body-fat scales, if used regularly under similar conditions (at the same time of day, etc.), can be useful tools for monitoring progress. Body-fat scales can cost anywhere between $60 and several hundred dollars, depending on their capabilities.
One last type, professional mechanical scales, (similar in look and style to those found in gyms and doctors' offices), is 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 typically used in stand-on analog scales. As a result, they also have larger weight limits. They can accommodate users up to 500 pounds but tend to be bulky and can be quite expensive. Professional mechanical scales usually cost between $130 and a few hundred dollars.
To choose the best bathroom scales, we looked for those models with the best 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.