The choice of fitness wearables on today’s consumer market is staggering. Wearables now offer a range of solutions for customers’ fitness needs making the days of food diaries quite redundant. Whilst the appetite for wearables is slowing down, the number of products on offer certainly aren’t.
I was particularly curious about the Philips Health Watch as it has been designed as a medical device, rather than as a wearable fitness device. In fact, the decision to test it came after a conversation with Jeroen Tas, chief innovation and strategy officer at Philips. I often have trouble sleeping and Jeroen recommended the Health Watch to help me monitor my sleeping patterns.
After receiving the Watch, which I wore for a period of around six weeks, I quickly set it up by easily syncing it with both my phone and the Philips HealthSuite app. After entering information about myself, such as weight, height and gender, the app and Health Watch were good to go.
Upon first use the device was fairly easy to navigate, featuring a touch-sensitive dial around the watch face that you use to browse through menus and data. Information is clearly displayed, though the device’s status a health product is evident by the lack of third-party apps and software.
The Health Watch automatically tracks your heart rate, steps and calories, and detects what types of cardio you’re doing based on walking, running or cycling. I tested out the Watch during various exercise sessions and found that it tracked my heart rate fairly accurately and was quick to detect changes in my exercise. If you’ve been stationary for too long the watch vibrates and tells you to get moving. Considering the dangers of sedentary behaviour – which has been linked with type 2 diabetes, cancer and your metabolism, the notifications are a nice reminder for you to get up and move around.
What really lets the device down is its design, which is fairly unimposing. The Philips Health Watch features an all-black design alongside a strap that feels fairly flimsy. The upside is that the watch itself is sturdy and you don’t need to be worried if you accidentally knock it. Its unassuming design might appeal to some but it’s certainly one of the more aesthetically lacking devices on the market.
The monochrome display is another disappointing feature of the Health Watch. Menus are easy to read but the lack of colour makes the whole display dull and uninspired. This is all to save battery life and the Health Watch does boast an impressive charge, coming in at four days. Better yet is the charger, which snaps on nicely to the back of the Health Watch and gives a full charge in under an hour.
The HealthSuite app is also a mixed bag. Information is cleanly displayed and each health metric has a range of data that you can view. When you first open the app it asks you what health goal you’d like to achieve; whether you’d like to lose weight, get more active or simply track your habits. From there you can set calorie targets and get more insight into how healthy you are. The app uses a traffic light system across the week so you can easily check to see if you hit your targets for any particular day. Unfortunately, there are no customisation options for the app, meaning you have a plethora of menus to search through, some of which you won’t be using unless you have other Philips connected devices.
The sleep tracking function of the Health Watch and the app is functional and informative, if not slightly limited. You need to tell the Watch when you are going to sleep and notify it when you wake up; a small annoyance as many other fitness products automatically track when you fall asleep. Even so, the Watch will you how long you slept for and the app displays the quality of your sleep with sleep stages and times in the night when you wake up. Sleep stage information is annoyingly limited to one day meaning you can’t view in detail how you’ve slept on other days.
Instead of marketing the Health Watch and its other connected devices as fitness products, Philips is instead targeting the healthcare market. The company has listed all of its connected health range with the FDA, potentially allowing the devices to be recommended by doctors to help people with chronic conditions easily monitor their health.
The idea is that these devices sync with the HealthSuite app, allowing users to view a range of health metrics to easily manage things such as body fat percentage, daily activity, blood pressure, heart rate and more. Having all of this information available is great, but to truly benefit you’d have purchase more than one of the devices. More so, because the Health Watch has similar functionality to cheaper fitness devices on the market, it is difficult to recommend it to anyone who isn’t committed to other products in the Philips’ connected health range.
The Health Watch has a range of promising features but is burdened by a number of missteps. Its medical device status places it in a strange position to the casual consumer but then again Philips isn’t attempting to capture that market. If you’re looking for a device that’s solely designed to monitor your health, then the Health Watch will do the job. Overall the Health Watch is a good but not great product that will be outshone by other devices on the market.