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Oct 15

Garmin Index S2 Smart WiFi Connected Scale In-Depth Review – DC Rainmaker

Garmin has just announced the new Index S2 smart WiFi scale, building slightly upon the previous first-generation Index WiFi scale released nearly 5 years ago. This new model switches to a color display thatll show weight trending information, helping to visualize the normal day to day fluctuations. It also adds a handful of tweaks like being able to customize the data widgets on-screen, showing difference to previous weigh-in, as well as increasing the sensitivity of some of the sensors driving the algorithms related to body fat & impedance-based measurements. Overall its a minor upgrade.

Ive been using the scale for a bit now, but also just as importantly the original Index scale for quite some time before that. So Ive got a pretty good idea side by side on how they work. So Ill dig into all the nuances between the two, so you can figure out if its worth the cash, since, its pretty expensive at $149.

Note that I was sent a media loaner of the Index S2 scale, which as usual Ill send back once Im done here. If you found this review useful you can hit up the links at the end of the review to help support the site. Oh, and the Index 1 scale is one I bought myself a while back.

Finally, look, I get it this is a weight scale so Im gonna try my best (and probably fail) at making this review semi-digestible. Wish me luck.

Now, to run through whats new on this scale, Ive got the Index 1 and Index S2 side by side. Both literally and figuratively. Ive been using them side by side, seeing how they compare for a bit now. Heres all the differences between them (and yes, these are mostly minor):

Added new color screen Added weight trend to show 30 days of data Added previous weigh-in vs current weigh-in data difference to screen Added ability to customize which data (widgets) are shown on scale Increased sensitivity of sensors Tweaked some algorithms related to body fat & other impedance-based measurements (based on increased sensitivity of sensors) Can now connect up to 7 WiFi Networks Reduced scale size (dimensions) very slightly Changed from AA batteries to AAA batteries

Thats in addition to all the baseline bits it previously did:

Measures weight (lbs/stones/kg) Body Mass Index (BMI) Body Fat Percentage Body Water Percentage Skeletal Muscle Mass Bone Mass Supports up to 16 users Maximum weight of 400lbs/181.4kg 9 Month Battery Life (4xAAA batteries) Uploads via WiFi, configuration via Bluetooth Smart Both black and white versions (Pro Tip: The black version is impossible to keep clean, white is half-possible).

So just putting the two scales side by side you can see the main differences are mostly visual (the white one below is the older scale). The size is a bit smaller, though not massively so. And of course, that color display versus the black/white one previously. Albeit, I cant say having a color display on my weight scale next to the toilet has been a major improvement in my day to day life. Now, if they could run YouTube on that thingthen were talkin!

The other thing Garmin says they spent considerable time on was WiFi connectivity, seeming to acknowledge some of the problems people have had with the original Index scale. Though, it does seem like most of those problems have tapered out over the last 6-8 months.

Ok, with those quick newness bits covered, lets get it out of the box.

Crack open the relatively thin box of the S2 and youll find the scale chilling inside a paper wrapper, with a bit of instructions floating in the box somewhere. Underneath the scale are 4 AAA batteries, and four feet to be used if the scale is placed on carpet.

Heres a closer look at the feet and batteries. You dont need the feet if placed on a hard surface, but the batteries are required if you want the scale to do anything other than act as a paperweight.

And heres the scale sitting atop its wrapper. This is the cleanest itll ever be. From this moment forward itll look worse, even if you never touch it. Dust collects at an astonishing rate on this thing.

Oh, and heres the manual. Dont worry, well cover all the bits as part of this review here.

Ok, lets get it all set up.

First up well need to stick the batteries inside the S2. I trust that if youre investing in a WiFi connected smart scale, youve got the technical prowess to correctly insert 4xAAA batteries.

Also, while on the back of the scale youll notice two things you can poke at (besides the springs on the battery compartment). The first is a reset button, which kicks the scale into pairing mode, and the second is a selector to switch between Pounds, Kilograms, and Stones.

Ive always found it kinda funny that for a digital scale that shows a gazillion metrics based on information in your account, that it relies upon a physical switch to change the way weight is shown. Perhaps theres a number of people that need to switch quickly between the modes, I dont know.

In any event, by the time youre done dorking around with that switch, youll find the Index S2 showing off its new color screen, waiting for you to pair it up.

This is where youll grab your smartphone to set it up, using the Garmin Connect app. Itll find the device just like a watch. And, once this post goes live the image and codename Garmin uses will magically change to the correct product image and real name instead of placeholders (Garmin does this for all products, to minimize leaks).

Itll ask you to confirm the PIN number, to ensure youre not snooping on your neighbors unconfigured scale or something.

And then finally, itll ask you for the WiFi information.

You can select and save up to 7 WiFi networks within the Index S2 scale. I suppose that might be valuable for use cases where a coach/physician/staff/athlete is moving the scale between locations on different WiFi networks, perhaps having a hotspot one + a normal office/home location.

I did have some initial issues trying to get the scale to pair with my Google WiFi guest network, however, once I set it for the primary Google WiFi network it worked fine. Theres no technical differences between those two to my knowledge, and Garmin isnt clear either if perhaps it was resolved by a software update that occurred moments later on the scale.

Speaking of which, once you complete that connection, the scale will go off and download a software update for itself via WiFi.

In fact, every time you step on the scale itll check for software updates, and if there is an update, itll install it the following night between 1AM and 4AM.

Also, backtracking a step or two slightly, youll define the initials the scale displays when you step on it. Essentially your name, but somehow only four characters are allowed. Luckily, in my case, my first name fits easily into that.

The app will ask you if youd like to invite any other users to the scale. You can invite up to 15 people (thus presumably making 16 people in total). While its unlikely your Brady Bunch is that big in your house, this is more for team scenarios where multiple athletes are weighing in.

With all this done (which really only takes a minute or two), youre good to go.

By now the scale will have updated itself and be ready to use. To use it, simply tap or kick it. Which will wake it up. This is a slight change from the Index 1 scale, where I can simply step on. In my case, simply stepping on the Index S2 does nothing. Once its awake, itll show the zero/empty weight:

Go ahead and step on the scale, and youll see the weight fluctuate a bit for a few seconds before deciding on a final weight.

Once it decides on that final weight, the little weight icon will turn green, indicating that weight is locked in.

At this juncture you can step off the scale, its done its thing, and will flash the initials/name of who it thinks you are, based on your weight and the historical weight data it has. If it gets it wrong, you can simply use your foot to tap left or right, which iterates through the known users on the scale. Also, if you want to discard a weigh-in, the easiest way to do that is just simply go to the ? user, and then let it vanish to nowhere. Or, you can just delete the data point afterwards on Garmin Connect (smartphone or web).

Youll notice above it shows +0.2 above my name, this means I gained +0.2lbs since the last weigh-in. The idea here being that if you wanted to do a workout (such as a long run on a hot day), you can compare the weight metric to the previous value quickly and easily. So youd weigh yourself pre-run, and then again post-run. For example, Ive found that for most 45-60min indoor trainer workouts I tend to lose about 2 pounds. Of which, the vast majority of that would of course just be water weight.

And while the goal isnt realistically to try and have 1:1 replacement of fluids during a workout (especially running), you can at least use the information to guide your hydration choices.

The saving of multiple data points per day certainly isnt new in the Garmin Index scale world, its been doing that for quite a while with the older scale, but it wouldnt show the change in weight.

What is new with the S2 scale though is this little trendline chart seen on the scale. This is basically the pice de rsistance of the Index S2 scale, showing your weight over the last 30 days, as well as progress towards a goal line (in green).

However, if youre coming from the previous Garmin Index scale, youll first have to live with a bit of disappointment: This marquee feature doesnt actually pull any of your historical Index 1 weight data in to the scale itself.


A connected scale that has all the data in the world, somehow doesnt pull the data in from arguably Garmins best customers (the ones who are buying yet another scale from the company). Its mind-boggling. So in my case, Ive got piles of data that would show up here and most importantly from a vanity standpoint, show up with a nice decreasing trendline over the past while. But nope.

And its easy to say Sure, itll fill in over the course of the next 30 days, and yes, it will. But thats not the point. Its entire point in life is to be a CONNECTED scale. It fails somehow at this most basic task for the most pro-Garmin customers. Yet, it pulls in the weather data just fine.

In any event, after its done showing you that trendline, itll iterate through the following metrics: Body Mass Index (BMI), Body Fat Percentage, Body Water Percentage, Skeletal Muscle Mass, Bone Mass, and Weather. Another new feature with the Index S2 scale is the ability to customize which of these metrics itll show each time you step on it. So if you dont want to see a particular metric you can disable it within the settings on the smartphone app:

Note above though that you cant have a Biggest Loser style scale and not show weight at all (just take readings).

As it iterates through each of these data points itll show an icon above to it indicating what it is, such as muscle mass below.

Or bone mass or body water percentage:

And yup, even the weather, showing the slated high/low for the day as well as the current temperature. The idea here simply being that if youre getting ready in the morning and just going in or out of the shower, this could guide your clothing choices for the day.

After all thats done, itll display your weight one final time, and then shut itself off waiting patiently for its 30 seconds of use each day.

Behind the scenes, this data is saved on Garmin Connect, and thus accessible from Garmin Connect Mobile or Garmin Connect. Theres a widget you can add to the dashboard to show your current weight. Alternatively, you can view more details in the Weight section under Health Stats

In the weight section youll see every individual weigh-in, as well as trending and even the variance of multiple weigh-ins on a single day (the little grey blobs indicated on certain days with multiple weigh-ins).

(Note: Above, I was purposefully taking a bunch of weigh-ins slightly differently to show multiple weigh-ins on a single screenshot)

You can delete weigh-ins if you want, as well as add a weight goal, which will show up on your trending charts both on the app and on the device itself:

For the weight scale itself there are a few options in the Devices menu. As noted earlier you can change the widgets, as well as invite additional users to the scale.

Now what about accuracy? Well, given the current world climate its a bit difficult right now to waltz in and get a fancy body fat analysis and such done. Though, I have done so in the past and recruited a bunch of people to test various devices. When I look at the Index 2 vs Index 1, the weight is almost always nearly identical such as .1lbs apart. The body fat however was pretty substantially different, usually about 2-2.5% (generally higher) with the Index 2.

I asked Garmin about this, and heres what they had to say:

For body fat and the other impedance-based metrics, theres been some under-the-hood changes including tweaks to the algorithms. The tweaks were to allow for more accuracy and more sensitivity in the measurements. There will almost certainly be some noticeable differences between readings on the original and the S2. With more sensitivity, the S2 will allow for more fluctuations and movement over time in those metrics compared to the original.

Now within the Index scales you can tweak your profiles Activity Class (seen above), which in theory improves accuracy for body fat measurements on more athletic people. Though, in my case it made no difference. Typically this would be for people closer to single-digit body fat %s. Theres been too many late night Stroopwafels for me lately for that to impact my testing.

Anyways, as I was saying if I look at impedance metrics like body fat and muscle mass, based on all the testing Ive done historically, I dont focus too much on the absolute values, and instead look more at trending. After all, the fact that one scale has me 2.5% higher than the other side by side is a great example of that. Undoubtedly Garmin would argue (perhaps correctly) that the newer technology/sensors/algorithms in the newer scales are indeed more accurate.

Ultimately though, for me, I dont put much value in these extended metrics using electro impedance like other scales (nor do I put much value in people using calipers, most folks screw that up despite having done it hundreds or thousands of times).

The main appeal of buying a Garmin Index scale over any other scale is if youre in the Garmin ecosystem. If you dont have Garmin devices, then frankly the appeal evaporates pretty quickly, and there are other scales that cost just half of the Garmin scale with basically the same features.

But within that ecosystem its pretty good. For example, your Garmin watch will automatically update your weight anytime it syncs with your phone, which, is basically 247:

So thats handy if youre focused on losing weight, rather than finding out three months later that your watch weight is still at a substantially higher value.

Moving to 3rd parties, things are super mixed. Some platforms support it, but many disappointingly do not. This isnt entirely the fault of Garmin, but its also an area they could put some effort into convincing their partners (cough, Zwift). Assuming an app is supported though, you can link it up to get weight data automatically sent to it. For example, heres TrainingPeaks:

Note though that this is a different setup than your regular Garmin workout/structured workouts sync, see below how theres both a Health Sync option for weight data, as well as another one for workouts/activity data. Ideally this would be more cohesively presented to a user upon any link-up, but its not today.

But unlike Withings or Fitbit, theres no clear landing page on all the services/partners Garmin supports here. So you kinda have to figure them out yourself. And, when theres gaps, youve gotta figure those out too.

Go here to see the original:
Garmin Index S2 Smart WiFi Connected Scale In-Depth Review - DC Rainmaker

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