August 28, 2005

buying a bathroom scale

after watching my waistline shrink drastically during two extended trips to asia, i figured it was time to buy a bathroom scale. i though it would be easy, just go to my local bb&b and get the one that looks the best. (i was figuring something with clear glass.) boy was i wrong. as it turns out, buying a bathroom scale was a royal pain.

why? well, it turns out my initial assumptions about bathroom scales were wrong. i shouldn't be trying to find a scale that looks good. i should be trying to find a scale that tells me my weight accurately, doesn't lie about it, and is easy to use.

i realized some of this after talking to my roommate, blake. he has a digital bathroom scale made by taylor. it sucks. not only does it suck. it lies. here's how. if you get on the scale it will tell you one weight. then if you get on it again, it will tell you the same weight. seems ok up till this point. but then, he showed me that if you turn the scale on, don't weight anything, wait for it to turn off, and then weight yourself again, you'll get a compleatly different reading (off by a few pounds.) and if you weight yourself again, you'll get the same second reading value. so the basic conclusion to draw from this observed behavior is that the scale is remembering the last weight it weighed, and if it sees something close to that, it just displays the old number again. so to sum up. the scale is crappy (since it tells you multiple different weights) and it also lies (since it just re-displays previous weight values.)

given the high crap factor of blakes scale, his normal procedure for using it in the morning is: weigh himself, turn the scale on and wait till it turns off, then weight himself again and use this last measurement. i adapted this procedure to test new scales in an attempt to find one that doesn't suck. here's what i did:

1) weigh myself, call this W1
2) pickup some heavy object(s) and weigh myself again - W2
3) put down the heavy object(s) and weigh myself again - W1'
4) pick up the same heavy object(s) and weigh myself again - W2'

then check, does W1 == W1' and W2 == W2'.

with this testing procedure in mind i headed over to my local bb&b and proceeded to try out almost all of their scales on display, i tried about 11 in total. first off, across all the scales my weight varied across a 10 pound range. seems pretty poor. also, most the scales failed my tests miserably. the interesting part was that it seemed to be broken down by manafacturer/brand. if one scale from a manafacturer/brand sucked, then all their other scales did too, and if one scale worked well, all the scales from that manufacturer/brand worked well.

so here were my findings. scales from the following manufacturers/brands suck and should be avoided:
- Homedics
- Taylor
- Terraillon
- Thinner (made by ConAir)
- Weight Watchers (made by ConAir)

The following manufacturers/brands seem to have good scales:
- Soehnle (made by Leifheit)
- Tanita

what's also interesting, is that while my weight varied wildly across all the scales, the two good brands of scales seemed to match up in their measurements of my weight. a good sign.

having finally found some accurate scales i was pretty happy. then i had to choose between the remaining four scales (one Soehnle and three Tanitas) and i discovered an additional important selection criteria i wouldn't have thought of before hand. ease of use.

it's worth mentioning that all the scales by these two manufacturers are "fancy". by this i mean that not only do they measure your weight, but they also measure your body fat, and to do this they need to know your sex/height/age. so each of the scales is programmable and has multiple buttons. i decided that if i had to read a manual to figure out how to use a bathroom scale, the scale is too complicated.

as it turns out the Soehnle and the high end Tanita are a little too complicated for their own good. the high end Tanita verges on silly. i couldn't even turn the scale on to get a weight reading without bending down and randomly pressing multiple small buttons. with the Soehnle, getting my weight was easy enough but i couldn't figure out how to use any of the other features without the manual.

in the end, i went with the cheapest Tanita model. for getting weight it was really easy. kick a button and stand on the scale. for the more advanced features, i was able to figure out how to program the scale in a couple minutes and then once again it was kick a button and stand on the scale.

whew... so that's it. in the end i'd say i wasted about two hours at bb&b. i also wasted a bunch of time online before going to bb&b looking at scales. what a way to spend my time. course the icing on the cake is this blog entry. well, i guess i'm finally done wasting time on this.

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