In this report
Overview
February 2010 Ratings

Scales

Digital beats dial

Last reviewed: February 2010
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If you go to the trouble of weighing yourself, you want to hear the naked truth. To find out whether most scales deliver we tested 11 without bells and whistles such as body-fat indicators. (In the past, we've found that scales with that feature weren't very accurate at measuring body fat.)

Nine are digital, two analog. Many digital scales require a tap of the foot before you step aboard. The Tanita HS-302 is solar, working with sun or artificial light, so it needs no battery. The other digital scales use lithium batteries and turn off automatically to prolong battery life. Most also have a low-battery indicator. All of the scales can handle a maximum weight of at least 300 pounds.

How we tested

To test accuracy, we used 11 volunteers (eight men and three women), who sometimes wore a weighted vest to make them heavy enough for the scales' weight range. Panelists stepped on our calibrated lab scale, a Toledo 8140, and then on each of the test scales in random order. To assess how consistent readouts were, we had two panelists of different weights climb on and off the scales, alternating among them so that the scales didn't just "remember" the weight of the most recent occupant.

What we found

The top four scales were accurate within plus or minus 1 pound from 97 to 100 percent of the time. The Taylor dial scale was accurate to that degree just 13 percent of the time. All scales were at least good at repeating the weight they'd measured. As it turns out, the low-rated Taylor stuck to its guns, consistently repeating a weight that was off.

Bottom line

Focus on digital scales and look for the style and functions you like. The Ratings (available to subscribers) comments provide details.