Reviewed by Louise Totton
As someone with a keen interest in nutrition and healthy eating, I was really excited when I was asked to try out a set of connected kitchen scales made by Terraillon. Now, we all know what kitchen scales are – they weigh ingredients for cooking; modern ones have a digital display, older ones are analogue, and the positively ancient ones use two pans and counterweights. Connected scales are, by contrast, positively futuristic – not only do they display weight on the scales themselves, the information is also displayed on a connected device such as a smartphone or tablet, via an app. Whilst I agree, this isn’t the most useful on the surface, being connected to a powerful device like a modern phone means that not only can the scales tell you how much an apple weighs, it can also indicate how many calories and how much sugar the apple is likely to contain as well as a myriad of other bits of information. Connected scales are connected to your device via Bluetooth.
The Terraillon scales are a very sleek and minimalist looking piece of kit; I was sent the black ones but they are also available in white. They would fit really nicely onto the worktop of any kitchen as they are so unobtrusive, but as they are so compact they will also fit into a small drawer or cupboard. The scales are a simple, flat design without an integrated bowl so you can use any of the bowls or plates from your cupboard with them.
I initially decided to use the scales in a basic, non-connected form. As previously mentioned, they are a sleek, flat platform. Approximately three quarters of this is weighing space, whilst the remaining quarter is home to the digital display and four touch sensitive buttons which are used to operate the device. First thing’s first – powering the device – this is done with 3 x AAA batteries, which are not included. Once the batteries were inserted and I powered it on, I was greeted with a lovely, clear display on the scales. The scale basically has two modes: weighing and timing. The most important is obviously the weighing function. The scale can weigh both solid (grams and kilograms or pounds and ounces) and liquid units (millilitres or fluid ounces). It is accurate to the nearest gram and can weigh a maximum of 5kg. When I put it through its paces, I found it to be quick, accurate and consistent throughout. Using a highly accurate digital scale is a real treat in comparison to some of the guess work I have had to employ whilst using analogue scales and measuring jugs. No more bending down to get your eyes to the height of the needle to judge if a smidge more butter is needed. You can see quickly, clearly and accurately. It is also really simple to change the units of measurement – just one single button press will cycle between these, and the selected unit is clearly shown on the display. The tare function is just as easy to find and select.
These scales also work as a kitchen timer, and the operation is just as simple. Simply select the timer function and use the touch sensitive button to programme the minutes and seconds (a long press of the seconds button adds 10s and a long press of the minute button adds 10m), then set it going. The display counts down both numerically and with a countdown type clock around the edge.
Now, all of this is great but probably isn’t the reason someone would buy a connected scale. It’s all about connecting it to the app and using the smart features. So, I started off by searching for the Terraillon Wellness Coach app on the Google Play Store. I have a pretty modern phone, which runs Android 7.0, which is well above the required 4.3 version that is set as the minimum. I found and installed the app pretty quickly, and ran through the initial process of setting up my Wellness Coach account, entering my gender, height, weight etc. The app then showed where my weight fell on a BMI chart (I’m healthy, hurray), and asked me to set a target weight.
The app is designed to be connected to not only the NutriTab Scales, but also the full range of Terraillon health monitoring products. This includes a bathroom scales, pedometers, wristbands and more. Lots of this information can be added to your details manually, but the app is clearly designed to support and promote the full product range.
The next step was to connect the scales to my phone, and this is where it all started going wrong. The instructions are pretty scant, only stating that the scale will automatically connect – unfortunately, this did not happen in my case, and no amount of internet searching would yield a solution. So, I decided to try to connect them to my boyfriend’s phone. His is a slightly older version of Android, but still well above the 4.3 version stated. Except Play Store told us that we couldn’t even download the app as it wasn’t supported on his device. The next port of call was try an iPad, to see if the issue was Android related, and if a different operating system would help. We did have success downloading the app, but encountered exactly the same issue when we came to try to connect the scales. The scale requires Android 4.3 and above, or iPad 3 or above, or iPhone 4s and above.
We then decided to drop Terraillon an email to see if they could help. To their credit, they scheduled a technical support call and we did manage to get the scales connected (ignoring the connect scales message and going straight into the My Diet option), although the process was rather clunky and far most difficult than connecting a Bluetooth device should be. I could now pop something on the scale, and as long as it was connected to my phone and the app is open, the weight of the item was shown on the phone too.
So – the final step. To weigh food, tell the app what the food is, and have it indicate the nutritional values. This can be done one of two ways. Either by using the food categories within the app, or using the barcode scanner to scan specific food products. I felt this is where a fantastic product was really let down. The categories within the app were not intuitive at all – for example potatoes weren’t listed under vegetables, but ‘starchy tubers’. Whilst I know this is technically correct, it still took rather a lot of finding. Also, one chocolate chip cookie doesn’t have the same nutritional value as the next, so when I compared the value that the scales had estimated for a cookie against the nutritional value on the tube that I had bought, they were pretty different. I also barcode scanned the majority of my food cupboard and the app was unable to identify a single product. I have to say that I also found the app rather un user-friendly. For example, when I tried to manually enter the details of my preferred brand of cookie, a sliding bar is used to enter the calories, fat, sugar etc, rather than typing in numbers. The problem is, this is way too fiddly and was near impossible to accurately enter the information.
I found that the app wasn’t intuitively laid out, almost as though no one had mapped it out properly. I found myself exiting menus when I only wanted to jump back one stage, and on several occasions, it froze completely.
The app really lets down what could be a fantastic product. The scales themselves are clearly top quality and look great, so I really wanted to like the whole product. I am a keen user of My Fitness Pal, and I feel the Wellness Coach is trying to replicate this, whilst tying itself in with Terraillon’s range of products. The feature of being able to create and calorie count whole meals and menus is one I would absolutely use if the app were more user friendly, but as it stands, it’s too much like hard work and the database of foodstuffs isn’t comprehensive or accurate enough.
The idea of being able to coordinate your body weight with your heartrate, blood pressure and diet is a great one, and if these scales are indicative of the quality of Terraillon’s other products, it could be a fantastic and complete solution. But I do feel that the app isn’t good, and probably needs redesigning.
At £49.99, I think these would be great value if the app worked better and I could actually use them as a connected scale. As it stands, they’re a great quality scale but until the app is improved I feel they’re a little over-priced.
As a scale, I would highly recommend them and give them 5/5. As a connected scale, because of the app, 2/5.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
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