Bathroom Scales: Consumer Reports vs Good Housekeeping vs Amazon

September 26, 2014 · 17 comments

I don’t normally start with the punchline, but since this is a longish post and I know some of you have been wading through a TON of reviews trying to sort out the confusing, overwhelming, and often contradictory world of which is the best buy on digital bathroom scales, I’m going to cut to the chase:


EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale

Just so we’re clear from the outset: the scales weren’t for me. They were for my jeans.

4.6 stars on Amazon with OVER 14 THOUSAND reviews. Good Housekeeping rates it a “B+.” Fair enough.

(Consumer Reports didn’t comment, but for reasons that I make clear downstream, we didn’t let this override our decision.)

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It’s pretty, and at around $25, it’s inexpensive.

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It comes with some cool features.

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It’s super easy to set up and use.

We didn’t want anything fancy. We didn’t want weight scales that measure body fat (don’t trust the results), and we don’t care if our bathroom scale can WiFi to our computer, toaster, or some guy driving down the road in front of our house.

In fact, once we step off, we’d rather our scale just keeps everything it knows to itself, thank you very much.

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This bathroom scale comes with batteries, a user-friendly manual, and possibly the most ingeniously designed body tape measure I’ve ever seen. It actually makes it easy to measure your waist.

In all our research, the EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale emerged at the top of the heap. It has worked well for us. And it’s apparently incredibly very well regarded by people who care about their bathroom scales.*

We could call it a day right here.

However, in case you’re interested in the “how we got there” backstory, some tips we discovered along the way about how to get the most out of your scale no matter which one you end up standing on, and what Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and Amazon had to say about their top ranked options, read on.

About five months after our FitBit One fitness trackers jumped off our belts somewhere in the fields around our house, our FitBit Aria scale died, thus ending a short foray into one of the most popular fitness tracker eco-systems.

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The autopsy revealed an advanced case of battery corrosion that had extended to the battery case, but in truth the scale had stopped working about four fresh battery changes earlier.

Before we went through the whole process of trying to figure out what is now the best bathroom scale to consider, I did a little research to see if we had a shot at getting a replacement. In response to the Google search term, “FitBit Aria battery corrosion,” this was what I found in the #1 ranked url:

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It’s from a presentation that appears to have been created for internal FitBit Help Desk staff, and if you’d like a short but VERY informative preview of the kind of customer service you might expect from FitBit in response to complaints about their Aria bathroom scale, take a look.

Apparently FitBit considers battery corrosion to have been caused by “external damage,” which translates in the customer service universe to: “We didn’t do it, you did. No replacement for you.”

We didn’t even bother calling.

For now, we’ve decided that while in theory we’re huge fans of “smart everything,” until the FitBits of the world get the quality of their technology ducks in a row, we’re not biting. Just tell me what I weigh, and I’ll upload it to loseit.com myself. Or not.

It was time to check in with Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and the Amazon world of best sellers and reviewers to see how they all weighed in (sorry) on the subject of what model won the “best bathroom scale” award.

Consumer Reports’ Top Rated Bathroom Scales… and a Mystery


Taylor 7506 Digital Scale

Based on the variables of accuracy and consistency, Consumer Reports rated the Taylor 7506 Digital Scale  as their top pick.

Ironically, their own user reviews only gave it a 1.3 stars out of 5 in over 30 reviews, with only 13% saying they would recommend to a friend. The complaints ranging from wildly swinging weights (+/- 9 lbs. by just stepping off and on) to early product deaths.

I hopped over to Amazon for a second opinion, and got over 1100 of them that averaged in at an underwhelming 3.8 stars out of 5.

Question: How could Consumer Reports give it such a high rating yet users seemed so disappointed in it?

There were so many questions in the Amazon listing around how to calibrate the unit that my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to look for myself.

The information wasn’t difficult to find (the scale is calibrated at the factory), but it did lead to deeper digging and reflection into what generally gives people grief about their scales—aside from their own weight, of course—and here’s what I’ve concluded:

  • People (meaning, “people like me”) often don’t bother to read the manual for new purchases they think they already “should” know how to use
  • A “digital” anything by default has delicate, temperature- and humidity-sensitive technology involved and must be treated with care
  • It doesn’t seem to occur to folk that their own usage methodology might have something to do with both the accuracy and consistency of results

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Tips for Better Accuracy and Product Life

So before any further discussion on the recommended models, here are a few tips for getting better performance and longevity out of your bathroom scale, no matter which one you decide to purchase:

  1. Read the manual. Seriously. I know you’ve probably been using a scale since you were old enough to care about what size jeans you wear, but the new ones (especially the “smart” ones) all contain new technology and they all work a bit differently.
  2. Put the scale on the hardest surface you have available to you. Hard is good.
  3. Dry is also good, and since most of us keep our scales in the bathroom where there is also conveniently a shower, sink, and toilet, there is a LOT of humidity challenge for your scale to deal with. This is especially true if your bathroom is small and you like long, hot showers. Consider draping a towel over your scale before you step into the shower, and leave it there until the steam clears up.
  4. If you need to move your scale, lift it and then set it down carefully to avoid damaging the pressure sensitive feet. Make sure to recalibrate (or “reinitialize”) after every move. Avoid storing your scale upright.
  5. Scales don’t like super cold surfaces on their bare tootsies any more than you do. If the temperature gets below 50 degrees F, it may get cranky and pout.
  6. If you want accurate bathroom scales, be consistent in how and where you stand. Stand up straight and just drop your head, glancing down with your eyes (this is why the size and brightness of the readout is important), and put your feet in the same spot for each weigh-in. The pressure sensors are located in the feet on either side of the readout—the back two are just there for support—so if you lean forward, you’ll weigh more. Lean back, and voila! Last night’s chocolate souffle disappears in a blink.
  7. Many scales seem to have a memory: they remember one reading and it won’t change unless the weight changes by more than 1 or 2 lbs., and sometimes within a certain window of time. If you limit yourself to a once-a-day weigh-in (which is the most recommended by weight management experts anyway) and recalibrate/initialize every time you (carefully) move it, you stand less of a chance with inaccuracy issues.

Of the almost 50 scales Good Housekeeping reviewed, they had no mention of the Taylor 7506, or any other Taylor scale, for that matter.

Weird…

Other Top Rated Bathroom Scales


Tanita HS 302 Solar Powered Digital Scale

If you’re environmentally concerned about batteries messing up our landfills and want great accuracy, you might want to go with Consumer Reports’ second highest recommendation, the Tanita HS 302.

While there were no user reviews on Consumer Reports, a check with the Amazon reviewer community revealed a so-so rating of 3.6 out of 55 reviewers. Apparently, while the accuracy of the scale was a joy to many, the solar power was problematic for some of the reviewers. I suspect, once again, that some of those issues might be user-induced.

According to the product manual, you will need to “Place your solar scale onto a flat, hard surface, while being exposed directly to room or natural light.” A few of the “5 star/love it!” crowd on Amazon mentioned that if the unit was exposed to the bathroom light, it powered up nicely. However, if they cast a shadow on the solar panel by stepping in front of the light source as they hop on the scale, it flakes out. They simply reposition the scale so it stays exposed to the light, and everyone is happy.

Did I mention you should read the manual and think about how you’re using your scale?


Tanita HD 384

Good Housekeeping didn’t review the Tanita HS 302 either, but the Tanita HD 384 scored in their top picks with an “A” rating. It also scored a straight 5 star rating on Amazon, albeit with only 4 reviewers. Still, given the time of day and situation in which I normally weigh myself (o’ dark thirty after a pee, starkers, and barely able to focus), I’m not sure having my weight available every time in pounds, kilograms, and stones would be a plus.


Tanita HD 357

Consumer Reports didn’t mention either the Tanita HS 302 OR the Tanita HD 384, but they DID score the Tanita HD 357 in their top 5.

Unfortunately, the two reviewers on the Consumer’s site vigorously disagreed with their assessment, scoring a ONE OUT OF FIVE STARS average. And in yet another twist of the plot, the Amazon community kinda likes this puppy to the tune of 4.3 stars out of 25 reviewers.

I did say this was going to be complicated, right?

That’s why, in the end, we decided to play “pin the tale on the bathroom scale” and go with the crowd on this one.


EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale

As I said upstream, so far, so great. No complaints, and we’re on the “5 thumbs up” side of the Amazon reviewer ledger.  In fact, on the gentle request of the unpushy little note that the EatSmart people included in the packaging, I think I’ll head over to Amazon next and leave the 14,283rd review, just to show support for a Smart small business and in solidarity with our fellow scale hoppers.

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Good health to you all!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill D September 28, 2016 at 10:39 am

Has anyone experienced slipperyiness l with the glass surfaces. I am getting very 8 and concerned about falls.

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Bill H September 11, 2016 at 9:17 am

The moisture level in our bathroom varies widely, and is particularly high after taking a hot shower. I need a scale that still works in this environment. I understand digital scales are not the way to go if there is changing moisture levels. What scale should I get for such a changing environment?

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kathy September 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Hi Bill,

I wish we had a more technical answer for you, but all I know is that two years later, and in a bathroom humidity situation just like yours, we’re still very happy with our EatSmart scales. We do keep it tucked under the bathroom vanity when not in use, so maybe that helps a bit to protect it from the wet of the post-shower environment.

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John May 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for doing all the leg work

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Sarah March 19, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Does the Eatsmart scale have the #7 “drawing from memory” issue?

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Robert April 18, 2016 at 11:19 am

I’ve had the scale for two years, and I’m convinced it does.

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John C. March 9, 2016 at 10:48 am

You mention foot position on the scale and front-to-back weight distribution as the main causes of inconsistency. You mentioned that this is because the front feet measure the weight while the rear feet are there for support, so the further forward you lean, the more you weigh. It seems that the mechanical/analog scales I used as a kid don’t suffer from this cost-saving method of building digital scales. Do any of the digital scales out there have 4 feet that all measure weight to resolve this issue???

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John C. March 9, 2016 at 11:07 am

In searching for an answer to my own question, I’m finding that most digital scales use 4 sensors. What else might be the cause of inconsistency between weigh-ins taken just seconds apart?

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Superuserlaptop August 24, 2015 at 11:01 am

It is time that we remember that what we want most in a bathroom scale is accuracy. I called the good people at Eat Smart and asked how accurate is their scales. The answer is 1%. This is what most scales come in at, 1%.

Getting the same wrong weight everytime is not accurate. With today’s technology if we cannot get .1% at current prices, it is not worth it.

Instead of accuracy, manufacturers add gimmicks.

Also remember the digital scales are cheaper to make than spring scales. I would estimate most of the scales on the market come out of China between $5 and $10 each, in bulk orders.

I think the distributors can spend another 50 cents or so for a scale that is actually accurate. If their manufacturer can’t do it, then find someone who can.

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kathy August 27, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Hi SULT,

Thanks for the comment and your perspective.

If 100% dead on absolute accuracy is of highest importance to you, then by all means, don’t settle for anything less! For our household of non-triathletes, “99% relative accuracy” is entirely suitable. As long as the reasonably priced scale reliably and accurately tracks weight gain and/or loss and functions as advertised for a decent number of years, we’re happy. And so far, so good!

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Linda June 1, 2015 at 7:12 am

Thank you, thank you for the review and the great tips. I’ll not place my new scales in the bathroom.

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Meredith B March 14, 2015 at 10:17 am

I sooooo appreciate this article!!! I want a new, good scale, not too expensive, but willing to pay a little for a good product. I was overwhelmed by how many there are!! I am a “read the reviews” fanatic and almost got a headache with all there is to read and think about. I think after all I’ve read I will choose one of their products, thank you!!

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Diane December 25, 2014 at 9:08 pm

As a matter of fact, there are sensors which are essentially used for
overload alerts. DON’T PANIC if you start to feel yourself getting a little heavier.
Tanita bathroom scales are extremely good in achieving the following purpose.

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Jason Boxman December 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Thank you for this. I was about to embark upon this journey, but I’m more than happy to follow the trail you’ve so kindly cut in the jungle for me. And you can’t beat $25. My 10 year old Taylor digital only has half pound accuracy, which I have finally grown tired of. And it takes little CR2032 batteries.

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kathy December 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Hi Jason,
Glad our trailblazing helped! We spend so much online/responsible consumer time trying to figure these things out for ourselves, it seems a waste not to help others cut to the chase. Of course, not everyone looks at purchases with the same priorities as we do, but for those who do, we try to give an honest, brief overview of what we landed on, and why.

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Mike Schreibung November 22, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Are we related??
I was going through what you went through when I stumbled upon your review. Ha! You did all the work for me. Great review and written as if you were speaking directly to me. I just ordered it.
Your photo of the scale is on the exact tile and grout we have in the bathroom.
While browsing your photo page, I was surprised at the great horned owl. Last spring we had a great horned nesting in our pine tree. I had never even seen an owl before this and here we have a mom and babies on our property. I took hundreds of photos like yours.
“Don’t I know you from some place?”

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kathy December 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Hi Mike!
Thanks for the kind words and sorry for the lag in response: your comment somehow got lost in our mad pre-Christmas work/family/fun rush.
Happy the review was helpful for you. How are the scales working out? Ours suddenly jumped about 3 pounds for Rick and 5 pounds for me over the Christmas holidays, darned things… 🙂 Other than that, they’re working just fine.

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