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Smart Scales

How do high-tech "smart" scales stack up against our favorite digital scale?

Published July 1, 2016.

What You Need To Know

These days, everything from grill thermometers to vacuum cleaners comes in a “smart” version that communicates with smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth technology, and digital kitchen scales are the latest products to join this trend. In addition to performing basic functions like weighing and taring, each of these scales connects to a free product-specific app that provides either nutritional information about food placed on the scale or access to a recipe database that detects when you’ve measured the correct amount of each ingredient. Not surprisingly, these high-tech upgrades come at a high cost, and we wondered if they were worth the splurge; we purchased three (priced from $99.95 to $119.99), two with recipe databases and one that breaks down nutritional information, and assessed their basic functionality as well as their “smart” features.

All three scales were accurate, featured responsive buttons, and displayed weights in either ounces or grams. They also quickly established a Bluetooth connection with our tablet, and most reestablished it during each use. However, one model lacked a digital display, which annoyingly forced us to sync up our smartphone or tablet to see the weight of an item even when we weren’t using the app.

As for the apps themselves, they were generally better in concept than they were in design. For example, the recipe database apps sense when you’ve added the right amount of an ingredient and automatically progress to the next step in the recipe, which means you don’t have to touch—and smudge—the screen. These apps also adjust recipes for you if you accidentally add too much of an ingredient to the bowl. The big flaw is that both databases are very limited: They contain just a few hundred recipes, and only include those that rely heavily on weighing such as baking recipes and cocktail formulas. One model allows users to input recipes—which might be useful if the app’s format weren’t so unintuitive to use (it took us 30 minutes to add just one recipe for chocolate chip cookies). Ultimately, we found using the apps to be less efficient than reading a traditional recipe.

The nutritional analysis app was ill-designed, too. Its database of 6,000 ingredients sounds substantial but lacked pantry staples (like cranberry juice and applesauce) while including odd items (like herring eggs and two types of passion fruit juice). Worse, selecting the items was a sluggish process, and the search engine is quirky.

Needless to say, none of the models we tested was significantly more useful than a conventional digital scale, so until the technology improves, we’ll save our money and stick with our favorite, the...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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