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Weight Scale Features

Digital Bathroom Scales.

Digital weight scales are far more likely to give you the right weight and withstand normal wear and tear than their mechanical counterparts. With the aid of electronics, digital bathroom scales measure weight in small increments, usually 0.2 pounds, rather than the one-pound units found on most cheap mechanical scales.
The best cheap digital weight scales also incorporate a step on/step off technology: step on and the cheap digital weight scale powers up, displays the magic number, and then powers down when you step off. The display is usually easy to read from a standing position (all of our top picks feature at least a 1" display) so you don't need to squint to see tiny digits and thin lines, as you do with a cheap mechanical scale.

The best cheap bathroom scales we found are all digital. We like the EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale w/ Extra Large Backlit 3.5" Display and "Step-On" Technology (starting at $29) and the Taylor Precision 7329B Lithium Electronic Scale (starting at $13), both of which max out at 330 pounds, noted in 0.2-pound increments; the former gives the results in a 3.5-inch display and the latter in a 1-inch display. The Elite Home ESC-9008X (starting at $22) is another good investment. This one handles weights up to 400 pounds; we couldn't find specs for the weight increments or display size. The Weight Watchers WW11D (starting at $22) and the Taylor LED Superbrite Scale (starting at $18), by contrast, display weight in half-pound increments, measure weights up to 330 pounds, and feature 1.3" displays.

Nearly all cheap digital bathroom scales draw their juice from batteries. The weight scales we researched use either AAA, 9-volt, or lithium batteries. Alternatively, you can step up the eco-friendly ladder to a model like the solar-powered Tanita Solar Digital Scale HS-302 (starting at $69), which takes you off the battery grid entirely but doesn't completely win over users who note the challenges of getting the right amount of light (from a bulb or the sun) to fire up the scale.

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Mechanical Scales.

Cheap mechanical scales are simple devices that track weight by using small springs. The readout is usually denoted in five- or ten-pound increments with small lines setting off the pounds in between. If you don't like what you're seeing, you can alter the weight report up or down by moving the dial on the scale forward or backward. Mechanical scales aren't particularly accurate or sturdy because they don't give finely calibrated results and all the tiny springs and inner components can be easily jarred out of whack. But they are cheap.

Our reservations about mechanical scales, particularly the cheap variety, reflect these shortcomings. The two we researched -- the Sunbeam SAB602-05 and the Taylor 2004-4014 (both starting at $9) -- disappoint consumers. The Sunbeam SAB602-05 boasts a decent-size display, but actually determining your weight is a chore with this cheap mechanical scale. Weights are marked off in units of 20, which means you have to count the little lines to determine the bottom line, as one user points out on Amazon. The Taylor 2004-4014, say other reviews on Amazon, is just plan inaccurate and doesn't even start at zero. For a few more dollars, you can get a cheap digital scale that outperforms the mechanical models.

Bathroom Scale Design.

Increasingly, digital scales present with sleek, slender designs that make them an attractive bathroom fixture. The platform on weight scales may be formed from stainless steel, chrome, glass, or plastic. The EatSmart ESBS-01 and Elite Home ESC-9008X incorporate tempered glass, and the Taylor 7329 showcases a textured black mat against a silver-like platform. Cheap bathroom scales typically weigh less than 6 pounds with a footprint measuring about 12 inches square.

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Bathroom Scale Frills.

Just as other gadgets have advanced with the times, so, too, have bathroom scales. All the cheap bathrooms scales on our list feature automatic on/off, so there's no waiting for the device to power up and no wasting battery life. The Elite Home ESC-9008X features a low-battery indicator, as do the Taylor Precision 7329B and Taylor LED Superbrite models. The EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale reports weight in pounds, kilos, and stones (a unit of weight used by the British that's equivalent to 14 pounds). The Elite Home ESC-9008X remembers your previous weight and clearly indicates how much has been gained or lost. The Weight Watchers WW11D boasts a built-in handle so you can carry the 3-pound scale with you, wherever.

Some digital weight scales up the electronic ante. Want to transmit to, and store your data on, a smartphone or home computer? Try the Wi-Fi enabled Withings Body Scale (starting at $159) or the Elite Home ESC-910 (starting at $27). How about using the scale to measure other physical facts? Models like the Tanita BF-683W (starting at $80) send electrical pulses through your body to gauge your body fat. Others, like the Ozeri Touch Digital Bath Scale (starting at $43) calculate hydration levels and muscle and bone mass in addition to weight and body fat. (This particular model tracks results for up to eight users.) Note, though, that many experts, including doctors and Consumer Reports, and users alike question the veracity of these measurements -- and thus the value inherent in these "extras."

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