gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

ScanWatch 42mm Black Review

I feel like I’m preaching to the choir when I write about ScanWatch; I’m so often met with “I have one and it’s excellent.” But that doesn’t mean it should go unsaid. The ScanWatch is excellent.

Hard to photograph!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 23, 2022

I reviewed the 38mm version back in March, wearing and enjoying it, tracking my (very poor) sleep and letting it motivate me into taking extra walks. I have small wrists so it felt about the right size and I told myself I wouldn’t wear anything bigger.

I was wrong. Withings were kind enough to supply the 42mm ScanWatch so I could compare, contrast, take it for a spin and keep reminding you. The ScanWatch is excellent.

It should probably go without saying that the 42mm ScanWatch is a good deal larger than its 38mm counterpart. This size increase brings with it a more traditionally – I dare say – masculine styling, favouring slightly sharper edges and lines. It takes advantage of the extra space to include a more complex, numbered dial with clearer minute markers. The minute and hour hand also gain luminescent markings for night viewing.

Well a bit of a drive in the blinding sun gave those luminescent hands a bit of get up and go ?

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 10, 2022

The step counter gains annotation at every 10% interval. The dial gains five minute numbered intervals. And, finally, the crown is a little larger, too. This version should appeal to those who like a larger, more angular style

What 42mm doesn’t gain is extra battery life or features. The 42mm and 38mm versions are technically and functionally identical with the changes being superficial visual dressing over the core functionality. This is not a bad thing- there’s nothing to improve about ScanWatch’s core offering- and it means you can pick a style at a glance without getting into a detailed feature comparison.

Indeed this same logic applies to ScanWatch Horizon which gets some significant visual and material changes, which offer more durability and water resistance, but retains the same ScanWatch core as its 38 and 42mm counterparts.

ScanWatch remains as excellent as when I first tried the 38mm version, and it hasn’t left my wrist much since it arrived. I rely upon it to give me a rough idea of sleep tracking, and for activity reminders, leaning very heavily into the health functions and at-a-glance timekeeping.

ScanWatch has some basic smart features you might expect from a fitness tracker with an OLED display. These include notifications, though I tend to keep these disabled, since the small screen isn’t well suited to them. But you can, if you so desire, have various phone notifications pop up on your watch. The main problem with the screen is that it’s small enough to need to scroll notifications across in order to read them. This can be a rather ponderous process, and doesn’t have the at-a-glance convenience of a full-blown Smart Watch such as the TicWatch Ultra.

The lack of any depth and breadth to the smarts is one of ScanWatch’s greatest assets, though. The battery life is measured in days – and it will do almost a month on a charge with notifications disabled – and it’s not prone to software hiccups, or being a black hole for your attention. It just works. It does what it does well and without getting fancy about it.

While it doesn’t get fancy with software features, ScanWatch has a very polished UX. The crown rotates to page through menus, giving a satisfying haptic buzz at every step.

Additionally the 42mm black ScanWatch debuted a neat feature that moves the hands to 10:10 if they are obscuring the display and you press the crown to interact with your watch. This has since been enabled on all ScanWatch models, but really helps when using the OLED display since the larger hands would otherwise obscure it quite a lot.

Unfortunately – albeit for very good reasons – the hands don’t move when you glance at the watch and the OLED auto-turns on (an optional feature you can toggle in the menu.)

Admittedly I still struggle to sight read analog clocks so I’d have liked some kind of compromise here ?

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 8, 2022

I have noticed a tendency for this ScanWatch to lose time, and find myself having to re-position the hands periodically – something that can be done, almost like magic, through the mobile companion app “Health Mate.” I’ll have to keep an eye on this, since it’s difficult to know if it’s a software bug or a hardware fault. Either way it’s a pretty fatal flaw for a watch, and not something that happened on the 38mm ScanWatch that I tested. This was also evident when I first set up the watch- when setting the time it zeros the hands up to 12:00 (and the step counter to 0%/100%) but I had to manually adjust them.

Update: I may have been wearing the watch too low on my wrist and inadvertently pressed the crown button regularly while sleeping.


— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 21, 2022

The accompanying Health Mate app is your portal to all of the watch settings and health data. It also pairs with Withing’s other products such as the Thermo and Body+ scales. Combined, these products help give a unified view of your health over time.

While I unequivocally love the ScanWatch I found the strap – after wearing it for a few weeks – severely irritated the skin on my wrist. I looked to Withings for an alternate strap, but their offerings didn’t really do it for me.

After diving for information about the required strap size I came up with 22mm. This is wrong. It’s 20mm. I bought a couple of 22mm straps which did not fit, eventually picking a 20mm one and then sizing down to extra small.

Turns out I am – in fact – an extra small. I have the wrists of a skeleton. Might as well paint myself white for Halloween.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 31, 2022

Unlike watches without health tracking the ScanWatch needs a pretty tight band to keep it in an optimum position. If you’re buying a fixed size, elasticated strap like the one I picked then you should size down to the smallest that will accommodate your wrist. Don’t forget to measure further up your arm, just above the wrist bone. I found the XS strap (after ordering and returning the Small) was a perfect fit for me. I picked up one of the Vozehui Elastic straps and find it very comfortable, albeit I’m a little worried about getting it wet. I haven’t really worn it long enough to get a feel for how hard wearing it is, but you can find their range at Amazon. I have, at least, played a lot of Hitstream and Beat Saber with this strap and it hasn’t sent the ScanWatch flying yet.

Read my previous review for more thoughts about ScanWatch.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2022, Health, Timepieces.