What are your all time best QS buys? (advice for a newbie)

Hi there,

I’m starting QS from scratch.

There are many lists of tools/tests, but I was wondering, based on your experience, what would be the ones you would definitely keep and the ones that are after all not critical.

Interested in every aspect of QS, no particular focus other than finding things I don’t know about.

Budget 500-1000$


Hi Positron, it may sound a bit ridiculous but if you rally want to make a deliberate beginning my advice is to start with a project you can do with manual recording using pencil and paper. For instance, give yourself one week to track something that you are curious about, such as:

Perceived sleep quality
Episodes of hunger or other craving
Mood upon awakening
Headaches, allergy attacks, pain, or other chronic health issues
Meal times

Etc. etc.

We’ve seen QS projects on all of these topics and many more, and one of the most important lessons is that the act of deciding to do a project and beginning tracking leads to a lot of insights, even when no technology is used. With a little practice of this kind, you are in a much better position to decide what kind of tool you want to use.

I’m not trying to hold back on any info. There is a lot of experience with tools shared on this forum. For instance, I can say that for heart rate tracking I still like the Polar strap, even though it is bulky; but others are having very good experiences with different tools. If you become convinced that you want to focus on fitness, relaxation, sleep, or other topics that will possibly make use of heart rate data, then you can engage people here about their gear and workflows. But… start with a question.

(We also wrote up some best practices for Getting Started on our QS website.)


And what’s your time budget? :slight_smile:

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I store all my data in a relational database. Right now I passively track:

  • Time spent online, along with productivtity and unproductivity (Rescuetime)
  • Weight (Withings smart scale)
  • Pomodoro time (Toggl.com)
  • Todo’s (Todoist)
  • Time spent programming (Wakatime)
  • Top artists and songs for the month (Spotify)
  • Books read (Goodreads)
  • articles written (Medium)
  • Meditation time (insight timer)

Which is then visualized in this dashboard:

If you know a bit of programming, I made the tool open source. -

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I definitely want to echo Gary’s initial comment about just grabbing a pen and paper and recording some readings of what you might be interested in. Personally, I track many QS things including sleep, food and other basic health-related measures. A good chunk is done manually. I do have a few “go-to” pieces of hardware that I rely on…

Here’s my core set of qs tools. Nothing fancy:

  • Braun digital ear thermometer
  • Life brand spO2/heartrate monitor
  • Paramed blood pressure/heartrate monitor
  • Renpho wifi smartscale
  • (not shown) Android Pixel2 smartphone
  • (not shown) computer with Browser

The thermometer is a few years old. I’d probably choose a good quality no-touch version if I was in the market for one and had young kids.

The SpO2 monitor has been especially useful with our younger boy who suffers from asthma related breathing issues. He is prone to developing pneumonia and the monitor is an excellent indicator. We’ve had it attached to his finger while he’s in the hospital with one of their wired SpO2 sensors and it’s always within a percent or so. It doesn’t have onboard history though, like some of the newer models that are less than $100 these days.

We only use the blood pressure monitor on my partner and me. I haven’t compared the pressure readings with a commercial machine like the ones in the pharmacy or with a doctor’s reading but the heart-rate component is very close to the SpO2’s readings. (I find my fitbit Charge3’s heart-rate readings spotty, btw).

The Renpho smart scale is basically a cheap option for a Withings scale. It syncs flawlessly with the app and tracks about a dozen weight-related metrics. It syncs the weight data to Fitbit really well. I haven’t tried Google Fit.

(phone and computer) We log all the data for our whole family at EventLoggers.com (I’m the developer) and it displays nice dashboards of historical and summary data.

That’s a nice set up - and interesting to know about Fitbit charge. If anybody wants to take on a HR calibration project testing 6-7 of the most popular ones, that would be a good project and we could probably lend some equipment.