Gadgets 626

Published on October 8th, 2009 | by Greg


Watching the Sun Shine and the Grass Grow

As a society it seems that we love to watch things. We watch videos on YouTube, we watch movies and television. We watch sporting events. We even watch things we’re not looking for, like bad traffic jams on the interstate caused by traffic accidents. We watch the time creep by on a slow day at work and we watch the weather… oh, the weather you say? Today we’ll show you a great way to keep an eye on the weather.

The Bushnell Weather FXi gives you weather at a glance, as long as you’re glancing within 300 feet of your computer. So here’s what the Weather FXi will do for you: it will provide you with an accurate seven-day weather forecast over your wireless network that is transmitted from a USB dongle that plugs into your PC. (No weather for us Mac users, we have to stick to our widgets.) The forecast, which comes from AccuWeather.com, includes the highs and lows expected for the next seven days, real-time weather that is currently happening displayed in part with a color that corresponds to the outside temperature, a UVI index and pollen count, as well as any severe weather watches or warnings that have been issued for your area. We’ve seen weather displays before, even a previous model from Bushnell that had some issues, but this model packs quite a bit of information in, and instead of 150+ cities, gives access to information on over 20,000 locations.

Things we really liked about the Weather FXi were the colored display, which shows blue for cold temperatures 30F and below, up through ‘hot’, which is 80F and above. There are colors for all of the temperatures within 30 and 80F, in 10 degree increments. So from across the room you can have an idea of the approximate outside temperature based on the color that’s showing. We also really liked the pollen count and UVI index data. Some of us here are Obscure Headquarters are fair-haired, pale, allergy-sufferers who don’t have the luxury of windows, so anything that lets us know how much sunscreen or Claritin we need for the day is appreciated. The Weather FXi can be used as an alarm clock if you so desire; it has basic alarm clock functions, though the time is not the most prevalent bit of information on the display. The FXi operates on 4 AA batteries or an A/C adapter (included), and must be within 300 feet of the wireless adapter attached to your PC. You can purchase the Bushnell Weather FXi from Bushnell directly, or from online retailers like Amazon for around $65.

Something most people don’t bother to watch are events that take a very long time to occur, like water boiling, or plants growing. The people at Brinno want to give you the opportunity to change that, without forcing you to endlessly stare unblinking. The Garden Watch Cam is a camera that you plant in your garden or flower pot, and is set to take photos at an interval that you can adjust, allowing you to see a time-lapse group of photos. Now, you can watch your garden grow in a very short amount of time. Choose from one of six preset time intervals, ranging from 1 minute apart to one photo every 24 hours, and a custom time that you can set using Brinno software. The Garden Watch Cam uses an 8MB internal memory (more on that in a moment) and 4 AA batteries. It has a 1.3 megapixel sensor that it uses for photos, as well as a sensor that puts the device to sleep in between pictures to conserve on battery life (up to six months, according to Brinno). You can move the camera around to accommodate many different angles, depending on what you’re trying to film. This feature makes the Garden Watch Cam ideal for capturing things like passing clouds or other slow moving objects that might be fun to watch as a time-lapse series. You can adjust the lens to some extent, allowing you to fix the focus for close-ups or distant shots. You’ll also need to use a USB flash drive; some models come with one included but others do not. 2GB is the maximum allowed it seems, due to filesystem limitations (they need to be FAT16 formatted).

We didn’t grow anything that required six months of photos, but didn’t have any trouble with our batteries dying on any of the timed settings. The quality of images is consistent with what you might get on a webcam, which is to say they’re not bad. The goal here is movies, and you can’t really even access the individual still images. On the other hand, the camera handles that part for you, combining them into one nice and easily viewable AVI video file. The camera is encased in water/weather-resistant plastic. We wouldn’t recommend trying to film your seaweed growing, but no worries if you splash the camera while watering your basil. At $139 from Amazon it may not be for anyone with just a passing curiosity for time-lapse photography, but would make a fun gift for any serious garden lover in your life. Once you get past the poor documentation, and figure out the quirks, the Garden Watch Cam puts time-lapse photography within anyone’s reach. Brinno also, we should note, makes a few other interesting cameras, including one focused on bird watchers, so we look forward to more intriguing imaging solution from them in the future.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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