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Gadgets 409

Published on June 1st, 2009 | by Greg

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Bushnell Makes Weather Simple (in 150 cities)

‘What’s it like outside?’ is a question you end up asking quite a bit in San Francisco. Sure, it’s pretty easy to tell if it is raining, but windiness is a little harder, and the weather can change quickly. And it can often look nice enough to wear two layers, but then turn out to be quite a bit colder than expected… or vice versa.

So, we’ve explored various options for informing us about the weather- things like widgets in Vista or Yahoo. But Bushnell has answered the call for a better weather gadget with the WeatherFX wireless forecaster, available in 3, 5, or 7 day models. We’ve been trying to the five day version, and have come to depend on it… in the city at least.

First the upsides. The packaging claims that there are no sensors to install, no subscription fees, no wires, and promises continuous updates from AccuWeather.com. All of this is true, with one caveat: the updates happen about every 15 minutes, which isn’t quite continuous. The neatest feature is the color-changing backlight, which shifts in hue between a cold gray and the warmer reds, in a fairly logical progression. Time, indoor and outdoor temperatures, daily high/low predictions, and some details about winds/rain/clouds and other conditions are presented cleanly and in an easily readable way. The information was easy to absorb at a glance, a nice change from some weather sites and channels which may offer too much information or too little.

That backlight only works when plugged in, which would be no problem, except that it kind of negates another neat feature- the magnetic back, allowing you to simply place it on your refrigerator. The ability to use battery power is a nice addition though, requiring 4 AAAs and lasting quite a while (well through our tests over the last few weeks). The clock itself is also self-setting and network-synchronized.

So far, so good. But the main problem is a big one- the unit can only be set to one of 150 cities. That’s quite a few, sure, but the weather varies pretty widely between San Francisco, Berkeley, San Rafael, and San Jose (two of which make the cut), and in much of the country there are only 2-3 cities listed. Live in Montana, Idaho, or Maryland, and you better enjoy your weather report from Helena, Boise, or Baltimore only. Aside from that limitation, and the lack of a dimming option or self-dimming, this is a pretty great unit. Easy setup, fairly accurate weather information, and a large, clean display all make for a good purchase if you are tired or needing to go back inside for a coat or getting caught without an umbrella. $90, available in stores and online.


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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