Published on June 1st, 2009 | by Greg0
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.