Review: Oregon Scientific [email protected] Bluetooth-Enabled Weather Station
Much like its Grill-Right Bluetooth BBQ Thermometer, Oregon Scientific's [email protected] Bluetooth-Enabled Weather Station ($60) can be used on its own, or it can be wirelessly paired with an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. There are two components to the system: the main weather station, with an integrated display, plus a satellite temperature sensor for outdoor use. This package actually has the same list price as a comparable station from the same company without iPhone connectivity -- a version that's very popular and highly-rated on Amazon.
The largest part of the system, and the heart of it all, is referred to as the main unit. Made primarily of black plastic, it’s a tall, reclined shape that measures 7” in height, just over 2” deep, and about 3.75” wide. On its face is a green 5” screen with black text and icons. That’s located above a set of physical buttons: mode, memory, light, and up and down. This main unit is powered by three AA batteries, which are included in the package. Inside the battery compartment, you’ll also find switches for alternating between Celsius and Fahrenheit, as well as resetting the system.
Much smaller and less complex is the outdoor thermo-hygro sensor. White instead of black, it’s a 3.75” by 2” by 1” rectangle, without any sort of display. It’s capable of capturing both temperature and humidity information, and can be mounted on a wall. Oregon Scientific recommends putting it under an overhang so it’s protected from sunlight and rain. This piece also runs on an included battery, and up to four additional units can be purchased separately to be placed in different locations.
On its screen, the main unit compiles information from both sensors. From the top down, it shows the outdoor temperature, humidity, moon phase, weather conditions for the next 12 hours represented as a picture, and then the indoor temperature and humidity, above the current time. Trends are also displayed using simple arrows next to the figures. Pressing the memory button will allow you to toggle through highs and lows, while the up and down buttons will move you through the different outdoor sensors. There’s also a dedicated display for ice alerts.
Using Bluetooth 4.0, compatible iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches can pair with the main unit through a relatively simple process. Once they’re connected, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure data is beamed to your device. You can see the information from each sensor neatly displayed on a well-designed home screen. Tapping on any of them allows you to see a graph of the information over the past day, although loading up the history can take about half a minute. There are also options for rainfall, wind speed, and altitude, but without the proper sensors connected, tapping them does nothing.
Of course, the downside to Bluetooth in this application is its limited range. While you’ll be able to see the information if you’re inside your home near the sensor, it won’t be accessible from greater distances. While the addition of Wi-Fi would solve this issue, it would also likely add to the cost and battery requirements. With the current design, we would envision a user leaving the main unit in a living room or kitchen, and having the app for quick access and historical information in other rooms. Oregon Scientific claims a transmission range of up to 150 feet, although in our testing the connection dropped out a little sooner than that.
At least when comparing MSRPs, [email protected] costs no more than a similar system from the same company, which is a good thing. That’s not to say it’s a particularly great value though, as smaller yet comparable systems, including AcuRite’s Indoor Humidity Monitor, Amazon’s top-selling weather station, is only $10. That budget model doesn’t allow for multiple sensors, though, and doesn’t have any sort of iOS connectivity. For those who value weather information, and want to be able to access it in multiple ways, this system is a good value, and worthy of our general recommendation.