Review: Netatmo Weather Station and your iOS device let you monitor the weather
The Netatmo Weather Station is described as “the first personal weather station for iPhone & iPad.” The Weather Station itself consists of two pieces of hardware, and the company provides a free iOS app for accessing weather data from these devices.
Like a standard weather station, the Netatmo Weather Station has an indoor module and an outdoor one. Each module is a sleek-looking aluminum and white-plastic cylinder; the indoor module is six inches tall, with its outdoor counterpart about four inches tall. The indoor module needs to be plugged into a power outlet, while the outdoor module uses four AAA batteries. Though the battery power means you can place it anywhere, you must position the outdoor module in a location that’s in range of your Wi-Fi network.
To set up the Weather Station, first you connect a USB cable from an iOS device (running the Netatmo app) to the indoor module; the app transfers your Wi-Fi-network settings and credentials from your iOS device to the indoor module so it can access your network. The outdoor module is pre-paired with the indoor module, so after tapping a few setup buttons and screens, the entire weather station is up and running.
The Weather Station gets your geographic location from your iPhone, so the system is able to determine your exact altitude for calibrating its barometric-pressure sensor. In addition to pressure, the Weather Station measures temperature, humidity, and, for the indoor module only, CO2 and ambient noise level.
Once I set up the Weather Station, I found that it took a few days for readings to stabilize. I already own a standard weather station, and there were fairly large differences in temperature and humidity readings at first. But after the initial—literal—acclimation period, the Netatmo’s readings were close to those of my existing weather station, which, thanks to recent professional testing, I know is accurate to within 1/2 a degree.
To view current readings, you launch the iOS app, which shows all collected data and, when you rotate your iOS device to landscape orientation, shows graphs of data over time. The Weather Station takes automated readings every 5 minutes, so these graphs can show you detailed information if, for example, you want to know what the temperature was at a particular time during the night. If you want to take an instant reading of current conditions, you just press the top of the indoor module.
The iOS app is very well designed, letting you see all of the available data in a glance. If you drag the horizontal bar (in the middle of the screen) upward, you see more information, including the latest indoor CO2-level and sound-level readings; dragging the bar downward shows you weather forecasts for the next three days, and you can swipe to the left to see an additional three days. These forecasts—obtained over the Internet from weather-forecast sources—are as local as possible, since the iOS app uses the precise location of your Weather Station, and are updated every three hours.
You can also use multiple Weather Stations together; tapping the bar at the top of the app’s screen lets you choose a different station. (When using the app, you can access weather stations on your local Wi-Fi network; you can view the data for any weather station, local or remote, via your account on the Netatmo website.) However, Netatmo does not currently sell individual outdoor modules—if you want to monitor data at, say, two locations around your home or office, you’ll need to buy two full sets, each with an indoor and an outdoor module. This is because, as noted above, the two modules are pre-paired. A Netatmo representative told Macworld that the company is considering offering outdoor modules separately in the future.
The only downside to this device is that you cannot see the current temperature without using an iOS device (or a website). The system would be a bit more useful if it included a small LED display somewhere on the indoor unit that could display basic conditions, so you don’t have to use your iPhone or iPad just to check the outdoor temperature.
The Netatmo Weather Station is a bit pricey, but it’s a very slick device. With modern design, good accuracy, and an easy-to-use iOS app, it makes it simple and fun to check the current weather, as well as to record and view weather data over time. If you’re a weather geek, you’ll want to check this out.