Internal automated heating, plant watering, and other smart appliances are all the rage these days. Basically, anything that you can control through an iPhone or Android app is considered a nifty piece of kit. However, not all of them really work the way we want them to. Most turn out to be merely gimmicks that you soon tire of.
Not so the Netatmo Weather Station. It doesn't actually control anything as such, but instead gives access to more information and statistics than you can shake a rain-covered stick at. But rather than it fade into obscurity after a period of use, you find yourself becoming more compelled to log in at least once a day.
The product, you see, reads the current weather, which may not sound like much considering a quite glance out a window will do a similar if not more basic job, but it does much more besides.
Made to work in combination with an Android or iPhone/iPad app, the Netatmo Weather Station has air quality sensors, can measure temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, has a barometer and even advises on whether sound is being played at comfortable levels.
There are two devices in the box, one for indoors and one for outside so you get live readings for both, and there are alerts when certain, more dangerous elements are rising and, thanks to the app, even track levels of individual aspects over periods of time.
The package is a doddle to set up. All you need to do is plug in the internal sensor and connect it to your smartphone running the free Netatmo application. The other sensor should be filled with the batteries provided and placed outside. You also get a brace should you want to secure it to something.
Considering we gave it a thorough test on 23 December (having also checked it out initially in the summer when not much happened weather wise), we can see the benefit of tying it to something as that was the day of the pre-Christmas storms.
Both parts of the kit look like they've come from the Apple guide to design - sleek, cylindrical and aluminium - the plastic at the top of the external version is UV resistant too, so it won't be discoloured in prolonged periods of sunshine. As this is the UK, that's highly unlikely anyway.
Everything talks to each other wirelessly, with the modules operating much like Sonos system, effectively communicating on a bandwidth that won't interfere with your other wireless kit. The main unit will also sit on your home network so that your phone can access it. And because the data it captures is stored in the cloud online rather than locally, you can access it at any time from anywhere, not just when you are home.
The initial kit costs £140 from places like Amazon.co.uk and the Apple Store. You can also add modules to the set-up should you want to monitor the levels in a different room or, say, the garage. And you probably will, as it's a nicely designed accessory that does something we've not really seen before.