Name: Netatmo Urban Weather Station
Type: Indoor and outdoor weather and environment monitoring sensor kit
Specifications: Click here for full specs
Price as reviewed: £139
Everywhere you go, you can always take the weather with you thanks to the Netatmo Urban Weather Station, tracking minute changes in humidity, temperature, CO2 levels and sound levels at your home while on the go through both iPhone and Android apps. But, for £139, can it glean any more information than a TV weather report or a quick glance out of the window already can? Read our full review to find out!
The Netatmo Urban Weather Station kit is made up of two aluminium cylinders, one intended for indoor use that hooks up to your mains, the other destined to brave the elements outside, powered by 4 AAA batteries (which should see out a year's worth of use). They're attractive and relatively discrete items that communicate with each other over Wi-Fi and send data to a set of free iPhone, iPad, Android and desktop apps, measuring everything from temperature to humidity, sound levels to CO2.
Setting up the Netatmo kit is a relatively painless affair, though the supplied instructional documentation isn't all that helpful. You can pair the Netatmo to your router with either the desktop app with a USB cable (USB cabling is only needed during set-up) or through a similar process for iOS devices with iOS docking cables. Once connected to your Wi-Fi network, the sensors begin pumping environmental data to Neatmo's servers, which you can view via a web portal or the mobile apps through your user account, which is set-up during installation.Netatmo claim that the smaller outdoor sensor can be placed as far as 100m away from the indoor mains connected unit, but that distance is cut considerably once walls and other obstacles are placed in the way. In reality (unless you live under a wall-less gazebo), expect that range to be halved. It's also worth noting that the outdoor unit must be sheltered from harsh weather as it isn't waterproof. You'll have to find a little alcove outside for it to live in or face certain readings be skewed by factors such as heavy rain, for instance, a notable problem for a device that will spend almost all of its life outdoors.
Though the Netatmo kit offers forecast information provided by MeteoGroup, it's real USP is allowing you to disseminate the minute fluctuations of all manner of readings in your immediate environment. Indoor and outdoor temperature, air quality and humidity can be measured, while the indoor sensor also picks up pressure, sound and CO2 level readings.
All of these measurements can then be tracked and recorded through the desktop and smartphone apps, and even turned into XLS or CSV files for exporting into other applications. It's fascinating stuff, and at times a little too revealing! I got into a panic when I saw CO2 levels in my flat beginning to rise, though it turned out they were well within perfectly liveable ranges. But it proved to show just how muggy our indoors living conditions can be, let alone the pollutants outside. I'm just as concerned now with ventilation (especially around my kitchen's gas-powered oven) as I am with keeping the heating off.
Presented in modular charts and readings, flipping the smart device running the Netatmo app horizontally lets you see readings in granular detail through graphs, showing five minute incremental readings. Though working perfectly well on a smartphone, the iPad version of the app proved most useful, letting you cram more information onscreen at once and more easily compare and contrast data. The indoor sensor also has an LED indicator strip that, when activated by a tap of the top of the unit, glows red, yellow or green for a quick visual cue to indoor air quality levels.Each version of the app can also be used to set up alerts, sent to your device of choice once the sensors pick up certain pre-determined readings. There are preset notification events that can be triggered, or you can create your own. For instance, setting the indoor sensor to pick up minute changes in sound levels when placed near your front door could well be used as a burglar alarm, or a way of letting you know your kids have got home safely from school. We can also see a busy market for the sensors for horticulturists with indoor greenhouse wares of the not-so-legal variety, too.
I have to admit to being quite skeptical as to the benefits of the unit when first setting the Netatmo kit up, but it's won me over during the last couple of weeks. The information each monitor offers is presented cleanly and in fine detail, with a flexible alert system that can give the Netatmo some unexpected secondary uses. It's very pricey, and as such will likely only be the reserve of budding meteorologists or demanding greenhouse gardners, but all will likely find the details of their immediate surroundings presented by the Urban Weather Station fascinating.