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Archos Weather Station – keep track of your environment with your smartphone and some wireless sensors [Review]

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There’s no question that cool tech advances in sensors have given us some amazing products. Health and fitness monitors are everywhere, and there’s also a growing segment for sensors which can track our environment, and help us stay aware of what’s happening in our local surroundings. The new Archos Weather Station is the latest product to enter this arena, and it’s not a bad system at all, as we found out in our tests.

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The system is designed as a modular set of wireless components which let you monitor a range of stats indoors and out, as well as including a useful soil monitor to track hydration in your plant pots. See our video below for a quick overview of how the system works.

First impressions
The product comes in an attractive package, containing all the bits you need to get going, including batteries thankfully. There are three components, the main house unit which communicates with the phone and the online servers, an outdoor unit for grabbing external data and the soil probe.

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You also get a handy user and set up guide, as well as the power block for the main unit and AA and watch coin batteries for the modules. All of the modules are made of plastic, and while not ugly may be an acquired taste.

In use
The first thing you need to do is download the smartphone app (iOS or Android) and then connect the main module to your home WiFi using the app. This takes just a few moments, and is mercifully easy. Once that’s done you have to register each of the modules with the app, and then register the phone with your location. This is obviously to tie up the weather conditions in your local area.

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The main interaction with the system is obviously done through the app, which displays not only the sensor information, such as temperature and humidity, but also specialized data, including ambient noise (on the internal sensor) and air quality and atmospheric pressure. All of which are very useful for grabbing a snapshot of your surroundings on one screen.

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You can also drill down to each specific sensor to get a timeline of readings, which is useful for tracking how things are going over time, and it’s all easy to read at a glance because of the clear graphical display. The soil display is also great for tracking plant hydration, especially useful in the summer if you care about your indoor or outdoor gardening.

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The other useful thing for gardeners is the seven day rolling weather forecast which features on the front page of the app, perfect for checking whether you need to take an umbrella out with you. And finally, there’s a very neat little feature which gives you an instant reading of the CO2 in your room with a simple wave of your hand over the top of the main unit.

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The LED will then deliver a color to let you know what the levels are, and if you need to open a few windows or doors to get some ‘fresh’ air into the place. Simple but effective, and probably very useful in high rise apartments with sealed or double glazed window systems. We also like the fact that you can set up alert notifications which are sent to your phone when your choice of criteria is reached (e.g. soil humidity is less than 10%).

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Conclusion
The Archos Weather Station is a very capable all round monitoring system, which delivers an easy to read set of data for the main aspects of your home environment. It’s easy to set up, unobtrusive in use and appears to be reasonably accurate in terms of the information it tracks. You will need to be careful about where you position the sensors however, because this can throw the readings off quite a lot (e.g. hot windowsills can deceive you in terms of temp readings).

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The good thing about the data being stored in the Archos cloud (i.e. on the Internet) is the fact that you can check it from anywhere – e.g. to see whether your plants need watering when you’re out of the house – but the bad thing is you’re sacrificing some privacy over your data, and also leaving yourself at the mercy of the Archos server system. The alerts system is however rather cool. Overall a nice product, and executed nicely. It will be interesting to see whether they introduce any new sensors to add to the system over time.

Price: £97.42

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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