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Here comes the sun

We put four personal weather stations to the test

Jan. 9, 2009 - 06:08AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 9, 2009 - 06:08AM  |  
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Oh, the weather outside is ... wait a minute, how is the weather outside? To determine whether it really will be frightful out there, more and more people are turning to wireless weather stations and forecasters. Here are a few we tested:

Brookstone WeatherCast 5-day Wireless Weather Forecaster

Price: $99.95

Display/controls: Immediately understandable right out of the book. One tester said of the instructions, "So easy I didn't need any."

Setup: There were no extra components, making it simple to set up shop and receive updates from AccuWeather.com.

Forecasting: The unit's readout updated frequently, but one tester realized that the "source" was in a city 60 miles away, where conditions differed significantly.

Overall: This is your basic, no-frills weather station. It doesn't include many extras, but it's a nice starter unit for a newbie weather-tracker.

LaCrosse Technology Weather Direct WD-3209U 4-Day Weather Forecaster

Price: $149.99

Display/controls: The display is comprehensive, but the controls are a bit dicey — they don't allow for much user error.

Setup: Pretty easy — you get a wireless sensor that hooks up to your Internet router and an outdoor unit.

Forecasting: Getting it to tell the temperature is tricky, but the forecasts and measurements change regularly and are accurate.

Overall: The controls can be persnickety, but you can't ask for much better than this. The conditions are always up-to-date.

Honeywell TE852W Long-Range Weather Forecaster

Price: $99.99

Display/controls: This did not rate very highly in "user friendliness." The atomic clock didn't work well for one user, and the unit would default to the wrong time zone.

Setup: One tester said it best: "More difficult than it should have been." The wind speed module never worked correctly, and units required various tools to set up.

Forecasting: One tester really liked the in-home humidity readings and found them helpful.

Overall: Your impatience may kick in while trying to get this unit set up. But once it's up and running, it's quite good at reading the weather.

Oregon Scientific WMS801 Weather Station

Price: $149.95

Display/controls: The interface is pretty, but the controls take a while to get used to. Buttons for temperature and humidity weren't in the most logical spots.

Setup: One tester found it simple to set up because there were no extra gadgets, and you get info from MSN Direct's weather service.

Forecasting: One tester was frustrated by having to push several buttons to show the current day's forecast.

Overall: The wind direction/speed feature is a plus, but temperature readings and local data gathering were big problems.

Answers by RallyPoint

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