There's a class of people out there who we like to call the weather-challenged. You may know someone like this. Or you may be weather-challenged yourself. But it comes down to this: there are a lot of folks who have a tendency to walk out of their homes each morning without bothering to check a weather forecast. These are the people who just can't be bothered to take the two minutes needed to get the forecast from the TV, radio, computer, or smartphone. It's not time-consuming or difficult, but--for some reason--it's beyond them. And that's where the eminently scanable, glanceable Ambient 7-Day Forecaster comes in.
The device, which retails for $200, is about the size of a digital photo frame, though it's square instead of rectangular. From a distance, it looks somewhat swanky, but pick it up and you realize it feels a little cheaper than its fairly lofty price tag. For instance, some parts that look like metal from afar are actually plastic. This isn't a big deal--pretty much everything's plastic these days--but it's so lightweight, you may wonder why the thing doesn't cost half as much when you pull it out of the box.
Part of the answer is that the Ambient 7-Day Forecaster uses a proprietary long-range terrestrial wireless network to receive weather forecasts and additional data from AccuWeather. The wireless receiver is built into the device, and you don't have to pay any service fees. It's important to point out that the 7-Day Forecaster only works in the United States (that includes Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) and is limited to urban areas and their suburbs. Ambient says its signal reaches more than 90 percent of U.S. households--forecasts are provided for 150 U.S cities--but don't expect to get coverage out in rural areas. (Before you buy, you can check zip- code level coverage at map.myambient.com).
The 7-Day Forecaster ships with an AC adapter and can be propped up on a table like a photo frame or mounted on the wall using a single screw (there's a keyhole mount on the back of the device). Most people will probably use the AC adapter to power the unit, but if you want to cut the cord, the Forecaster does run off of 4 AA batteries.
The first time you turn on the device it takes a little while--up to an hour--for it to sync with the wireless network. If you should happen to unplug the power cord or you decide to move the unit, there's also a somewhat lengthy (5 to 10 minutes) start-up process. In other words, you'll want to park it one spot and leave it activated to avoid the annoying delay.