Ambient Weather WS-5000 Review: A Fantastic Weather Station

I now have a moisture sensor in my garden bed that tells me how dry my soil is, which is an awesome way to know I need to turn on my remote sprinklers while on vacation. An air quality monitor inside my workspace tells me temperature and humidity (important to monitor for some of my acoustic guitars), and another monitor really made me open the window when cooking indoors. All of these things are trivially combined by the system and displayed alongside my other metrics on the Ambient Weather dashboard. It’s the easiest thing to set up ever.

Ambient Weather recently added a better digital display that you can buy aftermarket. As I said, the one that comes with the unit is a bit retro-chic, requiring you to use physical buttons to input logins and passwords, and with only a few selectable layouts. The new Weather Window, as the brand calls it, is much larger and more modern-feeling, and it does include touchscreen controls and variable layouts, but it’s still not as fantastic as it could be.

Small screen in a picture frame displaying weather information

Photograph: Parker Hall

I wish there was a way to show the weekly weather forecast on the main screen, instead of having to tap the display to see that, among other UI niggles. I do like that the Weather Window comes with a frame-like edge, which makes placing it where you might place a family photo, or hanging it on the wall, particularly easy.

By the Numbers

Most of us don’t need such minutiae in our lives, and that’s fine. For the person who wakes up and plans their whole day based on the temperature and precipitation, or who constantly checks weather radar and talks about it, the Ambient Weather system is the closest we will come to reaching nirvana on Earth.

That might not be you, but it is almost certainly someone you know. I love being away from home and knowing how wet the soil in my garden is, that my house temp and humidity are correct. I like seeing when the sun and moon are going to rise and set at a glance, and knowing how many inches of rain, at a spot above my head, we have gotten in rainy north Portland. Every time my dad and I get together, if we’re not talking about Formula One or the local soccer team’s current woes, we’re talking about what our stations are telling us.

If learning the micro-trends of your yard and chatting, meaningfully, about the weather to friends, relatives, and strangers is your kind of thing, then an Ambient Weather system, really any of them, is probably a fun thing for you to check out. You might even find it useful.

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