10 August, 2011

Oregon Scientific weather station BAR321HGN

I wanted a barometer, and since Oregon Scientific seemed like a pretty high-end brand (and the only brand of weather stations I knew of), I decided to try it out.

The BAR321HGN includes:
  • main unit (measures temperature, humidity and pressure)
  • remote unit (measures temp and humidity, and RF clock signals)
  • stand and wall mount for main unit
  • AC adaptor
  • batteries for both main and remote units

  • measure temperature, humidity and pressure
  • records max and min temp and humidity, and hourly pressure over the last 24 hours
  • weather prediction based on pressure
  • measures UV level with an optional meter
  • clock with 2 time zones and alarm
  • backlight
  • can announce time and weather
  • unused features: can set time based on radio signals from an atomic clock (in Europe), can set alarm to ring earlier if remote sensor measures temperature below 2C (snow), supports 5 temp/humidity sensors and 1 UV sensor

The box reminds me of Sony/Casio boxes - some features in many languages, but not very attractive. You'll probably find the product on display on a shelf, not in the box. Judging from the features and accessories included, it's quite a high-end model, and I saw the original price on the box was $350, but I got it for only $108, because it's so old. In fact, it was so old that the batteries that came with it had leaked.

  • Records max and min from remote sensor even when not displaying their data on screen (can only display 1 set of temp and humidity data at a time, either main unit or remote)
  • Remote unit is "all weather"
  • Set announcements to hourly between certain hours, or once a day
  • Announce in several languages
  • Select seconds, day or dual timezone display
  • Screen is too low contrast and reflective, making the numbers hard to see (compare top and bottom pictures). Can hardly be read from >1 m away.
  • Talking function only works when AC power is used. Conversely, there is no way to turn this off other than not using AC power.
  • Despite using batteries, data is reset once you open it, which you have to do to plug in AC power (the socket is hidden in the unit itself)
  • Although hiding the AC plug in the unit makes it look nice and seamless, with the wire coming out of the unit itself, the wire has to be forced in a channel at the bottom of the unit. This channel is too narrow and damages the wire.
  • Difficult interface. Memory and History buttons do the same thing, except Memory is for temperature and humidity, while History is for pressure. Pressure uses History to change settings, while everything else uses Mode.

Most irritating aspects are the interface and display. I expected more from this brand, but since this model is so old, maybe they've improved. Otherwise, performance is okay.

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