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MSN coffeemaker gives gadget tech a jolt

The latest product to use Microsoft's Smart Personal Objects Technology, this coffeemaker also serves up a weather report.

Is Microsoft secretly hoping that you can do without Al Roker?

A whole-bean coffeemaker developed by MSN Direct and Melitta gives you a morning weather report without having to turn on a TV or computer.

The Melitta Smart Mill & Brew Programmable Coffee Maker, which hit stores Thursday, has an FM receiver that works with MSN Direct's data service. The latest gadget using Microsoft's Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT), the coffeemaker displays regional information on the current weather, daily forecast, chance of rain, and sunrise and sunset times.

Microsoft has been touting SPOT for years, promising that it would be used in all types of devices, from refrigerator magnets to consumer electronics to, yes, coffeepots. For the most part, though, the technology has thus far shown up only in watches, which have been far from a mainstream retail success.

MSN Direct launched a series of smart watches in 2004, and now Fossil, Swatch, Tissot and Abacus all offer watches with FM receivers for MSN Direct service. The MSN subscription service offers information such as news, sports scores, traffic updates, weather, Outlook calendar reminders and texts via MSN Messenger.

The coffeemaker, which sells for about $200 on or at the Sharper Image, has a display similar to, but not as detailed as, the WeatherNow from Oregon Scientific, which also uses the MSN Direct service.