Nest has unveiled its third-generation thermostat, and like a smartphone, this Internet connected temperature regulator is just a bit thinner, features a 40% larger screen and comes with a pixel count on its spec sheet (249 pixels per inch if you must know.) It also has the same price tag as the two Nest thermostats that came before at $249 for the device that will sit on your wall, learn your schedule and then heat and cool your home based on whether or not it detects if you are home or away.
The new thermostat comes with two new features. One will be exclusive to the third-generation’s larger screen, and is called Farsight. That feature will let customers activate their Nest’s screen to awake mode from farther away so they can check the temp or set it to see a clock. Current Nest owners have to get within three feet of the devices before it “wakes up” and shows owners the temperature.
The other feature is called Furnace Heads Up, and uses diagnostics to let people know that there are problems with their furnace before they need their heat. Because this feature relies on a software tweak, old Nest users will get this update later this year.
Like the product launches earlier this summer, the new Nest is somewhat of a let down for those of us accustomed to the hype cycle associated with tech gadgets, while also laughably in tune with them. I guarantee that no one has ever looked at their Honeywell thermostat and wondered what its pixel count or screen size was. This isn’t a device you watch YouTube on. However, because Google (GOOG) paid $3.2 billion for Nest last year, we’re expecting great things from this company and its devices.
And apparently we’re conditioned to see great thing packaged as skinner aluminum coated dials with larger screens. Tweaks to an algorithm don’t offer the same sex appeal that coax a tech reporter to pen a review or that undecided customer to rush to the store for the latest upgrade. Usually updates to thermostats are reserved for the trade press and aren’t even noticed. So Nest, which has to entice consumers to the stores and keep the tech press happy, has to continue releasing newer and more exciting products to keep feeding the media and tech cycle that classifies the smart thermostats as something closer to an iPhone than something made by Johnson Controls.
But at the end of the day, this is a thermostat, and for consumers wondering if they should be tempted by a larger screen and a slimmer profile, the answer is probably not. In fact, I’d recommend snagging a bargain older Nest for $199 while you still can, since Nest plans to get those off of store shelves quickly by cutting the price. If you end up with a new Nest, it’s still a great connected thermostat, and the announcement about the third-generation Nest does a good job detailing some of the features, including the more than 40 utilities that work with Nest to offer rebates and will continue to do so with the third-generation thermostat.
Those vary by provider, with home security provider ADT for example, offering the Nest thermostat for free to select customers, and other utilities offering rebates that will merely offset some of the cost of the Nest. If anything this launch has me wondering how much Nest wants to be a consumer device company with a planned obsolescence cycle or it will really does aim to be a true Internet of things business with a services model. Most of us aren’t sure what that looks like exactly, but I do know that I don’t want to spend $250 replacing my thermostat every few years.
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