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Review: Nest Thermostat E Keeps You Warm—Even If You’re Cool on Its Design

If you’re looking for a cost-saving thermostat and can live with some design problems, the Nest Thermostat E might be for you.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been running my house on Alphabet’s (GOOGL) new Nest Thermostat E. The thermostat, which was announced last month, costs $169 and is designed to not detract from your indoor decor. The same smart thermostat features are here, of course, and setting up the device is a breeze, but it’s the new, frosted screen and slim design that Nest is pitching to customers. And it’s that very feature I just couldn’t seem to get past in my time with the device.

Here’s my look at the Nest Thermostat E:

Design

The Nest Thermostat E has a dramatically different design compared to that of the company’s Nest Learning Thermostat.

That’s because Nest has reduced the size of the thermostat so it doesn’t bump out so far out from the wall. It also replaces the traditional metal ring with a white plastic, and a frosted screen that’s turned off when you’re not near it covers its face.

But as a longtime Nest user, I was disappointed by the Thermostat E’s design. Against my grey wall, its mostly white finish didn’t quite look right. And although I can understand Nest’s desire not to be obtrusive with its design, I think it went too far. The frosted display makes for a rather dull screen presentation and the orange and blue colors it uses for heat and cooling, respectively, were similarly dull.

Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but I wasn’t impressed by the Thermostat E’s looks.

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Set-Up

Nest has found a way with its thermostat to strip away the complexity of replacing a critical home appliance and making it simple.

Armed only with a screwdriver and a set-up guide, I was able to get the Thermostat E attached to my furnace wiring and handling all heating and cooling duties in minutes. And after some testing and attaching my Nest account to the device, I was off and running.

There isn’t much more to say. The set-up process was really that good.

Features

The Nest Thermostat E comes with all of the same features you’d expect from one of the company’s smart thermostats, including the ability to control it from your smartphone or on the device itself. There’s also a learning feature, so it can examine your activities and create a custom heating and cooling schedule based on how you live your life.

And as with my older thermostat, those features worked exceedingly well. Before long, the Thermostat E got my schedule down and I was hands-off within just a few days, save for some tweaks here and there.

On the app side, I found the software to be responsive and my Thermostat E responded to my inputs quickly and accurately.

Much of the value in owning a Nest is in the ability to set it up and go about your day, knowing you’ll be comfortable along the way. The Thermostat E delivers on that promise.

Value

Arguably the biggest Nest Thermostat E selling point is its price. At $169, the thermostat is $80 cheaper than the flagship Nest Learning Thermostat.

For that $80 savings, you’ll need to live with the odd design, but you’ll still get all of the benefits of scheduling and saving energy.

Despite my concerns with its design, the Thermostat E is the new Nest flag-bearer for value.