Nest launches cut-price thermostat

Smart home pioneer Nest has launched a new budget version of its Thermostat. The product, named the Nest Thermostat E, is a completely redesigned version of the original Thermostat which clocks in at $169 (in contrast to $249 for the latest, third-generation Nest).

While still being unmistakably a Nest product, Thermostat E is a much simpler device both in terms of hardware and software design. 

In terms of looks, the original’s bright screen has been replaced by a ‘frosted’ LCD, and the bold metallic control ring has been replaced by a ceramic-feeling plastic control dial. Rather than its more expensive older brother that is something of a centre piece of a room, Thermostat E is designed to blend more into the background.

The user experience difference isn’t just limited to its more subtle look though, with software being much more barebones in the cheaper thermostat. Where the original shows the time and weather, the new product simply focuses on the internal temperature, but it still has all the machine learning that the company prides itself on. The biggest difference though is in compatibility. 

Nest says it won’t work for more complicated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, meaning that it’ll only work in around 85 per cent of US homes, by contrast to the original thermostat that works with about 95 per cent of homes. However, it’s worth noting that the majority of houses in the UK don’t have those kind of HVAC systems, meaning that the Thermostat E should be fine in most settings. 

It seems a bit of an odd one for Nest to undercut its own premium product with a cheaper alternative that has most of the same functionality, but the company doesn’t see them as competitors. Rather, it sees Thermostat E as a means of getting more customers into the Nest ecosystem.

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