The new Nest, the smart thermostat geared to the iPhone generation, is coming out this month. And just like Apple's iPhone, it's slimmer, shinier and has some new bells and whistles that its manufacturer says make it smarter.
The second generation of the wall-mounted gadget with a stainless steel ring that reflects your wall color is 20% slimmer and is now compatible with 95% of residential heating and cooling systems, said Maxime Veron, Nest's head of product marketing.
Not only has the Palo Alto company upgraded the hardware with new connectors for the wiring that make it easier to hook up wires, it is also releasing a new version of its software in the U.S. and Canada. The settings will work with different types of heating, be it forced air systems, radiant heat or heat pumps, to keep the temperature comfortable and save energy, and the "auto away" feature which uses motion to detect when no one's home and turn off the heating or cooling automatically will also kick in faster, in as little as a half hour, Veron said. The feature gets mixed reviews on Amazon.com.
The thermostat is available for pre-order at www.nest.com for $249 and will ship in mid-October. You can also buy it at Amazon.com, Apple’s online store and in Lowe’s stores. The original thermostat, which made its debut last November, has been discounted to $229 until it sells out.
Nest, which has about 136 employees, would not discuss sales of its thermostat. It also would not say when it would expand internationally even though some people have installed the thermostat in other countries. Nest is sold on Amazon.com and Apple.com, and both rank Nest among the best-selling devices in their categories.
Nest turned up the heat in the sleepy heating and cooling industry by producing a sleek new gadget rather than the more common white and beige thermostats. Honeywell International has sued Nest Labs, alleging patent infringement. Nest has challenged the validity of Honeywell’s patents.
Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive, co-founded Nest Labs in 2010 after searching for a thermostat for his state-of-the-art heating and cooling system for an energy-efficient home he built near Lake Tahoe. His team includes former iPod and iPhone lead engineer Matt Rogers. They plan eventually to branch out into other products.
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