EcobeeEcobee has officially announced its latest thermostat, the simply named SmartThermostat. This fifth-generation model looks nearly the same as 2017’s Ecobee4, and it shares that model’s built-in Alexa smart speaker features. However the new SmartThermostat has several upgrades, including faster performance, a louder, better-quality speaker, nicer materials, and a totally redesigned remote sensor. The SmartThermostat is available starting today for the same $249 price as the last model from Ecobee’s own website, Amazon, Best Buy, Lowe’s, and Home Depot.

So far as its linked features go, the SmartThermostat has accurately the same functions as the Ecobee4 and Ecobee3 before that. (Actually, for anyone who is upgrading from an Ecobee3 or Ecobee4 to the SmartThermostat, you can program your existing room sensors to utilize the brand new thermostat.) It has each of the stuff you want in a good thermostat: intelligent scheduling, smartphone software control, and occurrence detection so that it can automatically tell when you’re home or not and adapt your HVAC system accordingly. Ecobee’s key differentiator may be the included remote sensor, that allows you to gauge the temperature in various elements of your house and balance the machine accordingly, with no need for multiple zones.

The remote sensor may also identify presence, therefore the system can bias itself predicated on where persons are actually in your house, which is something Nest’s optional remote sensors cannot do. The SmartThermostat’s remote sensor includes a new design, with up to five years of battery life, a pairing selection of up to 60 feet, and improved wide-angle detection of motion activity. In addition, it has a new magnetic mount and a wall mount contained in the box as well as the are a symbol of more flexible placement options. The SmartThermostat includes one sensor in the box; you can purchase more in packs of two for $79. The machine can support up to 32 sensors at the same time.

The brand new remote sensor is nicer to check out compared to the prior model, but I’m disappointed that it doesn’t add the opportunity to measure humidity; it still only measures temperature and detects motion. The machine also still requires a long time to change between home and away modes, even though it hasn’t detected any motion activity for over one hour on the sensors, which includes been a continuing frustration with the Ecobee for me personally.

Design-wise, the SmartThermostat is a dead ringer for the Ecobee4. Even though hand and hand, I can’t inform them apart. The brand new model trades the plastic panel over the touchscreen for a glass cover, which is very much nicer to touch, swipe, and connect to. Still, there exists a large amount of room for improvement here, such as for example using an OLED screen rather than an LCD and making the display itself occupy a much bigger percentage of the thermostat’s front. At this time, the display still appears like a tiny rectangular window in the rounded square condition of the thermostat’s face, instead of one seamless display.

Further increasing the interaction experience on the brand new SmartThermostat is its beefed-up processor and improved touch sensitivity. Consequently, swiping around on the touchscreen, navigating the menus, and changing settings is a lot easier and faster than before, though it’s still nearly as simple and direct as Nest’s control ring system.

The brand new model also adds compatibility with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks, for more reliable connectivity. Better connectivity with modern Wi-Fi networks is obviously appreciated, but Ecobee’s problems over time have largely been because of its own servers heading down on repeated occasions, stopping any handy remote control of the machine. An upgrade to the thermostat’s Wi-Fi capacities won’t fix that problem.

As the Ecobee4 introduced the thought of having Alexa included in an appliance instead of another speaker, the Alexa experience left too much to be desired. For the SmartThermostat, Ecobee has upgraded the microphones, speaker, and capabilities, and the improvements are noticeable. I’m nearly sure why you’d want to hear music through your thermostat, however the SmartThermostat’s speaker is currently sufficient and loud enough you could if you wished to. In addition, it now supports Spotify Connect and Bluetooth connections, so that you can send music from your own phone to your thermostat.

Even better, the brand new SmartThermostat does a far greater job of existing with other Alexa devices. In the week or in order that I spent testing these devices before today’s announcement, it never taken care of immediately a command that was directed to some other device, which was a continuing problem with the Ecobee4. (It had been so very bad on the last model that I finished up disabling the microphones entirely, neutering the Alexa assistant inside.) The usefulness of experiencing Alexa included in your thermostat will change according to where it’s installed at home, but I could at least say that now it won’t block the way enjoy it did before.

Ecobee in addition has added Amazon’s Alexa calling, messaging, and Drop In features to the SmartThermostat, bringing it to parity with Echo devices and other Alexa-equipped speakers.

The brand new SmartThermostat is coming at an opportune time for Ecobee. With Google’s recent announcement that the Nest platform won’t integrate with other smart home devices as extensively, Ecobee’s products could possibly be more appealing to smart home enthusiasts or persons who just don’t desire to be trapped in Google’s ecosystem of products. Furthermore to dealing with Amazon’s Alexa, the SmartThermostat, just like the Ecobee4, supports Apple’s HomeKit platform and Google Assistant, plus IFTTT and Samsung’s SmartThings, so that it can integrate with most homes irrespective of which voice assistant you like or platform you utilize.

It also boosts on a lot of the shortcomings of the Ecobee4, especially around its integrated Alexa features. If you already own an Ecobee3 or Ecobee4 and so are thinking about upgrading, I’m uncertain it’s worth it because the linked thermostat features are specifically the same and the “upgrades” are largely around the ancillary options. But if you’ve been eyeing a good thermostat upgrade for your house and haven’t jumped on a prior Ecobee model or a Nest, the brand new SmartThermostat can be an attractive option.