Nest 2.0: Slimmer, sleeker thermostat smarter than ever
When the “Father of the iPod” Tony Fadell unveiled Nest, the “learning thermostat” last fall, it was likely the first time anyone had ever thought of a thermostat as sexy.
Now, less than a year after the first version of the product arrived, bringing Apple style design and user interfaces to what had traditionally been one of the most staid home appliances, Fadell’s Palo Alto, Calif.-based company today announced Nest 2.0, a slimmer version of the thermostat that was built to work in more homes and brings new flexibility and features to the table. It will cost $249 and be available in mid-October.
Next-gen Nest thermostat is thinner, smarter than before
The new Nest takes the same electronics from version 1.0 and fits them inside a sleek, stainless steel body that is 20 percent thinner than its predecessor. Plus, by expanding from eight interior connectors to ten, Nest is now said to be compatible with 95 percent of the American and Canadian low voltage residential heating and cooling market, up from 75 percent for the first version (see CNET’s review of Nest 2.0).
“What we are trying to do is reach out to even more demanding customers,” explained Maxime Veron, Nest Labs’ head of product, “enabling them to control more advanced and high-end systems than before.”
For example, Veron said, many air conditioners have only an on/off switch. But more advanced models can have two stages — one at around 50 percent capacity and another at 100 percent. Verson said that the second stage is controlled by its own wire, and that Nest 2.0, by expanding from the eight connectors in the first version to ten in the second, now supports that second air conditioning stage. And that’ll be good news for a lot of high-end A/C owners, he explained, because Nest 1.0 wasn’t compatible with many of them.
The second-generation Nest also brings similar new compatibility to homes with three-stage heating systems, and those with emergency heat for heat pumps, and whole-home humidifiers and de-humidifiers.
Over the last year, Nest 1.0 became a best-seller on Amazon, at Lowe’s, and on Apple’s online store. And that’s likely because the thermostat’s ability to learn and adapt to people’s lifestyles has saved the average user almost 20 percent of their annual energy bill.
Timed to go along with the unveiling of the second generation learning thermostat, Nest today also announced the 3.0 version of its software, an update that will be available to every Nest owner, and that the company said should make the appliance more efficient and adaptable than ever.
The software has always had an auto-away feature, but now it has been redesigned to detect more conclusively that no one is home. That means, Veron explained, that while the previous version of the software needed to wait two hours after everyone left to turn off heating or cooling, the latest version will be able to do so within 30 minutes of departure “based on a statistical analysis of your home and your patterns.”
At the same time, Nest 3.0 software has an improved auto-scheduling program that can work with homes with both heating and cooling. The previous version worked only with one or the other.
And finally, the new software features a set of tools known as System Match. These are designed to help the thermostat adapt to users’ homes, even when they have unconventional heating or cooling setups. Mainly, these seem to be aimed at letting users wake up with their homes at their desired temperature, regardless of whether they have a forced-air, radiant heat, or heat pump system. It is meant, Veron said, to learn how long a home takes to heat up or cool down and to match that information with an understanding of occupants’ wake-up time.
Veron said that what sets the new version of the Nest software apart from any other system is that it is smart enough to learn precisely how long it takes to get a home to the desired interior temperature, taking into consideration current weather conditions.
More mobile support
Befitting a product made by a team full of ex-Apple employees, Nest 1.0 was compatible with both the iPhone and iPad, as well as Android smart phones. But now, the company is adding support for Android tablets, including the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire. That should expand the percentage of Nest owners that control their thermostat remotely using their mobile devices, which was already at more than 90 percent.
And, users can now set their Nest and their Nest apps up to use French or Spanish, in addition to English.
Earlier this year, leading thermostat maker Honeywell sued Nest, claiming that the startup had infringed on seven of its patents.
But Veron said the U.S. Patent Office has already dismissed five of those claims and added that Nest Labs last week requested a stay for the remaining two. “We still stand by [our claim] that we didn’t infringe,” Veron said.
Microsoft’s holiday pop-up stores get Oct. 26 start date
And that Friday, not surprisingly, is also the launch date for Windows 8. All told, there will be 30-plus holiday pop-up stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Microsoft will indeed open its 30-plus holiday pop-up brick-and-mortar stores on October 26, the day that Windows 8 and the Surface RT tablets go on sale.
It seems obvious this would be the case, doesn’t it? But back in early September, when Microsoft announced the list of pop-up stores it will be opening “this fall,” officials refused to confirm they’d be open by October 26.
Luckily, eagle-eyed Microsoft watcher @steveymacjr spotted a mention of the New York store opening on October 26 on Microsoft’s own Microsoft Stores web site.
I checked some of the 31 other pop-up store locations in the U.S. and Canada and they also list October 26 as their opening dates.
Microsoft Stores sell Windows PCs, Windows Phones, Microsoft and third-party software, games, peripherals and more. Microsoft also is going to sell its recently announced Surface PC/tablets through its Microsoft Stores in the U.S. and through select online Microsoft stores, as well.
In the summer of 2011, Microsoft officials said that Microsoft planned to open 75 new Microsoft Stores in the subsequent two to three years. There are currently about two dozen Microsoft Stores. Apple has more than 300 retail stores worldwide.
Microsoft will have 44 permanent retail stores in place by the end of its fiscal 2013, which means by the end of June 2013, company officials said during Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in June of this year.
Pop-up stores are coming to a number of cities in the U.S. and Canada, including Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, Vancouver, and yes, Beachwood, Ohio, too. (That Ohio shout-out is for one of my readers who felt I slighted his hometown on a recent episode of Windows Weekly.) Microsoft still is not commenting on plans for holiday stores in other countries that are not mentioned on the list it shared on September 10.
Gmail can now search inside attachments
Google has introduced the ability to search inside attachments contained within Gmail. Adding the prefix “has:attachment” followed by your keywords into Gmail’s search box will prompt Google’s algorithm to scour documents and presentations as well as PDF files. Queries can also be limited to specific file types by using the “has:attachment filename:extension” format. Currently, searches seem to be restricted to files that have been indexed by Google’s servers, so older documents may not be searchable just yet. Recently received attachments, however, should be good to go.
CD turns 30!!
On October 1, 1982, the first commercial compact disc, Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” was released in Japan. In the 30 years since, hundreds of billions of CDs have been sold, Joel has stopped recording pop music and the music industry has moved on to the next hot medium.
When the first CD player was released that same day, it was described as a “new digital record player, using laser beams” by United Press International. Spun out of the far less successful Philips’ laser disc technology (remember those?), the CD was a result of Philips and Sony combining forces.
The compact disc was actually invented several years earlier. The first test CD was Richard Strauss’s “Eine Alpensinfonie,” and the first CD actually pressed at a factory was ABBA’s “The Visitors,” but that disc wasn’t released commercially until later.
Mass adoption didn’t happen immediately — CDs wouldn’t overtake cassette tapes until the late 1980s. The first album to sell 1 million copies in the CD format and outsell its vinyl version was Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms,” released in 1985.
As with most new technologies, one reason for the slow spread of CDs was their steep price tags. The Sony CDP-101 player sold for the equivalent of $730 when it first hit Japanese shelves in 1982. Accounting for inflation, that’s about $1,750 today. The audio CDs themselves were $15, which is $35 in 2012 dollars.
Because getting a new player and replacing an entire music collection was costly, audio manufacturers were savvy enough to market the first CD players to classical music fans, who were more likely to care about sound quality and have extra disposable income.
Bill Joel’s “52nd Street” came out on vinyl in 1978 and became a pioneering CD four years later.
When they arrived, CDs were hailed for their pristine sound. But whether the audio quality of CDs is greater than vinyl remains a hotly debated topic among hi-fi enthusiasts.
“For most people who weren’t audiophiles, the switch to CDs was a revolution. It took away all the audio noise,” said Mark Katz, a music professor at the University of North Carolina and author of “Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music.”
Geek This Week:
Aaron: Blew through season 2 of Doctor Who. Tearjerker! Starting a new writing project and I’ll have announcements on that soon.
Gozer: Avengers Blu Ray, Borderlands 2 & Res Evil 6. Dexter season 7.
Featured Segment: Apps for kids
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