A month after its US launch, Nest's third-generation thermostat has arrived in Britain. The hardware might look familiar, but it has a few extra tricks that separate it from previous versions and even its counterpart across the pond. For starters, Nest has given the circular design a nice little spec bump; compared to its predecessor, the thermostat has a larger (2.08 inches), brighter and pixel-dense (229ppi) display, making it easier to scroll through the interface with sleep-deprived eyes. The device's entire body is also slightly thinner, meaning it should look just a smidge more attractive in a hallway or living room.
Like the third-gen hardware released in the US, Nest's new-and-improved thermostat sports a software feature called "Farsight." As the name implies, this changes what's on the screen depending on how far away you're stood. So if you're sat across the room, the Nest can be set up to show a target temperature (with a background that turns orange when the system is actively working), an analog or digital clock. A minimalist watch face might sound a little superfluous, but the company says the feature has quickly become a fan-favourite in the US. Which makes sense, if you haven't got it locked away in a boiler room.
Inside the box, Europeans will find a secondary piece of hardware. It's called the "Heat Link" and, at first glance, looks similar to the white Nest Protect. The device connects directly to your boiler and, in a new region exclusive, lets you control your hot water schedule from your phone or thermostat. The company says it'll work with all hot water tanks that have existing standalone controls, although if you have an unusual home setup your experience might differ. Once everything's installed, you'll be able to create hot water schedules with Nest's software and also "boost" hot water for 2 hours at any time. Similar to its heating capabilities, Nest can also use Auto-Away to save energy while you're out.
Nest's second Europe-exclusive feature is "advanced modulation," which works through an old standard (originally invented by Honeywell) called OpenTherm. It gives the new thermostat greater control over compatible boilers; when the pair are talking to one another, Nest can figure out exactly how much gas is needed to either raise or maintain the temperature in your home. Instead of turning the whole boiler on or off, this finely controlled feed makes your heating system more efficient and, ultimately, cheaper to run.
To access those extra features, Nest is asking for a little more money. The company is charging £199, up from £179 for the previous version, or £249 if you want professional help installing it in your home. The third-gen thermostat is, ultimately, another iterative upgrade for the Google-owned company. It's the best one yet though, and these small refinements are important when so many homeowners have yet to embrace the "connected home" concept. If you're ready to make the leap, the new model is available from Nest's site and, soon, the Google Store, Amazon, John Lewis, Dixons, Maplin, Screwfix and B&Q.