This morning, Ecobee released details on its latest voice-controlled smart thermostat. Rumors circulated last week when the device appeared briefly on the Lowe's website. Today, Ecobee made it official. Breaking away from its numbered naming scheme -- Ecobee 3, Ecobee 3 Lite and Ecobee 4 -- the company is calling this one, simply, the SmartThermostat. Ecobee says it's "packed with the power you would expect from a smartphone."
Like the Ecobee 4, the SmartThermostat has built-in Alexa voice support, making it essentially a wall-mounted Echo. You can control the temperature, make a call or send a message from the device. The company traded the analog microphone for a digital one and included AI for improved natural language processing and speech detection. According to Ecobee, the speaker is twice as powerful as its predecessors. That will come in handy if you plan on using the SmartThermostat to listen to music. It's now compatible with Spotify Connect, in addition to Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora and TuneIn.
The SmartThermostat is a bit sleeker, too. It swaps its plastic touchscreen for a glass LCD screen. It also comes with a redesigned sensor, which can monitor temperature and detect motion, meaning it can adjust the temperature when a room is occupied. Ecobee says the sensor has a five-year battery life and an extended pairing range of up to 60 feet.
As with past models, Ecobee claims this one can help save customers up to 23 percent annually on heating and cooling costs, and it can be controlled anywhere via the Ecobee mobile app, available on iOS and Android. It's on sale starting today at $249 and comes with one smart sensor. That's the price of a regular Nest thermostat, but it offers voice-control capabilities that Nest lacks. Ecobee could win over customers who want a voice-controlled thermostat but don't want a dedicated smart speaker, and if it's able to do that, the company could help place Alexa at the center of the smart home experience.