California-based company Nest first introduced its learning thermostat back in 2011. Now, the home automation maker has unveiled a more affordable option. The Nest Thermostat E is the company's cheaper version of its premium Nest Learning Thermostat. The former model excels in simplicity and is equally smart as the latter. With its price tag, the Thermostat E seems like a perfect downgrade in the entry-level thermostat space.

On similarities and differences

Comparing the $170 premium with the more affordable version merit some similarities and differences between the two.

Beyond the price, their looks also differ significantly. The original Nest Thermostat was designed to be a conversation piece attached to the wall with a shiny finish. On the other hand, the Thermostat E is built to blend in with a white plastic ring around the edges and a white screen diffuser on top of a black screen.

Although the word 'learning' has been dropped from the official product name, the new device is still a learning thermostat. It can still manage temperature according to the predicted preferences of the user. The screen, however, is a bit more basic than the premium. Unlike the latter that can display time when inactive, the former can only display the temperature. In terms of compatibility, the company dropped some few wiring connections in the Thermostat E.

This means it may not be able to connect to all house systems. However, the same remote control and voice assistant hookups are still available.

A worthy alternative

The $80 alternative of the learning thermostat may have a smaller, plastic housing and a lower-resolution screen, but its frosted white glazing works just right in blending in.

It requires the same setup as its predecessor with the installation process made simple. Just like the older Nest, it only needs wire disconnection and removal of the backplate to install the newer and smaller equivalent.

In addition, the Nest E works with a good number of heating and cooling systems. Once it is connected to the Wi-Fi, it can be controlled in a couple of ways.

One is through the unit itself, and the other is via an Android app or iOS. The device can monitor ambient conditions through its built-in sensors. It can screen and display ambient light, temperature, humidity, proximity, and occupancy.

The cooling or heating mechanism is activated upon detection of temperature. Fans are turned on for a few hours upon sensing humidity inside the house. Further, the Eco mode is activated if the thermostat detects that no one is at home. All these point to greater conservation of energy, making the new Nest Thermostat E worthy of its price.