The Ecobee 4 with Alexa has been made official. The company announced that they would be bringing the next iteration of their smart thermostat to stores on May 15th for $249.
The pricing is in line with the price that the Ecobee 3 was originally introduced, and places it firmly next to the Nest Learning Thermostat which retails for the same price (though you can find for a bit cheaper).
There are some interesting takeaways on the device over at Buzzfeed, who had a chance to get hands-on time with the device. They found that the thermostat could hear them saying “Alexa” throughout a controlled apartment, but was less inconsistent in the Buzzfeed Offices with the TV on, phone calls being made and air conditioning on. Some of the concerns raised aligned with possible concerns that have been mentioned when rumors were swirling that Alexa would be included; namely, that the voice recognition on a device attached to the wall may lead to decreased recognition of commands and requests. Buzzfeed says that ecobee hired audio specialists, went through hundreds of prototypes, and created multiple tests to run people saying prompts with different accents, different background noises, and different room geometries in an effort to curb unresponsiveness. Based on this however, it remains to be seen if the device can provide the same experience that Amazon’s hardware can deliver.
Another interesting thing to note: Buzzfeed reports that although Alexa is built in, the device still requires you to set up and install the ecobee voice skill from the Alexa app, which they said can make for a frustrating experience for everyday users expecting for the device to work out of the box. Still, Buzzfeed found the device to be well built, attractive with a very responsive touchscreen built in. Interestingly, the device still supports Apple HomeKit, which means the device can be supported by two voice assistants: Alexa and Siri. The full write up contains many other interesting insights about the development of the device and further insights, which is worth a read.
Pre-Orders start today on the company’s website, and will be available on retail shelves on May 15th. The company also introduced a new Smart Lightswitch product which will be available later this year.
What do you think of the new ecobee 4? Will you be picking it up? Let us know in the comments below!