Less than a year after Nest Labs — the Google Ventures-funded Silicon Valley startup headed by none other than Tony “father of the iPod” Fadell himself — launched the original Nest Learning Thermostat, the company has now unveiled a second-generation model that boasts a streamlined profile (not that the original was a particularly clunky piece of gadgetry or anything) and increased compatibility. The “put-it-anywhere hockey puck of comfort” as Wired aptly describes it, now features either Spanish or French as its default languages in addition to English.


Although the somewhat fussy design revamp is an obvious draw of Nest 2.0 — as mentioned, it’s 20 percent thinner than the original and now features an “all-stainless steel ring that mirrors your wall color or pattern to create a chameleon effect and blend into any décor even more effectively” in lieu of an exposed plastic body as well as a smooth lens replacing a sensor grill at the bottom of the device  — the device's increased HVAC compatibility is the truly dramatic improvement: it's now compatible with 95 percent of low-voltage residential heating and cooling systems including two-stage cooling, third-stage heating, dual fuel, emergency heating, and whole house humidifiers and dehumidifiers.


Like its predecessor, the second-gen Nest is one intuitive little gizmo, designed to learn a user’s habits and preferences and adjust a household's temperature accordingly. Capable of remembering your personal schedule and heating/cooling idiosyncrasies within a week, it programs itself to save energy while you’re away, continuously refining itself to adjust to your unique schedule of coming and going — no matter what the season. Naturally, the Nest can be connected to a home wireless system, allowing you to adjust temperature settings and check daily energy usage through an energy history feature from a PC, smartphone, or tablet.


On that note, the new Nest comes with a Nest Software 3.0 package that’s also available to existing Nest customers using the older model. Highlights of the new software include System Match technology with features such as True Radiant and Heat Pump Balance geared to help high-efficiency, non-conventional (i.e. not forced air) heating systems perform even more efficiently.


Additional software upgrades such as Early On, enhanced Auto-Away and Auto-Schedule features, and Filter Reminder keeps things running smoothly and add an additional layer of customization. That last one is pretty  nifty as it alerts you to change vent filters based on how many hours you've actually been running the heat of AC, instead of an arbitrary, once-a-year reminder. Plus, as mentioned, the new Nest is trilingual and compatible with a broader range of wireless devices including all Android tablets including the Kindle Fire.


Says Faddell of the new release: “Our mission is to keep people comfortable in their homes while helping them save energy, and with the next-generation Nest Learning Thermostat, we’re able to spread that comfort and savings to even more homes – and to help higher-efficiency systems perform the way they were meant to.”


The second-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is available now for pre-order directly through the Nest Labs website and will ship later this month. Amazon.com, Apple’s online store, and all Lowe’s locations will also start carrying the Nest 2.0 in mid-October. Additionally, the first-generation Nest units will continue to be sold at Lowe’s and Amazon.com while supplies last.


The price for this smarter, slimmer, and sexier household helper? $249. 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Second-gen Nest thermostat is smarter, slimmer, trilingual
Say hello — or bonjour or hola — to the second-generation Nest Learning Thermostat, a remarkably intuitive household helper that boasts sleek new looks and