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Smart Home

Nest launches in Australia: Your home is about to get smart

Australia has been slow to join the smart home race, but America's biggest connected home brand is about to change that -- and not in the way you expect.

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The Nest Protect smoke detector and Nest Indoor Cam. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Australia's smart home future is about to get a serious boost.

Nest, the company that sent home automation into the mainstream in the United States, is coming to Australia. But don't expect to see their most famous product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, on shelves any time soon.

In fact, don't expect to see any of Nest's products on shelves in Australia.

The company is launching in Australia with two products -- the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector, and the Nest Cam range of indoor and outdoor security cameras -- and it's selling everything online.

Since starting life as in a garage in California in 2010 (classic Silicon Valley) and launching its flagship thermostat a year later, Nest has grown into a massive connected home brand. It's officially in 12 countries. Australia will be 13th. Nest's ecosystem is built around three products: thermostats, smoke detectors and cameras.

(CNET has done extensive testing and reviewing of all Nest's gear -- hell, we've even installed it in our CNET-owned smart home. Check out our reviews of the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest Protect smoke detector, Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam Outdoor and 4K Nest Cam IQ).

But while the Nest Learning Thermostat, the heart of this ecosystem, is massive in the US, the brand won't be bringing it down under. That's probably a wise choice. Virtually every home in the States has a thermostat and before Nest revolutionised the category, the tech was in need of an update.

But Australia doesn't exactly get the snow-piled winters of northern Michigan, and Nest's thermostats don't work with split-cycle air conditioners, which are installed on the walls of a huge number of Australian homes.

So why come to Australia?

For starters, our houses are legally required to have smoke alarms. And that's where Nest wants to shake things up, with a new device that the company's director of product marketing Maxime Veron says offers people "features they expect and 'delighters' they don't expect."

"It's a smoke alarm that you can love, not just ignore or hate," Veron says. That's a lot to ask of a little box.

The Nest Protect:

  • Detects smoke and carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Uses voice alerts to warn you about dangerous smoke or CO levels, and their location
  • Sends alerts to your phone
  • Auto-tests its batteries and sensors 400 times a day
  • Detects fast- and slow-burning fires
  • Detects movement and glows with a "Path Light" if you get up in the night
  • Works wirelessly with other Nest products

That last point -- the Nest ecosystem -- is what the company hopes will get people interested in more than just one product. And here's where the Nest Cam comes in.

The security cameras are mains-connected, which means they are directly connected to your home's electrical power. This allows the cameras to be always on and always recording. This means you can watch your home on your phone, 24 hours a day. You won't just get clips after the camera has detected movement, turned on and started recording.

The Nest Cam:

  • Records and streams 1080p live video
  • Sends motion and sound alerts to your phone
  • Offers full-room night vision
  • Records audio via microphone and can play your voice via speaker
  • Shows three-hour snapshots of key movement activity
  • Records 24/7 continuous video to the cloud for the past 10 days, and senses people movement (requires Nest Aware subscription)
  • Requires roughly 1Mbps upload bandwidth for best footage

The Indoor and Outdoor cameras are essentially the same, but the latter is weather proof.

And with that Nest ecosystem, the company says the cameras can also tie in with your Nest Protect to take a snapshot any time smoke is detected and to ping you. So you'll know if it's a genuine house fire or just someone burning toast.

Perhaps most intriguingly, Nest won't be selling in your standard JBs, Harveys or Good Guys. The company is selling exclusively through comparison site iSelect -- the idea being that the site will be able to recommend certain products to people looking at specific insurance or telco deals. 

iSelect is launching a bunch of deals to promote the new products and will be selling them outright through its new Life Admin online store. The Nest Protect is AU$189 and the Nest Indoor Cam and Outdoor Cam are AU$319 each.

The subscription Nest Aware service (for longer camera recording and person alerts) is AU$14 per month (or AU$140 per year) for the first camera. From there, you'll pay AU$7 per month for every additional camera. 

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