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iDevices Thermostat review: iDevices Thermostat is short on features, high on potential

Companies like Honeywell, which have long histories in the thermostat industry, have worked to differentiate newer smart thermostats from older simpler models. They do so by offering features like geofencing to tell your thermostat you're coming home. Some boast algorithms to learn your personal heating and cooling patterns, so you don't have to log them yourself. Still others work with triggers (facilitated by apps like IFTTT), so unlocking your front door can tell you're thermostat you're home, and turning off all your lights can tell your thermostat you're ready for bed.

Screenshots by David Priest/CNET and iDevices

The iDevices Thermostat doesn't do any of these things. Its app interface looks oddly empty beside other iDevices products, like the Outdoor Switch pictured above. It doesn't sense whether anyone's home. In fact, its only feature I'd call smart is remote control.

Of course, the iDevices Thermostat integrates with HomeKit, which means you can control it with Siri while you're home, and you can schedule temperature changes to reflect your daily regimen. But iDevices isn't the only thermostat developer featuring HomeKit compatibility. The HomeKit-compatible Ecobee3 -- a smart thermostat that tells you about the weather, home humidity, senses whether you're home or away, and more -- seems to deserve its $250 price tag. The iDevices Thermostat, even at a hundred bucks cheaper, doesn't.

What partially makes up for this Thermostat's sparse features, in my mind, is its potential. As mentioned, it can't do what other smart thermostats do, but it doesn't charge what other smart thermostats charge. So if missing features were to be added or updated in the future, the Thermostat would be a much better deal. Apparently Bluetooth hardware is built into the device, ready to be woken up for later updates. The development team at iDevices hopes to introduce geo-fencing soon, and algorithmic pattern-learning is software updateable. Apple has also announced the introduction of HomeKit triggers for the near future.

So while the features on the iDevices Thermostat are disappointingly absent, the $150 Thermostat could be very competitive if and when these feature updates happen.

Performance

For $150, the iDevices Thermostat had better work -- and it does. Once everything is wired and set up, the Thermostat will heat and cool your home as well as your HVAC system allows. The only problem I experienced working with the Thermostat while on the CNET Smart Home Wi-Fi was periodic lags in mobile connection. These never last for more than ten or fifteen seconds, and were likely due to iOS 9's Wi-Fi Assist function, which lets LTE augment device connectivity when Wi-Fi fails.

Conclusion

So the big question: Are the 150 bucks worth remote access and a sleek face? This Thermostat occupies the space between cheaper dumb thermostats and the high-end Ecobees, Honeywells, and Nests that clock in around $250. Right now, the iDevices Thermostat isn't a great buy, but for those willing to wait for HomeKit and iDevices updates, it might not be a bad investment.

But really, why pay now for what won't be coming for a few months? My recommendation: if a hundred bucks doesn't make a difference to you, buy an Ecobee3 or Nest. Otherwise, wait for a more substantial HomeKit software rollout to find out if the iDevices Thermostat should earn your money.

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