Week 39, 2017: ecobee3 lite Wi-Fi smart thermostat review, Sony RX100 camera

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 39, 2017

ecobee3 lite smart Wi-Fi thermostat: Once in a while I find a great new product I want to tell everyone about, but do not have a corresponding question from a reader. The ecobee3 lite falls into this category.

For someone as involved with technology as I am, I have not made great efforts to automate my home. I do have an Amazon Tap that I use with Alexa Voice Assistant, but other than a few lights most of my home operation is old-school. I knew when I had to replace the thermostat I would get a Wi-Fi smart thermostat, but until then it was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Admittedly, part of my hesitation was the price. I knew a smart thermostat would save money on heating and electric bills, but my research showed the better ones cost $249 or more, and less expensive models had mixed to middling reviews.

Recently my thermostat started acting very erratically. It was time to take the plunge and get a smart thermostat, and I was ready to spend that $249 to get a good one if that is what it was going to take. I made an appointment with my electrician and started cramming on the subject of smart thermostats, seeing if I had missed anything in my prior research.

What I found is ecobee smart thermostats are the toast of the town these days, among reviewers and end users alike. I decided on the ecobee3 lite, which sells for only $169, and ran down to Home Depot to get one in time for my electrician to install it. This is one purchase I was satisfied and excited about from the moment I started using it, and realized it was something I should have done a lot sooner. I was actually glad my hand was forced by the malfunctioning thermostat.

The ecobee3 lite has a colorful, responsive touchscreen display that is mirrored on the smartphone app, making it easy to use when home or away. You can also monitor and control the temperature in multiple rooms by using optional remote room sensors, which sell for $79 a two-pack. Though I decided on a professional installation, ecobee says it can be user installed and includes detailed, simple directions. I think what ultimately sold me is it is a high tech, top quality and well supported Wi-Fi thermostat for only $169. I am looking forward to the predicted 23% reduction in energy bills, too.

The $249 ecobee4 features Alexa Voice operation and includes a remote room sensor in the box, but I was content with the $169 model. I’m the kind of guy who would rather save the $80 for audio and photography purchases. If you want the latest and greatest you should definitely check out the ecobeer4.

With so much goodness for only $169, the ecobee3 lite is really something you have to own and use to appreciate. Don’t take my word for it. Check it out on the manufacturer website, or better yet, try one out for yourself.

Q. Can you recommend a good quality pocket camera? I can spend up to $500.

-J.P., San Jose, CA

A. The compact camera market is dwindling due to competition from smartphones, but your budget will get you one of the best pocket cameras ever made. The Sony RX100 typically sells for $448-$499 and has a large 1-inch, 20 megapixel sensor. The RX100’s still and video image quality is top-notch, and it has been my camera to take to amusement parks for years.