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Nest introduces connected smoke and CO alarm

The makers of the highly-touted Nest Thermostat have just announced pre-orders for the next smartphone-connected product for the 21st-century home: the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm (US$129).

Like the Nest Thermostat, the Protect isn't the cheapest product in its category, but it's certainly the most intelligently designed. It comes in two colors -- black or white -- and two models, one that is wired into your home's AC circuitry and another that runs on batteries.

Unlike the cheaper models that chirp incessantly when the battery runs down every few months, the Nest Protect battery version runs on 6 AA cells for several years. The wired version features backup batteries for protection even when the power is out.

The outside design of the case has a "sunflower" pattern to move airflow through the device, and a glowing light ring shows you the level of fire danger. When an alarm goes off, a voice (English or Spanish) tells you what and where the danger is. If your cooking efforts set off the smoke alarm, a wave of your hand shuts it off without the need for climbing on a chair or waving a towel at it. And every alarm goes to your iPhone so you don't even need to be around to know that there's a problem.

Nest Protect even provides notification that the batteries need to be replaced soon so that you can accomplish that maintenance task before it's too late. It's one more step towards a well-designed and very functional home automation and protection system.

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