Honeywell Wifi Thermostat Review: Not As Good As Nest

I reviewed six of the best smart thermostats.

Ecobee and Nest have two models each on the market. Both brands are superior to anything that I tested. I highly recommend you go in that direction.

But the two affordable models Nest E and Ecobee3 Lite are $170.

That price isn’t for everyone.

If you’re looking for a smart thermostat under $100 that you can control from your phone and works with voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home, you’ve got two options (Honeywell Wi-Fi vs. Sensi).

The Honeywell and Sensi do most of the same things as Nest and Ecobee, but they lack a nice design (they look like traditional thermostats) and the apps aren’t done as well. But they will still get the job done.

Love

  • Honeywell Wi-Fi is $80 on Amazon. That’s not much more expensive than a standard thermostat.
  • Like the Sensi, it’s not intimidating or “fancy” looking. It looks like my old Honeywell thermostat, with the exception of a couple extra buttons.

Hate

  • The app is hard to look at. It’s hideous and straight out of the early 90s Internet. This makes setup harder than it needs to be. Honeywell is a hardware company (it shows) and now they’re forced to build apps to keep up with the competition.
  • Using a thermostat without a c-wire is never ideal, but it isn’t even an option with Honeywell Wi-Fi.
  • It has no smarts. For example, let’s say your heat is set to 65 degrees and the current temperature is 63. The furnace kicks on and once it gets to 65, the furnace shuts off. Once it hits 64.9, the furnace will kick on. Most thermostats are smarter than this.
  • Some people have complained about not being able to connect to their Wi-Fi if you use spaces or symbols in your passcode. This is asinine and should be an easy fix.
  • There are no smart features or geofencing.
  • It’s ugly, thick and didn’t snap on well to the base. It felt like it was on the wall loosely after the wires were put in.
  • It doesn’t work with multistage heat pumps.

FAQs:

1. What is the c-wire on a thermostat?

The c-wire is the common wire. It supplies a continuous power stream to your thermostat. Old thermostats didn’t need a c-wire because they didn’t consume a lot of power. Now, smart thermostats are connected to the Internet and have bright LCD displays, so they need more power. Here’s a great guide with more information. For some Wi-Fi thermostats, a combination of the r-wire and others can work, because the r-wire is power, but it’s not continuous power source. It depends if your thermostat has a battery.

I recommend that you use the c-wire even if your wifi thermostat says it’s not mandatory. You’ll have a smoother operation. For instance, sometimes Nest will turn on your HVAC system when it’s not needed to charge the battery. This wouldn’t happen with a c-wire.

Although your “dumb” thermostat might not use a c-wire, in lots of cases there are five wires available, but one wire isn’t used and is tied back (this is what happened at my house). The unused wire is all you need to create a c-wire.

2. What happens when the Internet is down?

Each of the six devices I reviewed contain local storage, so your settings will be saved and the thermostat will function, but you won’t be able to change the settings from the apps because your system will be offline.

3. Can multiple phones be used to control the thermostat?

Yes. You can download the apps on as many phones as you’d like, but you’ll have to give the person the login credentials.

Which one is for you?

My recommendation is to go with one of the premium smart thermostats. It’s worth the extra money.

Where does that leave the affordable smart thermostats (Honeywell Wi-Fi and Sensi)?

If you plan to do scheduling through an app once, then never touch it again, Honeywell Wi-Fi or Sensi make sense.

Or let’s say your current thermostat stopped working and you’re looking for a replacement. You’re probably looking at $30 for a normal thermostat. Is it worth it to get some smart features for an extra $50? Yeah, it’d make sense to get Honeywell Wi-Fi (if you have the c-wire) or Sensi (if you don’t have the c-wire).

Honeywell and Sensi are similar but my preference is Sensi.

amazon strategy

Amazon’s Hardware Strategy: It’s Not Like Apple’s

Amazon is using a completely different product strategy than Apple.

Apple comes out with one new product per year while updating previous iterations of their products. Apple doesn’t release a product unless they know it’s going to be the best device on the market in its category.

Amazon releases multiple new products every year without knowing if they’re going to succeed or strike out. They try every new idea and see what sticks.

Amazon delivers these fresh products to as many Amazon Prime members as possible and lets the market dictate what items are a hit.

That’s great for consumers because we get more options. The caveat is it can be overwhelming.

Right now, there are five Alexa smart speakers. All Alexa devices do similar things, and there isn’t much differentiation between them.

I bought all five and compared them side by side (Echo vs. Echo Plus vs. Dot vs. Spot vs. Show) to help you make an informed decision.

First, I’ll tell you about the things I love and hate about all Alexa devices in general.

Sidenote for reference: Before doing this post, I owned JBL Charge 3, UE Boom 2, UE Megaboom, JBL Xtreme, all the Sonos speakers, first generation Echo, and Echo Dot. I’m not an audiophile, but it’s good to know which speakers I’ve worked with recently.

Echo Dot

Notes

  • Dot must be connected to WiFi to work.
  • You can buy one for as little as $30 during the holidays and other special events.
  • You can connect external speakers through Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack. That’s a significant advantage unique to Dot. You can add Alexa smarts to any “dumb speaker.”
  • Sound quality: The speakers on Dot are dreadful and shouldn’t be used for anything other than Alexa’s voice (even Alexa’s voice doesn’t sound great). A comparable device, like Google Home Mini, sounds much better.

Echo Gen 2 ($100)

Notes

  • This is Amazon’s second-generation Echo.
  • It’s $80 cheaper than the original Echo and is smaller (it’s 6″ tall compared to 9″ with the first generation and Echo Plus). In my opinion, 6″ is the perfect height for these speakers. It’s large enough to deliver robust sound, but not tall enough to be an eyesore.
  • It’s better-looking than the original Echo and comes in six different colors.
  • You can use it as a Bluetooth speaker without WiFi, as long as you originally paired it while connected to WiFi.
  • Sound quality: It has a 2.5″ woofer, 0.6″ tweeter and Dolby-powered sound. It sounds better than the first generation Echo and better than the original Google Home. The sweet spot for volume is around 70%. When it’s any louder than that, the sound gets distorted. There’s not much bass, and you can find better speakers for this price. But this is much more than a simple speaker. For reference, it sounds similar to UE Boom 2.

Final Take

My second-favorite is Dot. It’s small and unobtrusive with the same Alexa capabilities as the expensive Echos and it hooks up to any speaker setup.

Best Budget Earbuds: Aelec S350 vs. Zeus Outdoor vs. TaoTronics

Bluetooth headphones are becoming a necessity. Apple dropped the headphone jack and now others, like Google, are following suit. The headphone jack removal made a lot of people angry, but it’s a good thing to help push wireless technology forward and to lower the prices.

Because of this, I reviewed wireless headphones earlier this year. I tested the big names like Bose SoundSport Wireless, Powerbeats3 and Jaybird X3. I fell in love with a couple of them!

But $150 isn’t in everyone’s budget and there are other options.

In this post, I’m going to look at the best budget Bluetooth earbuds for under $50.

I’m looking at sound quality, comfort, staying in-ear ability and how they deal with sweat.

Here are the five that I’ve tried so far!

Aelec S350

Aelec S350 (F)

Love

  • Aelec S350s have a lifetime warranty of which I took full advantage. Trust me, you’ll need this.
  • They’re the lightest headphones of all time and only cost $25.

Hate

  • Even at the low $25 price, I would have expected better sound quality. TaoTronics is a much better option that is still affordable but produces better sound.
  • The Bluetooth range is terrible. Your phone needs to be on you at all times.
  • They’re made of cheap plastic.
  • These aren’t going to stay in your ears unless you’re sitting on the couch. Obviously, you wouldn’t be reading this if you were looking for the “best headphones for lounging at home.” The plastic pieces that wedge inside of your ears are as strong as a piece of cooked spaghetti. Not only do they not stay in, they’re not comfortable.
  • The battery will last about three hours.
  • The company claims these are noise canceling, but I’m not sure how they can claim that. These don’t even come close to noise canceling. Maybe they meant “background noise enhancing?”
  • I couldn’t connect two devices at once.
  • The volume doesn’t seem to sync with iPhone’s volume. So you’ll have to turn up the iPhone’s volume and the headphone’s volume. Two volumes? No thanks.
  • When the battery is low, the voice repeats “battery low” every minute. It’s annoying.

Zeus Outdoor

Zeus Outdoor (D-)

Love

  • If you get the Zeus Outdoor HDs to fit correctly, you’ll get mediocre sound.
  • These are IPx7 waterproof and sweatproof.

Hate

  • These sound awful at loud volumes and the bass is muddled.
  • The battery is advertised for eight hours, but I only got around five hours.
  • They feel cheap, and the over-the-ear hooks are way too flexible, making them move around. If you’re exercising there’s no way they’ll stay in place. They feel too loose.
  • While I don’t have definitive evidence, I think the company is paying for fake five-star reviews (look here). These are not five-star headphones like Amazon would lead you to believe. I don’t have time for companies who perform shady actions like this.
  • The volume controls are slow and not always responsive.
  • The Bluetooth was pretty choppy during my test.
  • The controls are in a terrible position. Because of the loose fit, if you skip a song or change the volume, the headphones will fall out of your ears or you’ll need to readjust.

TaoTronics Hooks

TaoTronics Hooks (B-)

Love

  • The TaoTronics with earhooks are $30! That’s an amazing value.
  • You’re getting a similar sound as the TaoTronics pair above. I like the in-ear option best, but the fit of the TaoTronics with Ear Hooks is similar to the Powerbeats3.
  • You’ll get seven hours of battery time.
  • These are water and sweat resistant.

Hate

  • Like the Powerbeats3, you need a tight seal to get the best sound; this isn’t always easy while moving around. They’re noise canceling, but only if you get the proper seal. If you like the fit of the PowerBeats and can sacrifice a little bit of sound quality, you’ll love these.
  • Like I said before, with cheap headphones, durability is questionable.
  • Pairing isn’t as smooth as it could be.
  • The control buttons have a cheap feel and the “multifunction” button can be confusing.
  • Sometimes the Bluetooth cuts out momentarily. While I didn’t have an issue with this, some users have experienced buffering while running at fast speeds.

TaoTronics

TaoTronics Buds (B)

Love

  • TaoTronics is a hidden gem. Their headphones are just $40. They don’t have the marketing power of Bose or Beats, so they’re at a MUCH lower price point.
  • I like the fit, which is similar to Jaybirds X3. It’s not the most comfortable, but they’ll stay in your ears.
  • Jaybirds X3’s sound is better than TaoTronics’, but it’s only an incremental difference, not a $100 difference like price would infer. The sound is on par with Apple’s EarPods (the ones that come standard with iPhone devices), with the difference of being wireless.
  • They’re magnetic and hook to each other when you’re not using them. This is a useful feature when you take them out your ears to talk with someone.

Hate

  • The battery is not great. I only got three hours in my tests.
  • These aren’t sweat-resistant. I got sweaty while testing them, and they held up fine, but they’re not “rated” for it.
  • The Bluetooth on these isn’t perfect. It’s occasionally choppy and the range isn’t as good as a premium pair. However, the quality is excellent when you consider they’re only $40.
  • The control buttons have a cheap feel and the “multifunction” button can be confusing.
  • These don’t have great longevity. If you get six months out of these, you should be happy, considering the value you’re getting.

Which one is for you?

If you’re looking for earbuds under $50, go with one of the TaoTronics! Both TaoTronics options sound similar, so it comes down to your preferred fit.

You’re not going to get the same sound quality with TaoTronics as Bose, but TaoTronics are underpriced. You’re getting a great value.

No More Default iPhone Headphones For Me

I used the headphones that come with iPhone almost exclusively for the last ten years.

They were free, fit in my ears, and sounded good enough.

I’ve used different wireless headphones but never as my primary headphone.

Wireless headphones didn’t appeal to me because of terrible Bluetooth setup, battery issues, and price.

Last year, Apple eliminated the headphone jack from iPhone. This accelerated headphone technology in an already fast moving sector.

It’s been a year without the headphone jack.

Where did I go for wireless headphones?

Amazon, obviously.

Amazon’s great, but you’ll run into obstacles if you don’t know exactly what you want.

It can be hard to determine if something is really a five-star product, or if it’s been rated five stars because it’s a good deal. Is a $40 pair of highly-rated headphones the same as a pair with the same rating for $200? Has the reviewer tried more than one pair? (When you’ve only tried one brand of headphones you don’t have a great perspective.)

And that’s not to mention “no name” brands that pay for fake five-star reviews to increase their social proof. (I use this site to sniff them out.)

I’m not an “audio guy” but I like to listen to music and finding the best products in different categories like I did with streaming services and smart speakers.

I’ve tried eight different wireless headphones this year.

I looked at comfort, sound, sweat resistance, battery life, syncing, and how well each pair stays in place.

I tried terrible options, affordable options, pricey options, and reached a few conclusions. Here were the budget options.

Quick Experience With Music Services

I decided to go in-depth with the four biggest players. But here are a few quick thoughts on some others:

  1. Tidal: This is Jay Z’s company. Tidal’s biggest selling point is supposed to be the audio quality (it’s lossless and not compressed). But it’s $20/month. The artists get paid more, and that’s cool, but that doesn’t help you as a listener. It’s been described as a flop by most people in the tech industry and it could be an acquisition target.
  2. Deezer: I don’t know much about Deezer and haven’t yet tried it, though I plan to. It seems similar to Spotify. For $10 a month you get access to 30 million songs, and there’s a free version too.
  3. SoundCloud: SoundCloud is great for up-and-coming artists looking to upload their work. I like that you can embed songs inside your blog with SoundCloud’s script. But the company is losing a lot of money and will be acquired soon (possibly by Google).
  4. Pandora: I like Pandora. It’s great for mindlessly listening to radio and is good at discovering new music based on your tastes as you upvote and downvote music. I haven’t tried their on-demand service yet, but I will!