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(Pocket-lint) - Hive has announced Active Heating 2, outlining the future for the connected heating system, with an expansion into the connected home.

At the core of Active Heating 2 is this new thermostat, a replacement for the digital thermostat box of the original Hive system.

The new thermostat has been designed by Yves Béhar at Fuseproject and it's a beauty. Hive told us that customer feedback told them that people wanted a knob to twist, so that's what we have: a return of the big dial thermostat, with a deliberate play to retro design.

There are a number of elements to the new Hive thermostat. Rather than a big overt display like the existing model, the new thermostat places display elements behind a mirrored finish. The idea is that when it's not illuminated, it reflects (literally) the character of your home.

That's not the only design element. Hive has also teamed up with Dulux to introduce a range of frames, so you can customise your thermostat to match your décor, with a coloured surround. This isn't about hiding your heating controls, it's about elevating them to a thing of beauty, as Google has done with Nest.

The thermostat itself has a pair of buttons on the top. These control the boost functions, with a heating boost added to the options. You can click these to to select the number of hours you want your heating or your hot water to be boosted for, which is a great addition.

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The central dial is principally for changing the temperature, as you'd expect, with the target temp shown to the left. But it also works to navigate and select the menu options, letting you click options. 

There's a run of three buttons across the bottom of the face, with back, menu and a tick to accept things. Of course you can control Hive using the app as you always could, but the new thermostat makes it easier to do more on the wall in your home.

The best thing is that it's simple. We played with it and the user interface is simple, presenting just a few key options, so it has a learning curve that's virtually non-existent.

The thermostat is the showpiece at the centre of a new generation of Hive Active Heating. There are new functions, such as support for multi-zone systems, and more control over heating options, as well as an expansion into smarthome connected products in the same family.

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The new Hive Active Heating 2 thermostat will be available to buy online from 15 July 2015, with installation from August 2015. Existing customers will be able to upgrade from £99 (for a limited time), with British Gas telling us that it was as simple as removing the old one and adding the new model into your system through the app.

For new customers, Hive Active Heating 2 and installation by British Gas will cost £249. You don't have to be British Gas customer, as it will work with any gas supplier.

Make sure you click through our gallery to see exactly what the new thermostat looks like!

Writing by Chris Hall.