It seems like just a few short years ago that home automation was a niche category. It was actually two niche categories. There was home automation for those living the lifestyles of the rich and famous and home automation for the do-it-yourself tweaker. Now, home automation and control is being targeted at the masses. In fact, there are several products currently available on the market that are both easy to install and extremely affordable. One of them is the Belkin WeMo.
WeMo isn’t really one product; it’s an entire line of home automation devices. It currently includes the WeMo Baby Monitor, the WeMo Light Switch, the WeMo Switch appliance module, and the WeMo Switch+Motion sensor. The devices are easy to install and work in conjunction with iOS and Android portables. Even better, you can choose to install one WeMo product or sprinkle them all over the house and control an endless number of devices under one app.
Belkin sent me a pair of WeMo Switches to test out. Actually, one is the WeMo Switch ($49.99), with the other product being the Switch+Motion ($79.99). The big difference between the two is that one box also includes a motion sensor—and costs an extra $30.
The WeMo Switch is basically an appliance module that allows you to control one device at a time. It’s perfect for someone looking to control lights remotely or say the EH writer that never seems to remember whether or not she unplugged the curling iron (ahem). It also could not be any simpler, as evidenced by the lack of contents inside the box. It’s basically the Switch device and a quick install guide—and that’s it. The Switch has a three-prong plug on the back, a power button on the front, and a restore button on the top. Plug the Switch into an available outlet, download and install the free WeMo app, connect the WeMo to your home network, and follow the app to complete the setup process. There are no glitches or weirdness. It’s really that simple.
Here We Go, WeMo
As mentioned, you’ll want to start by downloading the free WeMo app. This will walk you through the entire installation process. That process includes plugging in the Switch and connecting to it through your smartphone or tablet. During this portion, the Switch acts like a little hotspot, but you won’t stay connected to it for too long. On my iPhone 4, I opened up the Settings, tapped the Wi-Fi option, and connected to the WeMo. Then, when you go back to the app, it will prompt you to enter your network’s password (you have one of those, right?). It will also offer the option to remember your Wi-Fi password, which will make adding other devices much easier. That’s it. Congratulations—you now have a WeMo device on your wireless network.
It takes about a minute to connect the Switch to your home network, if that. Once the Switch is on your network, you can plug things into it. See how that works? Unfortunately, each WeMo Switch can only control one device at a time. For this review, I used a large oscillating fan.
The WeMo Switch can be purchased with and without the Motion detector.
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.