Review: Belkin WeMo Switch and Motion

Home automation and smartphones are a natural fit. As such, we’re seeing the proliferation of systems that let you turn lights on and off, brew coffee, monitor security cameras and control other things around the home from anywhere, just by tapping on your phone’s screen.

The WeMo Switch + Motion is a $100 kit from Belkin that acts as a simple home automation system. Plug the self-contained unit into an electrical outlet, connect a light or an appliance, then pair the WeMo your smartphone over Wi-Fi. Once everything’s hooked up, you gain the ability to switch lights (or whatever) on and off without leaving the comfort of your bed. Activating the included motion sensor will give you a truly automated setup, but if all you need is the Switch, it’s available on its own for $40.

I tested the full kit — the WeMo switch, which is a little bigger than a standard electrical wall plate, and the tiny Motion sensor, which is about the size of an upturned shot glass. Installation is easy. Start by downloading the free app — iOS and Android versions are available, though the Android app is still in beta (more on this later). Next, connect your phone to the WeMo’s discrete Wi-Fi network. Once you can talk to the module, you enter the credentials for your home’s larger wireless network. The entire process is simple and only takes a few minutes, and you’ll have to repeat these steps for each WeMo module you need to set up. But once that’s done and the WeMo can talk to your home Wi-Fi network, you can control the Switch from your phone anywhere inside the home or anywhere in the world, as long as you have a data connection.

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