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Introduction

Updated 2/26/14 - Returned product

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

At a Glance
Product Belkin WeMo Insight Switch (Model F7C029fc)
Summary Wi-Fi enabled switch that can control appliances up to 1800 Watts and monitor power usage
Pros • Design doesn't block the second AC outlet in a duplex
• Switches loads up to 1800 W
• Support for Android and iOS mobile platforms
• Integrates with IFTT (If This Then That)
• Button on top of unit can turn on/off load without using a mobile device
• Scheduled events
• Estimates power usage
Cons • Android Application poorly designed and barely functions
• Events created on Android platform don't trigger the device.
• Events created one one device don't sync to other configured devices
• No dimming capabilities
• No Windows or MacOS desktop applications
• Not Wi-Fi Certified
• Poor documentation

Belkin's line of WeMo home automation products has been around for quite some time. In November of last year, Belkin announced the availability of their latest addition to the WeMo line, the WeMo Insight Switch. The $59.99 Insight switch is similar to the original $49.95 WeMo switch, but comes in a new, more compact form factor and includes the ability to monitor power usage. Other features include the ability to schedule on/off events and to integrate the device with IFTT (If This Then That) "recipes".

I wasn't really looking to buy a home automation product, but on a recent visit to Staples to pick up some printer paper, I was attracted to the WeMo "end cap display". I thought it would be interesting to play with, and for a device like this, I can always find a use for it around the home. My initial setup experience was not the most positive, so I relayed my experience to Tim. He suggested that I dig in a little deeper and write a short review of the product.

The WeMo Insight switch is a very simple device. It plugs into a standard three-pronged outlet. The plug is offset so that you can plug it into the top outlet of a standard duplex plug and still use the lower outlet.

The Belkin WeMo Insight doesn't block the bottom plug

The Belkin WeMo Insight doesn't block the bottom plug

On the top of the device, there's a small button with backlit indicator lights. There's an On/Off indicator as well as a Wi-Fi indicator that flashes during setup. On the back is a label that shows the default name of your WeMo device. Take note of the default name - you'll need the name for the setup process. The name defaults to WeMo.Insight.XXX where XXX is the last three digits of the device's MAC address.

Setup

The included Quick Install Guide is the only documentation that you receive with the product. There is no user guide and the only documentation that you'll find is a series of FAQs in the support section of Belkin's web site. The setup is a four step process, but I think that Belkin was a little too sparse with verbiage on the quick start guide.

  • Step 1: Plug in the Insight Switch
  • Step 2: Download and install the latest WeMo App.
    The icon shown on the QIG was an old icon and didn't represent the latest version. Initially, the Apple App store didn't find WeMo when I searched for it with my iPad. They should have instructed you to search for iPhone apps. The iOS version is just an iPhone App - there isn't an iPad version of the app, so you have to turn your iPad sideways to use it.
  • Step 3: In settings, select Wi-Fi. Connect to the WeMo network.
    It would have been helpful for some additional instruction to help identify the WeMo network.
  • Step 4: Launch the WeMo App to complete the setup.

I own several Android devices including a Nexus 7 and a Motorola Razr Max. I checked the compatibility list below and decided to initially install the application onto the Nexus 7. I also planned to install the iOS app on my iPad to see how the two apps compared.

Belkin WeMo Insight Compatibility list

Belkin WeMo Insight Compatibility list

I plugged in the device and successfully attached my Nexus 7 to Wemo.Insight.2FB. The network showed up as an open network. Once attached, I launched the WeMo Android app. The app found the device and started scanning for available Wi-Fi networks. I selected my Wi-Fi network from the list and it prompted me for the network key. I typed in my network key and it said that the key was incorrect. I typed it in again and it appeared to attach.

Once you have identified your home network and configured the WeMo, it no longer broadcasts its default name, as it is now in client mode on your network. I reassociated my Nexus with my home network, but initially, the WeMo application couldn't find the device. After resetting the WeMo device and re-installing the WeMo software, the software finally "found" the WeMo on the network.

Next, I decided to install WeMo on my iPad. I launched the application and it initially scanned the network for a WeMo device. It couldn't find it. Instead, the application presented me with a brief slide show demonstrating how to set up a new device. Note that there aren't any instructions for how to install and configure additional devices to control your WeMo. If things work the way they are supposed to work, you just install the app on another device, and the new device should just find the WeMo if you are on the same local network as the WeMo.

By this time, I was getting somewhat frustrated with the whole installation experience. Though I was not experiencing any wireless connectivity issues with any of the four mobile devices or my HDTV, I decided to reboot my router. I uninstalled the software from all three devices (by now, I had also tried to install the WeMo software on my Motorola Razr Max) and tried a fresh installation. The router reboot seemed to solve the "device not found" issues, and I was able to successfully install the software on all three devices.

The WeMo Insight switch (as well as other WeMo devices) can be controlled remotely. Part of the setup routine establishes remote connectivity. The process is completely automatic - you don't have t configure any settings such as DDNS, set up port forwarding, etc. To Belkin's credit, the remote setup worked, and I was able to remotely control the Insight switch from either cellular or from Wi-Fi networks other than my own on both platforms.

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