Belkin Unblocks Your Other Outlet
Belkin, maker of the popular Wemo brand connected home products, has announced two new products to their lineup: the Wemo Mini Smart Plug and the Wemo Dimmer Light Switch. Despite the longer device names, the devices themselves are streamlined and vastly improved over prior generations.
The Mini Smart Plug is a fully redesigned plug module, replacing Belkin’s first-generation device most known for monopolizing wall outlets by covering over both outlets even though it only offered one controllable outlet of its own. The new product design aligns more with iDevices’ and iHome’s approaches, spreading out horizontally from the outlet, thus allowing you to use two in one North American standard double wall outlet.
The other new product, the Dimmer Light Switch, addresses two of the biggest problems with the original Light Switch. First, it’s a dimmer, not just a relay limited to on/off control. Second, it works closer to the way you’d expect it to work by looking at it.
Belkin’s original Wemo Light Switch had a counter-intuitive physical design that required you to press the bottom of the switch to turn your lights on and off. The new switch features a touch-sensitive grooved channel in a GFCI/Decora-sized plate. You control the light level by sliding your finger up and down the groove or touching anywhere in the groove.
You do still need to press on the bottom of the switch to turn the connected light on or off. The lighted circle on the switch helps suggest that, but after over a year of design, it’s hard to believe they couldn’t come up with a more intuitive interaction model. An additional long-touch feature on this and the new Smart Plug triggers what essentially amounts to a scene, allowing you to control one or more other Wemo devices in your home.
The new dimmer does include some built-in smarts on its own. A nighttime lighting feature lets you schedule a separate default light level so turning the light on doesn’t unnecessarily awaken you or others in your home. And since different types of bulbs dim at different rates, the dimmer itself can be calibrated for the type of bulbs you’re controlling—CFL, LED, or incandescent (up to 400W total).
The Mini Smart Plug is anticipated in stores before the end of January, coming in just under $35. The dimmer is expected in the first half of the year, though no pricing is announced yet.
Updated 1/11/2017: Corrected information about physical switch operation after learning this switch also has a top fulcrum point like it’s predecessor.
Source: Belkin press release