Wemo Stage with Thread review: Finally a reliable HomeKit button

Cupertino, January 22, 2022

Homekit.Blog is supported by its audience and can earn commissions as an Amazon Associate and Affiliate on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not affect our editorial content. Belkin has finally finished rolling out its Thread-enable update to the Wemo Stage Scene Controller, making this tiny remote the best option for controlling your HomeKit home. It was a rocky ride for the Wemo Stage. It made its first debut at CES 2020, taking more than a year to ship to customers in April 2021. At launch, Wemo said there would be an update that would support communication via Thread instead of Bluetooth. Well, here we were in early 2022 and the update has started rolling out. What started out as a limited beta release, all Wemo Stage users should now have the option to update their devices to version 2.9.6. “Button” devices, the category that the Wemo Stage occupies, were a weak spot in the HomeKit ecosystem. Apple's handling of Bluetooth buttons in HomeKit is nothing short of appalling. When the Wemo Stage arrived on the scene, it was also unacceptably slow at sending commands over Bluetooth. So much so that we chose not to review it until the Thread update was available. Now that Thread is available, it's time to revisit this little guy. What does the Wemo Stage do? The Wemo Stage Scene Controller is a small plastic remote used to control your HomeKit devices and scenes. It lives in a white wall plate that can be attached with glue or a few screws. Wemo Stage scene controller for our lights If you're not a fan of the included white wall plate, it can be replaced with a standard Decora wall plate instead. Instead of hanging on the wall, it can be lifted freely and carried around your house. When you're done, magnets help nest it back into its wall mount. The convenience factor here is huge, but don't lose it in your bank. Wemo Stage Scene Controller can be removed from the wall mount. A small Wemo logo helps you orient the remote to see which button is the top or the bottom. It gets its power from a removable CR2032 coin battery. Belkin says this battery will last an average of two years, although we're not sure about the rating after the Thread update. Thread is more battery efficient than Bluetooth, and we had to replace our battery after receiving our device in April 2021. On Bluetooth, that only gave a life of nine months. We hope to see an improvement in that, thanks to Thread. How to Control Your Home with the Wemo Stage At launch, the Wemo Stage was able to assign a total of six commands to the three physical buttons on the remote. Each of those three buttons can register either a single short press or a long press. Aside from Thread, the newly available 2.9.6 update also has a new double-press option for each button. Wemo Stage scene controller in the Home app You can program a total of nine different keystrokes on the Wemo Stage. For those who want to delve deeper into it, you can use a third-party home app and use conditionals to make the controls unlimited. Wemo Stage Scene Controller Programming a conditional program allows HomeKit to check the status of a device before controlling it. For example, a single press can turn your lamp on or off. Once you press the button, HomeKit first checks to see if the light is on. When the lamp is on, it goes out and vice versa. You can use free apps like Eve Home or Home+ to make these more complicated actions. Otherwise, the Home app is limited to running a scene or controlling multiple accessories with the push of a button. Thread is a game-changer Wemo Stage scene controller joins our Thread network We can't say enough about how much Thread has improved this device. It's definitely a game-changing update that takes this little remote from "meh" to "must-have". Thread is an emerging connectivity standard designed as an ultra-low-power alternative to Bluetooth that can create a self-healing mesh network throughout your home. Many devices have been introduced with Thread, including the recent Eve MotionBlinds and Nanoleaf's Essentials line. Belkin announced that it would also have all-new Thread devices later in 2022. With Thread, there is lower latency, which means that devices respond much faster. However, to use Thread, users need a Thread edge router. From now on, both HomePod mini and the current generation Apple TV 4K will act as boundary routers to connect your Thread devices to your network. In our living room, we programmed our Wemo Stage to our Hue light, and several button presses would change the brightness or color of the lamp. Our tests have shown near-instantaneous commands. You press the button and the light changes immediately. There is no longer a delay of a few seconds as the Bluetooth signal passes from the remote control, then to your phone, to the Home hub and finally to the device. In our bedroom, Wemo Stage is programmed to control our smart shades. The top button controls one window — press once to open, double to open 60 percent, and long-press to close — while the middle and bottom buttons map to two other windows. HomeKit has had issues with buttons, but Thread seems to be the needed antidote. If you have a Wemo Stage Scene Controller, check now for an update in the Home app. If you don't have a Wemo Stage Scene Controller and you're serious about home automation, consider getting one. It's the easiest, portable way to control all your HomeKit accessories. Wemo Stage wall-mounted scene controller Updates directly from the Home app, no third-party app needed Quick and easy setup with NFC pairing Long-awaited Thread update makes controlling accessories incredibly fast and responsive Ready to use Portable but can stay connected to the wall Wall plate can be swapped out for any standard Decora plate $50 price is not cheap Wire update was very delayed Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Where to buy

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