Let me answer the first question - what exactly does this do?
It controls ONE light. One side plugs in between the light and the wall - this is called the switch. It can be operated via the iphone/ipad app on or off. The other thing is a sensor. It also plugs into the wall, but does not control a second light. Instead, the sensor monitors motion via the round can thing and reports that motion to the iphone/ipad app. The app allows you to set "rules" that turn on and off the switch based on movement or time of day. You can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor and the time the switch stays on after motion ceases. By having the switch and sensor separate, you can put the sensor at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the switch on a light at the top, so once you start up the stairs the light turns on.
You MUST have an iphone/ipad/itouch to use this. It is entirely dependent on the app.
The switch, once set up, actually works as intended.
The sensor seems to work well and has a decent range of motion.
It works even when traveling (you dont have to keep your iphone/ipad in the same wifi network).
It integrates with IFTTT, assuming you know what that is (google it - it is an "if this than that" service).
The set up can be problematic, not because of wifi issues, but because the app kept freezing on my ipad.
The sensor does not include a light sensor - allowing you to not turn on the light if it is already bright in the room.
The switch makes a loud click when it turns on or off.
There are much less expensive alternatives.
The switch does not allow dimming - it is on or off.
The sensor pod has a plug that plugs into the wall brick, but I cant seem to tell if the wall brick does anything on its own.
The iphone/ipad app is really just an iphone app. The ipad app works in "mini iphone" mode.
There were virtually no directions in my packaging - just some pictograms on the back of the cover (but this was a review unit, so maybe there are instructions in the normal packaging).
Conceptually, this is an outstanding product and Belkin has taken phenomenally complex home automation products and made some good strides to a more mainstream level. Sadly, Belkin didn't take this product to full bright.
This is an expensive product that essentially turns on or off one outlet based on motion detection or remote control from an iDevice. The design of the product sucks up two full outlets, and in some cases can rob four. The device feels cheaply made. The installation is not as dirt dumb simple as the in box drawings led me to believe. All these things wouldn't be a big problem if the device did something useful and responded quickly. I've set this up to turn on a light in my finished basement. Instead of turning the light on the instant the motion detector sees me move, it takes a good few seconds to turn on the light. It also requires a fair amount of movement to activate - if I'm working on my computer in the room, every 15 minutes the light turns off.
I can see, however, somebody that is in love with home automation, and maybe invested in X10 technology, would absolutely adore this device. I'm pretty sure the price of admission for X10 is higher than this simple kit. I'm trying so hard to find a good use for this device, and frankly I'm coming up completely stumped in my house.
Installation requires some pretty twisted steps to work. First step is to download and install the WeMo app from the iTunes app store. There is no iPad version of the app - so this beautiful app is relegated to the 2X pixilated view on an iPad, a really big miss in my opinion.
Plug in the outlet side of the equation (the part that has a three prong outlet on it. Way easier said than done, plug it in. The body of the device is about the size of a full single two outlet box. On an outlet strip it takes up the space for three plugs. As pictured here, a two plug outlet on a bare wall, this works pretty well. I had to get very creative on where I plugged in the outlet.
Then pair the device with the wireless network. The first step is completely counterintuitive - go to the settings menu and choose the WeMo device in the wireless menu. Next go to the WeMo app and let the WeMo app find the device. This takes an amazingly long time - painfully slow. Once the device is found, it is possible to rename the device, and connect the device to the wireless network. At the bottom of the screen, available wireless networks are displayed (if SSID isn't broadcast, a network name can be typed in). Select the correct network and enter the WiFi password. At some point there is an option to save the WiFi settings. Then the app works for what seems like an eternity to connect everything together. If everything was done exactly right, a brand new row in the Devices tab of the app appears where the outlet can be turned off or on.
Belkin did a nice job making the app look clean and well finished. But looks are one thing. Here's what is completely beyond me, my phone is already connected to my network - it already knows the password. Why in the world am I going to settings to find that WeMo device? The first step should be run the WeMo app, find the device there (just like it does for the wireless network), attach there, and then bind to the wireless network - of which I am already connected. There is no need for network passwords.
Oh and then to rub salt in the wound, these devices are brand spanking new and Belkin is improving their functionality, a firmware update was required. Now this wouldn't be so bad if the update took place and the device worked right away. Nope, the device required an update and then had to sit for five minutes before it was useful again. Thankfully, I didn't have to go through the pairing nonsense again.
Now that the device to be controlled is connected, it is time to attach the controller - or motion detector portion. Another design choice that I don't care for, the wall outlet side looks exactly like the plug, except there is a solid piece of plastic over the outlets (why that bump out was still necessary is beyond me). The device only requires a two plug outlet, no ground required for this. The motion detector piece is a six foot wire that uses a roughly 3mm jack to attach to the main device. In theory, the motion detector could be swapped for some other future detector device Belkin might sell. The practical use for unplugging is to allow routing of the wire.
Adding the sensor device was as complex as adding the original outlet, except there is no need to enter the WiFi password (the app remembers what was entered earlier). I was surprised that the sensor was found pretty quickly and wasn't too hard to add to the system.
Now here's where things get either incredibly brilliant or incredibly stupid depending on perspective. In order to use the sensor, a "rule" has to be built. There are a bunch of different choices for the "rule" types. Through a series of options, the sensor can be made to turn on the outlet and keep it on as long as motion is detected. Timer rules can be set up that don't use the sensor. And rules can be combined. And another completely crazy website with logic rules can be added to the whole mix - oh in this case these are recipes (there is a whole community of early adopter people making WeMo's do crazy things).
What is completely illogical to me is the option settings for the motion detector. My first time out I couldn't get the motion detector to stop detecting motion, even after I left the room. There is another completely different menu to set the options for the sensor - sensitivity being one of them.
The bright spot, I have a lot of iDevices, and getting this to work on an iPad after setting everything up on an iPhone was a major piece of cake. Essentially, install the app and run it. The app found my switch and sensor.
OK, so it took me a very long time to set this up. I had to rework where I placed the motion sensor, and rework a bunch of extension cords, in addition to all this app monkey business. Once all that work was done now I could enjoy automatic light turn on and remote control. Well yes and no. Yes it works, the light does turn on, and it stays on for 15 minutes (the amount of time is adjustable) after I leave the room. No it doesn't work smoothly. It takes the sensor a long time to tell the lamp to turn on. The sensor doesn't see me moving around in the room so it turns the light off (if I were watching television, the same thing would happen). And that darn app just plain old stinks. If I want to turn on the lamp before I get to the room, I have to run the app, and then the stupid thing sits and spins looking at me for an eternity trying to find the WeMo's. It can take up to 15 seconds before they are found. And sometimes the WeMo's aren't detected. Once I get to the switch, I can press the cool power button, but then I'm greeted with a pop up that tells me some mumbo jumbo about a rule in place and do I want to override the rule. So I tap that silly button (hey app, of course I want to override the rule, I just touched the power button didn't I), and then I press the lamp power button again. The light is finally turned on.
It's all this wasted time and not ready for prime time apps that I'm having all kinds of trouble with. I have a WiFi connected thermostat, a Nest that uses an app to allow me to control the temperature and look at a bunch of usage statistics and the current cooling or heating program. The instant I run that app (it is super quick) and touch the thermostat icon, I can adjust the temperature of my house. I wait maybe 2 seconds total to do that work. With the WeMo app, I sit and watch the stupid searching for devices, and then cross my fingers they are found, then I have to go through an "are you sure" question, and then I can turn the light on. I don't understand how this device can be so stupid compared to the thermostat.
Yes I can complain about the lack of instructions, thank you very much Apple for that horrible trend. In this case I think Belkin did a major disservice by not including a real live manual with this product. There are way too many complicated things this thing can do and nothing is intuitive. I had to enter the Belkin WeMo website to find out what the flashing lights meant. The documentation there was decent, and I was almost able to do everything on my own from those instructions.
There is a really bad design feature of this device that I really hate; the reset button is on the top back side of the device. In order to factory reset the device, unplug the device, hold down that button, then plug the device back in, and release the button after 10 seconds. I had to do this 5 times before I was finally successful. The button could be easily put on the side, or use the same design for routers - a small paper clip hole.
There is a bright spot with this device, tech support is amazing. I did something really stupid with this device, I tried to install it in a hotel (yeah, it's complicated). Back at home after trying everything imaginable to get it to work, I called tech support. They were able to walk me down off the ledge and get the device working. The fuller story, the device won't work with a network that requires a browser based log in. Hey, how could I know that? I then tried to install the device in my home. Unfortunately, it kept trying to connect to the old hotel network, even though I selected my home network on the device screen. There is a secret menu under More that remembers the network it was last connected to. Even though I told the app to forget about that old network, it refused to delete it. I had to remove the app and reinstall it. After that nonsense, the pairing went much better. But I was at my eighth time entering my WPA password.
There is a good chance Belkin will expand the ecosystem of the WeMo. It seems to have potential for the home automation lover. If Belkin could improve the app, the process for pairing, the design of the case, responsiveness of the sensor, and lower the price - they would have a grand slam. As it stands right now, this is a serious early adopter product, not really ready for prime time.