The Wemo Stage Scene Controller came out around April 2021 and although Belkin stated, it was Thread Ready. The smart remote did not support Thread, and it relied on Bluetooth to connect to HomeKit with mixed results being reported.
However, at CES 2022, Belkin announced the Wemo Stage Smart Scene Controller would get an update to enable Thread support. That update has now landed and Belkin sent me over 4 devices to test for this review.
In this review, I am going to take you through the design, setup, how it works in HomeKit. Plus, taking you through some tests between Thread vs Bluetooth and how it works other Thread, with Wi-Fi and Zigbee devices.
Wemo Stage Smart Scene Controller review key features
- Price $50 – Amazon
- It works exclusively with HomeKit
- The device comes in 3 parts, the remote, backplate and inner plate
- 3 buttons that allow you to control 9 scenes or devices.
- Supports Bluetooth
- As of January 2022, it now supports Thread and is the only Thread remote available at the time of this review
- Powered by a CR2032 coin battery which Belkin says will last up to 1 year.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that Belkin sent me 4 of these for testing free of charge. But I am under no obligation to give a favorable review. You can read more on the review promise and Ethics statement.
Unboxing and Design
Inside the box, the Wemo Stage Scene controller comes wrapped in a cellophane package with the device already assembled. Freeing the packaging will free the CR2032 and the device itself. You also get a manual that, if required, guides you through how to get started.
The Wemo Stage comes in three parts, which comprises the remote, a backplate, and an inner plate to hold the remote in place. This inner plate holds the remote using magnets and features 3M strips for sticking to surfaces. Additionally, the plate features screw holes, which are great for standard Decora plates.
The remote features three buttons with a single, double or triple raised dot on each button. These buttons give you the ability to perform 3 actions: single press, double press and long press. Which means the remote can perform 9 actions.
The remote has a cover on the back, which can be removed. This reveals the CR2032 battery compartment, a restore/reset button, and a HomeKit code. You may also notice that the Wemo Stage features NFC HomeKit pairing.
The Wemo Stage Scene controller has two ways in which to start the HomeKit pairing process. The first being the normal scan the code approach. The other is via NFC, which you wave a compatible iPhone under the status light to start the pairing process.
I used the NFC option, and it worked great to start the HomeKit setup process. This guides you through adding the device by asking which room you want it assigned. Then you can name the device and it’s all done and ready to go.
As already mentioned at launch, the Wemo Stage only supported Bluetooth and only had six total actions via the three physical buttons on the remote. Each of those three buttons could register either a single press or a long press. But with the latest version of the firmware 2.9.6 which not only brings Thread support, but the extra actions I have already mentioned.
While in my case, the update popped up straightaway after I added the Wemo remote to HomeKit. I have seen reports of users having to wait awhile for the update or sometimes having to remove the remote and pair again.
Wemo Stage mounting options
The Wemo stage can be fixed on a wall using the peel-and-stick adhesive strips or it can be screwed to a wall. Just like the Philips Hue Dimmer the Wemo Stage and the mounting plate house a set of magnets that make the remote easy to dock and undock. Which means you can carry around the home if you so wish and when done, place it back in its cradle.
But because the Wemo Stage has magnets built in, then you can attach it to any metal surface. I attached the Wemo Stage I was using in the studio to one of the light stands.
The compact, removable inner plate allows the remote to fit into standard decora style wall plates. Although I don’t have these in my home to test, you can check out Shane Whatleys video that feature this.
The Wemo Stage provides up to nine assignable actions in the Home app. Each of the three buttons supports a single press, double press, and a long press. These actions can control multiple senses and HomeKit devices.
To customise and assign actions to the buttons you head into the Home App and then settings of the Wemo Stage remote. You can now choose which scenes or devices you want to add to the buttons.
In my case, I tested these by using the device with my Ikea smart blinds and also various lights throughout my home. I also used one remote in my studio to control the filming scene that I have created along with controlling various lights.
Bluetooth Performance review
In order to compare the performance of Bluetooth, I didn’t apply the update to one of the Wemo Stage remotes. This allowed me to experience the performance of Bluetooth vs Thread.
Testing the Wemo Stage remote over Bluetooth quickly highlighted the poor performance of this connectivity method. During my testing. I experienced far too many occasions where I would press the button and it either was slow to respond or simply didn’t respond at all. This is not unique to the Wemo Stage remote, however, I have experienced this with other Bluetooth devices.
The same slow, unreliable performance is also apparent when simply trying to view and customise the Wemo Stage remote. Frequently I was getting the Updating status, or the dreaded No Response message.
When the Wemo Stage does work, Most actions take around ten seconds to execute after pressing a button. However, when mixed with the inconsistent reliability of the Wemo Stage and long waiting times for no apparent reason.
HomeKit over Thread Performance review
Luckily for the Wemo Stage remote, Belkin has rolled out the firmware update that brings Thread support. In order to use Thread capabilities, you need a HomePod Mini or the New Apple TV 4K. This is because these act as a Thread Border Router within HomeKit and is the starting point to create the Thread mesh network.
Comparing Thread vs Bluetooth is like night and day, with Thread winning out by a big margin. Once I enabled Thread on the Wemo Stage, it lifted it from a device that I would have thrown in the bin to something I have enjoyed using. Using the device now with HomeKit over Thread has been lighting fast.
I also performed a series of tests using the remote with other devices within my HomeKit setup. I tested it with the Ikea smart blinds that connect via the Tradfri Zigbee hub and it performed well. Then I tested it with a Eve Light strip that connects over Wi-Fi and again no issues with response times. Finally, I tested the Wemo Stage remote with 3 Philips Hue Filament bulbs that are paired together. These Bulbs are connected via Zigbee to the Philips Hue hub. This test was inline with the others I performed with the responses times more than good enough.
Wemo Stage Scene Controller Review Summary
So wrapping up the review, is the Wemo Stage Scene controller a good option? Well, if it was still Bluetooth only, then I would not be recommending this smart remote. But because of the latest update to add Thread support, the device goes from poor to good.
I also like the fact that the remote has 3 buttons that can be programmed with 3 actions, meaning actions in total. This feature gives the Wemo stage remote Alot of flexibility and ways you can use it.
Yes, I do appreciate that the Wemo Stage is priced at $50 and I could see this as expensive for a HomeKit remote given you can pick up a Philips Hue remote for around $25. However, if you are not already a Philips Hue user, then you have to consider the bridge, which is an extra $60. But if you want a Thread enabled remote, the Wemo Stage is the only option in HomeKit at the time of this review.
So if you are going to be using the Wemo Stage Scene controller within a Thread network. Then it’s the ideal choice at the moment for a Thread remote that does not require an additional hub to function.
You can pick up the Wemo Stage Scene Controller in the US and it’s priced at $50 dollars, with some links in the description below. Belkin did not say if they plan to roll this out to other countries, so we need to monitor that.
That’s a wrap on the Wemo Stage Scene Controller review and I hope you have enjoyed it. if so don’t forget to subscribe for the latest reviews. If you have a question or a comment, then leave it below. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.