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Wemo Stage Scene Controller Review: Apple HomeKit remote needs refinement
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Sometimes, only a button will do. The smart home and the rise of connected devices like lamps, speakers, locks, and more have brought complex automations within reach of a mainstream audience, but sometimes you don’t want to have to pull up an app – or talk to a smart speaker – just to switch on the lights. For those in the Apple HomeKit ecosystem, then, the Wemo Stage Scene Controller remote could be the answer.
About the size of a car key fob, the $49.99 Wemo Stage remote is a small, white plastic puck. On the front there are three buttons, distinguished by slightly raised dots. Each button supports a short press and a long press, which can be mapped differently, and there’s an LED hidden behind the frontplate to show when a signal has been sent.
Pop the back cover off, and you’ll find a regular CR2032 battery. Wemo says that should last about two years, though I’ve noticed its percentage in the Apple Home app dropping more rapidly than would indicate that sort of longevity. At least the batteries themselves are readily available.
You can leave the remote on your coffee table or nightstand, but Wemo also includes a wall plate with 3M adhesive strips on the back. The remote clings to that magnetically. Or, you can pop out the magnetic dock section, and fit that into a junction box with a standard paddle-style switch trim plate.
Setup is generally straightforward, mainly because Wemo hands the process over to Apple. The remote will only work with HomeKit devices, including more recent items from Wemo itself, and the broader ecosystem of HomeKit-compatible smart home products like locks and lights. Basically, if you can control it from within Apple’s Home app, the Wemo Stage should be able to control it too, but anything else is left out of the fun.
At its most simple, individual devices – like a lamp or lock – can be registered to one of the Wemo Stage’s buttons. It’s worth noting that, unlike with some remotes, there’s no toggle support here: if you set a short press of the first button to switch on your nightstand lamp, another short press won’t turn it off again. For that, you’ll need to program another button – or maybe a long-press of the same button – for the off command.
Where it gets more capable is when you start registering scenes to the remote’s keys. That could be a group of lamps in a room, or a mixture of bulbs, shades, and more. A single press could shut off the lights, lock the doors, and enable your HomeKit-compatible alarm system, for example, just before you go to bed. Or, it could dim the lights, close the shades, turn on your Apple TV and TV, and get you ready for movie night.
If you’ve already created scenes in the Home app you can assign those to the Wemo Stage straight away. Or, you can build a scene piecemeal as you program each button, first by selecting the appropriate devices and then by customizing the desired settings of each. For a light, for example, you could choose whether you want it to turn on or off, to what brightness level, and to a specific color if the bulb supports it.
It’s flexible, but it does mean that some of HomeKit’s frustrations are shared with the Wemo Stage remote. After picking a selection of lights, for instance, to map to a short-press on one button, it would’ve been convenient to copy that group but have them all switch off again for a long-press of the button. In the Home app, though, you have to select them all individually again.
Different devices can also be finicky. Setting my HomeKit-compatible motorized shades to open or close fully from the remote was easy, but getting them to consistently open partway, or adjust the top rail on a top-down/bottom-up shade, was far less straightforward.
As for media integrations, there you bump up against Apple’s current limitations. While you may be able to set Spotify or other third-party music streaming services as the default with Siri on your iPhone now, for the moment HomeKit only supports Apple Music. That means, if you want the Wemo Stage to start up playback of a certain album or playlist, right now you’ll need to be streaming that through an Apple Music account.
My other big frustration was connectivity. Currently, Wemo Stage links to a HomeKit hub – like a HomePod mini or an Apple TV – via Bluetooth LE. There’s a Thread radio inside the remote, but it’s not enabled yet, and Wemo isn’t saying when that might actually happen.
Come the arrival of Thread, I’d expect range to improve, but for the moment it can be on the short side. Get more than a few walls between your remote and the nearest hub, and the connection can become flaky.
Indeed, there have been more than a few times where pressing a button on the Wemo Stage either didn’t trigger the programmed scene, or only partially triggered it (with some lights remaining off, for instance, while others switched on). There’s also a brief moment after you press a button where a second press isn’t recognized. Adding to the confusion, the remote’s LED glows when you press the button but that doesn’t necessarily mean your scene has actually been triggered.
My gut feeling is that Thread will help address all that. Still, with no public roadmap for its activation, it’s hard to take too much reassurance from that potential.
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Review: TiVo Edge DVR with voice remote control
Earlier this year, TiVo introduced its new Edge DVR, a model featuring a new angular design and the same type of thick remote control included with the older Bolt DVR model. The new Edge DVR packs a large number of features, combining live television with popular streaming apps and enough storage for hundreds of hours of high-definition TV. Does the Edge keep TiVo relevant in a world where people are increasingly ditching cable? The answer is complicated.
TiVo has eliminated the bendy, curved design it used with the Bolt VOX and Bolt OTA models, instead electing to use a far more conventional and practical flat rectangular shape for its new Edge model. This design makes it easier to slot the DVR in among the other boxes and consoles one may own, as well as making it possible to slide the box underneath the TV itself. That’s a welcome decision correcting one of the only big complaints we had about the Bolt model.
The design is what I’d dare call elegant; the top half of the device is offset from the bottom half, giving it the appearance of two slim, stacked devices rather than one larger box. The glossy coating gives the TiVo Edge a smooth glass appearance that reflects the light from one’s entertainment system, depending on where it is positioned. A small white TiVo logo is stamped on the front of the box.
The TiVo Edge’s remote control is very similar to the one offered with the Bolt DVR models; it is substantially thick, fits comfortably in one’s hand, and has enough buttons to drive one’s elderly relatives crazy. The remote control features backlit keys that slowly glow to life, illuminating for nighttime use. As well, a built-in alarm makes it possible to find the remote when it is misplaced.
Overall, physically setting up the box is incredibly straightforward: put the box where you want it, plug it into the wall, connect it to your display using the included HDMI cable, and then connect either a TV antenna or cable/satellite box, depending on which model you purchased.
Actually turning on and setting up the box is a more involved — though not particularly complicated — matter. Anyone who has previously set up a TiVo DVR will know exactly what to expect. You’ll be guided through the process by on-screen prompts; of note, TiVo requires its users to have a subscription.
TiVo Edge (cable version) customers can choose the $14.99/month plan, which requires an annual commitment, plus there’s the option of paying $149.99 for an entire year. As well, dedicated TiVo customers can choose the ‘All-In’ plan for $549.99 USD. That, of course, is on top of the box’s $399.99 USD (cable edition) price tag, making the transition to TiVo’s platform a fairly pricey endeavor.
As with the Bolt, TiVo has packed a number of streaming apps into its new model, but there’s a difference: you get access to more services. As we noted in our Bolt review, that model appeals mostly to people who need a DVR, not a streaming device. The Edge model takes things up a notch by offering access to all of the popular platforms and a number of somewhat lesser services, including Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, YouTube, Pandora, HBO Go, and more.
In addition, the six tuners packed into the Edge model means users can record up to half a dozen shows and movies at the same time. That, combined with the ample storage space, is where the model shines. Likewise, TiVo includes Dolby Vision HDR support with the Edge model.
Users can make sure each family member’s favorite show is recorded even if they’re on at the same time. The recorded content can be accessed on other TVs in the house using the TiVo Mini and Mini VOX boxes, enabling customers to set up a whole-home entertainment system on the TiVo platform.
The model includes a number of other notable features, including mobile app support for viewing and managing content, wireless in addition to Ethernet connectivity, support for HDR content, a CableCARD slot, and support for optical audio.
TiVo’s interface is easy to navigate. Content is split up into categories with streaming apps isolated in their own section. The box provides direct access to live TV and a proper channel guide; users can browse content, schedule recordings, manage existing videos, and more. The platform is every bit as robust as a cable or satellite provider’s own boxes; there’s no shortage of recommendations, popular content, show descriptions, and similar.
For people who subscribe to a couple of big streaming services and use them casually to augment their live television experience, the TiVo Edge is more than adequate as an all-in-one entertainment device. For cord-cutters who are more heavily dependent on streaming services, the TiVo Edge may not satisfy all of their streaming needs.
More fringe services are missing from the platform, which is to be expected. If you’re one of the users who regularly fires up less popular streaming services, you’ll want to have a Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV, or other similar devices on standby for when the Edge falls short. Whether the Edge is worth the cost entirely depends on how the customer typically accesses their favorite media.
– Optical audio-out
– Remote finder
– HDMI 2.0
– USB 3.0 ports
– CableCARD slot
Dimensions: 10.6 x 8 x 1.5inWeight: 2.4lbsRecording: Up to 300 HD hoursStorage: 2TBVideo: HDR10, HLG, and Dolby VisionConnectivity: WiFi 802.11ac 4×4DBS: YesCompatibility:
– TiVo Mini
– TiVo Mini VOX
– Remote viewing from other TiVo DVRs
– Android and iOS
One of the things that Amazon has done well with Alexa is cloud-enabled skills that are directly connected to its Echo products. In my smart home setup, we have a couple of Echo Dots in my kid’s rooms they use for ‘story time’ at night. I love my HomePod, but it can’t replace this functionality at this time. Is it time for Apple to build a HomeKit skills section that runs directly off iCloud?
HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
From the early days of Alexa, Amazon built all of its ‘skills’ in the cloud. Since Amazon isn’t much of a factor in smartphones, they couldn’t rely on streaming content from it to power audio. From its flash briefings, games, and other types of programming, the Echo lineup stands on its own in terms of ability to work independently of any other devices.
I’d love to see Apple expand HomePod to work in much the same way. For Apple Music and Apple Podcasts, it can play content directly from the internet. Why can’t other apps do the same thing? AirPlay 2 does exist and is a stop-gap to this problem, but it doesn’t solve it. Here are some ways I’d like to be able to use my HomePod:Podcast apps
I want an app like Overcast or Breaker to be able to talk directly to my HomePod from the cloud. The way I envision this working is when I install Overcast, it could request to hook into my HomePod. I could say, ‘Hey Siri, play Apple @ Work podcast on Overcast.’ My HomePod would then, without using another device, talk directly to Overcast’s web infrastructure to stream the podcast.Bedtime apps with HomeKit skills
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of my most common use cases for our Echo Dots is the ‘Amazon Story Time.’ My kids use it as they fall asleep at night. I’d love to use an app like Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness directly on my HomePod. Similar to Overcast, I’d love to be able to give Moshi access to run directly from iCloud or whatever system Apple set up for services to talk directly to my HomePod. Right now, I could use AirPlay to make this happen, but it would require the use of a dedicated iOS device.Good morning Siri
I’ve had this idea to be able to say Good morning Siri, and have Siri run a few HomeKit automations and play the latest episode of The Daily and then NPR Up First using the data in Overcast. If I didn’t finish the episode before I paused it, I’d want the Overcast iPhone app to be able to know exactly where it stopped. Another example of how I might use this is that when my abode motion sensor first sees motion in the morning, it would turn on a few Hue lights at 30%, start my morning podcasts (bonus points if I can set a preference on which shows from the ones released on that date are played first). A really fun idea for the future would be if my alarm system could deactivate if it knew either myself or my wife were the ones awake.Wrap-up on HomeKit Skills
What do you think about HomeKit Skills? Would tying in third-party apps into the HomePod experience without needing to launch an iPhone app make sure you want to use your HomePod or purchase one if you don’t have one? I love my HomePod, but I also see the value with how Alexa is a cloud-first operating system. Whatever happens in the future with the HomePod ecosystem, it needs to be open to third-party developers and have a cloud-first approach.Previous HomeKit Weekly Articles
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Outside of that, these are just poorly-made cash-grabs. At this price, there are literally dozens of other products you could buy that would at the very least give you more features and better build quality. These should be a last resort only.
If you’re looking for a new set of Nintendo Switch Joy-Con but can’t stomach the high asking price, there are options. In fact, there are a whole lot of options. A cursory search online will net you dozens and dozens of brands offering deeply discounted Joy-Con versions. They all must be mostly the same, right?
Definitely not. In this KINVOCA Joypad Controller for Nintendo Switch review, we’re going to tell you why this specific model should be a last resort buy only.
KINVOCA Joypad Controller for Nintendo Switch review: What is it?
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
Strictly speaking, the KINVOCA Joypad Controller for Nintendo Switch is just like the official Joy-Con. The buttons are all in mostly the same places, you can snap them onto the sides of your Switch console while using it in handheld mode, or you can use them on their own in tabletop/console mode. Even the colorways look a lot like those offered by Nintendo.
For buyers who are really into the aesthetic presentation of their Switch, the KINVOCA Joypad comes in lots of fun colorways. There’s even one that attempts to recreate the color scheme of the Super Famicom (the Japanese version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System). However, it’s a pale imitation at best.
There’s only one ‘extra’ feature here, and KINVOCA made it more of a burden than anything else.
There are no extra buttons and no enhancements of any kind. The analog triggers aren’t taller (a really easy way to make Joy-Con alternatives better than the real thing) and the directional buttons on the left Joypad aren’t formatted into a true D-pad. The internal batteries are smaller than the ones in the real deal (320mAh vs 525mAh). The whole product just screams “wasted opportunity.”
Finally, the KINVOCA Joypad Controller does not support the Switch’s wake feature. This means that you can’t turn on the console with the controllers. You’ll need to hit the Switch’s power button instead. Ouch.
KINVOCA Joypad Controller for Nintendo Switch review: Should I buy it?
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
At a list price of $39.99, you should absolutely not buy these. If you can find them on sale for a deep discount or if you just need something to get the job done, then these might be worth it. But $40? You’d be better off buying the much better Esywen model or just finding some used/refurbished real Joy-Cons.
See also: Nintendo Switch Pro Controller review: Worth every penny
Granted, a lot of folks are looking for the bare minimum when it comes to Joy-Cons so they can feel comfortable with kids using them. Even then, you could buy a set of these other knock-offs for $10 less. The asking price of the KINVOCA Joypad Controller is just too high.
When big sale days like Black Friday roll around, you might be able to grab these on the cheap. If you can, you should go for it. If not, though, your money is better spent elsewhere.
Some rules are meant to be broken, and so are some locks. If you find yourself in jeopardy because your iPhone is locked with a remote Mobile Device Management (MDM) system, iMobie AnyUnlock can be of great help. How? Check out this article to know more.Why do you need MDM removal software?
Mobile Device Management refers to the profiles installed on mobiles, tablets, and laptops that allow organizations like workplaces and schools to monitor and manage these devices.
Thanks to it, they can restrict content, monitor usage, install/remove/update apps, and even troubleshoot the enrolled devices remotely. And while helpful, sometimes you’d want to get rid of this lock from your iPhone or iPad. For instance,
You’ve changed the school/company, and the new one doesn’t require the MDM lock.
The second-hand device you just purchased is locked with a remote management system.
There is some issue with the device, the MDM password isn’t working, and you can’t even contact the supervisor.
Now, the usual solution to such a scenario is to either
So how is one supposed to work with so many howevers? You’ll probably know the answer from the article title and introduction, so let’s not make much ado and learn about AnyUnlock.iMobie AnyUnlock review: Bypass MDM with ease
AnyUnlock is designed to free you and your device from lock. Whether you’ve forgotten the password, the phone is disabled, the screen is broken, MDM lock, and more, this can be the only master key you’ll ever need.
Furthermore, it is super simple to use. You won’t have to jailbreak the device or need superior technical knowledge.
Remove or bypass the remote management lock on iPhone
Launch the AnyUnlock app and connect the iPhone/iPad with the Mac via USB.
Tap the Bypass MDM tab.
Here you can either select:
Bypass MDM – Resets the device and erase all content and settings.
Remove MDM – Completely delete the profile without hampering the data on your device.
And that’s it; the MDM lock will be bypassed/removed within minutes (if not seconds). Don’t believe it’s that easy? Check out the video below.
Turn off Find My iPhone/iPad before bypassing MDM remote management.
The device should be running iOS 7 or above.
Resetting or updating the iPhone after bypassing MDM will reactivate it (you can remove it again with the same method)Why should you pick iMobie AnyUnlock over others?
First and foremost, because it’s an iMobie software! I have tested and used various software by the developers and gladly found them adapt, easy to use, and secure, just like this one.
Then, you can bypass the MDM lock in three easy steps, without the MDM username and password or jailbreak. Interestingly, the administrator will not be notified or alerted that you have bypassed the lock.
So, it’s a win-win situation overall. Additionally, when it comes to unlocking software, there’s always an issue of compatibility, usability, trustability, and success rate. Thankfully, AnyUnlock is
Compatible with the latest iOS 15 update.
Super-easy to use; unlike many, there are no additional steps involved.
Boasts Apple and Microsoft Certified Developer, i.e., 100% free of malware or other threats.
A great (they boast it as the highest) success rate. (I tested it twice, and both times were a charm.)Is iMobie AnyUnlock the right key?
Success and safety
Value for money
iMobie AnyUnlock performs really well and does what it promises. I even tested other options like unlocking Apple ID and decrypting iTunes backup password; they also worked quite smoothly.
What I love is that it makes removing/bypassing MDM so easy. You don’t need special technical skills or wait for hours; the process is quick and efficient.
Notably, if your use case for such an app is rare, this might be an expensive solution. However, a worthy investment because you get a great success rate, privacy, and data security.
Quick and easy to use
Unlock any type of iPhone/iPad lock
Removes MDM without data loss
Great success rate
Slightly expensive for one-off use
3-month plan – $69.99
1-year plan – $99.99
Lifetime plan – $129.99
A self-professed Geek who loves to explore all things Apple. I thoroughly enjoy discovering new hacks, troubleshooting issues, and finding and reviewing the best products and apps currently available. My expertise also includes curating opinionated and honest editorials. If not this, you might find me surfing the web or listening to audiobooks.
Dear Apple: Don’t Use the iPhone As the Remote for Your TV
Although all of the talk surrounding Cupertino currently centers on Apple’s iPhone, I can’t get the company’s television out of my head. I own an iPhone and have an iPad. And although I’ll likely buy Apple’s next handset, it’s the company’s television that has me drooling.Based on the reports surrounding Apple’s television at the moment, I can all but guarantee that I’ll be buying one. I love the idea of iCloud integration and I firmly believe that it’ll come with an App Store. Better yet, it’ll deliver high-quality visuals that should make its competition reevaluate their future decisions.
The only thing I don’t like hearing, though, is talk of Apple requiring iPhone and iPad owners use their mobile devices to control the television. Yes, it’s a forward-thinking idea, but it’s a bad one.
The fact is, we can use the iPhone and iPad as a remote right now. On my Apple TV, for example, I can control everything the device does with Apple’s nifty Remote app. But that Remote app is designed for a simple box and even simpler functionality. The remote’s featureset just won’t translate to a sophisticated television.
Like it or not, today’s remotes, as ugly and big, and old school as they might be, are a necessary evil. Physical buttons that light up at night make it easy for us to choose a channel, increase the volume, and perform other activities. And with some help from a physical keyboard built into some of those remotes, we can quickly type out just about anything.
[aquote]Using the iPhone as a remote will take us back in time[/aquote]
A touchscreen-based remote, however, tends to fall short. For one thing, we’ll always need to be looking down just to find out what buttons we need to press. And our current practice of sliding our finger over to a button based on muscle memory alone will be gone. Using the iPhone or iPad as a remote in some ways will take us back in time.
That said, I can see some value in using an iDevice to control my new Apple television. I like the idea of using it to type in credentials into an application or even making it a secondary screen that delivers more information than what’s on the television. For example, if I’m watching a baseball game, it would be great if that broadcast shipped over to my iPhone – likely through an additional application running on the handset – some information on the batter, who’s up next, and other key data.
But as a remote, I don’t see much value in the iPhone and iPad. Apple can certainly create some nifty applications and I won’t deny that the company has come up with features that have blown us away. But controlling a television is very basic and needs some physical buttons. A mobile device featuring only a touchscreen just won’t get it done.
Ditch plans for the iDevices controlling your televisions, Apple. The future is still in the past with physical remotes.
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