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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Belkin WeMo Light Switch review:

Home automation for the DIY junkie

When the light is on, the green power indicator will illuminate. Colin West McDonald/CNET

You can also program rules using the app. This is where Belkin crosses over into home automation territory. The rules section allows you to schedule the light to "turn off or on only," so you could set it to "turn on at 6 p.m. on weekdays." You can also "turn on then off," so you can program it to "turn on at 8 a.m. and then off at midnight on weekends."

There are plenty of ways to customize your Belkin WeMo Light Switch using rules, but if you want to go a step further, this product works with If This, Then That (IFTTT) recipes. We're really excited about that because IFTTT offers a lot of interesting, fun, and potentially useful custom settings for the WeMo Switch. You can read more about IFTTT here. The gist is that it's a free service that lets you relate functions across different applications and services. Since Belkin recently added IFTTT support to its WeMo products, you can now download user-made WeMo recipes for free. One existing IFTTT recipe available for download will blink the lights on your WeMo light switch when your favorite team starts playing a game on ESPN. You can also create your own recipes.

For testing, I programmed IFTTT to send me e-mails and tweets whenever my WeMo light turned on. Not everyone will care about the WeMo switch's IFTTT support, but it's really a blast to mess around with, and much less complicated than it may seem. It also lets you extend the WeMo switch's overall usefulness, for free.

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The WeMo switch and app both worked consistently during my tests. The basic on/off feature on the app was responsive, and it also handled special programming instructions well. I set several rules and IFTTT recipes that all performed as expected. It claims to work on a wide variety of Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, too. I can't vouch for them all, but I used an iPhone 5 without any issues. You can also use the same WeMo app to manage multiple light switches or any combination of WeMo home automation products.

If you're intrigued, but aren't sold on WeMo, the $299 Revolv Hub is another interesting option that is available now for preorder. It merges a bunch of different home automation brands into one, multitasking app. It's still DIY in a sense, but much more comprehensive because it can tackle music, door locks, lighting, thermostats, and more all from a single hub rather than a bunch of different apps. There's also the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Hub for $99.99, which not only lets you use your smartphone as a universal remote, it's also compatible with home automation devices that control lighting, climate, and home appliances. Also, don't rule out the Philips Hue or similar connected single-bulb options if you want lighting that offers more that the WeMo's simple on/off functions.

At the very least, this light switch is fun and easy to use. At most, it's a useful product that can help you automate a small aspect of your home. There are so many customizable options with WeMo and IFTTT that this switch far exceeds anything you could pre-program with a lesser, plug-in light timer. Using two apps isn't as efficient as it could be, but they work so well together that we almost forget about the slight inconvenience.

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