There is nothing like options when it comes to smart home automation and nothing gives you more options than a small portable remote that can be fully customized to fire off whatever scene you want it to. There are a number of remotes on the market that vary from small handhelds to even smaller key fobs. You also have the clunky GE lighting remote (that half the time doesn’t work). However, today we get to talk about the Minimote by Aeon Labs.
This little guy fits nicely in the palm of your hand and seems to work quite well for what it’s supposed to do. It works from a good distance from your controller and you can program up to 8 scenes to its 4 small buttons. The one we got our hands on for testing was actually the first gen model, where currently the second gen model is what’s making its way around the market. Since the differences between the two models seems to be limited to how the buttons are printed (the new model opted for modern squares shapes vs numbers), we will be providing links to the new one throughout this article.
These are available in both white and black and typically range in price between $30-40 depending on where you buy one. It comes with nothing more than a USB cable for charging it and takes a quick minute to pair them to your controller with.
We used the VeraPlus as our controller during testing and also tested using Samsung’s SmartThings hub. Both resulted in an equal stress-free experience including a quick pairing. For the sake of keeping things simple, we will stick to the VeraPlus for this article.
Pairing, as I just mentioned, was quite easy. We of course started by charging the remote since it features a built-in lithium battery that should last up to 5 months or more depending on how frequently you use the remote. The VeraPlus has the Minimote listed for devices to choose from while pairing. Once you place the Vera in pairing mode, you simply have to press the join button (has a WiFi like icon on it) and it will begin to pair. Once paired, the Vera will reset the luup engine and you will be able to start configuring the buttons on the remote as soon as it comes back online some seconds later.
Setting scenes to the buttons is easy. You go into the device details screen, scroll to the bottom and click on “select scenes for device buttons”. From there, you do exactly that. Choose from your list of scenes you have created in the controller. There are four buttons on the remote and each one can have a scene attached to a press and a hold (pressing a button down for 2-3 seconds). We randomly assigned all sorts of scenes as you can see above in the image, and the Minimote knocked it out each time (assuming of course that the scene was properly functioning itself).
At this point you are done as long as you are using a main hub/controller to configure everything through.
Alternatively, you can also use the remote by itself without pairing it to a main hub/controller. It is of course a controller itself, so if you don’t have a fancy Z-Wave network running all over and were only looking to have a few lights or devices, you can use this remote to control them. In which case, you would set the device itself into pairing mode and then press the “+” button on the remote to add it.
Once you have included/paired the devices to the remote, you have to configure the buttons. To do this, you will press and hold down one of the 4 scene buttons. While holding that button down, you will then press the button on your paired device to make it do what you want it to do. If it is a dimmer, you will then dim the light to whatever point you want it to be at. Once you are finished, let go of the scene button and you should be ready to start playing with it. That’s it. You get only 4 buttons in this case (you need a hub/controller to dig any deeper).
Yet again, another user-friendly remote. We recommend using it with a main controller vs by itself because you get a much deeper functionality out of it. However, if you are looking to simply just play with a few devices in your house/office and nothing complicated for scenes, then using it as a standalone controller works just fine. As mentioned, it runs between $30-40 on average, making it mostly affordable. It feels as though it could be a little cheaper based on what it is comprised of. Maybe at least $30 across the board would be nice. Regardless, it does what it is supposed to and it seems to be quite easy to set up. The battery life is nice and you won’t have to worry about buying batteries for it.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
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