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From a physical standpoint, the $30 USD Weemote 2 is nearly identical to its predecessor - they could in fact be identical twins save for the new name. Nevertheless, under the blue plastic shell Fobis Technologies has fine-tuned the Weemote into a more sophisticated remote control designed exclusively for less sophisticated users. If you're not already familiar with how the Weemote looks, feels and operates, be sure to read the entire original Weemote review before continuing with this section.
The most noteworthy upgrade to the Weemote 2's features list is the addition of four further preset channels. Instead of having only five hard button channels with a possible sixth on the [MUTE] key (if you don't want [MUTE]), the Weemote 2 permits you to add an additional four numbers to the general channel rotation list stored on channel [UP] and [DOWN]. While four channels may not sound like a lot, it's certainly better than having to say that the remote can't hold your child's seventh favorite channel "just because"!
Tired of ear-splitting volume levels? It is now possible to disable the volume buttons - thus allowing parents to set the television to a manual "safe" setting and not have to deal with accidental (or purposeful!) surprises. Parents can also disable the channel [UP] and [DOWN] keys (thus nullifying those new extra channels), if they see a need.
I dream of inputs...
A newly added feature is the ability to have the Weemote 2 send the first favorite channel at power-on - ideal to ensure only desired channels are watched - though the manual warns that this may not work properly with all set-top boxes or televisions due to timing issues - some equipment is blind to commands for a number of seconds after powering on. This feature can even be used in conjunction with the one that sets the initial television channel (for when a set-top box is in use), which has been enhanced to cover channels 2 through 5. The manual also indicates that this can be used to set a television video input, but after it failed to work on two different televisions I began to wonder.
It turns out that when this option is enabled to "video input", it is actually disabled. Fobis Technologies came across the same operational problem that I had concerns with when I first heard of this feature - there's usually no way to specify the exact input you want on a television. Typically, pressing "VIDEO", "INPUT" or "AVX" on your remote will simply toggle it to the next input. Although many sets do include specific direct-access signals (called "discrete codes"), where you'd press "Input 2" and it would jumps right to that input no matter what, many modern televisions simply don't operate that way. Instead of impractically trying to implement every single possible combination in the Weemote, they decided to instead hope that the TV's input status never changes. Now if only the manual actually said this!
The Weemote 2 supports a much larger number of television and cable box brands and has been enhanced to cover PVR (TiVo/Replay devices) and TV/VCR combination units. One other advanced feature is not actually mentioned in the manual, but is available direct from Fobis Technologies upon request: the speed at which macros transmit can be configured. Although the Weemote will operate without problem on the majority of devices, there are still some for which the Weemote is either too fast or too slow. The Weemote 2 comes preset to a speed of "15", but can be customized by end-users between "1" and "50", where "50" is the slowest. This should help ensure that the Weemote is compatible with the widest possible range of equipment.
The Weemote 2's manuals are much improved over the original version's, but are still divided into two separate books - both of which are required for simple setup. It would be really nice if these were consolidated into a single publication.
Although the name may make this sound like a completely different product, the Weemote 2 is a logical development of the original model with more functionality, customization options and device compatibility. If you already have a Weemote fully configured, chances are you won't need to consider advancing to the Weemote 2. The original model continues to be sold, but if you are considering a new acquisition the $30 Weemote 2 is unquestionably worth purchasing.
- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)