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Weemote Sr. - A Weemote for the not-so-wee...
After releasing the Weemote, Fobis Technologies discovered something interesting based on their customers’ feedback: the Weemote was apparently working as well for the elderly as it was for small children. With a limited number of uniquely shaped buttons, high contrast design and sure-click operations, the Weemote proved ideal for those who may suffer from memory or vision impairments. Capitalizing on this added finding, Fobis has released a third product in their series of easy-to-use remote controls.
Since you’ve already read through the Weemote and Weemote 2 reviews, you’re undoubtedly quite familiar with the basic Weemote concept. Operationally, the Weemote Sr. is identical to the Weemote 2 and supports control of televisions, TV/VCR combo units, cable boxes, satellite receivers and digital video recorders.
A less colorful experience.
The new $24.95 USD MSRP Weemote Sr. is based on the same physical design and button layout as the previous models. The main physical difference between the Weemote Sr. and its more vibrant siblings is color: the case is a pleasant medium gray, and button colors are limited to red, gray, blue and yellow, forgoing bright green, orange and pink. The silkscreened text on the unit has also been changed from a kid’s handwriting script to a standard roman typeface.
The unit supports five direct-access favorite channel buttons, one additional favorite channel on the [MUTE] button, plus 4 other favorites stored in rotation on the channel up/down toggle keys. Also, as this new model is targeted towards adults, an added option allows the channel up/down keys to send “normal” channel up/down commands, allowing the user to access all channels that their television is capable of receiving. Other new features fall under set top box control: the “OK” button can now follow channel numbers, plus the power command can conveniently be disabled for those who always leave their DSS or cable box powered on.
Otherwise, the Weemote Sr. provides the same customization features as the Weemote 2, including command transmission speed, volume key disabling, the initial channel when powering on, up to four channel digits on each favorite, et cetera. I would have liked to see further capabilities regarding the handling of television video inputs since, essentially, there are no video input capabilities to speak of.
Mergers: they’re not always bad.
Fobis has wisely rethought their two-manual concept. Although the previous format was that one manual had the quick setup guide while the other one contained advanced programming, both were still required to perform even the most basic of programming. Instead, the Weemote Sr. comes with a single 44-page manual that contains everything needed: a 13-step getting started guide, full device codes, advanced programming and troubleshooting. This new combined manual, although essentially containing the same information as the previous two, makes it much simpler to configure the remote.
The Weemote Sr. features an updated preprogrammed code database (over the previous Weemote 2). Notable improvements can be found in the set top box categories, for instance, DVRs have gone from 4 to 10 codes. One item that needs to be improved is how codes are presented in the manual; the current format is very confusing.
The Third Conclusion
Fobis has obviously simplified manufacturing by employing the same plastic molds for all of their current remote models. Still, I would have liked to see some physical changes made. The original Weemote was designed for small hands, so some tweaking could have been made to improve adult ergonomics and button tactile feedback on the Weemote Sr. The manual makes mention of a Weemote 3, which will launch in early 2003. This more “colorful” version will feature the same improvements seen here in the Weemote Sr.
Even so, it’s easy to recommend the Weemote Sr. to those who have the need... especially considering that there are few other similar remotes on the market: Fobis has a virtual lock on easy-to-use remotes for children and seniors. Yet being one of the few offerings on the market doesn’t detract from the fact that the Weemote is an excellent overall product. I’m especially impressed at how Fobis continues to improve the Weemote based on user feedback. The Weemote is a unique and cost-effective remote control that fills not just one, but now two important niches.
- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)