Belkin is going all-out on the connected home, with products ranging from connected lighting systems to smart outlets. But one of its oddest offerings might just be a collaboration with slow cooker industry leader Crock-Pot, whose name is essentially synonymous with fire-and-forget meal-making. Belkin and Crock-Pot now offer the Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo, a $130 kitchen appliance that can connect to Wi-Fi and be controlled from an app on your smartphone, wherever you have a data connection.
The WeMo line is Belkin’s smart home brand, and the Crock-Pot can be controlled from the same app that lets you monitor and interact with your WeMo lights, switches and outlets. But the Crock-Pot doesn’t offer much in the way of interactivity with the rest of the WeMo family; it’s essentially a remote-controlled slow cooker, with an on/off switch you can carry in your pocket.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Slow cooking is already essentially the type of cooking you do when you want something uncomplicated and easy, as it basically involves combining things in a hodgepodge manner and then turning it to one of three vaguely defined temperature ranges and then neglecting it entirely until your stomach notifies your brain stem you require nutrition.
What WeMo adds to this isn’t geofencing or triggers based on when your IP camera detects motion – it’s essentially an on/off switch you control from your phone, with the ability to change temperature, view how long you’ve been cooking, and set when it turns off. The added convenience makes it possible to adjust your slow cooker from a remote location, so you can prepare for unexpected eventualities like having to stay late at the office.
You can select from high, low and warm temperatures, and the Crock-Pot will switch to warm automatically once the timer you set is through, or if you manually end it. As a standalone Crock-Pot, the hardware is impressive, too: It features a removable, dishwasher safe 6-quart ceramic bowl, and has a single push-button control on its face.
The WeMo Crock-Pot is more than twice the price of a programmable countdown Crock-Pot without the smart features, however, so you have to really decide whether the added convenience is worth it. But for a device whose entire purpose is to make it possible for busy people to enjoy home-cooked meals with minimal time investment and regardless of unpredictable schedules, the small number of features the WeMo device does offer might be worth the gap in price.