If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, I’ve probably grown to know that I love my technology – whether it be portable such as an iPad or something static such as smart home technology. Today’s post is no exception to this.
I’ve been a smart home user for about a year now, starting first with the Philips Hue smart home lighting system which I started with a couple of white ambiance bulbs purchased from my local Apple Store and a first generation bridge purchased from eBay. All in all, the setup cost about £50, but I was so eager to try out something to do with this new “smart home” buzz word and as at the time, I didn’t have a heating system which could be controlled with something such as Nest or Hive nor did I have the need for a Ring video doorbell, so I settled with lights.
Fast forward a couple of months after adding Philips Hue to my home, I moved less than a mile to a new house and added two Amazon Echo products – the original Echo in my living room and an Echo Dot in the kitchen. Given that my new home is smaller and everything can be heard from the original Echo, I sold the Dot. Of course, I’ve added additional Hue bulbs in the bedroom and plan to add more soon, as well as an Iris.
However, I had one of the friendly folks over at Lifx contact me a couple of months ago offering me the opportunity to test out one of their smart home bulbs and that is what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks.
Lifx is a completely new system which seems to be as popular within the tech scene but its certainly not one I’ve come across before. Each bulb is self sufficient, meaning it doesn’t need to be connected to a bridge unlike the Hue system. Their bulbs come in a range of sizes and light fittings, especially light strips which appear to be ideal for home entertainment setups and behind bed headboards in order to give ambient light in various locations. I’ve also found that Lifx appear to be very competitive with Hue, with only colour bulbs on sale at around £50 each. The Hue range in comparison starts at £25-30 per bulb, which are only of the white ambiance variety, depending on where you find them.
The packaging for the Lifx bulb I received is small and appears to be mostly recyclable, which is great for the environment. Downloading and installing the app is easy and is available for both iOS and Android. I tried the app on my iPad Mini 4 at first and whilst it works great in app, it doesn’t seem to be compatible with Apple’s Homekit. Either this is something that I’ve overlooked as the required information wasn’t provided in order for me to set the bulb up with Homekit or I’ve ran through the setup incorrectly – although I did watch some videos about it on YouTube. Nonetheless, as the iPad is now my only Apple device, I plan on not using the bulb with Homekit but with my LG G6 running the latest version of Android and Amazon Alexa.
Within a few minutes, the bulb was connected to my home network via WiFi and I was changing colours and brightness seamlessly through the app. I do prefer the Lifx app immensely over the Philips Hue one and that opinion was before I received this bulb for review as I had seen it used in videos and the app demonstrations within each app store. Each room is presented on the homescreen and you can change bulbs on the fly or based on scenes, some of which are already pre loaded. A couple of my personal favourites are the random colour changer as well as strobe – it looks great for parties but should be used with caution.
When comparing the Lifx bulb to the Philips Hue, I was surprised at how much brighter the Lifx is compared to its competitor. It appears to be 50% brighter than two Hue bulbs put together when all bulbs are put on their highest settings. The colour palette appears to be wider too – with deeper blues and richer greens.
All in all, I’ve not got anything negative to say about the Lifx system. I love that it can be used without the need of a bridge as all bulbs connect to your home network through WiFi and the app is considerably better than Hue. However, I have heard that Philips are developing a new app for their Hue range so I’ll be following this closely and comparing the two again once its released.
If you’re currently looking to get into the smart home lighting system scene, I recommend picking up one of the starter kits and starting with one room. If you don’t like it, simply return it but the simplicity of turning the lights on and off from your chair, creating a visual deterrent for thieves with light timers and stunning colour schemes, I’m sure you’ll love it.
Any questions about smart home lights or Lifx, please leave them in the comments or tweet me – @thebritishgent.