16 February 2015

REVIEW: MiPow Playbulb

A light bulb moment. 

Most of us now own some form of Bluetooth connected speaker, where the only decision you have to make is where to put it so you can appreciate the music anywhere in the room. One place you've probably never thought to put a speaker is dangling from your light fittings, but that is just what MiPow have in combining a Bluetooth speaker with a light bulb. It's the Playbulb.

Last year we reviewed the Playbulb Candle, another Bluetooth, app controlled light, that mimics the gentle flicker of a real candle. The MiPow Playbulb takes that technology to the next level, upping the brightness and including a pretty decent speaker - all in one bulb-shaped package.

You simply screw the Playbulb into a light socket, be it in a lamp or hanging from your ceiling, download the MiPow app (the same one needed for the Playbulb Candle) and you're off. As we had already used the app it was a very simple case of discovering the new Playbulb and adding it to the device list. Then we had full control over the two main reasons you'd buy this thing - light and music. In lighting terms the Playbulb certainly didn't disappoint, and unlike it's more subtle little brother the Playbulb Candle, here you have something that truly lights up a space sufficiently. Whereas we first assumed the light element of the Playbulb to be more novelty than functional, we were proven wrong when we first fired it up. Although only the very tip of the bulb's dome illuminates, it is certainly bright enough to light a room.

Or not, if you want, because thanks to the app you can control the light's luminosity, instantly adjusting the brightness with a swipe, or setting certain levels which can instantly be activated. Basically you can go from bright enough to read by to dim enough to smooch by with a flick of your finger. Speaking of getting you and your significant other in a sexy mood, flip to the other main feature of the app, and you can access all the music stored on your phone or tablet. Select something romantic and hit play.

Despite the MiPow Playbulb's compact size, the Bluetooth speaker onboard is packing a 3W output, putting it up there with other slightly larger portable wireless speakers. Although that might not sound like a lot, you have to remember that this particular speaker isn't going to be located where you might normally put a similarly sized Bluetooth speaker. Whereas speakers would ordinarily be placed around the edges of rooms, on shelves and tables, the Playbulb is hanging from the ceiling slap-bang in the middle of the room. We found that had a dramatic effect on the apparent oomph of the speaker, making those three Watts seem like so much more.

All genres of music sounded pretty decent on the Playbulb, although a noticeable absence of bass was felt at higher volume levels. Still, for some gentle background music that seems to come from nowhere but everywhere, the speaker performed admirably. It might not become your go-to Bluetooth speaker for around the home, but for adding music without the hassle of wires and speaker grills yawning back at you, it's brilliant.

The MiPow Playbulb is an amazing idea at combining two things we need, light and music, by utilising a power source we already have in abundance... your light sockets. It is definitely something worth a look, although we recommend you have a spot for it in mind - somewhere you do need to control the brightness of the lights, while playing some smooth jazz. That's right, this is your new sex light bulb.



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