15 July 2015

REVIEW: Yeelight

Mood lighting made easy... and cheap.

If you are considering filling your house with smart home technology but just can't quite manage the initial cost, relax. If you've ever wanted to control your lighting with your phone, as with a gadget like Philips Hue, you might have to pay as much as £200 to get it going. That price barrier is something that Chinese firm Yeelight are overcoming with their own range of smart lighting.

Recently started trading in the UK, Yeelight produce smart lighting that can be centrally controlled with an app, just like the Philips system. However, for now anyway, Yeelight products use Bluetooth to directly connect to your phone, as opposed to your home's WiFi network. What you might be losing in versatility and range, you're sure as Hell making back on the cost.

We were sent Yeelight's signature two products; the Yeelight Smart Bulb, and the Yeelight Smart Light Strip. First up, the bulb...

Just like a normal energy-saving LED bulb, it screws (or twists - bayonet version is also available) straight into the fitting and can be switch on by simply flicking on the switch. However, pop on the Bluetooth on your phone or tablet with the Yeelight Blue app downloaded, and you can very easily connect to the bulb and let the fun start.

By way of an easy to use wheel, you can whip your thumb around to cycle through millions of colours, with the bulb instantly changing with you. You can also control the brightness, moving from very bright (as with a convention light bulb) to dimming it all the way down to off. So any colour you want, at any brightness you prefer - pretty good so far.

But the app also sets you play around with certain presets. Flick to the favourites page and you can select the likes of 'Nature' (quite dim and green), 'Reading' (clean and gentle white), and 'Romance' (a bit pink - which much be a pretty sexy colour in China). You can also set your own favourites by 'saving' your current colour and brightness, allowing you to quickly set it whenever you want. Oh, and there is also a 'Party' mode, where the colours quickly change. Without thumping music and any friends there to enjoy it with us, it made us sad.

And the Strip Lights... Included in the box is around two metres of very flexible rubbery lighting, with embedded LEDs set inside every inch or so. This works just like the bulb in that millions of colours can be cycled through, as well as having total control over the brightness. The Strip Lighting works a little differently in that it must be plugged into an electrical socket (nice long power lead included, fortunately) and then can be stuck, using the self-adhesive backing, to wherever you want it.

The Strip Lights are great to install somewhere subtle like under a kitchen cabinet or below a raised sofa. The combined power of all those little LEDs adds up to make the light very bright on the fullest setting, and we had fun playing around to illuminate interesting places in interesting ways.

We really like the Yeelight range and think that it certainly gives more established (and more expensive) ranges a run for their money.

Bulb: around £40
Strip Lights: around £50

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