26 April 2016

REVIEW: LIFX Color 1000 Smart Bulb

An illuminating experience.

We're no strangers to smart home technology, as Test Pit Towers is basically like walking into the future (complete with “futuristic” bad smells and overflowing rubbish bins). One thing we've noticed about smart home tech is that to be truly 'smart' it needs to be constantly connected to the internet. In the past we've reviewed lighting systems that aren't, such as those that connect to your mobile device via range-limited Bluetooth. The LIFX Color 1000 isn't limited at all, which we recently found out.

First up, yeah, we know... 'color'? It's spelt 'colour', you twonks. But we're willing to let that slip, as not only do we recognise that other countries spell words differently (ever been to France? It's like a whole other language over there) they also make excellent smart bulbs, and the LIFX Color 100 is one of them.

Screw in this bulb to any light fitting that will take it (we waited for a far more British-standard bayonet, but screw fittings are also available) and you'll be able to control it via the free LIFX app, up for grabs on Android, iOS and, refreshingly, Windows Mobile. However, connecting the app to the bulb is done via WiFi, not Bluetooth, which means that not only can you control it with your phone from the other side of the world, it can also be connected to other devices and services.

Before we talk about that, lets look at the bulb itself. The LIFX Color 1000 is so called because it can shine (up to 1055 Lumens – about 75 Watts) in millions of colours at varying levels of brightness. The LIFX app uses a colour wheel whereby you simply spin your thumb around the palette to find to right tone of light. The app then lets you set 'scenes', either for individual bulbs, or entire rooms if you have more than one, so in future you can press just one button to get the lighting and colours you want every time.

We found the response time to be exceptionally quick, with the gap between hitting the desired button in the app to the bulb springing to life was less than a second. The whole app is thankfully very user friendly as well, and setting additional features like timers and integration with other hardware was a doddle.

Speaking of which, what got us most excited about the LIFX Color 1000 SmartBulb was its ability to communicate with other devices. The LIFX app is compatible with the likes of Nest, Amazon Echo, Samsung's Smart Things, and – crucially – IFTTT. There are plenty of recipes already on IFTTT that work with LIFX, and thanks to full integration with Google, Android users can use voice commands to switch it on. Nice.

We really enjoyed how smoothly it worked with our Nest Protect. We set it up flash red whenever smoke was detected, which – thanks to an ill-informed bout of intentionally setting fire to bits of paper – it worked a treat. Via IFTTT we also set it to blink blue whenever we received a mention on Twitter, and thanks tot he competition we currently have running, it did... a lot.

There are lots of other 'smart' bulbs out there at the moment that promise to shine in a million colours and be truly wireless. None of them are actually smart if they can't connect to the internet however, and the LIFX Color 1000 is leading the way for self-contained, inexpensive smart lighting. Check it out.


Available from www.amazon.co.uk

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