Smart-bulb competition lights up

There are a few entrants on to the connected lighting stage, but the most full featured is probably one you haven’t heard of.  The three competitor bulbs include LG Electronics’ recently announced Smart Lamp, Philips’ Hue, and the LuMini TL100.  All three offer a way to control their bulbs via a smartphone, but their abilities and technical procedures vary.  This guide will offer a comparison between the three.

The elder of the three is Philips’ Hue bulb, offering the ability to dim your smart bulb as well as control them remotely, the disadvantage to this bulb lies in the fact that it requires a separate Zigbee base station, which requires routing through Wi-Fi and therefore incurs the greatest cost to consumers.

The most recent entrant is the LG Smart Lamp, which offers connectivity through Bluetooth 4.0 devices and offers compatibility with iOS 6.0 and above, as well as many Android phones (version 4.3 and above).  It offers a dimmable 10 watts of LED light, which can alert the user to phone calls, change brightness to music, as well as offer security on/off capability during vacations, so thieves will be tricked into thinking someone is at home.  It will retail for an equivalent of $32, however possible availability in the United States is still unclear.

The final entrant hails from Kickstarter, with just seven days left to the campaign.  The LuMini TL100 by Tabu is a color LED smart bulb, a feature which, in my opinion, destroys the competition.  The color LED feature ensures the bulb can do the same things as the other competitors, but better.  Instead of LG’s dimmer for music, the LuMini changes color.  Phone call alerts are colorful, and therefore, offer a more vivid alert.  It supports most iOS devices as well as a few select Android devices.  Unfortunately, the Android flavored app does not have the incoming phone call alert ability yet, but Tabu is constantly working on the device and increasing compatibility.  As always, there are risks to every Kickstarter project, but this one seems quite successful, already having completed two rounds of funding, with the current and final run yielding close to twice the amount of its $25,000 goal.  Pricing bests its competitors as well, with the $30 tier still available for those supporters who want their own bulb.  The early bird special of just $25 has already sold out.  Other tiers will give users more than one bulb, allowing a variety of colors weaving interesting patterns.  The next shipment estimate of the colorful device is May of 2014, and it ships worldwide.

Sources: LG, Philips, Zigbee, Kickstarter, Tabu

Correction: Philips' Hue was released before this year's CES, and the article has been updated to reflect that.

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19 Comments

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also why does this article read like a screaming endorsement for Lumini? This is far from a guide on smart bulbs and more like a cheap attempt to discredit other bulbs to sell people on the kickstarter. Come on Neowin, I expect a little better than this!

Hue was introduced at CES 2014? That's wrong. Also what's that about a zigbee base? My Hue base is connected via ethernet to my router and came with 3 light bulbs. No additional cost there. I have 16 HUE lights in my home. A combination of bulbs, lightstrips and a bloom. I wouldn't go back to regular light bulbs. I can turn on lights when I'm not home, schedule lights to turn on by schedule or geofencing, dim lights while I'm watching tv from the couch and turn my entire house's lights any color/combination of colors I want. They're not for everyone, but they were Forbes 2012 product of the year, for what that's worth

Seems odd to me that the author didn't mention LIFX which, as far as I'm aware, were the first smart bulbs announced. On top of that, they do everything the LuMini is trying to do like change colors, proximity, change with music, notifications, etc...

djpailo said,
Absolute nonsense. Why anyone would want this is beyond me.

I, for one, enjoy taking my phone out of my pocket, starting the light bulb app and pressing the 'turn light on' button when I walk into the room. Hopefully the boffins will figure out an easier way one of these days...

Jaxkesa said,

I, for one, enjoy taking my phone out of my pocket, starting the light bulb app and pressing the 'turn light on' button when I walk into the room. Hopefully the boffins will figure out an easier way one of these days...

I think you have missed the point altogether.
The setup and configuration is done via the phone, the colour, the on/off schedule, the music reaction.
Switching the thing on/off is still still by the switch unless your otherwise inclined.
Given that the RRP is not much more than standard LED bulbs, this competition is great IMO

Jaxkesa said,

I, for one, enjoy taking my phone out of my pocket, starting the light bulb app and pressing the 'turn light on' button when I walk into the room. Hopefully the boffins will figure out an easier way one of these days...

i could see this working well with Tasker... like when you get home and your phone connects to the wifi it could turn on some lights... or other things like that

Buttus said,

i could see this working well with Tasker... like when you get home and your phone connects to the wifi it could turn on some lights... or other things like that

As opposed to something that's actually useful... like a sensor that detects you in the room?

Ideas Man said,

As opposed to something that's actually useful... like a sensor that detects you in the room?

for you maybe. I kind of like the idea as when i'm pulling up to my place (my phone picks up wifi before i've even parked) it would turn on some lights inside

Ideas Man said,

As opposed to something that's actually useful... like a sensor that detects you in the room?

*Sigh*

Here we go,
Sensors are not practical in home (or even office spaces) because if you're sitting still they turn off the lights. Ok, adjust the sensitivity, but then the lights stay on too long, possibly even using more power than if you turned them on and off (turning them off prematurely defeats the point of a sensor in the first place because when you come back it doesn't turn on)

Then you have lights turning on when you simple pass through a room (wastes power) and also the fact you have to incorporate timers in (for daylight/night so lights don't come on during the day) and then control panels to set the times. Becomes a pain during DST or dark days (stormy weather).

Then you have the fact the phone app does all that pretty damn effortlessly but requires less installation and provides more features.

Example - Turn lights (and in the case of Lightwave RF appliances) on and off remotely such as when on holiday

Turn lights off after you leave (eg you forgot to turn off kitchen light or toaster) and on before you arrive.

Not to mention with tasker (or a custom dedicated app) you can set the preferred white balance and brightness of LED lights (eg when working on my photography work my office lights are 6500k @67% to provide neutral lighting, when I'm writing or cleaning the space, that's hella dim so I crank it up to a cool white at 100% brightness)

There's an endless list, I'd go on but it's a waste of time. People actually know the benefits already

Mate, there's no need to sigh. You make a nice list of points to justify your position and that's alright. Personally I consider them all to be a complete load of rubbish, but then again, that my opinion. That doesn't make my view less or more than yours. All your reasons simply fail to be relevant to me. The brightness one for example, you have a legitimate need for that; I would get up and turn a dimmer switch if I needed to.

As an example, we have an emergency rechargeable light plugged into a power point in our joint that turns on when we have a power outage or when it senses someone walk past it in the dark. It requires absolutely no input from me, it just works. The only thing it doesn't do is stay on when I'm standing still, but I'm sure you could get a sensor that could fix that small bug (Though for what we paid and what you get, it's more than enough for what we use it for).

Kitchen light, all that other jazz, well, that's down to personal situations. Personally I don't wander around leaving lights on all the time, and I'm more than capable of turning light switches on and off, as well as adjusting dimmers, but that's just me.

If this provides value to your life, don't let me stop you, but don't carry on almighty as though you're talking down to some pleb about the virtues of an app controllable light bulb.

Be interested to hear how these compare with the lifx smart bulbs, as these look quite a bit more affordable.

Nik L said,
I use Lightwave RF at home rather than expensive bulbs, it relies on inexpensive light witches and wall sockets.

Light witches! So that's how they are able to fly around on brooms.

No really, I checked out Lightwave RF and it seems interesting, but for some reason their 1-gang dimmer switches look like they take up as much space as a 2-gang? Are all switches that size in the UK?

I've been trashing all my X-10 stuff and replacing it with Z-Wave devices. I wonder if these devices make a mesh network like ZWave. Looks like the Lightwave switches are cheaper than most Z-Wave ones.