LIFX currently offers four different smart light bulbs for your consideration. These smart lights, including the Color 1000 BR30 – the first one we’re reviewing, all use Wifi to communicate with the rest of your Smart Home, including, of course apps for your smart phones, tablets, etc.
This will be our main LIFX smart light review at this time, with shorter reviews covering the other two LIFX bulbs we received, published over the next couple of weeks. The other (cross-linked, of course) two reviews will deal with the specific attributes of those bulbs, while this review will also go into a lot more depth about controlling the bulbs, practical strengths and weaknesses, (including how Wifi bulbs compare to other methods such as Zigbee, Bluetooth, etc., and competitive commentary.)
Just a quick rundown. This is the Color 1000 BR30 flood. There is also the regular non-flood – the Color 1000. Both have a retail price of $59.99. There are also the two white smart bulbs, the White 800 BR30 (flood) and White 800 (normal light pattern), both $39.99. The App is, naturally, free.
BR30 is a designation for a type of flood light, relatively large residential ones, the type that normally go into larger five and six inch “cans” – that is recessed ceiling light fixtures fp, as you can see in many images within this review.
Here’s some interesting background before we get into highlights and the rest of the review. LIFX is one of the many crowdfunded new companies in the home automation / smart home business. In their case, they raised their money on Kickstarter. Also of note – although they have offices in the US, they are an Australian company. OK, time to get to work. This LIFX Color 1000 BR30 smart light earns our 2nd highest award. Only a missing feature or two in the App, and one eco-system compatibility prevented us from giving it our Beyond Awesome Award. I expect their next generation lights to easily earn the higher award. We are impressed!
LIFX Color 1000 BR30 Highlights and Overview
LIFX Color 1000 BR30 Highlights
- Bright – claims 970 lumens – equivalent to a 70 watt incandescent
- Draws maximum of 11 watts at full brightness
- Low cost of operation
- Wide color spectrum – not limited like some
- RGBW bulb – separate white LED for clean white light when desired
- Wifi – supports speeds up to 802.11n
- Apps for iOS and Android and Microsoft
- Apps are very capable – group bulbs, individual control, themes…but like most – there are always more features to add
- Compatible with a host of other devices, eco-systems, including SmartThings Hub, Amazon Echo/Alexa, Nest, Logitech…
- Just announced support for Apple HomeKit / Siri
- Working with HomeKit Siri will require a LIFX Bridge (announced at the same time)
- 2 Year parts and labor warranty (impressive), plus, there’s currently a 60 day return offer if you buy from their site.
I don’t want to give away the whole home automation review, but one thing that sets these smart lights apart more than anything seems to be their ability to successfully reproduce most of the color spectrum, and at the same time be bright enough to work well whether doing color or various “shades” of white.
We have previously posted an overview of the the three different LIFX lights we have here. In this review, however, I get to go into more depth, and tell you how things have worked out, focused on the color flood version, the Color 1000 BR30.
Getting the Color 1000 BR30 to work is definitely not rocket science.
First of course you’ll have to unpack it, so we’ve got a couple of images showing the packaging, which looks well designed and safe for the bulbs.
- Start off by unboxing your light, and installing into a fixture. (Easy enough!)
- Download the App from your favorite App store – in my case Apple’s App store
- Configure the App to find the bulb (details later in the review)
- Set your colors, brightness, schedules, special effects, etc.
That doesn’t sound so hard, does it. Of course when you have a very smart, very capable product, there are tons of options to choose from – do you want a fireplace effect, or a soft blue green, or maybe a slowly changing “loop” of colors. Decisions, decisions.
And that’s not all the decisions – do you want to voice control using Alexa, build a schedule into various groups, scenes, if you are using a SmartThings Hub? The LIFX bulbs, at present – per their website, support a minimum of 10 “eco-systems.” OK, some are big eco-systems, some not. Certainly Amazon Echo/Alexa, SmartThings, and Nest, and also the Google app, are bigger ones. There’s Logitech, the well known remote control company.
But there are also less known products. Flic, and Scout aren’t even on my radar yet. IFTTT is legend among DIY home automation types, since you can go online and “program” in extra actions. IFTTT t stands for If This, Then That (If it’s 5pm, turn on the lights).
LIFX seems pro-active in getting the serious “players” to support their bulbs. When I first received the lights, LIFX told me Apple HomeKit (providing Siri voice control) was in the works, a good sign. I was just starting to write up the review when the formal announcement came. (Good timing!)
One thing I really like about LIFX, from talking with them, is that it seems they understand the importance to “plays well with others.” Since the LIFX Color 1000 BR30 is Wifi, it doesn’t need to work with Amazon Echo, or fancy controllers like SmartThings. All you need is their app. But they understand that most folks don’t want to have 50 smart devices in their house, and have to control them with 15 or 20 different apps. These “eco-systems” are in part, about simplifying the end user experience.
A simple voice command can have all my LIFX bulbs in my home theater turn off at once, and if I’m a bit fancier, I can also lower my window shades with a voice command as well. With my SmartThings, I can’t directly use voice, but I can if desired, have motorized shades lowered, lights turned off, a motorized screen lowered, and perhaps my home theater system fired up.
All of this is great, but guess what? The Color 1000 BR30 first, and foremost has to be a very good, or preferably, a great color light bulb.
That will be the focus of our next page – looking at the overall performance of the bulb, and to some extent, how it compares with competing products.
Then we’ll get into the App, and more detail about controlling the bulb (or bulbs), and more about the different systems that LIFX works with, before summarizing. Time to turn the page!