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Zipato Smart RGB+W bulbs offer excellent color capabilities, and also very good cool or warm white!

Our Pretty Darn Cool award goes to products with great potential that's not fully realized, but worthy regardless!

Our Pretty Darn Cool award goes to products with great potential that’s not fully realized, but worthy regardless!

This smart bulb review starts with an overview, not just of the Zipato smart color bulbs, but also of the issues and benefits of smartcolor lighting.  Then we’ll get into some of the basics about the Zipato bulb itself.  We’ll also show you the bulb in action – its color capabilities, brightness, controlling it with an app, and more.

Pricing for the Zipato bulbs are all over the place if you are shopping on line.  I’ve seen as high as $99 (Amazon Prime and one other site), but most sites are selling it between low $50s and $65.

Interestingly you can buy the bulb from an Amazon store without Prime, for a price that more than $30 lower than the Prime price.  I guess sometimes Prime shipping isn’t “all that free.”

Zipato RGB+W Smart Bulb Overview and Positioning

It’s been almost a year (first saw them at CES last January) since I received the first Zipato RGB+W smart light bulb.  A couple of months later I added a second one.  These seem to be excellent color smart bulbs, but I wish I could report what a wonderful experience it’s been, as these were my first two RGB+W type bulbs, that I have worked with.

The photos in this image player below show:  The Zipato bulb.  The color wheel for selecting the bulb’s color using the SmartThings App. The bulb doing an amber color in a table top lamp in the bedroom. A shot of the wall of windows with shutters partially closed, and the Zipato doing red at 50% brightness, and finally, the Zipato, in the same room doing full cool white – rather brightly!

Perhaps I should quote The Grateful Dead.  (I had the opportunity to see The Dead and Company the night before NYE in LA – a great concert, BTW.  And, I’m told their NYE concert also at the Forum, was longer and even better!):   So here’s the quote, which represents much of my experience with the Zipato bulbs:  “What a long, strange trip it’s been!”

Let me start by saying that I am impressed by the Zipato bulbs themselves.  They seem to have a more robust color palette than the Philips Hue bulbs which are  somewhat limited when doing some brighter blue and green hues.  The Zipato bulbs are  pretty bright overall, and especially so doing whites.  If you want a good warm, or cool, white light, with even illumination, the Zipato bulbs again seem to be very good (and superior to the Hue bulbs which are “merely” RGB not RGB+W, so they have to make their white using their R, G, and B LEDs.

The Zipato has both a warm white LED and a cool white LED in addition to the R,G,B LEDs.  That helps with white brightness, and allows, with the proper app features, that these bulbs could output different whites at different times of the day following the human circadian rhythm.

So, what is the issue –  that makes for that “long strange trip” of almost a year before I could begin to write this review?

It boils down to this:  If you want to get the most capability out of these Zipato bulbs, you need a Z-Wave controller/hub that fully supports them.

We all hope that when we are using apps that they are competent ones.  An issue with Z-Wave is that its the controller’s app you have to depend on.  If there isn’t full support for a devices features, you can’t use those features.  Of the two Z-Wave controllers I have used, neither (to date) does a great job of supporting color lights as I shall explain.

There are controllers out there that do offer full support of color bulbs.  Consider – Zipato has it’s own Z-Wave controller. While I haven’t worked with it, I’m pretty confident they would make sure all the bulb’s abilities are supported properly.  So, if you have need for a whole lot of color bulbs, and the Zipato bulb works for you, you might choose to have two Z-Wave controllers, one just for your smart color lights.  Also, while my original Z-Wave controller was a HomeSeer, it was pre Z-Wave+, I do hear that HomeSeer is supporting these lights.

The first controller I really tried these lights with was the Nexia.  The app had no support for color, but you could configure color on their website, changing the color of the bulb (three sliders R,G,B for color, and two for white), rather than the more common color wheel.   I’m currently using a SmartThings Hub (Samsung owns SmartThings these days).  The SmartThings App also had no built in support, but a SmartThings community built color addition was pushed to me, and works well, within its limited capabilities

Generally, though, most folks will want to choose a controller/hub that has extensive support for many products.  On paper Zipato’s own controller/hub has reasonable capabilities, but we haven’t reviewed it, nor do we expect to, in the near future.  We’re trying to – at least for now, stick to controllers that offer a lot of support for 3rd party products.  Currently we’re reviewing the SmartThings Hub (previous controller review was the Nexia controller, before that I used a pre Z-Wave+).  The SmartThings Hub app doesn’t provide any initial support for the color aspects of the Zipato bulb, but the SmartThings community has support.  When I spoke to SmartThings support they pushed a Zipato solution over to me, which I’ve been using successfully to generate colors.  I’ll discuss how much capability vs limitations, later on in this review.


Basic Zipato RGB+W Bulb Specifications

From a practical standpoint, here’s the basics:

Zipato RGB+W Bulb: 

  • Type: RGB+W LED
    • When white is selected, only white LEDs are used
    • When colors are selected only RGB LEDs are used
  • Interface – Hardware:  E27
  • Interface – Software:    Z-Wave Plus
  • Wattage:  6.7 watts maximum
  • Wattage – on standby:  0.45 Watt
  • Voltage:  100-240V, 50/60 hz (compatible with most of the world)
  • Brightness:  Stated as equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent
    Assumption, that would be for white light – how bright for color?  Not sure, but seems a good bit brighter than Hue
  • Supports multiple Z-Wave frequencies for international compatibility:
    • US, EU, IN, RU, IS, AU

Changing Your World With Smart Color Lighting

I’m a huge fan of smart color lighting.  I’ve been talking about this for several years.  I do believe that smart LED – RGB and especially RGB+W lights will have a dramatic impact on interior design.  Consider:  Even 40 years ago (or more) you could have, if you wanted, put all red light bulbs in your living room.

Problem is, after a few hours, or days at most, you’d probably be sick of your room always being red.

But with smart lighting, it can be white most of the time, or mostly white with some color accents, or all one color or a mix of colors between the various bulbs and fixtures in the room.

And you can change it at your whim.  As an example, I can tell you we’ve been using color in our Dream Home living room, and its view oriented patio.  We usually change our color palette to match the sunset and dusk.  One evening it might be blue green lighting, but if it’s a hazy sunset, we favor oranges.  It’s fun, and different.  Some friends think it’s a little strange, but others look forward to what new color tricks we’re using each time they visit!

Next Page :: Zipato RGBW Smart Light Bulb Review – Usage and Performance – Page 2
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