If you think using your smartphone to turn on your lights is cool, you’ll flip when you can do that (and more) with just your voice. In fact, when I reviewed the Amazon Echo last year, I predicted a lot of people would buy more than one Echo so they could put them in multiple rooms.
Amazon was smarter than that. As soon as the company realized it had a hit product, it came up with less-expensive versions: the Tap, the Echo Dot, and most recently, a revamped Echo Dot. The Tap has a less-expensive speaker, and the Dot isn’t designed to play music at all, but both can summon Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based virtual assistant. What’s more, you can also summon Alex from Amazon Fire TV devices that come with a voice remote. And Amazon is also allowing third-party manufacturers to integrate Alexa connections directly into their own products, with the trippy Invoxia Triby being the first.
Alexa has a very broad range of capabilities, but this story focuses on the smart light bulbs that Amazon’s powerful virtual assistant can control, many of which we’ve reviewed. We’ll do another story that covers other types of products in the coming weeks, but for most people, lighting is at the top of the list of smart-home systems they’d like to control with voice commands.
Whether you’re coming through the door with an armload of groceries or you’re startled by a bump in the night, the ability to say “Alexa, turn on the lights” to banish the darkness is a wonderful thing. Here are some of the smart bulbs that make that possible.
Cree Connected: It might not be the prettiest bulb in the box, but Cree’s Connected LED casts very even soft-white light and has outlived the since-discontinued GE Link Connected LED bulb that we compared it to last year. This is a ZigBee bulb and therefore relies on a hub to connect to your router and to Alexa.
GE Link: GE is one of the oldest names in lighting, but the company is still finding its place in the new world of consumer LEDs. GE has since discontinued its line of Link bulbs with ZigBee radios, but you can still find them in stock at Amazon and elsewhere.
GE introduced a new line of LED bulbs—C by GE—that have Bluetooth radios, but these cannot be integrated with Alexa at this time.
Insteon Dimmable LED Bulbs: Insteon has been in the smart-home business for a very long time using their own dual-band networking protocol (commands travel via both radio waves and over power lines for redundancy). Insteon has two bulbs that can be connected with Alexa via an Insteon hub. There’s an A19-style bulb that produces 737 lumens (just shy of a 60-watt equivalent) and a PAR38-style for use in recessed lighting cans. Both models are dimmable.
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