The idea is genius. Put a full array of colored LEDs inside a standard, screw-in light bulb along with a simple wireless radio. Connect the bulb to an app on your phone and, presto, you can change the brightness and the actual color of the lights in the room with a tap or a swipe. All told, color tuning represents the greatest advancement in lighting technology since The Clapper.
Color tuning has a number of uses, from subtly adjusting the color temperature of the lighting in a room to spicing things up by giving your lighting a festive touch. Want red lights for Valentine's Day or green ones for a St. Patrick's Day party? A smart phone or tablet app makes it easy to tweak on the fly.
Color tuning is an emerging category, and bulbs on the market are far from equal. With no standards in place and bulbs costing a pretty penny, doing some careful research before you buy makes a lot of sense.
One of the first considerations should be the type of wireless technology the bulbs use. ZigBee solutions have a short range and require a gateway device that will limit placement to a few rooms, while Wi-Fi bulbs can be placed anywhere you have a signal, but you won't be able to control one that's stuck in a Wi-Fi dead spot. In large homes or buildings, this can be a significant issue. Bluetooth bulbs tend to offer somewhat better range than ZigBee, and they don't require a gateway.
While having lots of colors is nice, don't underestimate the importance of bulb brightness. A dazzling orange lamp doesn't make an impression if you can't read a book in the light it emits. All of these bulbs have their own dimmer systems included in the control app, but note that none of them will work properly on circuits with wired dimmer switches.
Here's a broad overview of how these bulbs stack up. Use the navigation tools at the bottom of the page to move back and forth between our hands-on reviews of each of the six bulbs.
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