REVIEW: GE Link LED Smart Bulb

REVIEW: GE Link LED Smart Bulb

Goldblum would never lead you astray.

In our journey to find the right lighting for our new place, I’ve already worked my way through a few of the most popular “dumb” bulbs on the market. Those bulbs are great, but energy savings is only half of the fun of having a smart home… I’m ready to mess around with some automation.

Given their pedigree and disruptive price, I figure there’s not better place to start in the smart bulb market than GE’s Link platform that integrates with Wink. Let’s take a look!

What Does It Claim to Do?

The Link is a small family of LED lightbulbs that aims to replace your incandescents with a bulb that is both more energy efficient, and more intelligent. Although it doesn’t cost much more than a standard A19 LED replacement bulb, a Link bulb also includes wireless networking and dimming functionality in the bulb itself. This makes it a compelling solution for families looking for a simple way to automate lighting by zone, make certain fixtures dimmable, set lights to a timer, and more.

Specs:

  • 60w replacement (using 12w)
  • Estimated energy cost of $1.45/yr
  • Shaped like a normal bulb
  • Clear enclosure
  • Mercury and lead free
  • 25,000 hour lifetime
  • Dimmable (via app only)
  • Soft White/2700k
  • 800 lumens
  • 60Hz
  • ZigBee certified
  • Requires the Wink Hub (or another ZigBee controller) for smart features.

Look and Feel

It feels funny admiring a light bulb, but I can’t help it with this one; the Link is a good lookin’ bulb. Its classic design is easy on the eyes, and the LED/antenna arrangement inside its dome is even nice to look at (when its off, of course). Note to manufacturers: attention to detail is always appreciated, even on a simple light bulb.

The packaging is fantastic too (if not a little ostentatious, given the simple object inside), making the bulb feel like something worthy of your desire. Everything feels well constructed and built-to-last.

The only fault I can find here is in the green base that is barely exposed when the bulb is screwed into a fixture. It looks fine with our modern setup at home, but I could see it standing out a bit in more traditional homes that may have the bulb exposed.

Performance and User Experience

Time for the big question… How does it work?

Pretty well, actually! I’m using it in conjunction with the Wink Hub (we’ll have a review on that shortly), and the whole setup behaves pretty much as I expected it to. It took me about 20 seconds to pair each bulb with Wink and give it a name; after that, it’s a matter of tapping the bulb icon in the app to turn them on/off, and holding the icon to adjust the brightness.

Each command takes 2-3 seconds to reach the bulbs, which seems acceptable to me. The Wink app also allows you to set up “shortcuts” and “robots” to have the bulbs remember certain tasks for later. We’re using two of the Link bulbs in our bedroom lamps, so I set up a shortcut to turn each lamp on at their lowest brightness setting when we’re ready to “veg out” at the end of the day. It works well *most of the time, though the action isn’t synchronized; the bulbs turn on and adjust their brightness one at a time, which is odd (but no big deal).

A trade off for this cool functionality is using the app to change your lighting instead of the switch on your lamp/wall. If you use your normal switch, it’ll just turn on and off at full brightness like a normal bulb.

This takes some getting used to, but isn’t bad as long as your phone is nearby. Lauren is a good barometer on convenience for me, and I haven’t heard her mention once that it bothers her. I know this is going to sound unbelievably lazy, but it’s nice not having to contort yourself over a nightstand to switch a lamp off from bed. My muscles are already beginning to atrophy…

As for the light quality itself, it’s bright and even, though maybe a bit glaring since the bulb isn’t frosted. Dimming is fine, with no flicker at all. The only negative is that the bulbs only dim to about 15-20%, which is noticeably brighter than the dimming you might see from a switch on the wall (which is not supported with the Link).

Integration with Other Platforms

Although it’s heavily marketed as a Wink product, the Link bulb supports the ZigBee standard and should work with other hubs that support that protocol. I’m thankful it’s not something proprietary.

Build Quality and Reliability

As I mentioned above, the construction on the bulb seems to be top notch.

* Regarding working well “most of the time,” I was able to use the bulbs with no problem for a week until I was in the middle of this review. Ironically enough, it as at that point that one of them stopped responding for about 30 minutes. I tried power cycling, relaunching the app and all of the other normal tricks, but nothing seemed to fix it. Then, all of the sudden, it began working again. I’m not sure if it’s the bulb’s fault or the Wink Hub’s fault, so I may update this review in the future with more answers. For now, it’s costing the bulb a few stars in this category.

Even when the smart functions aren’t responding, it still works great as a normal LED bulb.

Affordability

As of late 2014, this is one of the most affordable smart bulbs on the market. It’s $15 price point is a fantastic deal, and is especially great in light of competing products that retail for almost double the price.

If you pick up a few on a whim, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Author

Eric is the creator of At Home in the Future and has been a passionate fan of the future since he was seven. He's a web developer by trade, and serves as the Director of Communication and Technology for a large church in Nashville, TN (where he and his family are building a high tech home in the woods).

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *