Disclaimer: LIFX kindly provided the Color 1000 bulbs for this review. As always, the opinions and conclusion are my own.
A lot has changed in the smart lighting space since I originally reviewed the original LIFX color changing bulb. The folks at LIFX were kind enough to send some BR30 (recessed) versions of their upgraded Color 1000 bulb my way, so I’ve been putting them through the paces this summer and comparing them to the (increasingly crowded) competition.
Is the LIFX lineup still a great option to add some color to your home’s lighting? Read on to find out!
What Does it Claim to Do?
The LIFX Color 1000 is a WiFi-enabled smart light bulb that uses LEDs to produce millions of shades of colors and whites. The BR30 version I tested for this review claims to replace your typical 70 watt recessed bulbs with a 11 watt powerhouse that’s loaded with some exciting features.
- 970 lumens
- Costs $1.32/yr to operate
- Capable of millions of shades of colors and whites
- No hub required
- Works in normal light fixtures
- Smart features controlled through a free companion app for iOS/Android
- 2 year warranty
Let’s dig in to these bulbs to see how they work in practice!
Look and Feel
The BR30 Color 1000 bulbs I tested for this review look pretty much like any other recessed bulb, and that’s a great thing. If you leave them on a cool or warm white color temperature, you would never notice them in use as they blend right in with any other recessed bulb.
The only time you’ll notice its differences is when you’ve pulled it out of the (well-designed) box and are preparing to screw it in. The bulb is significantly heavier than a standard can bulb, and the frosted cover is made from a high-quality plastic rather than a shatter prone glass. Again, none of this matters in actual usage unless your prone to dropping bulbs when you’re trying to install them; in that case, I guess the sturdy casing would be considered a bonus.
As with any bulb like this, you’ll spend very little time with the physical product and a lot of time controlling it through its companion apps; thankfully, the LIFX app is best-in-class here, with the most intuitive UI and option toggles I’ve used for smart lighting. The simple sliders for controlling dimness and white temperature/color tone are easily understood and so easy to control that my daughter opens the app and tweaks those settings all of the time (for better or worse).
You may end up controlling your LIFX bulbs through a smart home hub or another app anyway, but the default options are great.
Performance and User Experience
Since the LIFX bulbs don’t require a hub to function (more on that in a second), setup is especially easy, and unbelievably quick. Essentially, you just screw them in, connect them to the companion app, and start having fun.
Lets go ahead and talk about dimness control and color here, because that is by far the main attraction of the LIFX line. I’ve test nearly a dozen other smart bulbs since my review of the original LIFX bulb, and the color vibrancy of these bulbs is still second-to-none. The BR30s I’m reviewing here are rated at 970 lumens, which at full blast makes them nearly 300 lumens brighter than our typical LED recessed bulbs.
That power is especially obvious when you compare the color vibrancy of the Color 1000 against competing products like Philips Hue and Osram. Wheras the Hue’s standard bulbs do a good job adding color to a space (their accessory products like the Iris and Lightstrip+ do much better), the LIFX bulbs are so vibrant that they’re almost neon; I’m talking professional grade vibrance that you would expect in a theme park or concert venue. They can also hit shades of green, light blue, and pink that the Hue a19 and BR30s struggle to achieve. They’re really spectacular.
Equally impressive are the different white temperatures and their exceptional ability to hit hundreds of distinct levels of dimness. Setting them to 1% truly results in just a trickle of light, which is an area that some LED bulbs or even in-wall dimmers struggle with these days. In my mind, this makes the LIFX bulbs well suited to bedrooms and entertainment centers.
As mentioned above, the app makes all of these settings a breeze with an easily-understood up/down wheel for dimness, and a scroll wheel for color/white temperature that has the satisfying feel of controlling a classic iPod (RIP). The app has also seen quite a few other great tweaks since my original review, including lighting schedules, an awesome built-in system for setting themes, and some truly outstanding effects that your family will have a blast with. Those effects (like candle flicker, strobe lights, music visualization, and more) are well-executed and are a huge value addition as competing systems require the use of third-party apps for similar functionality.
Controlling the lights is nearly instantaneous, and extremely reliable (with a little extra lag when you’re controlling them remotely). Another good thing to note here is that the lights remember their previous setting, and don’t revert to a default white state if the power goes on and off; this is especially helpful for a place like my daughters room, where all she wants is a consistent pink glow.
Functionally speaking, the LIFX line offers a nearly perfect experience from right out of the box.
Compatibility with Other Platforms
The Color 1000 bulbs are compatible with a lot of platforms these days, but they’re no where close to achieving the type of ubiquity that Philips has pulled off with its Hue line. You’ll find compatiblity with most of the big players like Nest, Alexa, and SmartThings, but there are still some glaring ommissions like Apple’s HomeKit and Wink (which is painful for our household). They’ve been adding partners like crazy as of late, though, so I’m sure they’ll close those gaps eventually.
By the way, the voice control through Alexa with the Amazon Echo works great, and they even have an Alexa skill that lets you change the light color with your Echo as well. These are great for voice control.
Build Quality and Reliability
The construction of the bulb itself is clean and precision engineered, and the high-quality LEDs contained within are rated to last nearly 23 years. Your kids will likely be grown and married by the time you think of replacing these bulbs.
The Color 1000 packs a serious amount of value into each of these bulbs for $59.99; when you factor in that you don’t need a hub to make them work, they’re easily one of the most inexpensive entry points for adding color-capable smart lighting to your home (though costs are about a wash with Hue if you plan on adding several).
On its own, the LIFX Color 1000 is probably the best smart bulb on the market at the time of this review. It’s competitively priced, extremely flexible, and produces absolutely beautiful light. If it’s compatible with your chosen smart home platform and you only want to use A19/BR30 bulbs for your set up, I couldn’t recommend them more. Hue still has more support and an unbelievable range of solutions that may make it more attractive to power users, but you honestly can’t go wrong with either system. I’m a huge fan of the LIFX Color 1000.