The go-to HomeKit accessory that the majority of people jump to is lightbulbs. Everyone can use them, and they offer a ton of functionality. That is why products like the Philips Hue system took off. The Sylvania Smart+ LED bulb is a great alternative, because it requires no expensive networked hub, and instead talks directly with your devices.
Sylvania is just starting their HomeKit lineup, so at the moment, they only have a standard A19 bulb with an E26 base, which is a lot of letters and numbers to say it works in standard US bulb sockets (and E27 European sockets as well). You do have the option of a white-only or full color bulb, so there is some variety.
The bulb is fairly bright, at 800 lumens. That is roughly what the Philips Hue line can output, depending on the bulb and particular hue of the bulb. Sylvania says there are 16 million color options, though we were unable to fully count all of those, I tend to take their word for it.
Sylvania does offer their own app for your iPhone or iPad, but it is pretty bare bones. It is essentially just there to perform an update to your bulb, but otherwise will leave the heavy lifting to the native Home app (or your favorite third-party option). I really prefer it this way because many third-party apps are terrible. I like how they relegated that to other apps instead of trying to confuse people of which to use.
The Smart+ bulb connects to your device over Bluetooth. This is contrary to others that communicate over Zigbee and require some sort of bridge to connect to your network. This is hugely beneficial because there is no additional hardware (or expenses) you need to incur to start using it. It also increases the response time because you don’t have to connect to the bridge first.
On the downside, that does mean you can’t control the bulb remotely, unless you have a recent iPad or Apple TV within range. Luckily, that is something many people have these day, so it isn’t much of a big deal. It can also be a downside if you planned to put some of these bulbs in remote parts of your home, and you have nothing in range of the Bluetooth.
As with any HomeKit accessory, you have the full power of HomeKit to automate your lights. All of this automation is easy to set up using Apple’s Home app. iOS 11 brings even more capabilities to your smart home.
Here are a few examples of things you can pull of with your new smart lights.
- Turn the lights on when the first person arrives home
- Turn off when the last person leaves
- Turn on with the sunrise or your alarm in the morning
- Turn on when the front door is unlocked, or the back door is open
- Turn on and off using motion sensors when someone is in the room
- Turn on and off while you are away so it appears someone is home
- Tie to other lights in your room so they all go on and off together
The biggest downside, which is fairly irrelevant to HomeKit iOS users, is that the bulb doesn’t work with Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. It is solely accessible via HomeKit and Siri on your iOS device.
Wrapping it up
Lets go ahead and sum up the Sylvania Smart+ bulb into a few pros and cons.
- No hub necessary
- Color and white options
- HomeKit, Siri, and automation support
- Bluetooth low energy connection
- Remote control via Home hub
- Affordable options
- No Google Home or Alexa support
- Body can get warm after long bouts of use
- Needs to be within Bluetooth range of device to be used
Compared to Philips Hue, they offer similar brightness and have as many colors, yet require no hub and are roughly the same price. These are great bulbs if you are looking to add a few to your setup without purchasing a bridge or other extensive lighting system.
Sylvania is set to introduce light strips and power outlets as well to their smart home collection later this year, which should bring it even more in line with their competition. If you’d like to pick them up for yourself, you can find the color bulb for $45, and the white color for $26 over on Amazon.
Let us know what you think of these smart bulbs, and which are your favorite, down in the comments.