The Lumen TL800 is an RGBW (Red, Green, Blue, and White) LED lightbulb. Well, actually they call it a Smart Bulb because it can be controlled from your iPhone via Bluetooth. What the heck would you use that for you ask? Tons of stuff, but most importantly it’s just really cool to be able to change the color of your lights on a whim. Plus, it screws into a standard lightbulb socket, meaning it doesn’t require anything you don’t already have. How cool is that?
It’s very cool (though in white mode, it’s actually a warm white color). Bad jokes aside, setting up the Lumen couldn’t be much more simple. Unscrew one of your old lightbulbs and replace it with the Lumen. Then, download the Lumen app, turn on the lights, and pair with the lightbulb via Bluetooth. The Lumen functions just like a normal lightbulb. If you turn it on, it will default to the normal warm white color (even if it was a specific color the last time you turned the power off from the lamp). If you want to have total control of the smart bulb at all times, you’ll want to keep the power to this lamp always on. You can turn the light off via the app while still powering the Bluetooth.
There are two main light modes in the iPhone app that controls the Lumen: white and color. While in white mode, you can change the brightness of the bulb with a dial or tap a few predetermined light output level buttons. But the real fun happens in color mode. There’s a color wheel full of the colors that the Lumen can be configured to output. Just pick one. It’s really that easy. The Lumen responds to your color choices very quickly. A chosen color is displayed constantly until you tell it to do something else. Remember, instead of turning the light out at the source, use the app to turn the lightbulb off. I’m not sure how much energy this mode uses, but given that it’s already an LED lightbulb, it’s probably still well below the energy requirements of your grandpa’s favorite lightbulbs.
In addition to the manual controls, there are a few extra features that make the Lumen a bit more interesting. There are two disco modes that flash changing colors at different speeds. Strobe mode does something similar with a single color. There’s also a music mode that flashes colors in sync to the music played via the app. All of these are too harsh for everyday life, but they might be fun for a party.
There are two color changing modes that are quite nice. One produces red and orange colors and the other produces blues and violets that change slowly. I really like both of these because they really show off what this bulb does best: shine (different colors). I actually wish there was a way to change between two or more colors chosen by the user instead of the two built-in color choices. Or better yet, a rainbow mode with a speed control. Something to hope for in a future update perhaps?
The last three modes are a little different. There’s a proximity mode that turns the light on with a chosen color when your iPhone connects to the light. This should turn the light off when you leave and on again when you come home. There’s a call mode that will flash a user-defined color when you get a phone call. And finally, there’s a wake up mode that mimics a sun rise on the day and time of your choosing. You can set up a different time for each day of the week. I like this idea, but its usefulness depends on where you put this bulb.
My biggest problem with the Lumen is that it connects via Bluetooth. It has an auto link feature that allows the smart bulb to auto connect to your iPhone when it’s within range. In practice, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes you’ll have to manually turn the lightbulb on and off again (with the socket instead of the app). This could be an issue if you’re wanting to take advantage of the proximity mode mentioned previously. I would have much preferred to see this lightbulb connect via Wi-Fi and be controllable with a Cloud service. That way, you could control this lightbulb from anywhere instead of just the same room. I know, how big of a deal is it that you can’t turn your lights on while you’re on vacation? Probably not that big of a deal, but it would open up other interesting possibilities. More importantly, it would free this lightbulb from being controlled from a single device (it’s likely you aren’t the only one that lives in your house). There is another product like this bulb that connects to the Internet, but unlike the Lumen, it requires a base station. So, it depends on what you value most.
My second problem is that the iPhone app just looks bad. It gets the job done, but there’s definitely a lot room for improvement to the user interface. This doesn’t really impact usefulness, just user experience. This is something that could be remedied with future updates.
Overall, I really like the Lumen Lumen Smart Bulb. It’s a very cool LED lightbulb that allows you to change the mood in a room with the color of light. There are some special features (some of which are more useful than others) that make this bulb more interesting than just setting a color and forgetting about it. Unfortunately, it’s not without flaws. This bulb uses Bluetooth to connect, which means your phone is necessary for controlling it. Wi-Fi with Cloud control might have been a better choice for a more seamless experience. The app for controlling the Lumen could also use some work.
But, in the end, if you want an LED lightbulb that you can change the color of with an iPhone app, this is still the cheapest route available. Better yet, it doesn’t require you to have a base station or any other gear that you don’t already have. It’s not perfect, but it can very easily change color on command and liven up a room in a way that your friends are sure to think is pretty darn cool.
Provides: App controlled RBGW lightbulb functionality
Minimum Requirements: iOS device with Bluetooth 4.0 support