Control lamps’ colour and brightness with just a twitch of your thumb!
Elgato isn’t the first company to make a smart lightbulb – Philips being the most obvious big competitor with its Hue system – but since we usually like Elgato’s stuff, we’re still interested.
As with similar products, you control its colour and brightness from your iPhone or iPad; just screw it into a light fitting (only E26/27 fittings are supported for now), get the app, and you’re good to go. It connects over Bluetooth 4.0, which limits compatibility but means you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of pairing.
This doesn’t mean you’re limited to a single bulb, though; you can control up to ten Aveas from your iPhone, as long as they’re all within Bluetooth range. This system is less complex to set up than Hue’s, but less flexible too, in part because there’s no direct internet connection. With Hue, for example, you can control the lights over the internet and hook them into extending services such as IFTTT. You might assume Hue would work out cheaper as you add more bulbs, but no; it’s always more expensive than the Avea.
And besides: Avea does something we haven’t seen before. Sure, you can choose solid colours (and very pretty they are, too; the green is strong, especially next to the Hue bulbs) and tweak brightness and colour balance, but you can also pick from a series of dynamic scenes where the bulb cycles slowly through some similar hues. It sounds like it might be a bit ‘disco’, but it’s slow and subtle – and quite effective. Once you’ve set one, your iPhone disconnects until you change it; the ‘recipes’ are stored on the bulb, though this means you can’t create your own. It can act as a wake-up light, too – although it needs to be able to connect to your phone for this – playing birdsong or a track from your iPhone’s library.
Hue may have more options, but this is simpler, cheaper (both to get into and to expand) and very well executed. Christopher Phin
Cheaper and simpler than Philips Hue (though at a small cost in flexibility); fun and well-designed.