Sunday, November 8, 2015

My initial impressions of the new Ilumi Smartbulbs from Kickstarter

One can always expect delays from Kickstarter projects. Always tack at a least a month or two on the expected shipping dates. You should never be angry about that, it is part of the Kickstarter game. But for Ilumi, it is disappointing to here that the reason there was a delay in shipping to backers was because they decided to use the initial inventory to supply Home Depot Canada first as they had struck a distribution deal.


That is great news for Ilumi. But to screw over your initial backers who gave you the opportunity to fulfill your idea first? That's not cool. Anyways, the three lightbulbs I backed finally arrived and I am going to give you a first impression.



I backed the new Ilumi Smartbulbs from Kickstarter. The light bulbs are plenty bright, the color range looks great, and the bulbs respond fast from the phone app. Overall, in terms of the light bulb itself, I can say that I am pleased with them. But that is all I can say, really. I am interested in home automation solutions, not just being able to control a light bulb with a cell phone. And currently that is all the Ilumi is able to do.

Ilumi is suppose to provide support with the Amazon Echo to allow voice control, but that is not currently available. A better revamped phone app is suppose to be released in November, but as of today it is still not released so I cannot test that either. The app currently available is ok, but leaves a lot to be desired. And since a new one is in the works, it may not be fair to judge the product based on the current app.

The most important aspect is getting it to work with my SmartThings Hub. I want to see the SDK so I, or someone else, can code up support to get the hub working with the these lights. But the SDK is not currently available either. My current GE Link bulbs work great, but they do not have the fancy cool light colors like these bulbs. But having color does not make these better than the automation and voice control my current light bulbs provide so they are staying put.


So in the end, there is not much I can say about these bulbs. Hardware wise they are good. But in terms of compatibility and expandability, which is very important in Home Automation, these are a dud. I would not recommend these to others yet, as they are functionally limited at the moment. I will post a new review in the future if I get these to work as I expect. But until then, I would recommend GE Link bulbs or the more expensive, but better supported, Philips Hue lights. Plus the new Hue lights have Apple HomeKit support, which is great for Apple users.

Update

I ended up selling my Ilumi lightbulbs as they just did  not fit well into my home automation environment. Lightbulbs that can only be controlled through a cell phone are available for much cheaper from Chinese manufacturers. I switched over to the Philips Hue lights as they are much better in terms of home automation as I have written. While I was pleased with the Ilumi lightbulbs in terms of hardware, the software side was a total disappointment. 

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