The WeMo + OSRAM Lightify Flex RGBW solution ($65-$120) is another lighting product stemming from Belkin’s recent partnership with Sylvania, providing a similarly specialized lighting solution to the Belkin WeMo + OSRAM Lightify Gardenspot Mini RGB Starter Set we looked at earlier this week. This indoor solution provides a set of flexible multi-coloured LED light strips suitable for mounting under a bar or countertop, tied into Belkin’s WeMo ecosystem for controlling from your iOS device.
Much like the Gardenspot, the Flex RGBW kit includes the standard OSRAM Lightify ZigBee HA controller which is bridged into the WeMo environment using Belkin’s WeMo Link. Two different packages are available, allowing users who already have a WeMo Link from another Belkin product to simply purchase the standard OSRAM Lightify Flex RGBW set for $65 rather than the full $120 Belkin WeMo + OSRAM Lightify Flex RGBW Starter Set. Inside either package you’ll find three two-foot LED light strips, a Lightify controller, a power supply, and 3M mounting tape for both the strips and the controller, with the Starter Set merely adding in the WeMo Link.
Each of the three light strips contain twelve multicoloured LEDs, and all three strips can be connected together using the five-pin connectors at each end to create a single six-foot, 36-light run. Fewer strips can be used if you need to create a shorter run of lighting, but with only a single Lightify controller in the box you’ll be left with extra strips unless you choose to purchase another kit. Strips can be mixed and matched between kits, however, so you could buy a second basic $65 kit, for example, and use five strips with one kit and only one with another as two separate lighting solutions, or any combination thereof.
The light strips include 3M adhesive tape on the back, as does the Lightify controller, allowing it to be conveniently mounted underneath a countertop or other similar surface close to the lights, although the wire between the Lightify controller and the light strip connector is about 1’, giving you a bit of room to play with. The other end of the Lightify controller takes a standard DC barrel connector, allowing you some flexibility in replacing the power supply as well if the included one isn’t convenient for your desired configuration.
The Flex RGBW light strips are controlled using the standard Belkin WeMo app, and are paired through the WeMo Link in the same manner as the Gardenspot lights or WeMo LED light bulbs. If you already have your WeMo link setup, the pairing process is very straightforward, otherwise you’ll be taken through the process of joining the WeMo Link’s temporary Wi-Fi network in order to associate it with your own router. Once paired, the app allows you to toggle the lights on and off and adjust the brightness, as well as changing the color of the lights either by using a standard color circle or choosing a color temperature for true white lighting. A sleep timer feature is also available in the app to gradually fade the lights out after a predetermined time, and rules can be configured to toggle the lights on and off at a certain time, including automatic sunrise/sunset settings, or based on motion detected by a WeMo sensor. Rules can include brightness settings and fade-in/fade-out durations, but unfortunately don’t provide any way to bring the lights on at a preset color. Note that the Flex RGBW lights are controlled in a single chain, so all lights connected to a given Lightify controller will adjust to whatever settings are specified in the WeMo app; there is no way to control the LEDs individually.
We’ve admittedly found some of Belkin’s WeMo partnerships a bit quesitonable, particularly its foray into crock pots and coffee makers, however we think the company has hit on something great here with Sylvania OSRAM, allowing it to focus its attempts back on lighting while providing unique solutions that go beyond the typical LED light bulbs that we’ve seen so many of. Flex RGBW is definitely an appealing solution, and although the inevitable price comparisons always come into play between standard “dumb” lights and more intelligent Wi-Fi enabled lighting systems, most users can appreciate the ability to turn lights on and off remotely or set them on schedules, and the premium for Sylvania and WeMo’s ZigBee HA implementation is not unreasonable in this case, particularly for users who have already invested in the WeMo Link ecosystem – one WeMo Link will support up to 50 devices, and a single Lightify controller counts as one device against that. Like most other home automation solutions we’ve reviewed, we’re still cautious about the proprietary nature of the WeMo ecosystem, but as the company continues to build products that incorporate the ZigBee HA standard, it’s opening things up a bit more, and we’re encouraged by its partnerships with other home automation companies. It’s still too early to tell what HomeKit is going to ultimately bring to the table, but for now, Belkin’s WeMo ecosystem remains one of the leading iOS solutions available, and the Lightify Flex RGBW set is a very good lighting solution that’s worthy of our strong general recommendation.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 3GS to 6 Plus, iPod touch 4G/5G, iPad 2 to Air, All iPad minis