The third new WeMo + OSRAM product to come out of Belkin’s recent Sylvania partnership is the new Lightify White Tunable Starter Set ($100), a new kit that’s reminscent of last year’s Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set, with the key difference being Sylvania’s OSRAM Lightify Tunable White bulbs replacing Belkin’s own smart LED bulbs in the starter kit. While the two prior WeMo + OSRAM products we’ve reviewed — the Flex RGBW and Gardenspot Mini RGB lights — were more specialized, this kit gets back to the basics, providing standard LED light bulbs that can be used in just about any fixture around the home.
Much like the other WeMo + OSRAM kits, Belkin has paired Sylania’s Lightify ZigBee HA bulbs with its own WeMo Link to bridge them into the WeMo ecosystem. The Starter Set includes the WeMo Link and two Tunable White bulbs for $100, however users who already have a WeMo Link from any other Belkin WeMo kit can simply purchase the Sylvania OSRAM Lightify branded bulbs individually for $30 each — all the WeMo Links are compatible, and each one can control up to 50 different bulbs or other lighting devices. Notably, these prices are on par with last year’s Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set pricing, although Belkin has since discounted the earlier models.
As the name implies, the key difference in the new Tunable White LED lights is the ability to adjust the color temperature of the bulbs, ranging from 2,700 to 6,500 Kelvin, which provides the ability to go with cooler or warmer lighting according to your preference. As with the prior WeMo LED bulb, the Tunable White lights can also be dimmed. The new Tunable White bulbs provide essentially the same amount of lighting as Belkin’s original LED bulbs — technically 805 lumens as opposed to 800 — not enough to be noticeable to the human eye. The Tunable Whites, however, come in at about an inch shorter than the first WeMo bulbs, which were already reasonably compact by LED bulb standards.
The Tunable White bulbs are of course controlled through Belkin’s WeMo iOS app alongside any other WeMo devices you have. After plugging in the WeMo Link — assuming you don’t already have one setup — installing the bulbs is a matter of screwing them into a standard light fixture like any other light bulb, turning the corresponding light switch on, and then following the instructions in the WeMo app to set them up. Light switches will need to remain on to keep the bulbs powered and controllable through the app, but like last year’s WeMo bulbs, the Tunable Whites will default to an “on” state, so you can turn one on by toggling the normal light switch from off to on. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work the other way — if you want to turn a light off and have it remain accessible on the network, you’ll need to leave the light switch on and turn it off using the WeMo app instead.
The Tunable White bulbs interact with the WeMo app in the same way as last year’s WeMo bulbs — they can be switched on and off, dimmed, set to gradually fade in and out according to time and motion rules, and even organized into groups to be controlled together in a single fixture or lighting zone. The Tunable White bulbs provide one extra control, however — a color temperature wheel slider. Unfortunately, this can only be set manually right now; while rules can specify on and off and brightness status, the bulbs will come on using whatever color temperature was last set manually. Also, while the Tunable White bulbs can still be set to fade out with a sleep timer or as part of a scheduled rule, they don’t fade out like the standard WeMo bulbs when being switched off manually — they simply turn off.
Sylvania’s OSRAM Lightify Tunable White LED bulbs are a nice addition to Belkin’s WeMo ecosystem, providing more sophisticated lighting options at a reasonable price compared to other smart lighting solutions. While you’ll still pay twice as much as you would for normal “dumb” LED bulbs, the ability to control the bulbs remotely and tune the color temperature will be a compelling feature for some users. The fact that these leverage Belkin’s same WeMo Link as other products also makes them very appealing as expansion units to anybody who may have already implemented the previous Smart LED bulbs or may be using or considering the other WeMo + OSRAM lighting solutions.
While Apple’s HomeKit has the potential to bring a number of disparate home automation solutions together under the iOS umbrella in the future, it’s been off to a slower start; for now WeMo provides one of the most expansive iOS-compatible home automation product lineups, and we expect to see Belkin adding HomeKit support in the future. At this point WeMo remains one of the best solutions available if you’re looking for an iOS-controlled LED lighting solution that goes beyond a single Bluetooth bulb, and it’s ability to tie into the larger WeMo ecosystem makes it even more compelling, and worthy of our strong general recommendation.
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Compatible: iPhone 3GS to 6 Plus, iPod touch 4G/5G, iPad 2-Air 2, All iPad minis