Nyrius is a relatively new player in the iOS space with its new Smart Bulb ($30), a relatively inexpensive wireless Bluetooth LED bulb that provides integration with an iPhone app for turning it on and off, changing colors, setting timers, and a couple of other interesting features. The Smart Bulb ships in a box with a quick start guide, and a companion iPhone app can be downloaded from the App Store.
Getting the Nyrius Smart Bulb up and running is relatively straightforward — you screw it into any light socket, make sure the power is on, and then fire up the Nyrius Bulb app. It should detect the bulb and display an on/off toggle beside the bulb name. Multiple bulbs are supported and can be combined into groups, however we were not able to test this particular aspect as we had only a single bulb for review. Tapping on the bulb in the app provides additional settings, and in-app access is provided to support information such as a manual and frequently asked questions.
In the detailed settings are options for adjusting the color and brightness and setting timers to turn the bulb on and off at specific times. The color is adjusted using a standard color wheel, although there are no specific color temperature options available. Brightness control is handled by a slider below the color wheel, however, an on-off toggle isn’t available from any of these screens — sliding the brightness all the way down to zero is the the only way to turn the bulb back off again without returning back to the main management screen. The second tab allows the selection of one of four pre-defined lighting “moods” for reading, dining, relaxation, or party; this fourth option sets the bulb to rapidly pulse through several different colors, creating a kind of psychedelic vibe. A “Rhythm” tab provides an additional unique feature of enabling the iPhone microphone and letting the bulb throb in sync with whatever external audio is being picked up — again handy for parties or, say, beatboxing.
The app also allows timers to be set, which are stored within the bulb itself so that they can run even when the app isn’t loaded or the iPhone isn’t anywhere nearby. Timers are set as individual “on” and “off” entries, rather than time ranges, and can turn the bulb on or off based on time of the day and day of the week, providing an optional setting for fading in or out. We found the timer interface to be a bit cumbersome, since an extra step is required to upload the changes to the bulb before they will take effect. It’s a quick process, akin to hitting a “save” button, but the app reminded us of the need to do this every time we created or edited a rule — it got annoying pretty quickly. Rules also didn’t behave quite as we would have expected — for example, a rule to fade the bulb out at a certain time would turn it ON first, and then fade it back out over the course of about thirty seconds. While maybe some can see the logic behind this, we’d expect that an OFF rule would leave the light off if it’s already in this state, rather than turning it on just to turn it back off again.
It’s also worth noting that there is no way to make the bulb come on with a certain color or brightness setting from a timer — it simply lights up in whatever mode it was last left in when it was turned off. The bulb can also be renamed from the Timers screen (arguably an odd place for this option), and a “Call Alert” setting allows the bulb to flash when an incoming call arrives, although in testing we found that the bulb actually stayed ON after an incoming call rather than returning to its previous state.
Nyrius’ Smart Bulb more or less works as a wireless Bluetooth light bulb, however the experience isn’t nearly as polished as other similar solutions we’ve looked at. Fading modes on timers actually appear to move in visible increments rather than a smooth fade, creating a flickering effect that makes for a slightly jarring experience. More importantly, as we’ve noted in prior reviews, when an accessory relies on an iOS app to function, it’s important to produce a good app experience, and this is where Nyrius most notably fails to deliver. While the app technically works, the user experience is a cumbersome one, rules don’t always work as we’d expect them to, and the app is very clearly not designed for larger-screened iPhones with the main user interface crammed into the top-left corner of the screen on an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus — an issue that becomes even more noticeable when you go to the help screens and realize that you’re actually scrolling through text that should be able to occupy the full screen.
The Nyrius Smart Bulb has potential, and there doesn’t seem to be anything seriously deficient on the hardware side, but Nyrius clearly needs to step up its game and develop an app worthy of running on the iOS platform, both in terms of the user interface and making features work more logically. It’s actually a shame that the app is so poorly designed, as we otherwise liked the lower price tag of the Nyrius Bulb compared to other competing solutions, and some of the more unique features that the company has added here, such as the Rhythm mode and incoming call indicator. But until everything works properly, it’s hard to justify spending even $30 on the Nyrius Smart Bulb.
Company and Price
Model: Smart LED Bulb
Compatibility: Bluetooth iPads, iPhones, iPods