Philips Hue offers the best smart RGB lamps. However, they are almost outrageously expensive at around 40 euros. We show significantly cheaper alternatives that are almost as good.Matthias Sternkopf via techstage.de
Philips Hue is the measure of all things when it comes to smart light. The first colored E27 lamp from the Signify company was launched in 2012 and is still seamlessly integrated into the huge Hue cosmos after all these years. Anyone who opts for Philips Hue gets what is perhaps the most extensive modular system with light bulbs, LED strips, outdoor lights (comparison), switches (cleverly at the push of a button), Ambilight retrofit sets (Philips Hue Sync), motion detectors, sockets and much more smart lighting system at all.
The biggest criticism of Philips Hue is the high price of the individual components. A single RGB lamp with an E27 base usually costs a good 40 euros. In the offeror in a bundle it will be a little cheaper, but not by much. In order to be able to use the full range of functions, buyers also need the Hue Bridge 2.0 for another 45 euros. Alternative Zigbee hubs, such as the one built into the Amazon Echo 2020, also connect to Hue lamps but do not have access to the full range of functions. More on this in the Amazon Echo guide as a smart home center: Connect Philips Hue and Co. without a hub via Zigbee.
Fortunately, there are now countless competing products with comparable features. Here we dedicate ourselves to a particularly inexpensive alternative to the bestseller, the colored lamp with the widely used E27 thread. According to our research, the cheapest smart RGB lamp is the Linkind Smart WiFi RGBW lamp. This costs 30.59 euros in a pack of 4 in the Linkind store (purchase link) including shipping from Europe. That equates to just over 7.50 euros for one light source. Attention: Before ordering, the buyer must first select Germany at the top in order to see the correct price. But can such a much cheaper lamp compete with the high-priced Hue originals? We do the comparison test.
To install Hue lamps via the Hue bridge, users must first connect the bridge to the router. Then the previously downloaded Hue app on the smartphone searches for the gateway in the network; so that it works, you press the button on top of the gateway. For adding the individual lamps, the user must first connect it to the power and in the app settings > Lamp Settings > Add light to choose. The app then usually recognizes the light source and adds it. If that doesn’t work, you can manually enter the serial number that can be found on the lamp. The installation works without any problems, even if a few steps are necessary.
To install the Linkind lamps, the user first downloads the Linkind app from the app or play store. After creating a profile, the lamp is turned into the socket, whereupon it first flashes colorfully, indicating that it is ready for connection. After pressing the plus symbol on the app’s start screen, you connect the smartphone to the lamp’s WiFi and it is recognized. If this is not the case, the app offers to scan the QR code on the lamp. Now the app connects the lamp with its own WLAN. In the test, it worked without any problems with all four light sources available to us.
The functions of Philips Hue are extensive and seem mature. That is hardly surprising, after all, the app has been continuously optimized for nine years. In addition to the simple setting of light color and brightness, either for individual components or entire groups, there are routines that switch lights on and off based on geography or time. Hue supports both Alexa and Google Assistant and Homekit. Hue owners can use their lamps to wake themselves up by slowly lightening them and mimicking the sunrise. The same goes the other way around when falling asleep. The Hue app is compatible with many apps from external developers and hardware solutions. There is the option of using the smartphone camera to adapt to the ambient light, for example, to create an Ambilight retrofit set for televisions. The thing mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more features that are constantly being expanded.
The Linkind APP, on the other hand, falls significantly behind in terms of its user guidance and its range of functions, but it is not the feared catastrophe, as we have already seen from other Chinese low-cost brands. It can also be used to control individual lamps or entire groups with regard to light color and brightness. Linkind supports the voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant, but not Homekit.
The app also offers presets such as campfire, party, reading, TV and more. The lamps can be programmed in time and there is a holiday mode to fool potential intruders into the presence. That was it, by and large. However, the range of functions will be completely sufficient for most users. At least in our everyday life, we mainly use Alexa and her routines, which work with the Linkind Smart WiFi RGBW lamp.
In terms of their color representation, the Philips Hue and Linkind Smart WiFi RGBW Bulb are similar. They both manage to display all the colors you want accurately and intensely. The brightness of the two 9-watt lamps is also comparable, even if Hue is a little brighter here. A difference is noticeable when dimming because the Hue lamps dim down significantly lower. In our experience, there is hardly a smart light source that can be dimmed as far as the Philips Hue lamps.
WLAN vs. Zigbee
The Hue lamps communicate via the Zigbee radio standard with the gateway that is connected to the router. The Linkind lamps communicate directly with the router thanks to WiFi. So here you save the gateway.
When we checked the power consumption, Linkind surprised us. We measure both lamps in the color white at maximum brightness. Linkind converts 5.4 watts, Hue 8.6 watts. As mentioned above, the difference in performance is also evident in the slightly brighter luminosity of the Hue lamps. The power consumption in standby is astonishing. Here our measuring device shows an average of 0.3 watts at Linkind and 0.35 watts on average at Hue. This is remarkable, as Zigbee is considered to be the more energy-efficient standard.
There is a noticeable difference when establishing the connection. If you disconnect the lamps from the power using the light switch, Hue needs less than five seconds to react to voice commands again. Linkind lights take about 20 to 30 seconds to reconnect to the router and listen for commands.
In general, the Linkind lamps react less reliably to our voice commands. We have been using it for about a month now and control it several times a day via Alexa. It happened a couple of times that, for example, when the entire lighting was switched off, all lamps react, but one Linkind lamp remains on. It usually helps to wait half a minute and repeat the command. Such dropouts are not uncommon with very cheap WiFi lamps, but they can be very annoying.
According to our research, the Linkind Smart WiFi RGBW lamp is the cheapest smart WiFi RGBW lamp. It costs 30.59 euros in the Linkind store (purchase link) 4-pack including shipping costs from Europe. Calculated down to a lamp, that only adds up to a good 7.50 euros. At other retailers, RGB WLAN lamps usually cost from12 euros. Here in the price comparison, we show the cheapest RGB WLAN lamps.
The days when Philips Hue lamps were unrivaled are long gone. This is also shown by our big comparison: 6 smart RGB lamps from cheap to Hue. With very cheap solutions such as the Linkind Smart WiFi RGBW lamp, however, you have to make a few compromises. The range of functions of the Linkind app is limited, the lamps do not dim as far as the Hue lamps and they do not always respond reliably to voice commands. At just 7.50 euros, they only cost a fraction of a Hue lamp, do not even need a gateway, as they can communicate directly with the router thanks to WLAN and generate a comparably beautiful and intense light.
— Article from TechStage.de