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Philips Hue is, without question, the standard when it comes to smart bulbs. However, over the years, a number of smart bulbs have come out. One of these is the Ilumi A19 Smart LED Light Bulb.
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First Up: Ilumi A19
The Ilumi A19 Bluetooth Smart LED Light Bulb is different from other smart bulbs in that it uses Bluetooth to connect with your smartphone instead of using Wi-Fi.
- Higher Brightness: The Ilumi A19 Smart Bulb allows you to save on your lighting bills while staying brighter than most light bulbs, smart or otherwise. It gives you 800 lumens of brightness while using up only 10 watts of electricity. The Ilumi A19’s brightness is equivalent to that of a 60-watt incandescent bulb, only that you get it at just a fraction of the power that the latter consumes.
- Controllable Brightness: You can also dim the light or change its color, making it perfect for whatever mood you’re in or whatever room effect you’re going for. You can turn the brightness down to 2,000 K – which is the equivalent of a candle flame, turn it down to the brightness of a standard incandescent lamp, or turn it up to 5,000 K – which is as bright as daylight.
- Easy to Install: The Ilumi A19 is also very easy to install. You just pop it into your existing light fitting, download the mobile app, then use Bluetooth to pair your smart bulb with your mobile device.
- Smart Mobile App: Through your mobile app, you can control your Ilumi A19 bulbs. The mobile app lets you access several menus to help you conveniently control certain things about your bulb. With just a swipe to the right, you can group together multiple bulbs according to the room they are located. The mobile app allows you to control up to 50 Ilumi bulbs. You also have the option to have the app group your Ilumi smart bulbs automatically.
- Unique “Experiences” Feature: You can also use the mobile app to automate your Ilumi A19 Smart LED Bulb using the ‘Experiences’ menu. This menu lets you access several modes, including the ‘Rise and Shine’ mode, which makes your bulbs mimic sunrise in the hopes of walking you up every morning. Then there is the ‘Torch’ mode that uses Bluetooth to detect your smartphone and automatically turns the bulb on as soon as you enter the room. It will also turn off the lights when you leave. You can also create different Experiences for routine stuff that you do, or to set the right atmosphere. For instance, you can choose the ‘Circadian’ mode to adjust your smart bulb’s brightness throughout the day. Or perhaps you can use the ‘Scene Scheduler’ to recreate different lighting conditions depending on the time of day and according to your routines. That means that if you normally read a book for 15 minutes before going to bed, Ilumi would create the perfect lighting for your reading session and then dims the lights or turns it off when you doze off.
- Vacation Mode: And if you are going on a vacation, you can also use the mobile app to activate the ‘Vacation’ experience. This will tell your Ilumi smart bulb to turn on and turn off the lights in such as way that it would seem that you are home even when you are enjoying nightly cocktails by the beach thousands of miles away.
- Side Games: If you are feeling a little bored, you might want to play a simple memory game called ‘Simon.’ Or you can just use the app to change the bulb’s color. Lastly, you can use the mobile app to set your power on default settings, which is going to be used every time you turn on your Ilumi smart bulb.
- Saves Money: Ilumi A19 Bluetooth Smart LED Light Bulb helps you save on your lighting costs easily and intuitively. On top of being very bright and using only a small amount of electricity, you can even forget about flipping the switch on and off with the Torch mode, which automatically turns the smart bulb on and off. What’s more, you can save more when you use just the right brightness for whatever activity you are doing. Get the best lighting condition for reading, sharing a romantic time, or watching movies, without having to tinker with a lot of settings and using only a few taps on your smartphone.
- Simple to Use and Integrate: More than this, the Ilumi A19 Bluetooth Smart LED Light Bulb is very simple to install and set up. It does not use Wi-Fi but Bluetooth, which makes pairing it with your mobile device a whole lot easier.
- Seems Dimmer than it Actually is: The Ilumi A19 Bluetooth Smart LED Light Bulb uses a design form that may make it seem dimmer than its 800 lumens of rated output. So if you have bigger rooms, you might need to install two or more Ilumi A19 bulbs.
- App is a Bit Cluttered: Considering that you control much of the bulb’s settings from the app, there are a lot of user experience improvements needed. The app is not that intuitive to use and may be too cluttered for most people. For new users, you would need to spend some time learning how to use the mobile app, how to set up experiences, and how to do other things before being able to control your lights to behave the way you want them to.
- Random Music Sync is Problematic: The Ilumi smart bulb has a music sync feature that is supposed to make the bulb pulse to your favorite music. However you might find that the bulb’s pulsing lights seem to have a mind of their own, instead of lighting up in sync with the music that you’re playing.
- Have to be in Bluetooth Range: There is also no way for you to control your bulbs when you are out of Bluetooth range.
- No Integrations: Lastly, even with the goal of making things simpler, there are no integrations available for Ilumi. Considering that it is a smart bulb, this is quite a letdown. There is no way to use IFTTT recipes and extend the bulb’s functionality and make it more useful.
Next Up: Philips Hue
- Integrates with the Smart Home: What makes the Philips Hue even better now is the range of integration that it has. It works with IFTTT, Nest Thermostat, SmartThings, Amazon Echo, Wink, and Apple HomeKit. This is possible if you have the Philips Hue Bridge.
- Nice Starter Kit: The starter kit, which includes three lights and the bridge, costs about $180 from the manufacturer’s website (but check on Amazon here for discounts). Single bulbs, meanwhile, cost less here, but are still pricey.
- 16 Million Colors: The Hue gives you access to 16 million colors, allowing you to find the exact color to match your mood or preferences. For instance, you can use daylight white light in the morning to help wake your body up while using a relaxing white light at night when you’re reading a book.
- Auto Schedules: You can also set light schedules that turn the lights on or off automatically. This can help you go through your routines even without touching the light switch. You can set your lights to turn on every day at 6 pm and turn off at 10 pm. This also helps create an illusion that somebody’s home even when the whole family is on vacation. What’s more, you can remotely turn your lights on and off even when you are not home.
- 3rd Party Apps: You can download third-party apps to sync your lights with any movie you are watching, any game you are playing, or any music you are dancing to. Check out my list of the top 5 apps here.
- Comes with Accessories: Philips Hue comes with several accessories that would help you control the lights without your smartphone, such as the dimmers, a tap switch, and even a motion sensor.
- Wide Compatibility: With its wide range of device compatibility, you can put your Philips Hue to good use. The HomeKit integration is particularly impressive. Not a lot of people own Amazon Echo or Alexa yet, but even without these devices, they can still use their iPhone or iPad to tell the lights to come on.
- Colors Can be a Bit Off: To the trained eye, color accuracy is a bit off on the Philips Hue 2. You get greens that are somewhat yellowish while blues have a purplish tint to them. Philips hopes to correct this with the third-generation Philips Hue that promises to deliver deeper and richer greens, blues and cyan.
- Not Quite as Bright as Advertised: Also, Philips Hue 2 has a rated 800 lumens, but even the daylight white only gives off 734 lumens.
- 2nd Gen isn’t Much Better: The second generation smart bulbs do not offer any drastic improvements over the first generation. In fact, if you are using the first generation Hues, there is no reason why you should upgrade. Even the mobile app is not changed.
|Philips Hue||Ilumi A19 Smart Bulb|
|Single Bulb Price||Check here for latest||Check here for latest|
|Bulb Size (HXW, in.)||4.2 x 2.3||4.5 x 2.5|
|Light Color||Color, White||Color, White|
|Light Color Temperature||2,000K to 6,500K||2,000K to 5,000K|
|Maximum Output||800 lumens||800 lumens|
|Lifespan||15 years||20 years|
|Works with Amazon Echo||Yes||No|
|Works with Nest||Yes||No|
|Works with IFTTT||Yes||No|
|Works with Wink||Yes||No|
|Works with SmartThings||Yes||No|
|Works with Apple HomeKit||Yes||No|
Final Say: Ilumi A19 vs Philips Hue
The Ilumi A19 Bluetooth Smart Bulb gives you something different with its use of Bluetooth to connect your smart bulb to your smartphone.
However, the lack of integration and Wi-Fi connectivity makes it a somewhat limited smart bulb in terms of features and added functionality.
While it is simple to use, convenient, and helps you save energy without having to do much, it pales in comparison to Philips Hue. It is still a good buy, though, if you do not really have a smart home and if you don’t have connected devices. It is also perfect for people who want a no-frills lighting system.
The Philips Hue, on the other hand, is the perfect smart bulb for the connected smart home. It works with just about everything from IFTTT to proprietary technology and has several accessories that you could add as well. But even without the integration, it gives you everything that the Ilumi A19 smart bulb offers with some very useful features, such as the remote control and better energy savings, thrown in.
Bottom Line: I’d personally lean towards the Philips Hue (available here for a good price), especially if you have – or plan to have – a multi-device connected home.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!