For years, I’ve liked the potential of smart lights. Like, they should be awesome but using your phone to turn on and off a light is a bit crap. You’ve got to be smart about how you use your smart light. Honestly, this review gets easier to understand as we go. I’ve been testing out the LIFX range of colour smart lights after I met them at IFA in Berlin last year. Specifically, this review is about the LIFX Beam.
Who Is LIFX?
In the smart light world, there are a few major brands. Wemo is probably the best-known brand but even IKEA has gotten in on the act too. LIFX is the challenger brand. That usually means the little plucky brand but The Aussie company LIFX has taken this whole category and done it right. You can kinda see that this review will be positive. It’s positive because LIFX is making smart lights genuinely smart.
What Is LIFX Beam?
LIFX Beam is a smart strip light. In the kit, you get six Beam pieces which are connected by magnets. Overall this is six-feet of customisable LED lighting. Included is also a corner piece which connects to the mains and joins the light bars together. Unlikely other smart light brands, there’s no hub required for LIFX lights which makes the whole setup a little cleaner.
Here’s the kit that I got to test out.
It’s worth noting, that they aren’t all coloured. The strips themselves are just clear and all the colours you see simulated here are created by LED lights in the strips.
There’s no real ideal way to set up your kit. You can get quite creative. I’ve got mine in the bedroom behind a cabinet. The strips are connected in an “L” shape and even left one in the box because I didn’t need it. The flip side is that you can expand the kit with up to eight beams and two corner pieces.
That’s what I mean about being creative. How you set your lights up takes a bit of creativity. How you use them is creative too, but LIFX does all the work here. This is where the smart lights get really smart.
What Can LIFX Beam Do?
Right, so I’ve been harping on about these lights being genuinely smart, but what does that mean? Well, through a combination of smart assistant integrations and the LIFX app, these lights can help out with creating a party atmosphere, adding some personality to a room and even help you waking up more naturally.
The technical jargon. LIFX Beam supports 16 million colours and is powered by polychrome tech. What that really means is that all the colours and combinations you could imagine can emerge from this kit. There are preloaded setups and scenes but you can also choose your own. The lights can dance and move across the Beam strips you’ve connected together too. Speaking of dancing.
LIFX: Moving To The Music
When my partner had her 30th, I knew tech could help. I set up a jukebox app where party-goers could vote for music and brought my LIFX Beam along too. The idea was that we could replace expensive DJ setups with a light from the bedroom and an app. Sure enough, it worked.
The light wasn’t static either. Within the LIFX app, you have several settings for your lights. One of them is called Visualiser. This mode uses the mic from your phone to “feel” the music and animate the lights to move in sync with the beat. Colours change and pulse to match the music. The result is awesome and far beyond what you’d expect from a smart light bulbs like these.
A Natural Awakening
Another area of the LIFX app lets you set up what your daily routine is. You set what level you would like your lights to be at during stages of the day and the system will adjust the led bulbs to align with your day. The result is a mini day to dusk simulation. Why is this awesome?
Well, when you have the curtains drawn, specifically blackout curtains, your body doesn’t wake up naturally. That’s because our minds and bodies are naturally designed to wake up with light. Studies have shown that returning to this way of waking up, even with simulated natural light, can improve your mental health.
I’ve set the system to start my wake-up routine at 7.30am with my actual wake-up time is 8am. At this time, the lights gently kick in with a warm orange light. Gradually, the LIFX Beam gets brighter, transitioning to brighter white light. So I usually wake up naturally even before my alarm goes off. Even if I don’t, my mind is already prepping for waking up because of the light. Over the past few months, I’ve found getting up so much easier and it’s got to be the LIFX Beam.
Amazon Alexa And Google Assistant Integration
Earlier, I showed you a shot from my partners birthday. She’s also the reason I realised smart assistant integration is a massive deal. I used to love smart lights anyway because I’m a nerd. However, she thought they were stupid because the light switch on the wall is actually easier than opening an app. And she’s right.
I’ve had my first smart lights since before there was an Amazon Echo in every house. And looking back at it, smart lights were a little useless back then.
However, with Alexa and Google Assistant integration, smart lights just come into their own. “Alexa, I’m heading out”, turns off all the lights in our apartment. “Alexa, it’s bedtime”, turns off everything except the small LIFX Beam which goes to a warm reddish white colour. There’s a huge list of personalised settings that you can play with and personalise. But the one thing I will say is, frankly, if you’re buying smart lights, make sure they integrate with your smart assistant and make sure you have a smart assistant.
LIFX Beam: The Verdict
Alongside the LIFX Beam, I was testing regular LIFX bulbs too. The entire kit is amazing. My favourite part is that there’s no hub required. Hubs are an extra plug in the wall and LAN port on my modem gone. And that’s a pain. LIFX lights are just much easier to get up and running because it’s just the light you need to worry about, not a hub.
LIFX Beam, specifically, is right up there at the top of the list when it comes to my favourite gadgets. There’s something about smart lights. Watching movies when I was a kid, the rich people had clapper lights. The rich nerds had voice controlled lights. While I don’t have a clapper light, I do walk in and request Alexa turn on the lights I need.
While many smart light kits can achieve that, none have managed it with the ease that the LIFX has. LIFX Beam impressed even more. The kit’s automation leaves me feeling refreshed because I’m waking up in a more natural pattern, They’re also a bit of craic and would complete and man-cave as much as providing incredible ambient lighting too.
LIFX Beam is awesome.
You can buy your LIFX Beam on Amazon.co.uk for about €185.
LIFX Beam Specs
|Wattage Use||27 Watts (for 6 Beams) at full brightness|
|Wattage on Standby||<1W|
|Voltage Range||AC 100-240V 50/60 Hz|
|Maximum Length||8 individual beams and 2 corners|
Ships with 6 beams and 1 corner
|Colour Temperature||2500K to 9000K|
|Dimming||Software dimming 1% – 100%|
|LED Life-span||22.8 years|
|Wi-Fi Router Requirement||802.11b,g,n standards compliant|
|Product Dimensions LxWxH||Beam: 300 x 35 x 20 mm|
|Cable Length||0.5m cable from Power Plug to Controller. 2.0m cable from Controller Unit to Beam.|
|Single Unit Weight||96 g|
|Packaged Dimensions LxWxH||400 x 120 x 135 mm|
|Packaged Weight||876 g|
LIFX Beam FAQs
You can connect a total of 8 beams together using 2 corner pieces. The pack ships with 6 beams and 1 corner piece.
It’s pricey and it is a “nice to have” gadget. However, if you do struggle with your mornings the Beam can absolutely help and might be worth its weight in gold. Also, the life-span of the lights is over 20 years.
Both are brilliant brands. While Hue is supported by more 3rd party apps and services, LIFX is the world’s fastest growing lighting company. Also, LIFX doesn’t require a hub which is an awesome difference.