One of my most anticipated iris items finally arrived this week, the Sylvania Wireless IQ light bulb. After seeing products such as the Phillips Hue, I have always been intrigued by the concept of having a bulb that I can control via an app, but did not want to invest in another system or controller. The announcement earlier this year that the bulb from Sylvania would be coming soon got me excited and when it finally became available (albeit in a hidden fashion) on the Lowes website last week (and now in stores), I jumped on the chance to order it. The bulb arrived a few days ago, and after playing around with it, I came to the following conclusion: it is a good device that is hampered by terrible software. We will come back to that later.
Setup & Installation:
The simplicity of the iris system and the integrated z-wave radio within the bulb really shines here. The pairing process was extremely simple and consisted of only a few steps. I began by turning off my light switch to the fixture I was going to use, and removed the existing bulb. Then I installed the new bulb and went to the iris management page on the web. After clicking on add device, and flipping the light switch for the bulb, the process was completed. The hub did the standard pairing beep, and the light bulb gave some confirmation flashes. All in all, it was as straight forward as it could get.
The bulb itself is a rather standard looking LED BR30 floodlight bulb, with the top of the bulb being the “lens” and the body down to the screw in portion being a large white heat sink. The bulb is rather heavy in weight, and the packaging gives a warning that it should only be used in lighting fixtures that can support the weight. While I am not sure who is to blame on this, the bulb that I received had some sticky residue on the lens portion of it and was rather dirty. The dirt was easily cleaned off, but the sticky residue was a chore, and some of it still remained after I gave up trying to remove it. On the nitpicky side, I noticed that the bulb shines brighter on the bottom area of the lens, with a noticeable ring near the top of the lens (the area that meets the heat sink) not being completely illuminated. This is nothing major, and can see in the photo above.The bulb supports dimming without the usage of a hardwired dimmer switch, which is great for expanding the capability of your home without expensive replacements. Speaking of costs, I found that the bulb was offered at a great price, just $39.99, and mirrored the cost of standard LED floodlight bulbs. Rounding out the specs are the 65 watt equivalent brightness in just 11 watts, and its 700 lumen output. The bulb is just over 5 inches in height, and will stick out and look funny in shallow recessed fixtures. The bulb is rated for indoor and enclosed outdoor usage only, which provides some flexibility.
The bulb utilizes the standard iris interfaces via the web or phone apps. For my testing, I was using the iOS version of the app and despite knowing the flaws associated with it, I still had some hope that controlling the bulb would be effortless. While basic functionality, such as turning on and off the bulb worked, the amount of time it took to open the app, switch to the control tab, and press the associated “toggle” switch was lengthy, and in some cases, I could have gotten up and walked to the manual switch on the wall and turned the power on/off to the bulb faster. The app also features a dimming function, measured in percentage, and toggled in ten percent increments. This feature is handy in theory, but toggling the dimming function is painfully slow. The app only allows the usage of arrows to toggle the dimming up and down, and when an arrow is pressed, it brings up the sending changes dialog, every single time. So with the bulb set to 100% on powering it on, getting the bulb to dim to 50% output would require tapping the down arrow, waiting for the sending changes dialog, then waiting for the app to allow tapping the down arrow again to repeat the process four more times. This process totally hampers the cool factor of the bulb, and essentially makes me not want to use the dimming function at all. My suggestion for the lowes team (which I intend to share with them) is to allow the user to manually enter in the percentage of brightness, or to implement a slider that does not send the command to the bulb until a button is pressed. Another thing to note is that while the lowes website mentions color changing functionality for the bulb, the option is nowhere to be found within the web or phone apps. The ability to change colors was not mentioned in previews featuring the bulb, so I am not sure if this was a mistake in the part of lowes description of the bulb on their store, or if this is coming in a later update. Needless to say, the ability to change colors would be a great addition, and would certainly be useful during the various holidays. As far as magic rules go, the bulb can be integrated with the various devices available for the iris system, such as motion detectors and window and door sensors. An example of this would be to have the bulb and motion sensor outdoors and have it trigger when it senses movement. Time based magic rules, such as turning on at dusk are also available.
Let’s face it, despite the slow software and lag times, this bulb definitely meets the cool gadgety factor, and is a must for homeowners looking to integrate their lighting with the iris system. The ability to tie in the various magic rules to light walkways or to turn off at a scheduled time are invaluable, as well as the simple ability to control the bulb via the app at home or on the road. For the same price of a standard “dumb” LED flood light, this bulb can obviously do so much more, so it definitely gets a buy from me.