The LIFX Color 1000 is a smart LED lightbulb that is affordable enough for most consumer's budgets.
A year and a half ago, we wrote a review on LIFX's second generation smart LED bulb, and while we had a positive experience overall, it still struggled to keep up with the market leading Phillips Hue in regards to size, energy consumption, and price-point. Six months later, the company released their updated Color 1000 which was said to improve upon all of these areas, so it's time we evaluate our LIFX-supplied review units to determine if the LIFX Color 1000 the new top contender in the Smart LED market.
Pricing & Bulk Discounts
Addressing our first area of concern with the previous iteration, LIFX lowered the price of the Color 1000 to just $59.99 per bulb (down from $99) and now offers discounts based on bulk orders purchased from their website.
At the time of this review, LIFX is selling the following discounted bundles exclusively on their website:
- Starter Pack/2 bulbs – $99.98 ($49.99 each)
- Living Pack/4 bulbs – $189.96 ($47.49 each)
- Master Pack/6 bulbs – $284.94 ($47.49 each)
Compared to the current pricing of the Philips' Hue this does not undercut the single bulb pricing which sells for $49.99 each, but you have to take into consideration that this requires a hub that only sells in the A19 Color Starter Kit (three bulbs plus a hub) which is currently selling for $161.99 on Amazon.
If you only need a single bulb, the LIFX is the clear winner when it comes to price as you cannot run a Philips Hue without the hub so a single bulb will not do you any good.
If you do the math out, a four bulb setup with the LIFX Color 1000 versus the Philips Hue comes out to this:
- LIFX Living Pack = $189.96
- Philips Hue A19 Color Starter Kit (2nd Gen) + A19 Color Single: $161.99 + $49.99 = $211.98
Ultimately, this means you will save $22.02 by purchasing the LIFX Color 1000 Living Pack over the necessary components needed to replicate this setup with the Philips Hue and also have the added advantage of running a hub-free setup.
Design & Build Quality
The Color 1000 has been designed to be dramatically smaller than the 2nd generation model which is a big deal as the previous version is oversized and cumbersome to the point where it could not fit in every lamp or lighting fixture as there wasn't enough room or too much stress on the socket.
Regarding physical dimensions, the Color 1000 is slightly thinner at 2.5 inches wide (previous 2.6 inches) yet is significantly shorter in overall height coming in at 4.5 inches compared to the 5.3 of the previous iteration. Besides the size advantage, some weight has been shaved off, initially at 13.6 ounces and now down to just 8.5 oz.
The smaller form-factor is a huge plus for consumers as you can now fit the Color 1000 in most household lamp or lighting fixtures without issue or have potential damage due to long term stress on the socket. This opens the bulb up to be used in a much larger variety of lighting environments thus adding more value on the dollar.
LIFX's previous model harnessed a stellar build quality, and the Color 1000 follows suit with the same high-end materials being used. It feels great in hand and has a premium feel that I would even say surpasses my expectations at a $59.99 price-point.
The “smart home” category can be difficult for brands to dive into as many products are seen as intimidating to install or setup from a consumer standpoint, especially for those who are not tech-savvy. Fortunately, the Color 1000 is just as easy to install as the last generation, and the mobile app walks you through this process step-by-step.
Depending on the lighting fixture that you seek, the Color 1000 comes in three different options: an E26 Edison Screw (US, CA, JP), E27 Edison Screw and a B22 Bayonet Cap. If you are planning to use in a standard lighting fixture sold in the United States like me, then you will want to go with the E26 Edison Screw version.
Carrying out the physical installation of the Color 1000 only requires you to insert the bulb into the socket (just like any other lightbulb) and screwing the unit into the socket until it sits flush.
Once you had the LIFX app installed on your mobile device, you can start the pairing process by clicking the ‘Add Bulb' button and following the instructions. This will run you through the course of connecting the bulb to your Wi-Fi network which when successfully completed will allow future control of the bulb when connected to that network.
I will note that should you need to reset your LIFX, they have removed the physical switch from the last iteration. Instead, you now simply power cycle the bulb on and off five times in a rapid succession, starting from a powered on state. If successful, the bulb will flash Red, Green, Blue, ultimately reverting to a constant White.
Since we evaluated the last version of the LIFX, the design and interface of the mobile app has gotten a complete overhaul which has made things even easier to navigate.
The organization of bulbs is well thought out allowing you to control each bulb individually or group multiple bulbs for controlling several at the same time. Despite the Color 1000 models being newer, the app recognizes both the new and old versions so you can use and control them in conjunction without issues. Each bulb can be edited individually to enter a specific name along with the location of the bulb and placed in a desired group.
If you ‘claim' the bulb it can connect to the ‘LIFX cloud' for free. Once you have done this, you can control it remotely from your mobile device and integrate it with apps like IFTTT (If This Then That) to schedule things like visual notifications, alarms, etc.
You have access to all the same color options to dial in exactly to your preferences regarding hue and brightness as well as the ability to utilize pre-set themes or effects.
Performance & Function
The Color 1000's operate much like the previous iteration, so my day to day use has remained a positive experience overall. Since I installed them in our new office space where a lot of video and photos are being captured, I like the ability to dial in a specific temperature of white to match the 6500K output of the office's overhead lighting.
I do not like to have a colored hue on for full-time use, but it is fun to dial in a particular color for some funky background lighting or dramatic mood lighting from time-to-time.
Brightness, Energy Savings & Bulb Life
The previously reviewed LIFX model had a 17W draw while emitting 1000 lumens which is equivalent to a traditional 75W bulb. Comparatively, Philip's second generation Hue line offers up to 600 lumens with a 1oW draw, so it had less of a brightness output coupled with less power consumption.
For this Color 1000 variant, the brightness output has been increased slightly to 1055 lumens while the wattage has been decreased to only 11W. This means you are can achieve almost double the brightness of the Philips Hue all while consuming only 1W more.
Regarding energy cost, LIFX claims that if a Color 1000 bulb were run for three hours every day, the average cost would only amount to $1.32 in total. This model offers a two-year warranty against problems or defects yet each bulb is rated for a lifespan of 22 years (this number is calculated with the assumption you were to power it for three hours every day).
Remote Access & Control
As I started earlier, you have the ability to control your LIFX bulbs when you are away from their local Wi-Fi network as long as you ‘claim' the bulbs.
This process is done by following these steps:
- Tap the name of the bulb in the app, to access the control screen for this bulb.
- Tap Claim in the upper right corner of the control screen
- Choose the group you want the bulb to be in
- Choose a name for the bulb
- Tap Claim in the Upper right corner again, to save these settings
- Tap Done in the upper left to return to the control screen.
Once you have achieved this, you will have full access to the bulb's customization when you are both at and away from your home or office as long as the local Wi-Fi network remains connected to the Internet.
An attractive feature of the LIFX is the vast array of integrations it has with popular online services and smart home products.
Here are the integrations which are currently supported:
Nest Protest & Smart Thermostat
You can connect any LIFX to the Nest Protect smoke detector so the bulbs will flash red when dangerous smoke levels are reached. This is particularly useful for someone who might be hearing impaired as they will be given visual cues to warn of potential danger.
One of my favorite integrations is with Nest's Smart Thermostat which I utilize throughout my home. Since the thermostat has an ‘Away' mode which signals when I am not home, it can be configured tell the LIFX bulbs to turn on and off at random intervals to make it look like someone is home, keeping potential criminals from committing crimes on the property (vandalism, theft, etc.)
Google Now Mobile App
If you download the Google Now App on your smartphone, you can control LIFX bulbs with intelligent voice commands. This includes changing the hue as well as adjusting the brightness.
Powered by Amazon's intelligent ‘Alexa' voice technology, the Echo can integrate directly with the LIFX app to offer bulb control with voice commands.
By connecting to Samsung's SmartThings hub, LIFX bulbs can now communicate with smart locks, cameras and motion sensors to automate individual reactions to events.
The LIFX can communicate while on the same home network as the Harmony Hub. This allows for things like automatically dimming lights for movie or TV watching or setting a mood to match your music.
IFTTT (If This Then That)
One of my favorite free services on the web and also the most powerful, IFTTT can communicate with the LIFX to carry out a huge variety of tasks. This includes communication with Facebook, Twitter, and The Weather Channel or even hardware like Jawbone or Fitbit activity trackers.
Once paired with the LIFX, the bulbs can be set to automatically flash red when the Scout Alarm is triggered. This sets an addition layer of security to ensure intruders leave the premises as soon as possible.
By connecting a Flic to the LIFX, you can use it as a button to trigger the bulbs on or off as well as set mood lighting.
LIFX stepped it up with the release of their Color 1000 as it exceeded my high expectations set by the previous model. I previously stated in order to become a better buy than the Philips Hue, the LIFX needed to be cheaper, smaller and more energy efficient. Fortunately, LIFX delivered on these claims with their Color 1000, and for that I am impressed.
If you are in the market for smart LED light bulbs for your home or office, I would recommend making the LIFX's Color 1000 line one of the top options to consider as it remains unmatched at a sub-$100 price-point. The more expensive Philip's Hue bulbs still fall short in max brightness output and their reliance on a separate bridge to function.