Adding to the world of always-connected “Internet of Things” is the GreenWave Reality Connected Lighting Solution. The $200 (list) starter kit comes with four LED lightbulbs that connect to your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to wirelessly control individual lights using your smartphone, tablet, or the included remote. You can set timers and control bulb brightness with the GreenWave system, but it lacks the extra wow factor that comes with the Philips Hue bulbs, which can even change colors to match your pictures. For larger installations, and if you don’t need colored light, GreenWave’s system is less expensive per bulb and offers a very similar experience.
Bulbs and Setup
TheGreenWave LED bulbs have tapered, slotted metal bodies that terminate in standard light bulb connectors. They look less sleek than Hue bulbs, and the bulbs are made from opaque plastic rather than glass, but they feel more durable. That’s a good thing, since LED bulbs last for years longer than traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. GreenWave rates its LED bulbs at about 25,000 hours (20 years) of use, which tops Philips’ rating of 15,000 hours for its Hue bulbs.
The starter kit comes with four LED bulbs, a wireless bridge, and a wireless remote. Compare that with the Hue, which only includes three bulbs, and no remote for the same price. You can add up to 500 bulbs to the GreenWave system, and individual bulbs can be bought for $20 apiece, compared with the Hue bulbs, which are $60 apiece.
Setup is very similar to the Hue system and requires little networking knowledge. First you screw in your bulbs and turn them on—they’ll light up without a wireless connection like any standard light bulb. Next you connect the wireless bridge to your Wi-Fi router using the included Ethernet cable. The bridge is a small plastic box, with LED indicators for WAN, LAN, and Power. An Ethernet cable is included, as is a small AC adapter and both plug into the back of the bridge.
Next download the free iOS or Android app and follow the on-screen prompts. You’ll need to create a GreenWave account to use the app, which I found somewhat confusing. It’s not entirely apparent how to create a new account, and once I did figure it out, there’s no email confirmation, or any method for recovering passwords or account information. I noticed this on both the iPad 2 and HTC One X+ I used for testing. (The Android app is also in beta, so there are a few more hiccups with account creation, and I also noticed occasional app crashes.)
Like with Hue, you’ll need to leave your power switches on to control the bulbs wirelessly, though you can still turn the lights on and off using your regular light switch if you don’t have your mobile device handy. There’s an included wireless remote that requires no setup or pairing, which takes two AA batteries (included). It features capacitive buttons for Power and Bulb Selection, and a capacitive strip that controls bulb brightness.
Mobile Control and Conclusions
Using the GreenWave app, you can switch individual bulbs on or off, control individual bulb brightness, and group bulbs together into rooms. For example, you can separate bulbs off by room and control entire rooms with a single action, rather than having to adjust each individual bulb. Hue offers the same grouping function, but calls the presets color profiles and remembers both the colors and brightness settings for each bulb. The GreenWave rooms remember your last bulb brightness settings, but don’t let you assign recurring brightness settings for each bulb.
Beyond on or off and grouping bulbs by room, the GreenWave app has a section called Smart Actions. From there you can set schedules for turning individual bulbs or rooms on or off based on time and day of the week. There are no extras, and the GreenWave app is a bit less polished than the Philips Hue app. In my tests, I noticed a longer lag between actions on the app and results with the bulbs than with the Hue app. The GreenWave app was also prone to hanging on an spinning status wheel, making multiple changes at a time a bit cumbersome.
While it may lack the wow factor that comes with the multicolored Hue bulbs, the GreenWave Reality Connected Lighting Solution makes up for it with affordability. Adding additional bulbs costs just $20 apiece, which is a third of the price of an additional Hue bulb. You get the same on or off and brightness controls from your smartphone or tablet, and you even get a wireless remote for when you don’t have your device handy. If you don’t need colored mood lighting, the GreenWave Reality Connected Lighting Solution is a relatively affordable and useful alternative to the Philips Hue Connected Bulb system.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc