Download PDF Beyond Amazon: Shopping for the Absolute Lowest Prices on the Internet (2nd Edition)

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Employing a step-by-step tutorial approach, Carlberg delivers clear explanations of proven Excel techniques that can help you increase revenue, reduce costs, and improve productivity. With each book comes an extensive collection of Excel workbooks you can adapt to your own projects. Sengled used to specialize in novelty smart lights with built-in speakers, built-in cameras, built-in Wi-Fi extenders, you name it. The bulbs test well, too -- I even named them the best smart bulbs for cheapskates in my recent rundown of bargain-priced white-light smart bulbs.

The confusing part about Sengled is that the brand now offers two kinds of multi-color LED smart bulbs: Ones that communicate using Zigbee and thus need a hub, and also new Wi-Fi versions that don't need a hub at all.

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The good news is that none of them cost very much. And, by the way, that Wi-Fi version was the second brightest bulb I tested for this roundup, clocking in with a default white light setting of lumens. Only the Lifx Mini edged it out. Same goes for the second-gen Amazon Echo Show smart display. If you've got one of those, or you're willing to get one, then move Sengled right to the top of your list.

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Those Google Home connections are among the most lightning fast that I've tested, and your Home speakers will even double as a hub for the bulbs to let you control them when you're outside of Bluetooth range. Would you rather control your lights with Siri? Then you'll want light bulbs that support Apple HomeKit, the iOS-based smart home platform that runs via software on your phone or tablet.

You've got a couple of options that can change color and color temperature outside of big names like Philips Hue and Lifx, but I'd probably go with the Sylvania Smart Plus line of LEDs. They work well with HomeKit, and they were a bit brighter than average at almost every color setting I tested.

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That's a great price for any smart color-changer, let alone one that works with HomeKit. Beyond that, Sylvania also sells HomeKit-compatible light strips and even a HomeKit-compatible, vintage-style filament bulb. None of them feel as high-end as Hue, but if you just want to say "Hey Siri, hit the lights" without breaking the bank, they'll get the job done just fine. Again, none of Ring's new outdoor security lights change colors and none of them are, y'know, bulbs , but I'm including them in this roundup because I think that they're a much more sensible choice for exterior lighting than the outdoor series from Philips Hue , almost all of which are too expensive, even by Hue standards.

Aside from costing less, Ring's outdoor security lights are the more practical pick, as each one features a built-in motion sensor. When unexpected activity is detected, those sensors can trigger your lights to turn on, or trigger your Ring cameras to start recording. Those battery-powered pathlights are my favorites, since you can stick them anywhere on your property where you'd like to keep tabs on motion. Eufy's color-changing bulb works well with Alexa and Google, but it's a bit bulky and dated at this point, and with the recent release of new, white-light Eufy bulbs , I expect that the color-changing version will be getting a refresh soon anyway.

Still, keep an eye out for sales on all three if you're shopping for a bargain. Now, let's take a look at how those four top alternatives compare to the color-changing Hue bulbs and to each other. First, the requisite spec chart:. The first big thing that jumps out is that the newest, plastic-topped version of the Hue bulb is noticeably less bright than all of these alternatives.

With a default, soft white setting of about lumens, the Hue bulb falls somewhere in between the brightness you'd expect from an accent light and what you'd expect from a primary light source. To put it in incandescent bulb terms, that's right in the middle between 40W and 60W. That probably seems counter-intuitive given that Hue is the premium pick here, but keep in mind that some of Hue's higher, more bluish-white color temperature settings are noticeably brighter than the default, soft white setting.

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Dial the color temperature up to a neutral 3, K, for instance, and the bulb will put out a healthy lumens or so. My guess is that the Hue team wanted presets like "Energy" that use those higher color temperatures to "pop" when users turn them on. That's what you get with a competitor like the Lifx Mini, which delivers lumens at its default white light setting. It's the brightest of all of these options, and the one with the widest range of white light color temperatures, too. It's your best bet if specs are what matter most.

Aside from a greenish cyan from Philips Hue, a couple of orange-looking yellows and some disagreement over what constitutes "purple," these smart bulbs all put out comparably accurate colors. As for the colors, none of them are ever going to be nearly as bright as the white light settings white light diodes are just a lot brighter than RGB diodes , but some bulbs do a better job at steering clear of weak spots than others. Lifx led the pack once more with bright, accurate colors across the board, but I was also impressed with the Sylvania Smart Plus LED -- it was above average at just about every color setting we checked.

Color accuracy is another concern, but at this point, most of the major players get it right.

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  • There are a few noteworthy exceptions -- most glaringly, the greenish-looking shade of cyan offered up by Philips Hue. It looks a little worse in the photo than it did to the naked eye, but it was definitely noticeable at the time. Then again, the Hue bulb was the only one that, to my eye, put out a proper-looking purple. And, for the record, we took all of those shots using locked-down camera settings, with each bulb dialed up to maximum brightness.

    We used separate, locked-down camera settings for the soft white shots, since the bulbs are each considerably brighter in those. As for the color presets, we used Alexa commands for all except the C by GE bulb and the Sylvania bulb -- we used color presets from the Google Assistant and Siri for those two, respectively.

    The greenish cyan problem seems to be Alexa specific. Will do some more testing. After some further digging, I found that Philips Hue's newest bulbs do, in fact, put out an accurate shade of cyan when you've got them connected via the Hue Bridge.

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    That weird, greenish cyan seems to be unique to Hue bulbs that are controlled via the Amazon Echo Plus or the second-gen Amazon Echo Show, which also features a built-in Zigbee bridge that can control Hue bulbs without the Hue Bridge. As the chart shows, other bulbs handle cyan just fine when paired with Alexa, so it's a little unclear why the Hue bulb responds differently when you say, "Alexa, make the lights cyan. I plan to do a little more digging into the different ways each voice control platform handles color commands, so stay tuned for an update on that front. Don't worry, that's a lot to process for me, too.

    In a nutshell, there are a number of different ways to define a specific color as a coordinate -- and when it comes to cyan, Alexa and Philips Hue seem to be misaligned. When you tell Alexa to make the lights cyan, Alexa tells the bulbs to go to a specific coordinate.

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    With Hue, that coordinate isn't quite cyan, because Hue defines cyan differently than Alexa does. Yianni adds that it's the Hue Bridge that handles the color conversion for each Hue bulb. That means that if you're an Alexa user with the Hue Bridge plugged into your router, and if you've enabled the Hue skill in your Alexa app to link Alexa with your Hue Bridge rather than skipping the Bridge and connecting your bulbs directly with an Echo Plus or a second-gen Echo Show, then your bulbs should land at the correct cyan setting.

    We'll test that out with Hue's newest bulbs and update this space.