Hot on the heels of its announcement Thursday that, Lifx is preparing to take orders on its next generation of color-changing smart LEDs.
It’s called Lifx Mini, and it comes in three varieties: a fully color-changing bulb for $45, a color-tunable, white light bulb for $30, and a fixed white light bulb at 2,700K for $25.
As the name suggests, each Mini bulb sports a slightly more compact design than before, but still puts out a healthy 800 lumens of light at peak brightness, which is roughly comparable to a 60W incandescent despite only drawing 9W each. The previous generation of Lifx bulbs put out a much more ample 1,100 lumens — Lifx plans to continue making and selling them at a price of $60 each for customers willing to spend a little more for some extra brightness (that’s about £45 or AU$75).
The, which add in infrared night vision diodes to help light things up for your security cameras at night, aren’t going anywhere, either.
Like those existing Lifx bulbs, the Mini LEDs each house their own Wi-Fi radio, allowing them to connect directly with your home network. That means that you can control them from anywhere that has an internet connection, and it also means that you don’t need a special hub to translate their signal.
That last bit is the biggest differentiator between Lifx and its top competitor,, and it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.
The new Mini bulbs also enjoy all of the existing Lifx integrations with third-party services, including the newly released support for. That means you can control them alongside other HomeKit-compatible devices using the Home app on iOS devices. It also means that you can dim them up and down or change their color using a Siri command. Beyond HomeKit, Lifx bulbs also work with , the smart speaker, , and more.
With the Mini bulbs, Lifx is promising a wider distribution of light than with previous generations. Those older bulbs sport a flat-topped design that puts out plenty of light above the bulb, but not quite as much down below it. The Mini bulbs should do a little bit better in that regard, but with less brightness overall, the difference might be negligible.
I’m also a bit skeptical of the beam angle improvement, seeing as how the Mini LED’s bulb doesn’t extend out any further than its base. I’m nitpicking, but that’s the same general problem with the previous generation’s design.
My other qualm here is the price. $45 is still an awful lot to spend on a smart bulb, even one that changes colors. Still, that’s pretty much par for the course with color-changers like these. The also-HomeKit-compliantcosts $45 a piece, too, while . Even the typically budget-minded TP-Link sells for $50.
It’s hard to fault Lifx for being expensive when everyone’s expensive, and in fairness, the $45 Lifx Mini is the brand’s most affordable color-changer yet. Still, there’s a huge opening for a more value-minded alternative to emerge. It’s a shame Lifx wouldn’t or couldn’t go there with its fourth generation of bulbs — and a shame that it wasn’t able to drop the price without dropping the brightness, too.
The price of the $25 fixed, white-light Mini is even more telling. Names like Cree, GE and Philips Hue have long been selling white-light-only bulbs for $15 each, or less. With competitors like those, it’s the toughest of the three Minis to recommend.
Lifx will begin accepting preorders on all three of the new Mini bulbs starting Friday. As soon as we get our hands on a few, expect full reviews out of the CNET Smart Home.