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Hands-on with MiPow Playbulb candles and Elgato Avea: Sexy smart lighting at CES 2015

Light up your life with these mood-setting smart lights, the Elgato Avea and MiPow Playbulb range, which can be controlled via your humble smartphone. We went hands-on at CES 2015… 

We saw two companies at CES 2015 who have come up with their own smart bulbs, which can turn your home into a funky personal disco or rouse you gently from your slumber by simulating a sunset.

So far the colour-changing smart bulb scene has been dominated by Philips with its chameleonic strip lights and IFTTT-compliant bulbs. We took a closer look to see if the Hue kids on the block will give Philips any sleepless nights. 

Hands-on with MiPow Playbulb candles and Elgato Avea: Sexy smart lighting at CES 2015
MiPow’s Playbulb X lets you thumb through a colour wheel from your phone – just like Hue does

MiPow had a whole range of smart lighting on display, including the Playbulb candles shown above. These charming, chunky plastic bowls mimic real candle holders, but contain a smart bulb that can be controlled via MiPow’s iOS and Android apps. 

You can make them morph through a whole spectrum of colours via the simple app, which allows you to pre-set your favourite hues. 

You can group a number of Playbulb candles together and change their colour as one. And best of all, you switch them off by blowing on them, just like a real candle. Unneccesary, yes, but pretty cool if you ask us. If you’d rather be boring you can turn the lights off with your phone instead. 

Each Playbulb candle is powered by three AA batteries. MiPow reckons you’ll get two whole months of use from fresh cells, with around four hours of operating time a day. 

MiPow sells a full range of other smart lights too, most of which are standard bulbs with the same ability to change colour via the app. We were less impressed with the audio quality of MiPow’s Bluetooth speaker and LED light hybrid; nice idea, shame about the execution. Let’s hope they stick to smart lighting if this can’t be improved. 

Hands-on with MiPow Playbulb candles and Elgato Avea: Sexy smart lighting at CES 2015
If you ask us, having a bedroom by the shore is a really dumb idea

These are direct rivals to Elgato’s own smart lighting solution, the Avea. With the iOS app (it’s iOS only for the moment, sadly) you can change the colour of individual lights or pick from presets like ‘Cherry Blossom’ and ‘Northern Glow’. 

Avea communicates with your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth Smart instead of WiFi. While this only gives you local control of your smart lights, at least your WiFi network won’t be even more congested with Internet of Things traffic. 

You can also set the Avea bulbs to slowly turn on at a set time each morning, simulating a sunrise and stirring you from your sleep.

You can pick up a pack of three Playbulb candles now for £46.99 and single Avea bulbs for £39.95 each. Though the Playbulbs compete better on price it’s all about quality at the end of the day. 

Once we source some review kits we’ll bring you full write-ups of the MiPow Playbulb candles and Elgato Avea soon.


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