Color naming

The Lifx strip is a great color changing light strip if it’s faulty

As anyone who does even a small amount of research will tell you, the smart light market is dominated by Philips Hue, the ecosystem owned by Signify. However, there are other brands on the market and one of the alternatives is Lifx (pronounced Liff-ex I believe) who make a range of LED bulbs and strips – and they offer distinct advantages over Boo.

First, the Lifx range does not require a hub or bridge and connects directly to your router, making it a cheaper ecosystem to integrate. Secondly, it also promises a wider range of color options and, thanks to what Lifx calls full color technology (16 addressable LED zones), offers more complex effects.

The Lifx also offers integration with voice commands via Alexa, Google Home and Apple Homekit as well as IFTTT support.

It all sounds great, and I was keen to set it up and give it a try. But does it deliver?

I started with a 2m light strip, which at the time of writing can be picked up from Amazon UK for £79.00. That makes it a bit more expensive than an equivalent Hue strip, but then you save on the cost of the bridge. A one meter extension strip costs £24.99.

Setup unfortunately proved to be a little frustrating – basically, the first time around, it didn’t work despite my house having global Wi-Fi coverage. The second time I browsed the app, I had better luck and the setup was complete – but, oddly enough, the light disappeared from the app! At this point, it was time to perform a factory reset – which involves turning the Lifx band off and on five times in quick succession. Frankly, that seemed odd – why not just have a single hard reset button? Once done, the light will flash to indicate that it has been reset. A third try of the configuration got the tape working, and since that third time it has proven stable.

However, there are a few quirks. We wanted something distinctive to name the light and chose to call it “Jarvis”, and so my son could control it on his phone, it’s set up for guest access. However, on his app the light first appears as a “LIFX light” and then a number, but when we click on it, it then appears correctly in the app with the name of the light and the room. It also took a few tries to get it recognized by Alexa for voice control, but once it works it’s still satisfying to be able to ask your lights to turn on and off

Setting quirks past, the Lifx proves its worth by simply being extremely bright and intense. The app is also fun to play, offering a range of options. You can change colors by swiping your fingers across a dial, or you can choose from a wide range of mixed color options or a solid color of your choice. There are also several predefined effects, such as “Animate”, “Color Cycle” or “Strobe” effects. The music visualizer is supposed to pulse in time with the music, and while it seemed to respond, it wasn’t exactly responsive. to audio in my eyes – a Hue Sync box setup is much more compelling in this regard.

Ultimately, the Lifx is a brighter, more colorful alternative to a Philips Hue strip. However, while the fact that it doesn’t require a bridge makes it cheaper upfront, it does so at the expense of system robustness and a trickier setup process. If you’re tempted, I’d recommend buying from a store that has a solid return policy in case you find it too hard to work reliably. Persevere though and you’ll be rewarded with a rich, vibrant swath of color that will make your room pop.