Smart bulbs are nothing new. You have products like the Phillips Hue or TCP Connected bulbs that range from a little expensive ($20) to very expensive ($60).

Enter GE

GE was sick of these high-priced bulbs (or they wanted to get into the game a little late). Most people really don't need millions of colors to choose from in their ordinary home lighting. Sure, it might be nice but for kits running up to $200 for just 3 bulbs, you're really getting into luxury item territory.

GE Link bulbs come in soft white only. This will meet the needs of most users looking for a cheap smart bulb without all the high-end costs. A GE Link A19 bulb will run you $14.97 at the time of this post. Since most LED bulbs are priced anywhere between $5 and $20, the GE Link blends right in while adding a pretty cool feature set.

It's a Lightbulb

I'm not huge on perfecting my home's lighting. As long as it works and the lights are the same color, I'm happy. The A19 bulbs work just fine and light up my rooms equally as well as the CFLs we had before them. 

If you're looking for some detailed information, the bulb outputs 800 lumens, which is just shy of your typical incandescent bulb that puts out 840 lumens. Take with that what you will.

As expected, the bulb itself will save you a decent chunk of change over the 22.8 year life. That's on an estimated usage of 3 hours per day. At 11 cents per kWh, you're looking at a yearly cost of about $1.45. Not too bad. 

What you need

With all that out of the way, what do you need to get up and running with these bad boys?

  1. A smartphone (iOS or Android only. Sorry, Windows Phone users!)
  2. A Wink Hub
  3. A GE Link bulb

That's it. Once you've got that all purchased, the setup process is pretty simple:

  1. Setup your Wink Hub. This is done through the Wink app. You'll basically enter your Wi-Fi information, automatically send that to your new hub, and then it will be good to go.
  2. After connecting your Wink Hub, be sure to check for updates! I didn't do this and spent a good 10 minutes trying to pair my bulbs thinking they were all duds. After letting my hub update, pairing went incredibly quick.
  3. Once setup, you add your bulb. Wink has recently added a GE Link option to the list of supported lighting options. Simply select that and it will walk your through the setup - basically screw the bulb in and turn the light on. It will blink 3 times and then you can name it.

Simple, right? The only downside is that Wink/GE do not make things clear. I didn't immediately think about updating my hub, I was just in such a hurry to try out these bulbs that I ignored the big bar at the bottom of my phone telling me to check for updates. 

Factory Reset

Another thing GE doesn't tell you is how to reset the bulb to factory defaults (which is important to tell the bulb to "forget" the base). After calling Wink support, I found that out pretty quickly:

  1. Turn the light fixture off, wait 3 solid seconds.
  2. Turn the light fixture on, wait 3 solid seconds.
  3. Turn the light fixture off, wait 3 solid seconds.
  4. Turn the light fixture on, wait 3 solid seconds.

Repeat this 5 or 6 times until the light dims automatically and shoots back on to full brightness quickly. The bulb is now factory reset and can be re-paired.

The App

The Wink app, despite it's 3-ish star average review, works pretty well. Pairing the Wink Hub was pretty easy. From there, you have a long list of compatible products to choose from - the more you add, the more functionality you get.

The main screen you'll see when adding a device to Wink.

On the GE Link side of things, you've got a nice and clean UI to work with. Bulbs show in a list and you can create groups of bulbs however you like. For example, I have four lights in my basement and can now turn them on with a single tap. If I really wanted to, I could also drag my "Basement" group slider and dim each bulb exactly like the others in the group. Pretty neat.

You can organize your bulb list however you please. Keep your most used bulbs at the top or bottom - it's your choice. 

Robots and Schedules!

On top of that, you can also create "Robots", which really allow you to get the most out of your bulbs and Wink setup. Like I said earlier, the more Wink-compatible items you add, the more functionality you'll get out of this piece.

For example, I have a robot setup to turn my living room light on whenever I get home between the hours of 8PM and 5AM. It simply uses a geofencing feature that, on most occasions, detects when you enter a certain radius around your home.

You can also have it do the opposite - when you leave a certain radius, turn off/on certain lights. It's pretty cool and rather flexible.

Finally, you can set specific times to turn lights on and off. Going on vacation and want to fend off would-be house squatters? Freak them out with your magical haunted light bulbs!

Even more connectivity

Now if you get really invested in Wink, you can do even more! Say you have a Spotter - when the Spotter detects motion, turn on your lights. See where I'm going? It's pretty cool all around and gives you a lot of flexibility in expanding your "Smart Home" one piece at a time - rather than investing in a system all at once.

The (lazy) future is now.

The (lazy) future is now.

Also, Android Wear will be supported starting in October 2014. After a quick call to support, I was told that it is being included in next month's "big" platform update. I'll be sure to post a follow up whenever I get my hands on it.

And I forgot to mention - the whole app is free! No subscriptions, no one-time fees. The only things you ever pay for are the smart items. That's it.

App Links

You can check out the app now on Android and iOS.

Scoring

Design - 5/5

As far as LED lightbulbs go, these sure fit the bill. They look pretty cool while still fitting in with your not-so-cool incandescent bulbs. Not nearly as weird looking as your pigtail CFLs, however.

Functionality - 4/5

My only issue with these bulbs is how little GE tells you in order to set them up. They leave out something critical (albeit pretty obvious) in that everything needs to be updated to work. You see some bad reviews for these bulbs simply because people didn't understand how to pair them.

Beyond that, however, these things are awesome. I love being able to sit on my bed and shut off the lights that I accidentally forgot to turn off - no more walking around like a peasant. They work pretty much all the time and are reliable enough to know that when you're not home, the lights are off.

Overal - 5/5

Despite (5+4)/2 not quite equaling 5, I'm just going to do it anyway. These bulbs shine (sorry). They're cheap, efficient, and work just like every other smart bulb out there - and they use a hub that works with a number of other products. No stupid proprietary hubs needed!

So if you're looking for soft white bulbs that you can turn on or off from anywhere in the world - these are it. With that, you also get a huge amount of additional functionality through Robots, Scheduling, and simply by buying more Wink-compatible products. It's a win-win for everyone.

Purchase

You can purchase the A19 bulbs mentioned in this review exclusively (and rather unfortunately) at Home Depot for $14.97 per bulb. Most brick & mortar stores will also have a few in stock.

You can also purchase the BR30 (65W) for $19.97 per bulb and the PAR38 (90W) for $24.97 per bulb

Finally, the Wink Hub used in this review can be purchase for $49.99. Ignore the 2.5 star average - it gets the job done. Setup was a breeze, just be sure to update the firmware!

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