The era of the $40 color bulb has concluded. For me, anyway. And I’m unwilling to actually calculate how much I’ve invested in Hue over the years, as it’d surely make me wince.
For a good long while, Hue was the only game in town. But solid options have sprung up in recent years with downward-trending pricing. Startup Wyze made some positive noise a few weeks back in announcing inexpensive colors bulbs, possibly white-labeled, and shipped only in sets of four ($10.75/bulb) when available in April. Yet, last fall, LED pioneer Cree launched a new line of connected bulbs … including a color A19 that truly hits the magical $10 price point. And you can stroll right into Lowes to grab one today.
Whereas the original Cree Connected was an app-less, Zigbee affair, the new Cree Connected Max line incorporates a Bluetooth+WiFi module for hubless interaction. And the new Cree lighting smartphone app, with an assist from Tuya, incorporates many of the features you’d expect, including groups, scenes, and schedules… along with the requisite Alexa and Google Home integrations. Further, Cree provides some nifty advanced functionality right up front, like audio lighting sync and ‘follow the sun‘ adaptive lighting, without the need for 3rd party apps or having to delve into Hue Labs.
Having test a Cree over the last few days, all I have to say is: Color bulb; for $10! From an established, name brand company. It does exactly what you’d expect, rather well, and at a compelling price point. And, as my family contemplates an upcoming home move, I’m plotting connected Cree color in all sorts of places I wouldn’t have previously considered. Cheaper than a Hue White bulb and only $2 more than a pure tunable Cree white, why not go wild? Look, here’s a $57 color 6-pack — less than $10 a bulb. The only caveats to be aware of are Cree doesn’t yet natively support HomeKit, which could be a deal-breaker for some, and they haven’t yet implemented local Bluetooth control beyond setup. But Cree seems quite committed to this space, so beyond the current Connected Max line, I imagine we’ll be seeing additional bulb styles, switch/dimmer-type accessories, and expanded functionality down the road. Here’s to hoping!