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C by GE rolls out new smart bulbs and light strips that don't need a hub

You can connect and control them with both Alexa and Google Assistant right out of the box.

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GE Lighting's newest smart bulbs and light strips are a relatively inexpensive new option that supports Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls.

GE Lighting

GE Lighting is sending a new generation of C by GE LED smart bulbs to the lighting aisle -- and with Wi-Fi radios built into each one, you'll no longer need a separate, plug-in hub accessory in order to control them from outside your home or pair them with a voice assistant.

Branded as C by GE Direct Connect smart lights, the new lineup includes automatable white light bulbs for $13 each, tunable white light bulbs for $18 each, full-color RGB bulbs for $25 each, and a color-changing light strip that costs $60. Along with Wi-Fi, each one includes Bluetooth for local control and pairing, and each supports voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant, no additional hub necessary. All are available for preorder now, with a release date set for Nov. 15.

That pricing falls right in line with other budget-minded smart lights from names like Wyze and Sylvania, all of which cost a little less than the top brands. For instance, at $25, GE Lighting's color-changing Direct Connect bulb costs $20 less than the Lifx Color smart bulb, while the 80-inch Direct Connect Light Strip costs $20 less than the 80-inch Philips Hue Light Strip Plus.

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The new 80-inch C by GE light strip costs $20 less than a strip of the same size from Philips Hue.

GE Lighting

That said, our top color-changing value pick in the smart lighting category is the Philips Wiz Connected LED, an RGB Wi-Fi bulb that supports hub-free Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls for just $13 each. I'll update this space once I've had a chance to test the new 9.5W, 800-lumen C by GE bulbs to see how they compare with that one.

One other point of note -- the new GE bulbs and light strip don't support Apple HomeKit, or the Siri voice controls that come with it. Previously, you could connect C by GE bulbs with the C-Reach plug-in hub to bring them on board with HomeKit, but that won't work with this new generation. Sorry, Siri fans.

Meanwhile, the new lights should continue to be solid picks for fans of Google Assistant. GE Lighting is a Made for Google partner, and you can pair C by GE lights with Google Assistant straight from the Google Home app.

Originally published Oct. 19.
Update, Oct. 22: GE now clarifies that the new bulbs will no longer work with the C-Reach plug-in hub, which means you won't be able to connect them with Apple HomeKit, or with Siri. This post has been updated accordingly.

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