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.
Ry CristSenior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
ExpertiseSmart home technology and wireless connectivityCredentials
10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
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 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.
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.
Watch this: Hacks@Home: How to get started with smart light bulbs