Expected to ship in September, GE's funky-looking lamp with voice-activated Alexa smarts will cost more than the Amazon Echo.
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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.
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It's been almost six months to the day since GE announced plans to pack Amazon's voice assistant Alexa into a unique-looking table lamp. Now, we finally know a little more about it.
Up first, an updated name. Originally pitched as the C by GE lamp (the same branding as GE's low-cost Bluetooth smart bulbs), the fixture is now the C by GE Sol -- a solar nod to the lamp's eye-catching circular design.
We've also finally heard how much the Sol will cost at retail: $200. That's higher than expected, given that GE initially told us that the plan was to sell the lamp for less than the price of an Amazon Echo smart speaker, which costs $180. That said, anyone who pre-orders the Sol will get it at a 20 percent discount, bringing the price down to $160.
With a small speaker and microphone setup in its base, the Sol is basically an Amazon Echo Dot with two rings of light growing out of its head. You can ask the lamp to stream some music, give you a weather update, set a timer, tell you a joke, or access any of the more than 10,000 skills in Alexa's database. You can also ask it to dim the light up and down, or to switch it between yellowy soft white and bluish-white daylight tones. GE also tells us that you can pair visual light cues with everyday tasks -- light that mimics the hands of a clock when you ask the time, for instance.
Another tidbit: the C by GE smart bulbs will soon be adding compatibility with both Alexa and Apple HomeKit this summer. The addition of HomeKit support means that you'll be able to control them alongside other HomeKit-compatible gadgets in Apple's Home app for iOS, or control them using Siri voice commands.
I asked GE if HomeKit support was in the works for the Sol, as well. A spokesperson would only tell me that GE was "proud to launch Sol with Amazon Alexa," though they added that, "in the future, it could be expanded to other voice services." Time will tell.
GE now expects the Sol to ship this September from Amazon.com and from CbyGE.com. Preorders are live now -- we'll have more once ours arrives at the CNET Smart Home.