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Another company makes smart LEDs look like old-school light bulbs

They come from TP-Link's Kasa smart home brand, which is also debuting a new multicolor light strip. You'll be able to control all of it with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Ry Crist Senior 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.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
3 min read

TP-Link offshoot brand Kasa Smart has a couple of new smart lights to show you here at the end of 2019 -- namely, new vintage-style smart bulbs with fake LED filaments for $17 each, as well as a new multicolor light strip that'll sell for $70. All of them support voice controls via Google Assistant and Alexa, and are available wherever Kasa products are sold starting today.

Read more: Pick the best LED light bulb in 2019

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Each of Kasa's new vintage-style smart bulbs costs $17, and neither needs a hub to connect with your router.


LED smart bulbs with old-school looks

The vintage-style bulbs come in two varieties: a soft white, 2,700 K version with clear glass and an amber, 2,000 K version with tinted glass for an extra-warm glow. Both of them -- model numbers KL50 and KL60, respectively -- feature an old-fashioned design with fake filaments that are actually just thin strips of high efficiency light-emitting diodes arranged in a line. The effect is a vintage aesthetic that's reminiscent of old-school incandescent light bulbs, many of which are no longer sold due to rising energy efficiency standards.

At 600 and 400 lumens, respectively, they aren't much brighter than your typical 40W incandescent accent light -- but that's kind of the idea with vintage-style lights like these that are commonly used in exposed-bulb setups. If they were any brighter, they'd be uncomfortable to the naked eye.

Both bulbs also feature built-in Wi-Fi radios to connect directly with your router, which means you don't need any additional hub hardware in order to use them. Just screw them in, turn them on, and pair them with the Kasa app on your Android or iOS device to get started. From there, you'll be able to turn them on and off from your phone, or schedule them to turn on and off at specific times.

That matches similar functionality from the new Philips Hue vintage-style lineup, which starts at $25 per bulb. Those lights use Bluetooth radios to connect directly with your phone for local, straight-out-of-the-box controls. An additional Zigbee radio lets them connect to the Philips Hue Bridge for expanded features and full control from outside of Bluetooth range.

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Available now for $70, the Kasa light strip can put out multiple colors at once.


Multicolor light strips, too

As for the light strip (model KL430), it's 3 meters long and includes 16 distinct zones of color, each of which you can set to a different color for rainbow-like lighting effects beneath your cabinets, behind your TV or anywhere else you might think to stick them up. The strips can be cut to fit into smaller spaces, or extended up to a total length of 11 meters via 1-meter extension strips that'll go on sale for $25 each this December.


You'll be able to save multicolor scenes in the Kasa app, then return to them with a single voice command.


That multicolor approach is a smart move for Kasa, since most other light strips like it can only put out one color at a time. That includes strips from names like EveSylvania and even Philips Hue, which has been selling smart, color-changing light strips for more than five years, but still lacks a multicolor version. 

The only other smart light strip capable of putting out multiple colors at once is the Lifx Z, currently our top pick in the category. A 3-meter Lifx Z starter kit sells for $100, which makes Kasa's $70 KL430 a pretty attractive alternative.

In addition to support for Alexa and Google Assistant, the bulbs and light strips are also compatible with the free online automation service IFTTT. That lets you trigger lighting changes via other IFTTT-compatible products and services, and opens up a lot of room for creativity with how you ultimately put these lights to use. 

Kasa products don't work with Apple HomeKit, though -- if you're looking for something you can control with Siri commands, then you'll want to stick with names like Lifx, Philips Hue or Sylvania Smart Plus.

Originally published 8 a.m. EST.
Update, 1:40 p.m. EST: Adds additional information about brightness and color temperature.