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Wiz Color Wi-Fi Smart LED Starter Kit review:

These smart, multicolor Wi-Fi bulbs are a little too clunky

MSRP: $69.95
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The Good The color-changing Wiz LEDs work with Alexa and the Google Assistant for voice control, and they don't require a hub. The starter kit comes with a physical remote -- something you won't get with Lifx or Philips Hue.

The Bad The bulbs aren't as bright as advertised at key settings, and the integration with Alexa is poorly executed. The remote doesn't always work very well.

The Bottom Line These bulbs are a cheaper alternative to Lifx or Hue, but they come with too many compromises for us to recommend them.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.9 Overall
  • Features 8.0
  • Usability 6.0
  • Design 7.0
  • Performance 6.0

Review Sections

Editor's Note, 5:15 PM EST, 9/15/17: This review originally claimed in error that the Wiz LEDs did not have a white-light setting brighter than 450 lumens. In actuality, there's a 4,200 K setting that reaches 807 lumens, roughly on par with a 60W replacement incandescent. The review text has been updated accordingly, and the score has changed from a 6.2 to a 6.9.

Take a walk through your local lighting aisle and you'll find plenty of good LED options for $5 or less. Color-changing smart bulbs, on the other hand, are still pretty expensive -- big-name options like Lifx and Philips Hue typically charge about $50 per bulb.

In that sense, the Wiz LEDs are a slight step in the right direction. For $70, you get two color-changing smart bulbs, plus a handy physical remote for quick adjustments. Like their more expensive competitors, the Wiz LEDs work with Alexa and with the Google Home smart speaker for voice commands, and they have their own channel on the free online automation service IFTTT, too. With Wi-Fi inside, they don't need a hub to talk to your router -- just screw them in, turn them on, and sync up with them on your phone using the Wiz app.

wiz-led-soft-white-and-daylight

The Wiz LED only puts out about 400 lumens at its 2,700 K warm white setting (left), and about 450 lumens at its 6,500 K cool white setting (right). A 4,200 K daylight setting in between the two (not pictured) does much better, reaching 807 lumens.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The problem here is that the bulbs aren't as bright as advertised, at least not at the white-light settings you'd expect. Wiz pegs the light output of each bulb at 800 lumens -- about as bright as a standard 60W incandescent bulb -- but in my own tests, the two ends of the white light spectrum (2,700 K and 6,500 K) wouldn't go any higher than 450 lumens. You have to go with a 4,200 K "daylight" setting in the middle of that spectrum in order to hit 800 lumens.

As for the colors, they're all fairly accurate, but none of them go any brighter than 200 lumens.

If you can look past that shortcoming, you'll find a fairly decent control app that lets you change the color of the bulbs or style them using a number of preset themes, including color cycles with custom speed settings. You can also make a quick color scheme by taking a picture, group the bubs by room or schedule the bulbs to turn off and on at specific times.

Unlike Lifx or Hue, the Wiz LEDs also come with a physical remote. On it, you'll find off and on buttons along with dimming controls and four customizable presets. In the app, you can pick what each of those preset buttons does for each individual bulb you point it at. Preset No. 4 could be the party lighting setting for one bulb and the nightlight setting for the other.

The remote is a nice differentiator, but it was a pain to use, and it was unreliable from anything more than a few feet away from the bulb. Even up close, there were times where I'd need to press a button multiple times from a variety of different angles before the signal would register with the bulb. Controlling multiple bulbs at once is technically possible, but I was only able to get it to work once or twice during my tests. 

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