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Feit gets into the smart light fight with Bluetooth LEDs

The new "HomeBrite" LEDs from Feit Electric come in a variety of form factors and use Bluetooth to talk to one another -- no hub necessary.

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Ry Crist
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Ry Crist

Senior Editor / Reviews - Appliances

Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is 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, and home networking.

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California-based manufacturer Feit Electric is getting into the smart lighting game, with new low-cost connected LEDs that sync with your smartphone -- and each other -- over a Bluetooth mesh network. Branded "HomeBrite," the LEDs are slated to arrive in stores and online this August and were on display this week at the Lightfair International trade show in New York City.

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The HomeBrite line will launch with five bulbs to its name, including standard, A-shaped bulbs, BR300 and PAR38-shape floodlights, and a recessed fixture retrofit kit. You'll also find a B10-shape candelabra bulb -- the first smart light from a major manufacturer to carry such a form factor.

Each bulb uses a Bluetooth Smart radio to communicate with you and with the rest of the bulbs in your setup, with each one constantly pinging the rest to keep track of the time. If you tell the bulbs to turn on at 6:00 a.m., they'll know right when to go. You can also set timers that'll turn the bulbs on or off after a countdown, or slowly fade the lights up or down for its duration.

You'll set those timers using Feit's control app for Android and iOS devices. Though it isn't finalized, Feit's team let me play with it a bit on the Lightfair show floor -- it's a clean, uncluttered design that looks good and works well, as far as I could tell. Hopefully, it doesn't change too much between now and August.

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With Bluetooth as the means of communication, there's no control hub, wires, or extra hardware necessary -- not even a router or a local Wi-Fi network. Each bulb will work straight out of the box: just screw it in, turn it on, and pair it with your phone through the app. That's an attractive approach for consumers who want something simple, though Bluetooth's relatively short range limits you to local controls. If you're at the office and realize you forgot to turn a light off at home, you won't be able to turn it off from the app.

Also attractive: the price point. Though Feit's press materials make no mention of what the bulbs will cost, multiple company representatives tell me that the A-shaped bulb will sell for $15 -- the same price as the Cree Connected LED and the GE Link LED , both of which require additional hub hardware to function. Pricing for the other HomeBrite bulbs isn't set yet, though the retrofit recessed fixture will likely be the most expensive -- Feit tells me it'll ring up somewhere around $35.

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Moving forward, Feit's team won't rule out the possibility of integrating with a third-party control gateway to help extend the system's range. Despite Feit's skepticism about hub-centric smart homes, a partnership with something like the August Smart Lock , which already sells a Bluetooth-to-Wi-Fi gateway , might make an awful lot of sense. At any rate, we'll know more by this summer, once we get a chance to put the new bulbs through their paces. Expect a full review at that time.