iDevices Socket review: The iDevices Socket performs well enough, but why use it?

The iDevices app also connects to the Socket using both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so the connection is reliable whether you're home or away.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

What it gets wrong

The big problem with the iDevices Socket is that it doesn't fulfill any particular customer need. If you want a bulb that can dim and schedule, buy a smart LED -- you'll get more lighting features than the Socket. If you want to keep your current retro bulbs, but also want smart features, buy a smart switch or plug -- you'll avoid the strange look of old bulbs hanging from a white plastic device.

I asked the developers at iDevices what exactly distinguishes the Socket from other devices on the market, and they responded with two primary features: it's easy to install (meaning it doesn't require a hub), and it works with Apple HomeKit (meaning you can control it remotely and using Siri).

Lighting device feature comparison

Moveable Lamps Fixtures HomeKit Amazon Echo Dimming Scheduling RGB or White-Light color changing Price Hub required Installation
iDevices Socket Yes Sometimes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No $80 No Quick
Philips Hue White Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No $15 Yes - $60 Quick plus hub
Philips Hue White and Color Ambience Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $60 Yes - $60 Quick plus hub
Lifx Color 1000 LED Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes $60 No Quick
Belkin WeMo In-Wall Switch No Sometimes Yes No Yes No Yes No $50 No Slow
iDevices Switch (smart plug) Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No $50 No Quick
Lifx White 800 LED Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes White-light only $30 No Quick
Lutron Caseta In-Wall Dimmer No Sometimes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No $55 Yes - $80 Slow

But look at the Socket versus the Philips Hue White bulbs on the chart above. They're almost identical. Sure, Philips Hue bulbs require a hub, but that added cost and hassle stops looking so bad when each light bulb afterward costs only $15 -- $65 less than a single Socket.

Across the chart above, you can see that, yes, the iDevices Socket has a unique feature set. But that doesn't make it a unique product. Plenty of devices do scheduling and let you keep your original bulbs. Plenty do dimming, work with HomeKit or do hubless setup. If you need this exact combination of features, and you almost certainly don't, then you should consider the iDevices Socket.

But for most consumers, finding a gadget that offers a marginally different feature-set isn't worth 80 bucks.