Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight review: Poor value and sound issues take the shine off this colorful nightlight

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The Good The Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight is cleverly designed and easy to use. The tiered alert system can reach out to an emergency contact if it can't reach you.

The Bad The short recorded clip that accompanies the alerts isn't helpful, and you'll be left wondering what's going on in a potential moment of crisis.

The Bottom Line Since it costs as much as the more capable Nest Protect, this device needs a price drop or a software upgrade before it can fully earn its keep.

6.0 Overall
  • Features 5
  • Usability 7
  • Design 7
  • Performance 5

The first product from Leeo, the $100 Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight, starts with the cornerstone of meaningful connected tech: safety. In addition to providing color-changing light to illuminate darkened hallways, Leeo's device connects to your Wi-Fi network and listens for the specific frequencies of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. When it picks up an alarm, it will send an alert to your smartphone.

There's something earnest and charming about this product. Not the least of which is the fact that while its nightlight keeps your children safe from the imagined fears of the night, its alerts can help protect them from real-world dangers. It's a smart combination. The app suffers from a few bugs, however, and in the event of an emergency, the alerts won't do much to help you figure out what's actually going on. Thus, despite its well-intentioned charm, for $100 you're better off with the Nest Protect .

Simple setup

Plug in the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight and you'll immediately be greeted by a soft white glow. Pull up the app with your iOS device and connect the light to your Wi-Fi router via your phone's Bluetooth. Leeo recommends an iPhone instead of an iPad so you can contact emergency services directly from an alert, but you can access the app from either. An Android app is planned, but no release date has yet been confirmed.

The nightlight itself has a white circular front with an outer ring you can use to adjust the brightness. The light forms another ring just behind the front circle, and the back juts out mildly to the plug, which fits into a single outlet without blocking the other. The illumination kicks off the wall, providing a reflected illumination that won't hurt your eyes in the darkness.

Simple and small, it won't obstruct the adjacent plug. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Once connected, you'll enter your address into the app, then be prompted to test your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector to make sure the nightlight is within range to hear them. Leeo recommends positioning their device in the hallway for the widest coverage disrupted by the least amount of walls and doors. They also recommend staying within 75 feet of your alarms.

The light will blink white during the process, then blue once it connects to keep you apprised of your progress. In all, the setup was as simple as I've experienced with a smart home product. Download the app, plug in the light, enter your Wi-Fi info and your address. I stated earlier that part of Leeo's mission is to make technology accessible. Mission accomplished.

The setup couldn't be easier. Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

My grandma could get this nightlight working, as long as I showed her how to unlock my iPhone. You can even unplug it and move it to a different outlet with no additional steps, as long as the new location is in range of the same router.

From the app, you can see the temperature and humidity of the nightlight's location, play with its color and brightness, and customize alerts for its sound sensors as well as its temperature and humidity sensors. The Smart Alert Nightlight can also detect ambient light, so you can have it turn on only when it's dark.

The Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight is available now on Leeo's website. It costs $100. The iOS app is free and the only way to interact with the nightlight for the time being. For now, it's only available in the US, but a Leeo representative assured me the company is working with distributors to get it to other countries.

Color-changing nightlight

The light itself can be tuned to a wide-variety of colors. Leeo claims there are over 16 million options. Functionally, it certainly doesn't feel like that, but the mechanic lets you pick your specific shade placing your finger on a color spectrum. Given the color changing smart LEDs out there, the mechanic isn't ground-breaking, but it works well enough.

Move the circle to change the color of the light. Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

The size of the icon controlled by your finger makes it hard to land on an exact color temperature, so the estimate of 16 million certainly seems like an exaggeration, but anyone other than lighting experts would be hard pressed to care. I enjoyed the feature overall, and can imagine it would be a hit with a child counting on his or her favorite color to help keep the boogeyman away. Picking the color at bedtime could make a fun tradition. And because this nightlight is connected, it'd be a tradition you could keep even when away on business.

The occasional lag might put a damper on the activity, though. Sometimes, the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight sleeps on the job. You'll pull up the app and change the color to no effect. Continuing to send it signals by shifting the icon usually pulls it out of its reverie within 15 to 30 seconds, then it'll be pretty responsive, with no more than a second or two delay between your input and its response.

Still, the initial wake up call annoyed me, and the one time I changed a setting without first making sure the nightlight was ready to respond, it didn't take, despite the app confirming the change. Even when it's running, you'll occasionally encounter a longer hiccup in color changing, especially when fine-tuning colors.

Changing the color with the app was fun, if occasionally slow. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Having to coax an occasionally grumpy, occasionally sleepy app to do what I want showed me the software needs a bit of work. The dimming also proved a bit limited, as small shifts didn't produce any discernible results. I had to move a significant distance on the brightness scale to see any difference, though I liked the fact that you can control the brightness manually by twisting the outer ring of the light.

The light itself illuminates the room effectively and pleasantly, and you can always get the color you want, eventually. The app issues dampen it, but the nightlight itself has plenty of charm.

Watchful sensors

Fortunately, the sensors used for the smart alert system don't suffer from the same sleepiness as the nightlight. Leeo's device proved consistently responsive when I sounded the smoke alarm.

I had some trouble when first testing the system. I plugged the nightlight into our climate-controlled washing machine test room to test temperature and humidity fluctuations. Temperature proved accurate to a degree, but the humidity reading disappointed me. It was consistently 5-10 percent higher than my calibrated readings.