Sengled Solo Color Plus LED review: This colorful smart bulb can sing, but it doesn't shine

The Good Sengled's newest speaker bulb puts out clean, crisp sound, albeit with very little oomph. It's also easy to use -- just screw it in, turn it on and pair it with your phone like any other Bluetooth device.

The Bad The app's lighting controls are extremely basic, and the bulb doesn't work with any larger smart home platforms or voice assistants. The bulb's default setting is only about as bright as an average accent light, and none of the colors are much brighter than a nightlight.

The Bottom Line There are better, brighter smart bulbs for the same price, and plenty of Bluetooth speaker bulbs that cost less. Keep shopping.

5.6 Overall
  • Features 4
  • Usability 7
  • Design 8
  • Performance 4

Sengled makes an ever-growing variety of smart LED light bulbs, including ones with built-in cameras and Wi-Fi extenders. One of the original offerings was a smart bulb that doubled as a Bluetooth speaker. This year, Sengled has a new version called the Solo Color Plus that'll change colors, too.

Despite the suggested retail price of $80, Sengled's color-changing speaker bulb can currently be had for $50 on Amazon. (It's £66 in the UK. That converts to about AU$120.) That's just a few dollars more than what you'd spend on the Lifx Mini LED, and more or less on par with the price of a color-changing bulb from Philips Hue. Neither of those options will double as a Bluetooth speaker.

That, coupled with the fact that you can set a sleep timer that'll turn the light and music off after a set period of time, might make it an appealing pick for something like a bedside lamp, where the close-range nature of its speaker would allow for easy music and podcast listening before bed. 

Outside of that, it's a tough bulb to recommend. Lifx and Hue are both much, much brighter, and each offers in-app controls and smart lighting features that are far superior to Sengled's. On top of that, the Solo Color Plus -- unlike other Sengled bulbs -- doesn't work with any larger smart home platforms or voice control assistants. That makes it mediocre at best among smart bulbs, and really only worth it if that built-in speaker is a must-have. Even then, there are other Bluetooth speaker bulbs out there that cost less.

The top face of the Solo Color Plus serves as a mini diaphragm and dust cap for the built-in Bluetooth speaker.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Space-age design

Lots of today's LED light bulbs go out of their way to mimic the look of traditional incandescent bulbs, but most smart bulbs tend to tack in a more futuristic direction. Sengled is no exception. Its bulbs have always featured eye-catching designs that make no secret of the fact that these aren't ordinary lights.

In the case of the Solo Color Plus, that eye-catching design is a bulb in the shape of a conical frustum -- basically a flat-topped cone (like a lampshade, or a Rolo candy). The top face of the bulb is the speaker's diaphragm and dust cap, while the bulb itself is made from an unusually tough and durable plastic. It all makes for a sturdy, weighty light that comes in at just over half a pound (240 grams) -- perhaps too heavy for something like a bendable flex lamp.

Screw the bulb in and turn it on and it'll light up at its default, soft white setting. It will also begin to broadcast Bluetooth pairing requests. Sync it up with your phone, and you'll be able to play music through it. To change the color, dim the light up and down, or start a sleep timer, you'll need to download the Sengled Pulse app to your Android or iOS device. If your phone is paired to the bulb over Bluetooth, the app will automatically offer up lighting controls as soon as you open it.

A word of caution, there: If, for whatever reason, your phone has a habit of dropping Bluetooth connections, then you'll need to re-pair with the bulb in your phone's settings whenever that happens before being able to access the in-app controls again. A Zigbee smart lighting kit like the Philips Hue White or a Wi-Fi smart bulb like the Lifx Mini would both be good alternatives.

The Sengled Solo Color Plus (left) vs. the Lifx Mini (right).

Chris Monroe/CNET

Pretty (dim) colors

The Solo Color Plus worked as promised when I tested it out, but I didn't come away impressed. The app is basic and clumsy, with futzy color controls and a stuttering brightness slider that doesn't dim smoothly. You can't schedule automated lighting changes, either. In fact, there really aren't any features or integrations beyond the Bluetooth speaker, the music sync mode, a couple of color-changing presets and the ability to put the bulb and the music on a sleep timer that shuts them both off automatically after a set period of time (and no, it doesn't slowly fade them out).