Sylvania Smart Multicolor LED (Apple HomeKit-enabled) review: Sylvania's HomeKit smart bulb: Screw in, turn on, sync with Siri

The Good Sylvania's HomeKit-compatible color-changing bulb is easy to use and less expensive than Lifx. Unlike Philips Hue, it doesn't require you to plug a hub into your router.

The Bad Sylvania's Smart Plus bulbs rely entirely on Apple's Home app, where the lighting controls aren't as sophisticated as you'll get with the dedicated apps of Lifx or Hue.

The Bottom Line If Siri-powered color changes are all that you're after, then this might be the bulb for you.

7.7 Overall
  • Features 6
  • Usability 9
  • Design 8
  • Performance 8

Connected lighting is often a simple smart home starting point, and Sylvania's new Apple HomeKit-compatible, color-changing smart bulb wants to be as simple as it gets. With a Bluetooth radio built into each bulb, there's no need to plug a hub into your router -- just screw in, turn on, and sync with Siri. The cost? $45 per bulb.

That HomeKit compatibility means that you'll control the bulb on your iOS device using Apple's Home app instead of a dedicated Sylvania app. The Home app lets you control the Sylvania bulb alongside other Apple-friendly gadgets, and it also lets you pin quick bulb controls to your phone's Control Center, or control the bulb using spoken Siri commands. That includes changing the color of the bulb, but those controls don't go as deep as what you'll find in the apps for Lifx or Philips Hue, where color-changing light controls are the core feature.

Still, Sylvania's LED costs a little less than Lifx or Hue, and while $45 is still a lot to spend on a light bulb, Sylvania's positioned itself pretty well here -- especially as an alternative for Apple loyalists looking to build a smart home around Siri. It that sounds like you, and smart, color-changing light is something you're willing to spend on, then give this light a look.

The Sylvania Smart Plus LED (left) is plenty bright, but not quite as bright as Lifx (right).

Chris Monroe/CNET

Like most every LED light bulb, the Sylvania Smart Plus LED uses a fraction of the energy needed to power a common incandescent bulb, but still claims to put out the same level of brightness -- 800 lumens, per Sylvania. I used our integrating sphere and spectrometer to test that claim, and clocked the default, soft white setting at 755 lumens -- just within the margin of error of that 800-lumen claim. It's not as bright as the Lifx LED, which gets up over 1,000 lumens at its default setting, but it's a bit brighter than Philips Hue, and plenty bright to call itself a 60W replacement.

Though accurate, Sylvania's colors were much less bright, ranging between roughly 80 and 200 lumens depending on the shade. That's typical of color-changing bulbs like these, since the majority of the brightness comes from the white-light diodes. Still, it's worth noting that Lifx offers a lot more oomph across the spectrum, and also lets you add the white light in on top of the colors for brighter, more subtle tints. It's still the smart bulb I'd recommend for people who just want the brightest, best-looking colors.

Lifx and Hue also offer dedicated, fully featured apps for color control, as well as a wide range of integrations with third-party platforms and devices. Both work with Alexa and with Google Home for voice-activated color changes, both will sync up with the Nest Learning Thermostat, and both have channels on the free online automation service IFTTT. Hue already works with HomeKit, too, and HomeKit support for Lifx bulbs, though long delayed at this point, is still in the cards, as well.