WinkBed with coolControl review: A comfortable bed with a frustrating app
The WinkBed may comfort you with temperature-treated air, but its app is pure frustration.
Quality sleep is vital to good health, but if you're sweaty or shivering from the cold, it's hard to rest properly. The $3,499 WinkBed with CoolControl is designed to solve that problem, and enhance the comfort of your night's slumber. This pricey mattress manages that thanks to an air-driven temperature control system. With it, you can dial up the heat, or cool things down to match your personal preferences. It offers independent control over two separate zones, too, so you can accommodate both yourself and your bed-sharing partner.
However, there are big problems with the WinkBed. The constant hum of its blower fans makes the mattress a poor choice for sleepers who prefer complete silence. It's big and bulky, too, and towers over low-slung nightstands. Worse, WinkBed's app control through Bluetooth is a train wreck. Most of the time it failed to connect to the bed. And if it eventually did, the connection didn't last long. The WinkBed can't track or analyze your sleep either. Nor does it communicate with other smart home products.
I suggest the Sleep Number 360 instead. You'll spend more money on a Sleep Number model that's similar to the WinkBed I reviewed ($4,100). But you'll wind up with way more useful features the WinkBed can't match. That list includes firmness and temperature control, along with sleep monitoring. To get a great smart bed value, consider the $1,798 Eight Sleep Mars+ (without its base). Not only does it track your sleep in detail. It also works with the most smart home products such as Nest and Alexa.
More sleep than smarts
The WinkBed with CoolControl barely qualifies as a smart bed. Almost all of its technology resides in its temperature control system. A bulky control box sits on the ground besides the bed. Encased in dull gray plastic, the machine plugs into the CoolControl base, a thin platform for the mattress. The control box requires a wired link to another beefy box that houses a Bluetooth radio (hub). You need to plug both units into power outlets, too.
All that adds up to a lot of junk (and wires) on the floor. You can slide these parts under the bed, as long as there's at least 2 inches clearance (bed to floor). Keep in mind, the manual specifically advises that they "not be covered or near fabrics." Both the control box and hub "must be in a well-ventilated area" as well.
Blower fans inside the base push air up into the mattress above. That air flows through the bed at four separate points, conveyed by plastic tubes. The control unit manages air temperature as well. You have three heating and cooling levels to choose from (low, medium, high). You can activate these modes directly through the control box, or with one of the two remotes (for each side of the bed) that come with the mattress.
An app with issues
What makes the WinkBed with CoolControl technically a smart mattress is its mobile app. Available for both iOS and Android devices, the app provides command over the same WinkBed functions as the control box. Unfortunately, that's not what I experienced.
While I was able to link the CoolControl app (Android version) with the bed, the connection was unstable. My Google Pixel XL (first gen, Android 9 Pie) would link with the WinkBed's Bluetooth module. Minutes later, sometimes just seconds, the app connection fell apart. The only way to repair it was to cycle power on the module (turn it off and on). I had to do the same with my phone's Bluetooth radio.
I tried to use the iOS version of the CoolConnect app, too. My experience here was even worse. Despite multiple attempts, I could not get my test iPhone 6S (iOS 11.4.1) to communicate with the WinkBed's Bluetooth module.
When the app did work, it could tackle most of the remote control's functions. Setting a flow of cool or warm air over either side of the bed wasn't a problem. Controlling both sides in unison was simple to do as well. Surprisingly, I could not power up the WinkBed through the app. The CoolControl base had to be already running for the app to access or control it.
Comfy but not quiet
I can't deny that the WinkBed is comfortable, but I wouldn't say that I slept incredibly well in it. So much of bed preferences boils down to individual tastes. I enjoyed the firm feel of WinkBed, and it definitely felt better for my back than my current all-foam mattress. It's comparably softer, so my extremities and hips sank further below its surface.
The particular WinkBed version I used for my trial was the "luxury firm" mattress. According to the WinkBed website, this model supposedly "exceeds the performance" of the mattresses you'll find in luxury hotels. It's a pillow-top hybrid mattress made from both foam and coil springs.
That said, I'm not a fan of pillow-top mattresses. It's more of a pet peeve than a true grievance. I find their squishy, dimpled contours off-putting. And yes, I can feel that surface through the sheets. Regardless, it's a minor issue. Overall I slept well on the WinkBed, and was only aware of its pillow top before I drifted off.
As a hot sleeper who also loves a thick comforter, I appreciated the WinkBed's cool flow of air, but there were times when the drone from the fans was too much to endure. The same goes for the soft buzz and vibration from the platform below.
No smart bed buy
Mattresses and bed components are expensive, especially ones with connected features. And with a sticker price of $3,499 (as reviewed), the WinkBed is far from cheap. Sure, its mattress is comfortable, but it's also bulky and tall. That's also a ton of money for a bed that only blows hot and cold air. The price climbs higher if you decide to buy one of the company's bed frames. It sells two, both compatible with the CoolControl heating and cooling system. There's a $2,200 flat base (queen) and a motorized, adjustable base (queen) for $3,700. Controlling the system through its mobile app barely works as well.
Those looking for loads of connected home features or sleep tracking won't find it in the WinkBed either. If that's what you're after, I suggest the $1,798 Eight Sleep Mars+. For a lot less cash, this bed logs and analyzes your sleep. It also supports multiple smart home products thanks to IFTTT integration, plus works with Alexa and Google Nest. Well-heeled shoppers should also consider the $7,600 Sleep Number 360. The version we reviewed is astronomically expensive, but for $4,100 you can configure a comparable bed that's more capable than the WinkBed.