If you're thinking of splurging on color-changing options, your top two options are Philips Hue (left) and Lifx (right). Both are well-developed product lines with multiple generations of hardware under their belts, both have the color-changing smarts you're likely looking for and both are still really expensive.
That means if you're thinking about buying in, you'll want to be sure to choose wisely. In that spirit, here's a smart home showdown between the two -- which color-changing bulb comes out on top?
Our first color-changing contender: the Lifx Wi-Fi LED. A year ago, we called the second-gen Lifx Color 1000 LED the best color-changing bulb money can buy, but a lot's changed since then. Its new, third-gen bulbs are even brighter than before, with a starting price of $60 a piece (about £45/AU$80).
In the other corner: Philips Hue. It's the biggest name in color-changing bulbs, and a legitimate smart home heavyweight, complete with Siri-friendly Apple HomeKit compatibility. And, like Lifx, it now boasts new and improved third-gen bulbs.
On top of that, Philips Hue is a very strong lighting platform in its own right. It works with just about anything, it can control third party Zigbee bulbs and it also offers $15 white light smart bulbs (roughly £10, AU$20), making it relatively inexpensive to build out your lighting setup.
Lifx has a few unique tricks up its sleeve, though. Its newest bulb, the Lifx Plus LED, puts out invisible infrared light when the bulb is switched off. Why would you want that? Why, to help your night vision cameras see in the dark, of course!
The CNET Smart Apartment's night vision camera feed in the middle of the night, with and without a Lifx Plus screwed into the lamp in the back of the room. To the camera, it looks as if the lamp is on.
Both Lifx and Hue are compatible with the free online automation service, IFTTT. Sync up with IFTTT and you'll be able to trigger either bulb using a wide variety of compatible products as well as services.
Both bulbs are also compatible with Amazon's Alexa for voice-activated lighting changes. Lifx gets a slight edge here, because it offers a custom Alexa skill that can change the colors of your bulbs. With Hue, you can only turn bulbs on and off or dim them up and down.
Aside from the more major integrations, both bulbs do a good job of offering compatibility with a wide number of smaller smart home gadgets. They'll both work with the Beddi Smart Alarm Clock, for instance.
However, Hue strikes back with a huge feather in its cap: Apple HomeKit compatibility. That lets you control the bulbs -- including the colors -- using Siri commands. Lifx can't do that, at least not until February, when newly announced HomeKit-compatible Lifx bulbs will hit the market. Until then, advantage: Hue.
Still, our overall winner remains the same, and that's the Lifx Wi-Fi LED. It's much brighter than Philips Hue at every key setting, and the colors look fantastic. It also boasts the slightly better app, along with deeper integrations with IFTTT and Alexa. And, since the bulbs connect directly with your home network over Wi-Fi, you don't need a hub, which makes it an easier option to get started with than Philips Hue. If you can forgive the lack of HomeKit compatibility (at least until February), Lifx is the best color-changing bulb on the market.