Gadget news
Psync Camera Genie S review: smarter than your average smart home security cam
9:00 pm | November 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The Psync Camera Genie S is a new indoor home security camera with an AI-infused twist, and it could remedy a host of pet peeves you have with your current home security devices.

While I don't consider myself paranoid, I do have, at any given time, at least three of the best home security cameras surveilling my home. I've gotten used to all the alerts that usually let me know one of the cams detected some movement. The details are scant and because I am too cheap to play for cloud-based storage and services, I can almost never see said "movement".

The extent of detail most webcam image analysis offers is usually "person detected,"  "movement detected," or "sound detected."

Psync, though has a different idea with something it calls "ViewSay", featured on its new Psync Camera Genie S indoor smart home camera.

ViewSay uses GPT algorithms (actually a visual language model or VLM) to analyze the movement or any activity within the security camera's field of view to offer detailed descriptions of what's happening in your home. It's a very new implementation of this technology and the messages I've received over the last week have been almost uniformly hilarious. Psync's AI rarely gets the description right but I love how hard it tries.

Some users may not be thrilled that the AI-based image analysis (which will cost $0.99 a month) is done in the cloud using one frame of the video, but the good news is that the data is encrypted when it's stored on Amazon Web Servers (AWS) for analysis.

Leaving aside this kitschy highlight, this is a rather adept home security cam. It's compact, easy to set up, and is the rare webcam with a motorized remote control that lets you change its point of view (left and right or up and down) via the Psync app and from anywhere in the world. It can even, thanks to that physical versatility, track moving objects.

There's support for smart home majors like Amazon Alexa and Google but not for Apple HomeKit and, more distressingly, Matter - though full Matter support rollout for cameras doesn't come until next year, so there's hope yet.  

Even so, $34.99 for a Webcam with 32GB of onboard storage, LED lights for night imagery, remote control, and auto-tracking capabilities adds up to a nice starter home security webcam.

Psync Camera Genie S

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Psync Camera Genie S review: price and availability

  • List price: $34.99 (32GB) $39.99 (64GB)
  • $0.99 for AI features
  • Available in the US only

At just $34.99, the Psync Camera Genie S is among the more affordable home security cameras, falling in line with the WYZE Cam Pan v3 but without the outdoor capabilities. Of course, the WYZE Cam doesn't include any form of GPT intelligence.

Psync launched the product on November 1, 2023, and it's available online at the Psync website.

The box ships with the security cam, a USB-3-to-USB-C cable, and a power adapter (there's no battery option). There's also 32GB of internal storage.

Value: 4/5

Psync Camera Genie S: specifications

Psync Camera Genie S

Psync Camera Genie S folded (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Psync Camera Genie S review: design

  • Compact
  • Local storage
  • Lightweight
  • Rubberized bottom with tripod mount

I wouldn't normally say this, but Psync Camera Genie S is cute. Yes, it's a bit lightweight and boxy, but its ability to turn and look at whatever it's tracking adds a bit of life and, yes, might lead you to anthropomorphize it.

Where most modern smart home security cams are all curves and smooth lines, this is like a set of white blocks. There's a white base that houses the speaker and activity light (blue for live), and the L-shaped head that unfolds from the body and can point its small face, featuring an HD+ camera (it captures up to 1944 x 2592) and four LED lights, wherever you choose, or it can auto-track moving objects.

There are microphones and a speaker for conducting two-way communication but the speaker is also used to deliver messages from the Psync device. It can tell you, for example, that you have an incoming call.

Open, the security cam is 2.09 in. x 2.09 in. x 4.41 in. Folded, it's 2.09 in. x 2.09 in. x 2.41

Despite its diminutive size, this lightweight security cam isn't prone to sliding or falling over; there's a nice grippy rubberized base to keep the Psync Camera Genie S in place. If you want to attach it to a tripod, the base also includes a tripod screw mount.

I also appreciated that the included power cable is long enough to stretch it from an outlet near the floor to a window more than halfway up the wall.

One of my favorite Psnyc Camera Genie S tricks, however, is what it does when you power it down (through the app). It says "shutting down" and then folds into a near-perfect cube.

Design: 4/5

Psync Camera Genie S

Psync Camera Genie S base (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Psync Camera Genie S review: performance

  • Can detect and track motion
  • AI does its best to ID scenes
  • 2K video is sharp

Psync Camera Genie S interface

(Image credit: Future)

The best smart home devices are not just easy to use, they make setup a breeze. Psync's Camera Genie S fulfills that mission with a no-brainer setup through the app which (after one firmware update that virtually every new smart home hardware needs) had me keeping an eye on my home in no time.

The app is fairly well organized and should be obvious to even the most novice users. Most of the screen is filled with video feedback. The first thing I noticed is the relatively narrow field of view, especially compared to the indoor camera competition; it's just 84.9 degrees. However, the remedy to this narrow viewport can be found on the app, which offers a thumb-pad-style control for the camera's remote control features. The camera can tilt vertically by 135 degrees. More crucially, the entire camera can rotate a full 350 degrees on its round base.

Initially, I used these controls to look around a room from wherever I was. I've often been frustrated that I left an indoor home security camera pointing in one direction when a sound was coming from another. With the Psync camera, I can pan or tilt the camera to look directly at the action. There are no voice controls, despite its compatibility with Alexa and Google compatibility, but that's not too uncommon in cameras.

The other option, though it's hidden under a sub-menu, is the ability to let the camera track action on its own. When I turned this on and I walked in front of the camera, it would look me up and down and turn to watch me.

The default 2K resolution camera provides video and images you can zoom in on to see additional detail. Of course, the higher-resolution imagery might eat up your local storage a bit more quickly.

Psync Camera Genie S

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Next to the 2K camera is a series of four LEDs that it calls the "Spotlight". Instead of night vision, you can turn on these LEDs to illuminate a dark room. You can also control the brightness level and even set a schedule for the Spotlight. I'd prefer actual infrared night vision and the ability to turn on when the camera detects motion, but then you shouldn't expect that technology in a $34 indoor smart camera.

The app lets you switch to event view and then swipe vertically through all previously captured events. You can also save any of the videos to your phone camera roll and then share them more broadly.

Of course, the marquee feature is the new AI-based image analysis that translates into a description of what Psync Camera Genie S is spotting through its camera. Psync will charge $0.99 a month for this privilege and, to be honest, I'm not sure yet if it's worth it.

I got a ton of alerts from the camera and the majority of descriptions were comical. It could usually identify a human but often said they were carrying something, such as a basket when they weren't. It said an entire family was sitting around my dining room table when it was empty, and it misidentified scenes as well as objects. My favorite might have been when it was looking at my backyard and shed and said, "A person is walking past a garage with a motorcycle parked inside, and a child is playing in the yard." The backyard was empty, my shed was closed, I don't own a motorcycle, and no one was in my backyard.

Generally, Psync's powers of observation were average at best. It did eventually properly identify my wife standing in our living room looking at her phone, but that was a rare hit.

To be fair, these are early days, and I suspect that this AI will get smarter and more effective in identifying people, places, and things.

Performance: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Psync Camera Genie S indoor camera?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Psync Camera Genie S review: Also consider

Decided against the Psync Camera Genie S? Why not check out these alternatives...

How I tested the WiZ Indoor camera

  • I tested the Psync Camera Genie S for two weeks in my home
  • I set it up in various rooms in my house and allowed the app to send me alerts based on what the camera detected.

I used the Psync Camera Genie S for two weeks in my home, monitoring my kitchen, living room, den, and backyard (through a window). 

I had the benefit of using a system whitelisted for access to the $0.99-a-month AI features. this meant all of the object and motion detection descriptions I received were quite descriptive, if not always accurate. 

I compared the camera to the other indoor and outdoor cameras I have throughout my home.

Read more about how we test.

First reviewed November 2023

Dreame L20 Ultra review: a super-powered robot vacuum at a substantial price
6:13 pm | November 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Robot Vacuums Smart Home | Comments: Off

Dreame L20 Ultra: Two-minute review

If you just care about how the Dreame L20 Ultra cleans; it’s a dream. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it one of the best robot vacuums you can buy right now, but it has to be, as it’s also one of the most expensive, and it’ll cut through grime as efficiently as it cuts through your savings.

Dreame has a huge variety of robot vacuums in its line-up and the L20 Ultra is the biggest and best, bristling with features, tools, and tricks.

Its suction is one of the most powerful on the market and it comes with retractable mops, customizable cleaning plans, smart AI to avoid obstacles, and adjust cleaning based on surface type; the list goes on. Your home will be clean with the Dreame, and it constantly surprised me with what it could scrub up during the testing period.

This comes at a price. Not only is the Dreame L20 Ultra one of the most expensive robot vacuums you can buy, but it has lots of parts that you’ll have to replace regularly. The funds will keep leaving your account even after that hefty up-front payment, so this is only really an option for people who can afford the most premium model available. It's certainly one to look out for in the Black Friday robot vacuum deals too.

From the get-go, ease of use is a major boon. The L20 Ultra will automatically create a 3D map, identifying different surfaces and making a note of immovable obstacles like walls and furniture. It can update that map on the fly if you move furniture around (or leave the box it came in in a stupid location and keep shifting it because you can’t figure out where best to store it).

However, lots of the robot’s extra features (that are, after all, what you’re paying for) are fiddly to activate or even understand. If you’re not tech-savvy, you’re probably not going to be able to make the most of what you’re paying for. 

Its obstacle recognition isn’t quite there yet, either: it worked wonders 90% of the time in my home, but the Dreame started trying to eat shoelaces a few more times than I’d consider healthy.

That’s not to be down on the Dreame L20 Ultra; I started this introduction by calling it one of the best robot vacuums and that’s not wrong. It’s stacked with features and excels at its job – it’s just a little tricky to recommend over rival devices that’ll do a similar job and won’t cost nearly as much.

Dreame L20 Ultra review: price and availability

  • Unveiled August 2023
  • Costs $1,499.99 / £1,099 / AU$2,799 
  • Extra price for regular part replacement

Announced at the annual August tech event, IFA 2023, the Dreame L20 Ultra was available to buy in the US by September of the same year, though took a little while to roll out to other regions.

The Dreame L20 Ultra isn’t for the faint of heart or light of funds – it’s one of the priciest robot vacuums you can get, and will certainly cost you more than simply hiring a cleaner. It’s actually a lot pricier in the US, so if you live in the UK, you can ignore lots of my price criticisms.

You’ll have to shell out $1,499.99 / £1,099 / AU$2,799 for the unit, which is pretty fair when you consider all the top-tier features and abilities the Dreame L20 Ultra has, and most robo-vac brands have similarly priced offerings. However, if you’re on a budget, you’ll find plenty of more affordable options from brands like Eufy, Roomba or Shark — and Dreame itself.

The financial drain won’t end with the up-front cost though, as lots of the device requires frequent replacing or refuelling. Hide your bank cards, and hide your PIN numbers, for this is the full price list: 

You can buy all of the above (save the cleaning solution) in one bundle for $89.99 (around £74, AU$141). Just note that we couldn’t find these parts on sale in the UK or Australia as of writing.

That is to say, you will likely be spending upwards of $100 or equivalent each year just keeping the device running (not including water or electricity), so it’s a real financial investment.

  • Value score: 2/5

Dreame L20 Ultra: Specs

The Dreame L20 Ultra robot with its base station in the background.

(Image credit: Future)

Dreame L20 Ultra review: Design

  • Large rounded cylinder
  • Giant base station
  • Onboard microphone

The Dreame L20 Ultra package consists of two, equally-comically-large parts: there’s the flying saucer of a robot vacuum itself and its humungous base station.

Let’s start with the base station: it’s 60.7 cm tall, 42.6 cm wide, and 49.9cm deep (when you factor in its ramp, though for the majority of its body, it’s a little shallower). Much of this body is for water storage or dust bags. A towering black monolith, you’ll need somewhere in your home with sufficient space for it and one that offers easy access at the lower level for the vacuum itself.

The dust bag fits 3.2 liters of dust before it needs to be replaced, while the water tank and waste water tank both hold 4.5 liters. That's 'forget about it for weeks' levels of quantity. 

The robot vacuum itself is also pretty big compared to some rivals; you wouldn’t want to face this at Robot Wars. It’s 10.3 cm tall, and Dreame rather vaguely says that its body is 35 x 35 x 35cm. Either way, it’s a big circular entity, and heavy too at 4.3kg, though its heavyweight status doesn’t reduce its ability to clean (or to fit in small areas!). 

Atop the robot are its LIDAR scanner and three control buttons, which provide some functionality, but using the app is still a lot more convenient. When it’s cleaning it has two front-facing lights that can be incredibly bright, but this just means its LIDAR is effective whether or not your home is well-lit, and it'll only turn on its lights if the lighting is poor.

The Dreame L20 Ultra's base station with the lid removed.

(Image credit: Future)

Underneath are its two mops and tri-pronged side brush, but they don’t poke out too much, meaning the Dreame has a circular body to look at top-down.

There’s also a microphone on the robot, which keeps you updated with what it’s doing or what order you’ve issued it. This is a really handy accessibility feature, though it’s also pretty scary if you forgot you scheduled a clean!

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Dreame L20 Ultra review: Performance

  • Powerful suction, plus mopping power
  • Creates and updates 3D map
  • Sometimes fails to recognize obstacles

The name of the Dreame L20 Ultra’s game is ease of use – as you’ll read about in the ‘App’ section below it’s easy just to press ‘play’ and let the robot do all the work for you.

The robot has a suction power of 7,000 Pascals – that’s significantly better than Dreame’s previous robots, with the 10s Ultra hitting 5,300Pa, and given that the average for a robot vacuum is around 6,000Pa, it shows that this is great for picking up dirt. Over the testing period, there was not a single time that the Dreame failed to pick up something it should have done, and it even collected some items I expected it to miss.

That’s the first part of the L20 Ultra’s process; the second is mopping, which it does with its two built-in mop pads. This mostly worked great too, resulting in squeaky-clean floors, though there were a few marks around my flat that it didn’t manage to remove. Good for spilled coffee stains, but not so great for angry kitchen muck, though its Deep Clean mode (which takes a lot longer) got rid of most of the marks missed by the standard mode.

The under side of the Dreame L20 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Every time you run the Dreame, it’ll create a new 3D map based on the existing one, so it can recognize if you’ve moved furniture or closed a door that was previously open. This was generally very handy as it meant I didn’t need to be so fastidious about tidying the testing area, though a wall-long mirror at one side of the apartment constantly confused the thing. Don’t worry, Dreame, that’s not a whole new room I’m asking you to clean!

I did sometimes cause cleans to finish early by accidentally standing in the way when it was scanning an area. Even though I moved straight away, the Dreame assumed that an area was blocked, and didn’t bother trying again. So it’s best to keep out of the thing’s way, lest you dissuade it from doing its job.

One word of warning: while you can enable a quiet cleaning mode, the robot is loud. Dreame cites the minimum noise as 63dB, which is just above the average sound of conversation. It’s loudest at the end of a clean when it empties its tank. If you’ve got a nervous pet (or just hate loud noises), make sure to turn on quiet mode, or only activate it when you're out of the house!

The L20 Ultra is self-emptying, so you don’t need to worry about removing its contents after every session. The dust bag provided lasts 75 days according to Dreame, and you can buy more once you run out. You’ll need to replace the water more frequently (and empty out the dirty water), but each will last you several hundreds of meters squared of cleaning before you need to do so (though I’d recommend cleaning out the water more frequently, as it can get nasty!).

For a vacuum of its size, I was surprised by how effectively the Dreame cleaned in nooks and crannies, with its mop extension managing to fit into corners that could easily have been overlooked. 

A top-down view of the Dreame L20 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

The Dreame is smart enough to detect different surfaces, and amend its cleaning plan; my floor is largely vinyl wood with a few carpets, and the robot could identify these latter emplacements. It’d avoid these during its cleaning routine, returning once everything else was finished; it’d know to lift the mop pads and slow down its speed to better vacuum in the thicker material.

If you have a home with various floor types, you can rest safely knowing that the robot will clean them all equally – without your input to boot, as I never had to program in different cleaning areas (though there is the option to mark carpeted areas in the app).

An issue I had several times during the L20 Ultra’s testing phase is that the robot didn’t always accurately identify smaller objects like pieces of string, wires, and shoelaces, and would end up getting itself caught when it sucked these things up. More often than not it was smart enough to recognize and avoid obstacles, but I did have to rescue it on occasion when it got itself tied up (literally). One could call the object recognition 'hit or miss'.

At other times the obstacle recognition was a little overzealous. In the app, it would frequently flag things that weren’t obstacles at all: edges of carpets were the main offender but hanging fabrics that didn’t touch the ground (and wouldn’t get in the vacuum’s way) were also culprits.

  • Performance score: 5/5

Dreame L20 Ultra review: App

  • App is easy to use...
  • ... but hard to master
  • Onboard camera can be activated through app

To use the L20 Ultra, you have to download the Dreamehome app, available on the Play Store and App Store. This lets you set up the vacuum (which took a few tries for me, as it struggled to find the robot at first), check on its status, and set up various cleaning modes.

Simply telling the robot to clean is easy, with a simple play button on the first page (and another telling it to return to the base station), but if you like you can get further in depth, for example setting carpeted areas, deciding on the cleaning order or setting how frequently the Dreame will return to its base station and clean the mop.

Three stills from the Dreamehome app for the Dreame L20 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

During a clean, the app tells you the size of your cleaning area, its battery percentage, and how long it’s been cleaning for. And after the cleaning, you can check its route, which items it’s classified as an obstacle, and a history of its cleans. There’s also a scheduling tool for future cleans which is hidden in the menus.

The Dreame L20 is a feature-heavy robot, and this means that the app has lots of options and menus too, but this means that some of its tools are a little buried or hard to find. I couldn’t quite figure out how to use the zoning or room tools, for example, and I literally review tech for a job – some users will find the app too fiddly, with a steep learning curve when you first buy the L20.

You can also use the Dreamehome app to activate a camera on the L20 Ultra, letting you watch the robot as it trawls your home. There’s even the ability to pilot the thing yourself, turning it into a roving ersatz security camera. An alarm on the robot goes some way to mitigate security concerns, as you’ll be able to hear if someone remotely turns on the camera – though in a big enough home, you could miss this sound.

Smart-home owners will find plenty of options with Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Google Assistant all letting you control the robot using voice controls. Well, you can start, stop and pause, but for other functions, you'll need to stick to the app.

  • App score: 3.5/5

Dreame L20 Ultra review: Battery life

  • Lasts 180 minutes at a push
  • That figure is even higher without multi-clean
  • Hoover is fairly slow

You’re going to need a fairly large house to find the Dreame L20 Ultra’s battery lacking. The company states that its 6,400mAh battery will last you for 180 minutes (or 3 hours) of cleaning. That goes up an extra 30 minutes if you only want either mopping or vacuuming alone!

The Dreame L20 Ultra docked in his base station.

(Image credit: Future)

In my testing, the Dreame seemed to go through 1% of battery every two and a half minutes: to me, 180 minutes seems to be the high end of what you’d achieve.

That’s an absolutely stellar battery life, although depending on the size of your home, you might need it. The Dreame doesn’t exactly move at Ferrari speeds, and it took up to 45 minutes to do one lap of my flat which has roughly 20m2 of ‘cleanable’ floor space (ie, not covered by furniture, drawers or the massive box the vacuum cleaner came in). It sometimes did this a lot quicker though, with a record of 28 minutes for that same space (perhaps with some furniture moved here and there though).

By default, the Dreame will do two laps too: one for vacuuming, and one for mopping, though you can change this if you don’t need either, and the latter was quicker. Either way, for me that was generally around an hour of cleaning.

Still, that means I was only using part of the Dreame’s battery, with the 3-hour cleaning limit smashing loads of rival devices. If you have a larger house, you’ll find that the robot will dock mid-clean to power up, which can take a few hours to get to full.

  • Battery score: 4.5/5

Should I buy the Dreame L20 Ultra?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

The Dreame L20 Ultra is a great robot vacuum, but it's not without competition. Here are some alternatives you might want to consider before splashing out.

How I tested the Dreame L20 Ultra

The buttons atop the Dreame L20 Ultra.

(Image credit: Future)

I set up the Dreame L20 Ultra myself, physically connecting the base station and wirelessly connecting to the robot, in order to fully understand the process. 

The testing window for the Dreame was three weeks, although I continued to use it after that while I was writing this review. In this window I ran cleaning tests every two or three days; for some of these, I artificially added solids like mud or foodstuffs to ensure the flat was dirty enough to clean (not that I needed the help with that…). I also varied the process after the first week, testing out different cleaning modes and not tidying up obstacles (other than the ones that would stop the robot from accessing the entire flat).

The testing size for the flat has already been mentioned; the Dreame app calculated the cleaning space as around 17m2 to 20m2 depending on how much furniture I moved out of the way. The area was largely vinyl wood flooring but included a kitchenette and bathroom (both tiled) and two large carpets: one shag and one acrylic.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed October 2023
Govee Smart Tower Fan review: a great introduction to smart fan technology
5:00 pm | November 7, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Govee Smart Tower Fan: Two-minute review

Considering their main job is to keep you cool, it always surprises me just how much the performance of different fans can vary. It’s not just a case of blowing cold air at you,; the best fans can completely change the environment you’re in, making you cooler and comfortable. 

The Govee Smart Tower Fan almost perfectly ticks this box. It offers a huge range of performance levels, as well as customizable options, designed to suit your specific temperature needs. I particularly like the Nature mode, which changes the rhythm of the air to make it feel more like a breeze from a window rather than sitting or sleeping in a wind tunnel. 

Looks- and size-wise, it’s subtle enough for you to stick it in a corner and forget about it. And thanks to its 26-foot air range and 75-degree oscillation, it can cover most medium-sized rooms with ease.   

Connecting the fan to my network was easy and intuitive, and being able to change the fan using my voice, when connected to my Amazon Echo, soon became my go-to control method. It was never a feature I thought I needed, but I soon found myself use turning the fan off and on, if I needed to leave the room briefly, or I would effortlessly switch to Sleep mode without getting out of bed, as just two examples. 

Having app control was welcomed when looking to select more advanced settings, such as scheduling the fan to come on when I arrived home, but for everything else, I always relied on my voice. The only downside to this was that the voice controls were sometimes temperamental - though I’m not sure if that was me and my commands, Alexa, or the fan. This didn’t really detract from the convenience of the voice controls, but it was frustrating at times. 

I'm one of those people who finds the humming of a fan oddly soothing at night, and Govee's low 38dB noise level was quiet enough for me. However, it disturbed my partner, and although touted as a low-noise appliance, at higher speeds the fan can get noticeably louder. This could be a deal-breaker for some.

One optional extra is the addition of Auto Mode. Auto Mode adjusts the fan's speed automatically based on the room's temperature and humidity, but you need to be connected to a Govee thermo-hygrometer (sold separately) to take full advantage of this. 

For us, this was a nice-to-have feature, but there were times when the fan's idea of a comfortable temperature didn't exactly align with mine and I had to manually adjust the controls anyway, making the function somewhat moot. 

Despite these hiccups, the fan impressed me with its performance and versatility, especially at the price point of $89.99 / £99.99. If you’re looking to make your first foray into smart fans, Govee’s model is a great, easy-to-use, and effective introduction. If you’re a smart fan pro, there is enough about the Govee Smart Tower Fan to pique your interest, but you may want the more advanced features seen on more expensive models.

Govee Smart Tower Fan review: price and availability

  • List price: $89.99/£99.99
  • Only sold with US plug
  • Not available in Australia

As tower fans go, Govee's model is great value on its own , let alone when you factor in the wide range of smart and connected features it offers. It costs $89.99 in the US and £99.99 in the UK (about AU$140). 

There are tower fans from the likes of Lasko, Holmes and Vornado that don't offer smart features yet cost more than the Govee model. There are also smart tower fans from Dreo and Dyson that offer similar features and are much more expensive. 

Granted, Dyson fans offer advanced features such as purifying, and heating (depending on which model you compare it to), but few come with the smart, remote control options found in Govee's much cheaper model. And those that do, such as the Dyson Big+Quiet range, cost in excess of $650 / £699.99 / $1,499.

What's more, one of Dyson's most recent features – called Autoreact because it automatically adjusts the fan's settings in response to the ambient temperature – is also possible with the Govee tower fan. You just need to pair it with the $40 / £39.99 (about AU$60) Govee Wi-Fi Thermo-Hygrometer. Yes, it means spending more money, but even with the Govee fan and thermometer combined, you're still spending as much as five times less as on the Dyson.

  • Value: 5 / 5

Govee Smart Tower Fan in use during testing by author

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woolaston)

Govee Smart Tower Fan: Design

  • Subtle and sleek design
  • Intuitive touch controls with adjustable lighting 
  • Lightweight nature makes it a little unstable

The Govee Smart Tower Fan is designed to blend in and fit with most home decor. It’s sleek, tall, and slim – measuring 36 inches (914 mm) tall and 10.6 inches (269 mm) wide and deep – and therefore fits easily in corners and small spaces. What’s more, because of its 75-degree oscillation and 26-foot (about 8 meters) range, you can still feel the benefits, even if it is tucked in a corner. 

With its all-black design, the Govee Smart Tower Fan is attractive yet subtle. This gives it an air of luxury that makes it look  more expensive than its price tag would suggest. 

Instead of buttons or dials, the Govee Smart Tower Fan has a touch panel built into the top of the appliance. The power button sits bottom left. The left column of controls relates to the fan’s three modes (the large M stands for Modes) – Normal, Sleep, and Nature. The central column controls the fan’s timer function, and the right-hand column controls the fan’s speed. There is then an oscillating button, plus the option to lock the timer or speed setting in place. 

This panel is fitted with subtle lighting that is bright enough to see in the dark, but dim enough to not distract you while you sleep or if you have the fan on while watching a film, or similar. You can also turn the lights off if you need or want to.  

In addition to the onboard touch panel, you can control the fan remotely via the Govee app or using your voice when the fan is connected to your wider smart network. These provide more options than the built-in panel. Namely, the option to build custom settings, and greater precision over the speed – the built-in panel offers three speeds but you can choose from eight on the app. 

This added customization is welcomed but it soon becomes frustrating when you don’t have your phone to hand. You can get around this using your voice, but in my experience the commands are temperamental. 

There’s a small handle on the rear of the fan which makes it easy to pick up and move, and the fan is surprisingly lightweight too. Given its robust, expensive-looking design we had expected the fan to be heavy so we were pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. 

The only downside to this is that if you have pets or children, the fan has a tendency to wobble and topple over with very little contact. 

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Govee Smart Tower Fan in use during testing by author

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woolaston)

Govee Smart Tower Fan: Performance

  • Range of control options is super convenient
  • Nature mode mimics natural airflow 
  • Fan can be loud on faster settings

The standout feature of the Govee fan, and what sets it apart from standard tower fans is its compatibility with the Govee Home App. Once connected to the app, the fan joins your smart home network and it can be controlled via your phone and smart speakers, as well as linked to a Govee thermo-hygrometer.

Connecting it to the app is easy and intuitive, as is the app itself. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and you can switch the fan on and off; select your fan’s mode – Normal, Nature, or Sleep; choose your desired wind speed from a scale of 1-8; and turn the oscillation feature on or off. 

You can additionally press Custom to create your own personalized setting, set a timer, create a schedule, and enable Auto mode. The scheduling tool is useful for switching the fan on when you get home from work, or off when you wake up. Auto mode only works if you’ve connected the fan to the thermo-hygrometer but once enabled, the two appliances work together to monitor changes in temperature and humidity and adjust the fan’s setting accordingly. We didn’t notice much of a difference during the day, but it became particularly useful at bedtime as the temperature dropped throughout the night, and the fan slowed down accordingly to avoid us getting too cold.  

Our only criticism of this was that the fan's idea of a comfortable temperature didn't always align with mine, meaning I had to manually adjust the controls anyway. 

Govee Smart Tower Fan in use during testing by author

(Image credit: Future / Victoria Woolaston)

The app is the only way to see the full range of features and customisations. The built-in touch panel offers enough options to make it useful, but with the app and voice controls enabled, we barely used the panel. 

For the most part, the smart features work well, but in our experience, the voice commands can be a little temperamental. This is a minor flaw, and you have the app and the onboard controls as backup, but having to repeat myself to a fan when I’m already frustrated from the heat isn’t ideal. I should note that this may be my fault or my Alexa, so take this criticism with a pinch of salt. 

Onto the speeds and modes. The Govee fan comes with three standard modes: Normal, Nature, and Sleep. It also allows you to toggle between eight speeds, although only three are accessible through the onboard touch panel. The airflow moves at 20ft/s and I felt the highest settings were a bit too intense for my liking, but the mid-range speed settings were perfect.

During my testing, I found the Nature mode to be a welcome touch, mimicking a more natural airflow. Especially at night when it felt like a light breeze. I preferred this Nature mode over the more gentle, quiet Sleep mode.

Speaking of sleeping, I'm one of those people who finds the humming of a fan oddly soothing at night, and Govee's low 38dB noise level was quiet enough for me. However, it disturbed my partner, and, although touted as a low-noise appliance, at higher speeds the fan can get noticeably louder. It also depends on the type of flooring it’s placed on. In our dining room, on the wooden floor, it was louder than on our carpeted bedroom floor. We haven’t ever noticed this with any other fan we’ve used. 

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Govee Smart Tower Fan: Specs

Should I buy the Govee Smart Tower Fan?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Govee Smart Tower Fan: Also consider

If you would prefer other options over the Govee Smart Tower Fan, then one of the best fans would be an alternative to consider...

How I tested the Govee Smart Tower Fan

  • Tested for four weeks, including during a heatwave
  • Used it while working during the day, and at night
  • Tested all the various modes and functions

To test the Govee Smart Tower Fan, I used it as my main fan for four weeks in my bedroom, front room, home office and child's bedroom. I used the built-in controls, the app and used voice commands. 

I tested it at night, while I slept, on all three standard modes. I created my own customized mode using the app, and I scheduled the fan to turn automatically at 10pm every night. All dials and buttons were pressed to see what they would do as well.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) review: the near-perfect smart display for most households
7:00 pm | November 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home Smart Home Hubs | Tags: | Comments: Off

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Two-minute review

If the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) isn’t proof-positive that smart speakers are on their way out, then I don’t know what is. Smart displays not only allow you to connect and voice-control your smart home devices but also provide many other functionalities that even the best smart speakers and best Alexa speakers just aren’t equipped for. 

This latest version of Amazon’s 8-inch model might also be the best smart display for most people – though budget-minded folks might prefer the much cheaper Echo Show 5, which has its own advantages – having a generous display and more functionalities. I’ve been using the second generation of the Echo Show 5 as my main smart display, and honestly, I’ve always found it a tad lacking. That is, it’s well suited for quick access to things but doesn't meet all my needs.

Upgrading to the Show 8 was a revelation. Suddenly, watching movies on Prime Video in my kitchen while cooking isn't a practice in the art of squinting, listening to Taylor Swift while doing the dishes is a better experience in audio, and video calls to friends and family don't feel like a game of hide and seek when you’re moving around and doing things.

The Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is, of course, capable of much more than that, which I’ll get to in a second, but my point is that it’s a wiser choice as your home’s main gateway to your smart home devices and more. 

There are things that I do feel Amazon could have done better. The display still has those thick bezels that now look outdated. The 13MP camera it inherited from its predecessor is just sufficient. Then there's the price bump, making it a less affordable proposition – though, luckily, Amazon regularly offers discounts on its devices.

None of those things would deter me from purchasing the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen), however, and they shouldn’t deter you either. If you’re serious about smartening your home, this is one of the best smart home devices to invest in. 

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  $149.99 / £149.99 (about AU$230) 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and the UK

The Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) has gotten a price bump, sadly. At $149.99 / £149.99 (about AU$230), it’s $20 / £30 more than its predecessor, the Echo Show 8 (2nd gen). I don’t consider it that big of a price increase, however, especially considering the improvements that come with it. And, with Black Friday deals starting to trickle in, there’s no doubt it’s going to get a discount soon.

Bear in mind that it is pretty pricey if you compare it to the Echo Show 5. The Echo Show 5 (3rd gen), the latest version of the 5-inch model, is much cheaper at $89.99 / ‎£89.99 (about AU$140). So if you’re on a tight budget, I'd say get that one or save up for the Echo Show 8 if you can wait.

While US and UK customers can get it now, Australian customers will have to wait a little longer as it’s not yet available at the time of writing.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Specs

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Design and features

  • Solid build, made of recycled materials
  • Great display with unfortunately large bezels
  • Some design updates like a centered camera

Setting up the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is easy, so easy, in fact, that there’s really not a lot of thought involved. This is true for all of Amazon’s devices. However, with added functionalities on the Show 8, there are some things you need to decide on, including Vision Accessibility, your choice of Photo Display, home monitoring, and more. You’ll also be asked to set up your Visual IDs. 

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The whole setup shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes in a single-person household. However, if you’ve got several people to set up Visual IDs for – the process requiring each person to stand in front of the camera and then follow the prompts – it’ll obviously take longer.

If you’d rather skip creating Visual IDs for every single person, you may do so, but I'd advise against that as this feature detects whenever a “registered” individual is near and personalizes content and even the displayed information on the screen based on their history, preferences and more. That essentially gives every single person in your household their own virtual Echo Show 8, which is pretty nifty.

Before finishing setup, I also suggest setting up Adaptive Content, which uses what Amazon calls "on-device computer vision technology" to adjust the screen's content based on how close or far you are from the device. 

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

If you own the previous generation Echo Show 8, you might notice the lack of a design overhaul here. This looks a lot like its predecessor, but it does have a few small-ish changes. For example, the back is different, in that the sides and corners of the speaker cabinet aren’t flush with the display. That’s not necessarily a bad or good change, looks-wise; it just depends on your personal preference.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)'s camera and buttons

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

You’ll also notice that the camera has been moved from the right side to the center, which should be advantageous for video calls. It’s ever so slightly lighter at 1.034g instead of 1.037g. And, finally, the display now has edge-to-edge glass, which does make it sleeker looking up-front.

If you were hoping to get a camera and a display upgrade, however, you'll be disappointed. You’re getting the same 13MP camera and the same 8-inch 1,280 x 800 display as before, including those large bezels around it that make it look a little dated. The 2-inch neodymium stereo speakers with passive bass radiator are also the same, although Amazon did improve the sound quality with better sound frequency representations, which I will talk about below.

I’ve only tested the Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) for a week so I can’t speak for its build quality, but I can tell you that it feels very well-made and robust. It’s also made from 29% recycled materials. It’s not as green as Apple’s slew of devices, but at least it’s getting there.

A lot of people are uncomfortable about having security cameras inside their homes, so if you'd like to enable home monitoring but still have the option to turn it off – or not have video on when you’re on calls – the camera privacy shutter is still there within quick and easy reach. And next to it are the mic/camera on/off button and the volume buttons.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Performance

  • Fast and responsive
  • Great features that work well, including Adaptive Content
  • Booming audio, great display

At launch, Amazon said it’s powered with an octa-core SoC with Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Network Engine. This improved processor is supposed to be 40% faster than its predecessor when it comes to executing requests and Alexa’s responses.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

While I couldn’t make a direct performance comparison with its predecessor as I haven’t tested that myself, I can tell you that after putting up with the Echo Show 5’s (2nd gen) slow processing for at least a year, this Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) felt like a game changer. This thing delivers fast responses, whether I’m asking Alexa to translate something to another language, turning on my smart lights, or calling a friend for a video chat. It even pulled up and started a movie on Amazon Prime Video very quickly, within a couple of seconds, when it normally takes my Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) at least a minute to do so.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The touchscreen display is just as responsive. Tapping buttons and links on my Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) usually means a few seconds of waiting. Sometimes, it doesn’t even respond to my taps. But that isn’t the case here. Every tap is registered and responded to quickly.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)
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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Speaking of the display, it may not have gotten an upgrade, but it’s not really necessary in this current version. Its visuals are crisp and clean, and the screen is incredibly bright, allowing me to enjoy movies and shows or see my security camera footage very clearly without the need to squint. I just wish it wasn't so reflective, but the brightness helps offset that.

New features like the Visual ID and Adaptive Content are fairly fast as well. It does take a second or two for the camera to process what it's seeing and react accordingly, but not so long that you’ll get impatient. I quite like these two features as they specifically cater to your visual needs, though I did find that the Adaptive Content doesn’t usually switch to Minimal (the large image and text format) until I’m a little more than five feet away. And there’s no way to change that in the settings.

Video footage of author from Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The one thing I wished Amazon had upgraded, though, is the camera. It’s the same camera that’s on the previous generation, and while it delivers decent footage, I wouldn’t consider it crisp in this day and age. Not that most people would be using this for the type of video calls that require high-res audio, like business meetings, but having that option would have been nice. 

Also, it keeps the same auto-framing feature as its predecessor, which means it’ll follow you around the room, panning and zooming as necessary, when you’re on video calls, but that also feels slightly slower than on many webcams I’ve tested. Again, it’s not too bad, in fact, it's very intuitive. I’m impressed by how appropriate its framing is based on your proximity and position. When I’m a little further away, for example, it actually not only zooms out but centers me, so there’s not a lot of space above my head. However, it’s still a tad slow to operate.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The sound is impressive. The speakers can get pretty loud – one-bedroom apartment-filling, actually – but even at 50% volume, they’re powerful with great frequency representation. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an audiophile experience, but it’s better than the massive soundbar I have in my living room. And, it’s got decent bass response as well, so you can use it as your main speaker if you’re throwing a party.

Basically, what you've got in the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is an all-in-one solution for not just your smart home but also your home needs.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)?

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Also consider

If the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) isn't for you, why not consider other smart displays?

How I tested Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

  • I tested it for a week
  • I used it as my main smart display at home
  • I made sure to put its features and functionalities through their paces

Testing the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) for a week, I used it as the main smart display (and smart speaker, for that matter) in my apartment. I used it to manage and control my smart home devices, including smart lights, cameras, and more. 

Setting it up in my kitchen, I also used it to pull up recipes, watch movies, and listen to music, as well as video-call friends. Naturally, I tested its features, paying close attention to the new ones, and performance to see how they measure up in the real world.  

I’ve been testing and reviewing vacuum cleaners, home appliances, and smart home devices for different digital publications for years. Currently, I’ve taken on the role of Interim Homes Editor for TechRadar.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed November 2023

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk review: a show-stopping lamp meant to last you 60 years
3:45 am | November 3, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home Smart Lights | Comments: Off

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk: Two-minute review

The Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk lamp is essentially an upgraded version of the Lightcycle Morph that has been available in select markets for a while. Like the Lightcycle, the Solarcycle Morph also comes in two variations – a desk and a floor lamp. For this review, I was sent the desk version, which is currently the only model available in Australia where I am based.

With the update comes a sleeker design compared to the Lightcycle, moving away from an industrial look to what I think is a showpiece, especially in its Ambient mode where the light diffuses through its perforated stand.

Other than its Ambient mode, there are three other settings on the Solarcycle Morph – Task (focused white light), Indirect (warm light pointed upwards) and Feature (a spotlight for decorative items in your home). So, as you’ve probably surmised, the light temperature can be adjusted, plus there’s a daylight tracking option that sets the lamp to mimic sunlight hues inside your home. So it can even be your wake-up call in the morning.

From the different modes, you’ve also probably realized that the lamp can be adjusted into different angles – the entire stand turns 360º on its base, as does the jointed arm so the optical head can point in a heck of a lot of directions.

Amongst its other headline features are a motion sensor capable of sensing movement from a foot or two away, plus auto-brightness depending on the ambient light. The lamp also goes into standby mode after five minutes of no motion detection. It can even be scheduled to turn on and off intermittently in the evening hours while you’re away on holiday to give the impression that someone’s home.

As nicely as it’s designed, its base has a large footprint, taking up a heck of a lot of desk (or bedside table) space, while the rest of it can tend to feel quite fragile. It’s hard to test the lifecycle of the LED bulb, but Dyson promises that it will last you up to 60 years with no change in the light quality, thanks to the heat sink within the swivel beam of the lamp.

Its physical controls are touch and slide, but you can also use the MyDyson app to control the Solarcycle Morph, including setting up schedules.

Unlike other smart lights, there’s no way to control the Solarcycle Morph via voice assistants. During my testing, that really wasn’t a dealbreaker for me as a lot of the other features aren’t found on any other smart light I’ve tested. Despite that, I still find it hard to justify its premium price.

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk in Ambient mode

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk review: Price and availability

  • Desk lamp retails for $649.99 /  £499.99 / AU$899
  • Floor lamp priced at $849.99 /  £649.99 / AU price TBA
  • Available to buy now in select markets

There is no denying that the Dyson Solarcycle Morph is an expensive lamp, even the cheaper desk version. Sure, it does a lot of things that no other smart lamp can match but, at $649.99 /  £499.99 / AU$899, it’s still very premium.

While the Solarcycle Morph Desk is available to buy in most markets, the floor version – which will set you back $849.99 and  £649.99 in the US and the UK respectively – is yet to come to Australia, potentially being available Down Under some time in 2024.

While it might be hard to justify the high price, it’s also just as difficult to compare it with any other smart light, even Philips Hue, as there’s really nothing else quite like it on the market. It’s probably just a matter of time before dupes become available, but if you have the cash to spare, the Solarcycle Morph might just be the best lamp you get for your home.

Value score: 3 / 5

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk on a table

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk specs

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk review: Design

  • Clean, modern design
  • Large, heavy base
  • Integrated USB-C port

While Australia gets just one silver and white colorway of the Solarcycle Morph, there are two other options in select markets, including the US. These are a full black option and a brass one with black accents.

As with all things Dyson, the design aesthetic is simple and elegant. It might be tubular and plain, but once set up, the Solarcycle Morph looks beautiful. The only part of it I am not a fan of is its round base which, for a desk lamp, is rather large and very heavy. Most of the 3.5kg weight of the lamp is in that base.

Another element that’s a bit of an eyesore if visible is the power brick, which is as big as what we used to get with some laptops from a few years ago. That said, depending on how you place the lamp, it could easily be hidden, as the cable is quite long.

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The touch and slider controls on the arm of Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk, beside the copper heat sink

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)
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The control buttons under the arm of the Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)
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The black, circular magnet on the stem of the Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Move your eye upward from the base and that’s where the beauty lies. My review unit was a matte-silver hollow tube that features a 5V/1.5 amp USB-C port in its lower third, so you can charge a phone or tablet. There’s perforations the rest of the way up the tube, which can turn 360º on the vertical axis. The perforations aren’t for heat dissipation, but for setting the lamp to its Ambient mode.

This is possible because the optical head housing the LED bulbs can be positioned face down for the light to diffuse through the holes, providing mood lighting. To keep it from swivelling away by accident, a circular magnet pops up from the top of the tube to lock the optical head in place. The arm pivots a full 360º horizontally around its joint, as well as turning around a full 360º so you can point the optical head at any angle.

There are physical controls on the top and bottom of the pivoting part of the arm. On the top, there’s a copper tube, which is the heat sink to keep the LEDs cool, in turn extending their life and quality that, Dyson promises, will last up to 60 years. Also on the top, towards the optical head, are two sliders – one to adjust the light temperature, the other to change the brightness.

The integrated USB-C port on the stem of the Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

On the underside of the pivoting arm are three buttons. The one farthest to the optical head controls the brightness sensor – pressing this one will turn the sensor off, which is on by default right out of the box. The middle button is for the motion sensor that, when on, will adjust brightness gradually as you approach or move away from the lamp, and also put the Solarcycle Morph into standby mode if no motion is detected in 5 minutes. The button closest to the optical head is the synchronization button that allows the lamp to mimic the light temperature of the daylight cycle in your location. 

There are lights on these buttons that glow if the sensors are on – if you see them flashing, don’t panic as that’s just a firmware update being pushed out via the MyDyson app.

The top of the optical head is a touch-sensitive control to power the lamp on and off. This is extremely sensitive and I found that if I mistakenly – very gently – touched that spot while making angle adjustments or using the sliders and buttons, I’d switch off my lamp.

Design score: 4.5 / 5

The pivot on the arm of the Dyson Solarcyle Morph Desk

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk review: Features

  • Useful motion sensor
  • Auto-brightness sensor
  • Versatile light settings

As I’ve already mentioned, the Solarcycle Morph is extremely versatile. Just given the plethora of physical adjustments there are, it’s easy to envision how the four main modes – Ambient, Indirect, Task and Feature – would look. You can have custom settings for your light too, but you will need the MyDyson app for this. In fact, the app gives you full control of the lamp so you don’t need to touch the Solarcycle at all… except to perhaps give it a wipedown to keep it clean.

While its standout feature is its ability to mimic the daylight cycle in your location – which you can set in the app – I think it’s the motion sensor that should be the headline act here. It’s both very handy and equally annoying too... at least to me. Of course, for this to work, you need to leave the lamp on standby. Dyson doesn’t specify what the maximum distance is for motion detection but I found it’s capable of picking up movement about a meter (or 3 ft) away. This allows the lamp to turn on, but will remain dim if the motion is still distant. As you approach, the lamp will increase brightness automatically. It goes back into standby mode after 5 minutes if no motion is detected after it’s turned on.

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Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk on a table

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)
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Dyson Solarcycle Morph on the MyDyson app

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)
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Dyson Solarcycle Morph on the MyDyson app

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

This is where I found it annoying. I used the Solarcycle Morph in my home office, and even though I was at the desk typing at my keyboard, it couldn't detect that movement and kept going into standby mode. It happened during video calls too and I make a lot of hand gestures when I talk!

I also like the fact that if I’m going away on holiday, I can set the start date in the app and the lamp will power on periodically between 4pm and 11pm in a time zone to tell possible intruders that people are still inside the home. 

The lamp is capable of auto-brightness too, which is handy to have, depending on where you position it. I appreciated it when I was using the Solarcycle Morph in my home office, which doesn’t get a whole lot of natural light, but it was a little disconcerting in the bedroom as the change can be quite sudden and distinct.

I cannot finish this section without waffling on about the lamp’s Ambient mode – it’s absolutely stunning. In this mode, if your lamp is set at its brightest, it will reduce brightness automatically with light temperature dropping between 1800K to 3400K, depending on what hue it’s already set at.

Features score: 5 / 5

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk in Spotlight mode

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk review: Performance

  • 60-year lifecycle
  • Sensitive controls
  • Good brightness

While the Solarcycle Morph matches the light temperature of some other smart lights out there (2700K to 6500K when not in Ambient mode), it isn’t as bright as some popular smart bulbs on the market today. For example, the Philips Hue White Ambiance smart bulb tops out at 1,600 lumens and the Nanoleaf Essentials Matter bulb is 1,100 lumens. While a maximum brightness of 850 lumens is enough for a bedside or desk lamp, it’s not quite enough to light up a whole room.

Dyson claims the Solarcycle Morph will last up to 60 years, without any damage to the light quality. I couldn't test this for this review of course, but Dyson engineers have used a simple heat sink – that's also a lovely trim adding to the overall look of the lamp – to make sure the light lasts as long as possible. You'll see the slim copper tube on the top of the swivel arm – it houses a few drops of water that evaporates as heat from the LEDs build up. If you were paying attention in science class at school, you'll know that evaporation results in cooling. And because the tube is also sealed, the water drops condense inside and are ready to carry on being an effective coolant.

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk in Ambient mode

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

As I’ve already mentioned, I found the motion sensor both excellent and annoying. Excellent because it can pick up movement from about two feet away – although it did pick me up a couple of times while I was approximately three feet away – and it turns on, but annoying because it can’t pick up fingers and arms moving while I’m just inches away. 

Another little annoyance I found was if I didn’t completely exit the MyDyson app, it failed to connect to the light the next time I opened the application on my phone. I’d have ignored it if this happened once in a while, but it happened often. Perhaps a firmware update will sort this out at some point…

Other than that, I have absolutely no complaints about the Solarcycle Morph’s performance. It does everything it says on the tin, and does it remarkably well.

Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Should I buy the Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk on a table beside some books and a photograph

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

There really aren’t any like-for-like alternatives to the Dyson Solarcycle Morph, although opting for a smart bulb or two from Philips Hue or Nanoleaf could be a decent alternative as you can adjust the light temperature and brightness to suit your needs. Where the Nanoleaf smart bulb supports colors by default, you can get white or color globes in the Philips Hue range. You can find out more about the former in our Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart Bulb review.

While neither of these will do everything that the Solarcycle Morph does, you can use them to mimic sunlight in the morning to wake up. A lot of smart light systems offer this feature. None are going to be showpieces like the Dyson, but you could find yourself a beautiful lamp stand.

How I tested the Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk

  • Tested in two different rooms
  • Left it on standby most of the time to test the motion sensor
  • Tried different modes and settings

Dyson Solarcycle Morph Desk in Ambient mode

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

I was sent the Dyson Solarcycle Morph for testing for just a few weeks, and I used it in two different locations in my own home. It was initially set up on work desk in my home office, then moved to the bedroom.

In the first location, I left it on standby most of the time to see how well it would react to me leaving my desk and returning at random intervals. In the bedroom, it was set up to turn on at 6:30am.

To see how well it responds via the app, I saved custom settings for light hues I personally prefer – which tend to be on the warmer side than white light – and I tried out all the presets as well.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed November 2023]

Philips Hue Bloom review: a capable and colorful bias and accent light
5:30 pm | October 30, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home Smart Lights | Comments: Off

One-minute review

As well as its ever-growing range of smart bulbs, Philips Hue has been producing table and floor lamps for a number of years, many of which qualify as some of the best smart lights.

Way back in 2013, the Hue Bloom was the first non-bulb smart light to start this trend – a successful gambit, given it’s still a fan favorite to this day. It can be purchased from Amazon, directly from Philips Hue, and from some third-party retailers for $79.99 / £79.99. It’s a little expensive for what it is, especially in the UK; but it’s one of Hue’s more affordable table lamps. Petite at 4 x 5.1 x 5-inches / 10.1 x 12.9 x 12.6cm (h x w x d), the Bloom is a versatile table lamp that works as well for rudimentary bias lighting as it does for accent lighting.

Philips Hue Bloom table lamp

(Image credit: Future)

It sports a fairly discreet appearance, especially when it’s off, with a sort of ’70s sci-fi look; neutral, curvy, and clad in white plastic and metal. The front of the light is a flat, angled disc with a small bezel; however, you’re most likely to only ever see the rear or side of the light, since it’s for indirect lighting and performs best when facing walls and corners. The light sits on a short stem, which is home to the power cable; the cable exits through a small arch at the front-facing side of the lamp. Depending on where your power supply is in relation to the lamp, this can prove a little fiddly to set up.  

You can set up the lamp via Bluetooth or the Hue Bridge. The latter comes at an additional cost of $59.99 / £49.99, and enables further devices to be connected, while also bringing more features such as remote control. As with all Philips Hue lights, the Bloom is super easy to set up in the app, with the overall user experience splendid. Adding the light to your smart home ecosystem is just as easy, and it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. 

Philips Hue Bloom table lamp

(Image credit: Future)

Its slightly low lumen output somewhat betrays the age of the Bloom – and that’s despite it having had a few generational updates over the years. At just 500 lumens at 4000K, which is about as low as you’d ever want a table lamp to go. However, Bloom isn’t designed to spray light across the room, just to provide an interesting and ambient splash of color – and for that it’s perfectly balanced. There’s also a welcome softness to the Bloom as a result of the frosted covering, which diffuses the light wonderfully.

With the now-standard full 16 million array of colors, the Bloom can produce some beautifully vibrant hues, and you can adjust the temperature and brightness with ease using voice controls with the best smart speakers or via the app. As time has gone on, and Bloom has evolved through different Hue generations, color accuracy has improved significantly, and the most recent version I’ve been testing is exemplary of that evolution.

Philips Hue Bloom table lamp

(Image credit: Future)

While there are still a few niggles that I’d have expected Hue to have tackled by now (the cable exit in the stem really irks me, for example), overall the Philips Hue Bloom is an excellent – albeit basic – bias or accent light, offering vibrant and bright ambient lighting in your home. It’s discreet enough to work well in any room, but still a good-looking device in itself.

Philips Hue Bloom review: Specs table

Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if... 

Philips Hue Bloom review: Also consider

How I tested the Philips Hue Bloom

  •  I tested the Philips Hue Bloom for a month 
  •  I used it as part of my smart lighting setup  
  •  I paired it via the Philips Hue Bridge and Alexa 

To test the Philips Hue Bloom, I set it up in my living room for a month, alongside a set of other smart lights from other manufacturers. 

My primary smart speaker controller is Alexa, which I used in tandem with the Philips Hue app to test the responsiveness, accuracy and ease of use when operating the lamp. I compared its color accuracy to smart lights in various form factors and from different manufacturers, too.

I used the Bloom as both a bias light behind my TV screen and as an accent light for a display cabinet, as well as a table-side light to add some more color spray to my smart light setup

Yeedi Cube robot vacuum and mop review: lots of features on a budget
4:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Robot Vacuums Smart Home | Tags: | Comments: Off

Yeedi Cube: One-minute review

The Yeedi Cube comes among a litany of combo robot vacuums capable of both vacuuming and mopping. In that regard, it’s one of many. What sets it apart then is the fact that it comes with a self-emptying base station for a much lower price than much of the competition.

Whether it ranks among the best robot vacuums for you depends on whether you can accept its quirks. After all, there are a few issues here that might make you reconsider as the virtual mapping is not as good as it could be (though that should be fixed with a firmware update) and assembly can be involved to the point where, if you don’t hit every step correctly, you could end up with an issue. Of course, the issue with getting edges and corners is inherent in this type of vacuum. So, if that’s a concern, you can look at one of the best vacuums for something able to do a deeper clean.

That said, the Yeedi Cube is a cheap way, relatively at least, for a hands-free vacuuming and mopping experience that will leave your floors clean.

Yeedi Cube: price and availability

  • List price: $699 (about £559 / about AU$1,054)
  • Available in the US only at the moment

At $699.99 (about £559 / about AU$1,054), the Yeedi Cube is decidedly cheap for what it offers. Sure, you can find robot vacuums capable of mopping for less. For example, the Bissell Spinwave R5 costs $549.99 / about £455.19 /AU$799 and it has both functionalities. What the Bissell doesn’t have that the Yeedi Cube has is a base station that not only empties the debris that’s been vacuumed up but the dirty water as well.

A better comparison then is the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus, which goes for a much higher price tag of $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199 and also includes a self-emptying base station. Though the iRobot’s mopping ability is a bit better, the self-emptying functionality only applies to the dust and debris the Roomba picks up. Anything mopping-related is done manually. The Yeedi Cube’s base station also sucks out the dirty water.

That said, an area that both the Bissell and iRobot robot vacuums as well as that of most established brands have over Yeedi is the fact that the Yeedi Cube is currently only available in the US.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Yeedi Cube: specifications

Yeedi Cube on the author's floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Yeedi Cube: Design and features

  • Completely flat on top
  • Self-emptying base station
  • Lots of assembly

There are a few intriguing elements of the Yeedi Cube robot vacuum unit that stand out compared to other models I’ve seen. To start, the clean water tank sits on top of the vacuum instead of being shoehorned into the back with the dustbin. Because of its placement, it can store quite a bit of water (one liter specifically).

Also, the vacuum is completely flat, instead of having a raised area for mapping purposes. Because of this, the Yeedi Cube can get under couches and some furniture that might be out of reach for other units.

Yeedi Cube on the author's floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

As far as attachments go, the Yeedi Cube has two side brushes (many especially cheaper models have one) and a single large brushroll underneath. The brush roll uses bristles so it is susceptible to getting tangled up, so you’ll have to check it somewhat regularly if anyone in the house has long hair.

The mop pad covers the back half of the vacuum and vibrates up to 2,500 times a minute to clean. Though you can easily remove the mop pad to clean it, the base station will wash and dry it every time it docks.

Speaking of the base station, it’s sizable but not too bulky. As it measures 15.74 x 17.72 x 14.76 inches, you’ll have to set aside a good amount of space, especially as the actual robot vacuum likes to do a three-point turn to back into it from about four feet in front.

The base station takes up this much space for a couple of reasons. As soon as the vacuum is docked, the station will suck the debris out of the dustbin into a disposable bag inside the base station, so you don’t have to regularly empty anything. Since having started testing for this review, I have not needed to replace the bag despite cleaning up after two dogs.

Yeedi Cube on the author's floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

The base station also has a dirty water tank that’s big enough (1.2 liters, specifically) that it rarely needs to be emptied. Also, as mentioned above, when the vacuum docks, the station will wash and dry the mop pad to keep it clean and free of mold.

This is all well and good once you have it all set up, but it requires a little bit extra in terms of assembly. Namely, there are a lot of different areas where you have to remove tabs and stickers for correct operation.

Yeedi Cube on the author's floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

To that end, I had trouble with the base of the base station as I thought it was properly installed, but because it didn’t fully click into place, all the dirty water that was supposed to go into the dirty water tank ended up leaking out of the base station. While I’ll admit that it’s user error, it’s something that I checked more than once trying to troubleshoot. And, if you’re not careful and fully push in that base when assembling this vacuum, you might end up stepping in a puddle of murky water as well.

  • Design: 4 / 5

Yeedi Cube on the author's floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Yeedi Cube: Performance

  • Solid vacuuming ability
  • Object avoidance is okay
  • Mopping is good

As far as vacuuming ability goes, the Yeedi Cube is as capable as any robot vacuum I’ve tested. It has two side brushes to the single one that most models have so that it’s able to feed all debris towards the brush roll instead of kicking debris out. 

Having had to run the Yeedi Cube somewhat regularly to pick up after two French Bulldogs and a cat (mostly the dogs), it did a great job of getting all the pet hair off the floor. It did have some issues with larger objects since that brush roll uses actual bristles. Long hair and larger leaves will get stuck there as I experienced, requiring some manual clearing of the brush roll and brush roll area before being able to continue cleaning the floor.

Robot vacuums tend to have issues with this in general so it’s not a major point against the Yeedi Cube. You’ll just have to do a little pre-cleaning before running it if you see big pieces of debris lying around.

In the same vein, its object avoidance is okay but not great. It will bump up on objects before deciding to go around. This is a little bit of a frustration as that means it can get stuck on some lower-lying objects. In my case, the robot vacuum has gotten stuck on some floor vents that are a couple of centimeters higher than the surrounding floor, requiring me to rescue it. However, it seems to have learned from the first couple of times getting stuck and no longer does so when being run.

As with many other robot vacuums I’ve tested, the edge cleaning is not nearly as good as advertised and the Yeedi Cube will leave areas along the wall with some dirt and debris that I would have hoped it to pick up.

Yeedi Cube on the author's floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

The mopping functionality is also pretty good. At first, it was a little streaky, but it seemed to find its stride after the first time or two running it. While Yeedi doesn’t offer any cleaning solution or advice on what to use, just using water does pick up quite a bit of dirt. The dirty water tank on the self-emptying base station attests to its ability to go the extra mile with mopping.

That might be from the physical mopping pad. Instead of dragging it behind it, the Yeedi Cube vibrates the mopping pad to physically remove dirt. If you want to take it to the next level, you can use any cleaning solution except for strong acids or alkali-based ones that could corrode the cleaning tank.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Yeedi Cube on the author's floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Yeedi Cube: App

  • Fairly intuitive to use
  • Lots of adjustments for both vacuum and station
  • Room mapping needs work

The Yeedi app is generally intuitive to use. The main screen depicts the overall map that the robot vacuum has made of your space including whatever room divisions you’ve made. Information about the vacuum such as current settings, battery life and what it’s currently doing is listed at the top of the screen, while access to controls is at the bottom.

The “Robot” tab allows you to select between just vacuuming or vacuuming and mopping, how loud you want its operation (which affects how deeply it will clean), the amount of water you want it to use, whether you want it to do a quick or full clean and more. There are some advanced settings here available such as creating scheduled cleanings, how you want each room to be cleaned, and Do Not Disturb hours.

There’s also a “Station” tab with some base station-specific settings such as toggling on/off the self-emptying functionality and how long you want it to wash or dry the mopping pad.

The one area where the app falls short however is in its ability to subdivide the map into different rooms. After the initial mapping of my space, it all showed up as one big room. I was able to subdivide the whole space into two rooms but not any further than that even though I should have been able to break it down further. That means that I have to clean half the floor space when I want to clean just one room, so I end up just running the vacuum to clean everything.

Now, I run this vacuum in an area that is almost an open floor plan with wide door frames that lack doors and the Yeedi Cube apparently has more trouble with these sorts of spaces compared to a more typical apartment or house layout. So, this issue may not even apply to you. It’s still a major annoyance as well as a consideration when comparing robot vacuums, though I’ve been told that Yeedi is working on this and will hopefully have rectified this issue with a future firmware update.

If you’re on the smart home train, be aware that it is compatible with Alexa and Google Home but not HomeKit.

  • App: 3.5 / 5

Yeedi Cube: Battery life

  • Long battery life
  • Constantly returns to base station

The crazy thing about the Yeedi Cube’s 150-minute battery life is that it’s so careful about emptying its contents regularly and washing that mopping pad before continuing that it never got below 50%.

So, it would run for 40 or 50 minutes, return to the base station to clean, and then return to the job. That said, it wouldn’t wait to fully recharge. So, I never was in any danger of it running out of battery. The only time it did was when it got stuck on something when I wasn’t around to rescue it.

Even beyond that, a 110 or 120-minute runtime is typical so what this robot vacuum can achieve is far above average.

  • Battery: 5 / 5

Should I buy the Yeedi Cube?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Yeedi Cube: Also consider

Not sold on the prowess of the Yeedi Cube? Below are a couple of alternatives that you can consider.

How I tested the Yeedi Cube

  • I used the Yeedi Cube for a month
  • Tested different settings and features
  • Tested on different surfaces with various obstacles

To test the Yeedi Cube Robot Vacuum and Mop Self-Empty XL, I used it for a month to vacuum and mop the hardwood floors in my house. I also tested all the features listed in the app, from mapping to different levels of cleaning. 

I took note of how well the vacuum cleaned the edges of a room as well as around obstacles, not to mention running it over different surfaces including two different types of hard flooring. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed October 2023

Swann AllSecure650 2K Wireless Security Kit review
3:03 pm | October 26, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Home Security Smart Home | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

With the AllSecure 650 2K Wireless Security Kit, Swann is aiming to straddle the markets for hardwired security systems that record and save footage to a cloud service and standalone kits that store it locally. 

It offers the convenience of near-constant recording without the expense of a subscription service and is intended as a solid and reliable self-installation product, keeping setup and running costs relatively low. Furthermore, it comes in a variety of bundle sizes, with the smallest including two cameras and the largest, four. These cameras are wireless HD units that offer the convenience of being able to place surveillance cameras anywhere you choose.  

The kit is based around a hub that either needs to be physically attached to your home router via Ethernet or connected wirelessly. You’ll also need a smart TV or, better yet, a spare monitor, to set up the system. This hub contains a 1TB hard drive and also has a very useful slot for an additional rechargeable battery pack. 

The satellite cameras are wireless and can be placed wherever you wish within range. The instructions state that these need to be charged in advance for two or three hours, but a lengthier charge is needed if the cameras are to operate reliably for more than the first few hours. A USB charging cable for this purpose is supplied, but you’ll need to use the plug from a tablet or smartphone. European and UK adapters for the hub power cable were supplied in the two-camera kit, along with an abundance of brightly colored leaflets in multiple languages to aid hardware software and app setup. 

Once charged, the battery packs click into the base of each camera, with the spare stashed snugly inside the hub, ready to be called into use when one of the wireless camera battery packs runs low. This is one of the most intuitive and useful aspects of the kit. Swann indicates a battery life between charges of up to four months, while the 1TB hard drive in the hub should be able to record standard or high-definition footage for two years before filling up. 

The terabyte of included storage is probably best set to record motion events rather than record continuously, to save you trawling through saved footage in search of an event. Should you need it, there’s also an SD card slot on the hub so you can save footage that you might need to share, plus a USB port where you can add an external drive of up to 4TB capacity. In addition, you can save videos to your Dropbox account from the app. 

With a few setup niggles such as the need to use an HD monitor, mouse, and on-screen keyboard to get the security system underway, the Swann AllSecure 650 offers a strong combination of wireless surveillance features with the convenience of recording to a built-in hard drive. 

Having an extra battery pack inside the hub available for immediate swap-out with one of the camera packs ensures no downtime, and is a real benefit. You do need to watch out for properly charged batteries, however. 

The video cameras provide clear footage with plenty of detail, and the Swann Security app offers most of the controls and playback options you’d hope for from a home security system, with only a few seconds delay to playing back event footage once you receive a phone or smartwatch alert. With no need to fork out for a subscription service, unless you need the extra person/car/animal alert distinctions, the Swann AllSecure 650 is also a good value choice. 

Swann AllSecure650 2K: price & availability

  • List price (4-camera bundle): $699.99 / £499.95 / AU$999.95
  • List price (2-camera bundle, UK / AU): £399.95 / AU$699.95
  • Available in UK, US and Australia

The Swann AllSecure650 2K is sold directly from the brand's website or via resellers including Amazon, and arrives with a pre-installed local 32GB microSD card, a USB charging cable and installation equipment. 

There are a host of bundles, which are compiled slightly differently globally - for this review, I was sent the 2-camera bundle, which is available in the UK and Australia for £399.95 / AU$699.95. The more globally available 4-camera bundle is $699.99 / £499.95 / AU$999.95. 

To get the best from the camera, you'll need to sign up to a storage subscription service, meaning you'll benefit from the warranty, the best detection smart alerts, and cloud storage. Subscription services start at $2.99 / £2.99 / $AU5.55 per month; plus you get a free three-month trial when you buy the camera. This stores video footage for up to 60 days in the cloud and offers extras such as package, pet, and vehicle detection in addition to human heat and motion detection.   

If the physical storage still doesn't quite cut it or you want some more options, there's also the Swann Unlimited subscription of £8.99 per month (after a three-month trial) for cloud storage, and continuous recording will work better for your needs: the Swann Security app makes it easy to add a cloud service at any point just by clicking the yellow-ish storage chest icon and adding your card details. 

Swann AllSecure650 2K: specifications

Swann AllSecure650 2K: Design and set-up

Swann 650 hub port

(Image credit: Future)

Setting up the Swann AllSecure 650 involves plugging in the supplied mouse to the hub. With the screen attached to the hub via HDMI, it should automatically display the setup screen. Add your network details and Wi-Fi password or plug in the Ethernet cable, if you prefer. You can connect to either a 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless network. 

Next, create a Swann email account, enter your password as the admin, and add any extra users you may want on the system. You’ll know the hub is successfully connected when all three of the subtle colored LEDs are lit up on its front fascia. 

You'll want to install the Swann Security iOS or Android app to use the AllSecure 650 system remotely using your phone. Once you’ve added your email details, you’ll be prompted to scan the QR code on the top of the hub. Oddly, Swann’s printed quick-start guide for the app only references iOS, not Android; but both are offered. 

Although the app expects you to pair with a security camera at this stage, the pairing happens on the HD monitor screen. Two (or four, if you’ve bought the more expensive AllSecure 650 kit) of the on-screen panes will display a Play icon, while the rest will – rather off-puttingly – suggest “video loss” rather than that they’re not in use. 

To pair, you must bring the camera into proximity to the hub and click one of the active on-screen panes. You then need to unlock the security system by manually entering your admin password credentials and clicking Unlock. Now click on the pane or the white video camera icon that appears just beneath it, and press and hold down the white hardware button on top of the camera for several seconds. There ought to be a red LED on the camera that turns on at this point – it never did for me, although pairing still took place. I also needed several attempts at pairing. 

Swann 650 porch camera mount being screwed in place

(Image credit: Future)

Once connected, you can position the cameras as you see fit. The brief hardware setup instructions prompt you to try to experiment with what will be a suitable position, checking what appears in the camera view before committing to the location. Bear in mind that you need to have the hard plastic antenna on top of each camera sticking upwards in order to pick up the Wi-Fi signal and connect to the Swann 650’s hub. There’s a theoretical range of up to 30 meters.

I found that placing my indoor camera discreetly in a side window near the front door was ideal until the window glare and automatic porch light obscured the view at night – or I dislodged the camera with my bulky curtains. 

Mounting it inside the porch worked well, but also announced the camera to the street. Although this could prove a good visual deterrent, along with the inevitable brace of secured property stickers I've placed on the windows, I ended up fretting that it would be all too easy for a chancer to simply shelter in my porch, unscrew the wireless camera from its mount and make off with it, caught on camera or not. 

To prevent such instances, Swann suggests mounting the cameras roughly four meters above the intended surveillance area. In practice, this probably means outside a room on the floor above. Swann doesn’t guarantee that the cameras can withstand all weather, specifically warning about siting them where they’ll be rained on; however, it also makes claims of IP66-rated water and dust resistance, plus a good level of temperature tolerance; so a sheltered eave or nook outside above an upper-floor window are ideal spots. 

If you’re restricted to mounting the fixings from inside the property, the options may be few. If you choose to go down this route and fit the cameras yourself, and if you lack a sufficiently long ladder and a head for heights, you may find yourself scrabbling to screw the cameras into place and then not necessarily in the ideal spot. 

The two halves of the camera mount unscrew, with the part that attaches to the wall or ceiling having holes for two supplied screws. Once secured to the mounting base, you'll need to angle the camera as needed and use the wing nut to hold it in position. One of the review cameras was missing a sticky sponge pad inside the mount, which meant it wouldn’t stay in place; but I was able to work around this by adjusting camera placement.

Swann 650 upper camera mounted on the underside of a roof

(Image credit: Future)

Swann AllSecure650 2K: Performance

The video quality from the cameras was more than adequate; I was easily able to discern what was happening on the street below, both during the day and at night time, and whether in the default SD mode or when I selected HD (high-definition video). There was little visual distortion, although things looked a bit out of kilter when I seated the upper camera at an odd angle.  

The playback option lets you view a two-second clip of whatever triggered recording, and if you spot something interesting happening while in Live View mode then you can simply tap the video camera icon on the app to instantly record. 

The lag when in Live View mode and interacting with a visitor on the doorstep was minimal and the conversation was clear through the two-way sound system. To chat with someone who’s near one of the cameras, you just click the microphone icon beneath the screen of the relevant camera on the app. I was able to hold a two-way chat that made perfect sense and was more than loud enough at the camera end to be heard clearly, despite the tinny delivery.  

In Night mode, the footage was also plenty clear enough to distinguish objects. Should the sun end up glowering into your Swann security camera’s lens, contrast levels are sufficient to combat the resulting washed-out images and critical details are easy to discern. When light levels drop, you can click the light bulb icon on the app to turn on the light and change the intensity of the night vision light. It’s possible to leave this light on if you want to use it as a deterrent or helpful guide light, too. With the night light on, you also get a color view. 

Swann 650 in-app detection types, showing printscreens of the filter set-up, a car being detected and a parcel being detected

(Image credit: Future)

Swann AllSecure650 2K: App

The app is the main way of interacting with the events your AllSecure 650 cameras will pick up (unless, of course, you intend to monitor comings and goings yourself via the HD monitor, if it’s commercial premises you’re securing). The cameras can be viewed individually, or you can tap the Live View option to see an overview of all the active cameras. 

Unless you’ve deactivated it, you’ll receive notifications about any and all motion events triggered by people and vehicles passing by, and approaching your home. If you receive too many, it’s a fair sign you ought to adjust the camera angle so fewer pedestrians and casually passing cars are detected. 

Thankfully, the app is smart enough to realize it’s being ignored and, after a few unacknowledged alerts, will offer you the option to pause notifications. More usefully, you may wish to set the Schedule in the app to show when you’re almost certainly at home and awake anyway, and when you’re at work or similar. This way, Swann knows not to interrupt you because you’ll probably notice someone arriving in any case. 

Refined options such as rich notifications (where you get a photo showing what’s happening alongside an event alert) and detection based on person, vehicle or animal, are delivered only as part of the Swann Secure+ subscription service. However, when I updated the app, I started receiving notifications that mentioned a person; in fact, they were usually just a car driving past. 

There are no custom zone settings, so it’s down to the user to accurately place the camera for minimal false alerts - and for a camera this price, that's a little disappointing. The cameras aren’t powered, of course, so there is no pan/tilt option to track visitors. Number-plate recognition and other AI features are absent, too: the cameras use PIR to recognize animals, people, and vehicles by their outline. 

Another quibble was that in Do Not Disturb mode, I found the cameras went offline and no clips were recorded, rather than me just not being notified about movements around my property for a while. Luckily, toggling off the DND mode brought them back into use after a couple of seconds. 

Should you need it, there’s a guide to the app that you can view or share by clicking on the top-left menu bar and then tapping “User Manual”.

Should you buy the Swann AllSecure650 2K home security camera?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Swann AllSecure 650 2K review: also consider

If you want an outdoor security camera but want to shop around before you buy, here are a couple more options to consider...

How I tested the Swann AllSecure 650 2K home security camera

  • I installed and used the Swan AllSecure 650 2K in my home for a month
  • I monitored my home both day and night
  • I used all of its features and explored its settings

After installing and setting up my Swann AllSecure 650 2K, I used it to monitor my home for a month. I attached the cameras in various spots (my porch and underneath the eave of my roof) to detect comings and goings of visitors, deliveries and vehicles.

I paired the cameras with my phone and used the app, testing all of its features and settings to see how well they worked and if any further features could have been added. I noted the notification speed, the recording quality and accuracy of the cameras when I was home and away. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus review: a self-emptying robot vacuum that won’t clean out your wallet
1:00 am | October 25, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Robot Vacuums Smart Home | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus: One-minute review

The Tapo RV30 Plus is TP-Link’s flagship robot vacuum cleaner model in its smart home range. It can vacuum, mop and then self-empty its dustbin into one of the biggest dust bags that I’ve seen in any robot vacuum cleaner brand.

I’ve tested robot vacuum cleaners with 2L and 3L dustbags in their auto-empty docks, but this is the first time I’ve come across a 4L replaceable dustbag. And that means the number of times you need to replace it reduces, potentially saving you money in the long run.

When it comes to vacuuming, there’s up to 4,200Pa of suction power available and, while the default Standard suction is fine for relatively clean hard floors, I thought leaving it in Turbo was the best option. And even in Max mode it doesn’t drain too much of its ample three-hour battery life.

However, you will need to keep in mind that the breeze from the rotating side brush can scatter strands of hair and microscopic dust particles instead of pushing it towards the bar brush below the machine.

Mopping, however, is a lot more basic. While it can pump out three different water levels when you attach its mop plate, even the Max output isn’t enough to clean up dried, caked-in dirt and stains. There’s no agitation here like there is with some other robot vacuum cleaners like the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni or the Deebot X1 Turbo.

Where it really shines is how much control the companion app provides. From no-mop zones to customized cleaning routines, the Tapo app is excellent and the robovac follows all the instructions perfectly. If you have mixed floor types – hard floor as well as carpet – you can set no-mop zones and the RV30 won’t even enter that zone to vacuum if the mop plate is still attached. You can later remove the plate and send the machine back to do a spot clean. You can vacuum a space up to three times, meaning you will have a clean floor when it’s done – as long as you don’t have caked-in stains anywhere.

The RV30 is the same size as most other circular robot vacuums, but it looks large in comparison to its own auto-empty docking station, which is actually quite compact considering it houses a 4L dust bag. So you will still need a decent amount of floor space to store the whole machine.

And if you can pick it up during a major sale event, there’s some really good bang for buck here.

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus robot vacuum cleaner charging in its auto-empty dock

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus review: price and availability

  • Announced early 2023
  • Priced at £599.99 / AU$999 (US pricing TBC)
  • Available now in the UK and Australia; yet to be released in the US

As a flagship model, the Tapo RV30 Plus isn't what we would call ‘cheap’, but it isn’t as premium as some other brands like iRobot’s Roombas. At the time of writing, the RV30 Plus is available to buy in select markets, including the UK and Australia, but not in the US. It will set you back £599.99 / AU$999 respectively at full price but can be picked up from Amazon UK and Amazon AU at a discount during major sales.

While it’s listed on Tapo’s US website, the RV30 Plus isn’t available to buy just yet in America. The closest alternative from TP-Link would be the Tapo RV10 Plus that will set you back $399.99 on Amazon US and misses out on the newest lidar navigation tech and its suction isn’t as powerful in comparison to the RV30 Plus.

In Australia, you can also buy the Tapo RV30 itself without the auto-empty dock for AU$799 from Amazon AU.

The RV30 Plus offers good value for money at its price point, considering it can vacuum, mop and empty its bin itself. What makes it stand apart from the crowd is its relatively large dust bags in the auto-empty dock – a whopping 4L, so you don’t need to worry about replacing it too often. Replacement bags will cost £17.99 / AU$49 for a pack of three. You can also find replacement kits for the bar brush, side brush and the filters on Amazon in your country.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus robot vacuum cleaner in its auto-empty dock

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus: specifications

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus review: Design and features

  • Familiar, circular design with 2-in-1 dustbin and water tank
  • Compact auto-empty dock with 4L dust bag
  • Voice prompts; plus Google Home and Alexa support

The 2-in-1 dustbin water tank on the undercarriage of the TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

The RV30’s design isn’t anything new – it’s the familiar circular robot vacuum cleaner with the lidar navigation system installed in the dome on top. Like a lot of other models, the RV30 is also white, with its front bumper a translucent black. There are three buttons in front of the lidar system – one for start/stop, a spot-clean button and the send-to-dock control. If it wasn’t for the Tapo branding on the top of the lidar dome, it could be any robot vacuum.

What is surprising is how much wider the vacuum itself is compared to its auto-empty docking station. While the RV30 has a diameter of 34.1cm, the auto-empty station has no docking plate, is a compact 19.1cm wide, and still manages to hold a 4L dust bag in its tank. 

On the undercarriage of the RV30 is a bar brush which, unfortunately, isn’t anti-tangle and will require regular maintenance to keep it working optimally. If you have pets or people with long hair in your household, I’d recommend checking it after every one or two cleans in case it needs detangling. 

Unlike some other robot vacuums, there’s only a single side brush here, placed just ahead of the bar brush. The bristles on the side brush are long and I was pleasantly surprised that the bot can get close to walls to effectively clean room edges, although it will miss corners like pretty much every other robovac.

Three buttons on the top of TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Also on the underside is the 2-in-1 dustbin and water tank. Yes, it’s the one transparent plastic container for both and accessible by picking up the robot – not from the top as in other brands. Despite being a 2-in-1 compartment, you still get a standard 350ml dustbin, plus a 300ml water tank that’s enough to mop up to 200 square meters (or 2,100 sq ft). The recharging sensors are on the rear of this compartment, so if you’ve taken out the tank to empty and dry, the RV30 will not be able to juice up.

There are plenty of voice prompts on this machine – from telling you if it’s stuck to when it’s starting to charge. There is Alexa and Google Assistant support here, so you can use voice commands to start and stop the machine, even send it back to charge, but it doesn’t recognize commands for specific cleaning routines however – it just does a default full home vacuum.

There’s up to 4,200 pascals of suction power here, which is pretty good for a robovac at this price. There’s also a whopping 27,000Pa of suction in the dock that leaves only the lightest of fine dust sticking to the sides of the bin compartment.

There’s also a generous 5,000mAh battery pack inside that can let you vacuum a decently-sized one-bedroom apartment up to three times in Turbo mode, plus mop once at the highest water level and still have something left over in the tank.

  • Design and features score: 4.5 / 5

The auto-empty dock open to reveal the dust bag of the TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus review: Setup and app control

  • Well-designed, easy-to-use app
  • Lots of customization options
  • Wi-Fi 4 standard, plus Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity

As with any robot vacuum cleaner, if you want to make the most of the RV30, you’re going to need to download TP-Link’s Tapo app available from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store for free. You will need to create an account if you don’t already have one (which you would if you already use another Tapo smart home device), then just add the Tapo RV30 Plus from the list of robot vacuums that show up on your screen. All of TP-Link’s smart home devices have separate tabs in the app, so they’re easy to locate and control individually.

After that, follow the instructions on screen to pair the RV30 once it’s been plugged into a power socket. These instructions include removing all protective strips on the machine, plus powering it up by using a switch on the side of the bot.

Tapo app screenshots for the TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

It’s all real simple but, in my case, it just refused to accept my Wi-Fi password despite it being correct each time I entered it. It took about seven tries for my review sample of the RV30 Plus to pair up with the app. This is likely an isolated case and I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Once connected, though, you never have to worry about re-pairing it again even if you don’t use it for a long time and it completely drains its battery. This has happened to me with other smart home devices where inactivity has removed the device from its app, but I was pleasantly surprised that the Tapo app remembered the RV30 after a month of inactivity (while I was testing other vacuums).

Once you’re all set up, you can give your robot vacuum a name if you want, and give it a location, after which the app automatically checks for firmware updates and, if any, you’ll be asked to install it. Future updates can be set to automatically install overnight.

The next step in the app is to get your home mapped. You just start it and the RV30 creates an accurate map of your home remarkably quickly. Note that no cleaning takes place during the initial mapping process, so don’t worry if you find the bot not going close to walls or furniture. Mapping on the RV30 is via both gyroscope sensors and lidar, which results in a very accurate map that you can edit easily in the app. You can divide or merge rooms that bot has created, plus assign them names – you can do this at any time after you’ve started using the RV30. Importantly, you can save multiple maps, which is handy if you live in a duplex or multi-story home.

Tapo app screenshots for the TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

You can set up no-mop zones and, if the mop plate is attached, the RV30 won’t enter that space at all, even to just vacuum. This is a good failsafe as the mop plate doesn’t rise and, although water will stop pumping, your carpets could get damp from the wet mopping pad. You can always set up a spot clean for the no-mop zones.

You can create different cleaning runs – in my case, for example, I have one daily cleaning routine that’s vacuum-only for the whole home, plus a mop routine that includes three vacuum runs and a mop.

I really like the Tapo app – everything is laid out neatly and it works very well. You get control over the volume of the voice prompts from the bot (which is very loud out of the box), plus you can set up schedules, see cleaning reports and even move the RV30 manually to a specific spot using the Remote Control feature.

  • Setup and app score: 5 / 5

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus review: Performance

  • Excellent lidar and gyroscope navigation
  • Powerful suction for both vacuuming and cleaning out the bin
  • Good battery life

I’ve already mentioned how well the RV30 can vacuum. With up to 4,200Pa to tap into, there are four suction levels to choose from and you can set each room to be vacuumed up to three times in the app. Leaving the bot in its Standard mode was enough for my test space which was a mix of hard floors and carpet (plus a rug) as the RV30 automatically boosts suction when it senses it’s on a carpet or rug. If you aren’t too impressed with the Standard mode, you can always set your vacuuming routine to be at Turbo via the app.

I found that the side brush can scatter hair, fur and some lightweight dust instead of sweeping it towards the bar brush – getting the bot to run over your floors multiple times means you get good results. The flip side to the scattering of hair and dust by the side brush is that sometimes the dirt can get pushed under low-lying or heavy, unmovable furniture and there’s not a lot the RV30 can do about that.

As excellent as the vacuuming is, the mopping functionality isn’t anything to write home about. While it vacuums and mops at the same time if the mop plate is attached, it’s more a wipe than a scrub with the RV30, so you won’t be able to get rid of caked-in stains. In fact, during my testing, dusty footprints occasionally got left behind after a mop and, sometimes, even after repeated spot cleans, some stains remained because there’s no agitation applied to the mop plate so it’s unable to buff a floor.

The brushes and mop plate on the underside of the TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

If you do have carpets or rugs that you want to avoid getting wet, you will need to remember to either remove the mop plate or set up no-mop zones. However, a no-mop zone means the vacuum will never enter that space while the mop plate is attached, even to only do a vacuum run, so you can alternatively use virtual boundaries in the app. In my case, I preferred the no-mop zones, and then followed it up with a spot-clean vacuum session for those spaces.

The suction of the auto-empty docking station is excellent as I only found the lightest of fine dust layering the sides of the dustbin. This, however, isn’t washable, but it’s so light that it’s easy to ignore. While the dustbin gets emptied automatically as soon as the RV30 has docked, you can trigger another suction via the app if you find it hasn’t done a good job, although I never found this to be necessary.

What does need maintenance is the bar brush as hair can get tangled around it very easily. My unit didn’t come with a cleaning blade, so you will need a pair of scissors to cut through the tangles. In the three months that I’ve used the RV30, I found that doing a quick check after every cleaning run ensured the bar brush didn’t get too difficult to clean.

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus robot vacuum in its auto-empty docking station

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

The HEPA filter inside will also need dusting out regularly – note that it isn’t washable. You can wash the mopping pad though, and I’d highly recommend at least setting it out to dry, if not wash, after each mop run. Leaving the mop plate on overnight can make the wet pad start to smell.

With a 5,000mAh battery under the hood, there’s plenty of juice here to vacuum and mop a large home. TP-Link promises the RV30 will give you up to three hours of runtime, and I never needed it to go on that long during my testing. In my test space, which was a 40 sqm (430.5 sq ft) one-bedroom apartment, a 52-minute cleaning session only drained the battery to 71%.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Should I buy the TP-Link Tap RV30 Plus?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Not sold on the prowess of the Tapo RV30 Plus? Below are a couple of alternatives that you can consider.

How I tested the TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus

  • Used as main vacuum cleaner for two months
  • Tested space included carpets and hard floors
  • Scattered grains in its path; dropped sauces on kitchen floor

TP-Link Tapo RV30 Plus robot vacuum cleaner on a colorful carpet

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

I’ve had the Tapo RV30 Plus for a while now and used it intermittently for the first month. After a gap of a few weeks, I set it up as my main vacuum cleaner and used it in my inner-city apartment that contains both hard floors, plus carpet in the bedroom.

To test the vacuuming prowess, I spread some small grains like rice and oats in the path of the vacuum, also allowed some hair to gather on carpets over a period of time before testing the automatic suction boost on it.

To test the mopping abilities, I dropped some green Sriracha sauce on the kitchen floor and allowed it to dry. I also had some dusty footprints in the living room.

I set two custom cleaning routines, set no-mop zones and did quite a bit of spot cleaning as well. I washed the mop cloth in the washing machine to see if it held up.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed October 2023]

Philips Hue Lustre White smart bulb review: ambiance-creating smart bulbs with Bluetooth bonus
8:30 pm | October 21, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home Smart Lights | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Philips Hue Lustre White: one-minute review

The Philips Hue White Ambiance Lustre colour-changing smart bulbs are ideal for use in bedrooms and living rooms where they can add an intimate feel or provide suffused light for reading or gentle wake-up calls. 

Philips’ expertise with producing some of the best smart lights on the market really comes into its own, with these simple-to-set-up bulbs that use Bluetooth or ZigBee to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Setup and subsequent light control is managed seamlessly through the Philips Hue app. Here you can adjust scenes, routines and light levels individually or as a cluster of up to 10 lights, plus connect to other smart devices. 

Philips Hue smart bulbs are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and smart speakers, adding voice control functionality to the mix. Although this is ‘only’ a white smart light bulb, Philips expertly demonstrates just how many subtleties and shades and how many lighting effects can be created using a single base colour. I’ve already promised myself additional Hue lights for around the house. In most instances, I see myself choosing the calming light options offered by the Hue Lustre White in any case.

The Hue Lustre is compatible with Philips’ Hue Bridge so you can control multiple smart devices in the range centrally, but if you’re only after a couple of fancy coloured smart lights, these Bluetooth-enabled, app-controlled ones will fit the bill handsomely. Though considered as among the best smart home devices to invest in, they are more of an impulse buy than a considered purchase, making the addition of Bluetooth something of a power move on Philips’ part in this competitive market. 

Philips Hue Lustre White: price & availability

  • From £19.99 / AU$54.95
  • Available in the UK and Australia at the time of writing
  • Warm-to-cool-white and colour versions available

The Philips Hue Lustre smart bulbs have the advantage of cost. This entry-level smart bulb is affordable for most people. 

A single bulb costs £19.99 / AU$54.95, but the twin-pack is even better value. I’m sure I won’t be the only one mentally working out where else I could justify an extra Hue bulb or two, or snapping up another twin-pack for its great value. A twin pack costs £29.99, whereas the warm-to-cool-white version costs the same amount for a single bulb and the warm-to-cool-white-and-colour version is £54.99 / $99.95. 

TechRadar’s main gripe about the original Philips Hue range was that individual bulbs were expensive, making it unlikely customers would replace all their lights to be part of such a system. Here, however, we’re looking at bulbs costing £15 apiece when bought as a pair, rated for 25,000 hours of use and ready to use minutes after unpacking. 

Unfortunately, while the Hue Lustre smart bulbs are available in the UK and Australia, it’s not being sold in the US at the time of writing.

  • Value: 4.5 / 5

Philips Hue Lustre White: specifications

Philips Hue Lustre White during testing

(Image credit: Future / Rosie Hattersley)

Philips Hue Lustre White: design

  • Range of light fitting versions
  • Bluetooth connectivity for straightforward setup
  • Provides powerful 470 lumens illumination

In just 10 years, smart bulbs have become mainstream enough that early versions can often be acquired for a song in electronics stores, no longer feature-laden enough to satisfy the discerning customer. Statista predicts the smart lighting market to increase tremendously and quadruple to around US $44 billion by 2030 from its 2020 value of $11 billion. 

Philips was early to the smart lighting game and quickly carved out a name and handsome share of the market for its Hue range. Now, it is upping the ante with bulbs that contain more of the smart elements, cutting out the need for additional hardware to connect and control their pretty lighting while also reducing entry-level bulb prices. 

Whereas the original Hue White smart bulb was sold mainly on the ability to control it as part of a home network, here those controls are via Bluetooth, not only simplifying the installation but also adding a rich app experience. The Philips Hue Lustre White is a stunning showcase for this additional functionality without compromising on the ease of use you’d expect from a premium consumer electronics brand. 

Philips Hue smart bulbs come in several versions to accommodate different light fittings, as well as offering a choice of Candle and Lustre shape bulbs and colour options. This version, soft warm white, is the sort you’re likely to need for table lamps, wall lights and small pendant lamps, marking it out as a smart bulb for intimate spaces and cosy nooks. The top half of the lamp is translucent white glass while the lower half is encased in plastic. 

Although this may look like a generic light bulb, the Hue Lustre is capable of running the gamut from a strong 470-lumen intense light for when you need to fully focus to becoming a subtly glowing orb with a warm colour temperature of 2600K. Philips also sells Hue filament bulbs for use in situations where an exposed bulb is desirable, but since the Hue Lustre is likely to be placed within the housing of a fixed down- or uplighter or hidden within a lampshade, its plain appearance doesn’t much matter. 

The need for fiddly switches has also been overcome by embracing Bluetooth, further simplifying setup and control. Voice control functionality can be added using Amazon Alexa or the Google Home app. However, Apple HomeKit users will need to invest in a Hue Bridge in order to use the Hue smart bulbs with the Apple Home system. Microsoft Cortana is also only supported via the Hue Bridge, but other smart home connection options include both ZigBee and the increasingly widely-supported Matter.

  • Design: 4 /5

Philips Hue Lustre White: setup & app

  • Attractive design and easy to navigate
  • Rich user experience with plenty of preset light options
  • Google Home, Amazon Alexa and ZigBee supported

Setting up the Philips Hue Lustre light was barely more complex than changing a regular light bulb. The E14 bulb screw fitting meant it could be used with my pretty Moroccan fretwork lamp and the second E14 lamp I bought to better enjoy my Hue smart bulbs. After screwing the Hue Lustre bulb into position I just needed to switch on the lamp at the mains and flick its on switch to make it visible on my Wi-Fi network. Standby mode uses a modest 0.5Wh. 

The Philips Hue app is great! It requires only minimal personal information to set up, and I found its précis of terms stating that privacy is respected by default refreshing and reassuring. It took care of finding both Hue Lustre bulbs on the system and labels them by name and order in which they were added to the smart home setup. A few seconds later I was able to toggle the lights on and off individually or, as is the default, as a group.

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Philips Hue Lustre White during testing

(Image credit: Future / Rosie Hattersley)
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Philips Hue Lustre White during testing

(Image credit: Future / Rosie Hattersley)

Scene selection and previewing was another one-touch task: the Hue lamp immediately responded by switching to the selected option, and the inclusion of seasonal settings – currently spooky Hallowe’en ones – made me feel I’d go back and check for new scenes having been added to the Gallery once in a while. Mood-based and time of day, focus or relax defaults made it easy to choose something appropriate without dithering. It might have been handy to have options not available to the particular Hue smart bulb blanked out, but seeing the array offered may also be a spur to splurging on a pricier edition. 

Bluetooth connectivity built into the Hue smart bulbs is a game-changer, but it’s worth noting that the Philips Hue app only supports 10 lights at once. This is likely to be plenty for most homes, but centrally controlling additional Hue-enabled devices including outdoor lights, plus working with Apple HomeKit are beyond the app’s scope. This is a neat teaser to tempt upgraders to add a Hue Bridge to their smart home setup, and would also fix the other issue with the Bluetooth and app-based controls for the Hue Lustre range: you can only tweak settings and directly control the lights while you’re connected to the same network. 

  • Setup and app: 4.5 / 5

Philips Hue Lustre White during testing

(Image credit: Future / Rosie Hattersley)

Philips Hue Lustre White: performance

  • Ample brightness, very responsive
  • Lovely range of light effects
  • Needs Bridge to work with Apple HomeKit

The brightness of the Philips Hue Lustre smart bulb turned out to be ample to illuminate a dark spot in the lounge where I’d usually have a floor-standing lamp, making that corner of the lounge feel immediately cosier. And adjusting the settings for an individual bulb just meant tapping on it in the app and then either using the slider to manually adjust the light levels by percentage, or choosing a scene. 

Since this bulb works only in the white colour space, there are far fewer permutations than for the more expensive colour and warm-to-cool-white variants. However, scenes such as Nightlight, Dimmed, Energize and Relax are offered in the Default section, and I was still able to select and apply intriguing gallery options such as Spellbound even though the effects are less pronounced. 

Having selected Nightlight mode, I was immediately drawn to the soft white light inviting me to curl up with a book or nestle alongside the radio. I also admired the way the Hue Lustre bulb created intriguing shadows and pools of light, adding depth and interest to a fairly plain front room. 

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Philips Hue Lustre White during testing

(Image credit: Future / Rosie Hattersley)
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Philips Hue Lustre White during testing

(Image credit: Future / Rosie Hattersley)

Adding voice controls to the Hue Lustre lights was straightforward too. I was quickly and easily able to set up and start using my Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker by connecting it with the Philips Hue app and then issuing voice instructions to switch the Hue Lustre smart bulbs on and off.  

I was able to use the Hue app to make both the Hue Lustre smart bulbs turn on and off by calling out ”Alexa, turn off first light; turn on second light” and also turn off all lights at once. Although Philips suggests that the speaker can only be used to voice control the Hue smart bulbs if the device is in the same room, once set up I was able to use voice commands to activate the lights from neighbouring rooms separated by a brick wall, and to do so from different Alexa speakers. 

I also really liked the routines that can be set up to gently wake you with light that increases in brightness over the course of 20 minutes. A discreet but audible notification on my iPhone confirmed that the Hue app had clicked into action. There’s an equivalent routine for Night Time whereby the Hue lightbulb automatically turns off at a preset time having dimmed over the duration of several minutes, helping you nod off. 

Since I’d set up my Hue Lustre smart light bulbs in different rooms, I made use of the option to tailor the app settings so only the bulb in my bedroom applied these Wake Up and Night Time routines. By toggling which smart bulb I wanted to customise, I was also able to apply settings for the downstairs light to come on at set times, effectively using it to suggest someone is at home.  The countdown timer is a neat idea, but I wandered out of the room at the critical moment that it visually reminded me to check on dinner by flashing the nearest Hue bulb on and off for 30 seconds. I’ll stick to my Alexa kitchen clock for that task.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should I buy the Philips Hue Lustre White?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Also consider

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed September 2023]

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