A fun little product I chose to back a few months ago which is finalizing delivery these days to all his Kickstarter backers, “LuMini — Simple Bluetooth Smart Bulb for Everyone”. This is a Universal lamp 110V or 220V power grid will work, and this is not the first crowdfunding project for the talented people at Tabu Design. In fact it’s the second attempt with this exact product and sixth crowdfunding campaign on kickstarter, this is also a second generation Smart Bulb which got me curious and here we are.
The “mini” part of the LuMini name, stands for the bulb low light capacity, it is actually marketed as a “mood light” and an excellent night light (which is probably is) since you can’t really get enough brightness out of it for reading or pretty much any activity as an only light source (unless you use several together maybe). But that’s really the point – these bulbs can offer white or color light in various different shades to add a splash of light (colored or not) on a specific spot.
Why Semi Smart Bulb?
I guess “smart” is a relative term and in my book, with products of this type there are certain expectations, such as supporting automation and integration that really bring comfort and added value to the user in order to be awarded the title “smart” product.
While I really appreciate the product as you’ll find out in the detailed review that will follow up, the main thing that I am missing at the moment is integration capabilities… with now IFTTT option and no apparent attempt by the company to work with external hubs, the only way to control the LuMini at the moment is using its app (which if we are being honest, is not that advanced, user friendly and has some bugs). Since the LuMini “isn’t speaking with anyone” – creating rules and supporting automation and scenarios with other products in the smart home isn’t really an option which limits the product value. That said, the project creators never promised these abilities so I can’t really complain (I still have some hope these features may turn up some day and hopefully get carried out – the right way).
My LuMini Review
The LuMini bulb looks and feels like a high quality product, the bulb and lower cap come together very nicely, good looking materials (both the visible bulb glass part and the parts that are typically hidden within the light fixture and get neglected in the design aspect) with all the parts coming together very nicely in a modern style that’s easy on the eye.
The LuMini pretty much lived up to everything it promised as far as I can tell, the product description was pretty accurately followed through. Two things in terms of operation did disappointment a little bit though: first, the range of reception between the bulbs and the smartphone seems to be very limited – you’d have to stand fairly close in order to switch the bulb on/off. With standard BLE offering a range of 30 – 50 meters it seems wrong having to stand 1 – 3 meters from the bulb. The other thing is the variety of colors while the app shows a full range color wheel with thousands of shades – the difference in the bulb actual light color is not that noticeable I think…
In terms of delivering on its promised features, as I mentioned the LuMini did fairly well as I mentioned. On the target dates I guess opinions may vary since some backers got the products a couple of months ago (backers who ordered E12 / E14 size bulbs) while others (who ordered e26/e27) are only getting them today due to production problems that came up and required some prioritization by the creators…
The creators have done a very good job communicating the status throughout the project to the backers, including the setback that lead to delay for some of the backers. In the forum creator seems to replay fairly quickly – when things went well… meaning at times it felt like comments were mounting for a week or two without reply when it was particularly important for the creators to strengthen their presence rather than lay low. Customer service on the Tabu site which I’ve also sampled could do with some improvement by answer faster and being more focused on the customers…
Value for money
The Lumini is offered for 30$ per bulb, with free shipping, which is a great deal if you are not looking for automation / integration and if you settle for mood light / night light of this type. In fact, this is a better deal than one we got on the crowdfunding project which is kind of disappointing when you think of it if you are an early bird… but hey, what the hell… enjoy it!
My Review Score
- Build quality
- Operation targets
- Delivery targets
- Value for money
If there is room for dumb lamps & smart lamps in your home, I am sure you can find a place for semi smart ones as well and at this price range it's a good deal...