LED lightbulbsIs it time to worry, fellow humans, when the smartest bulb in the room is actually an LED bulb? The Philips Hue, which arrived in late 2012, remains among the smartest, most colorful and most expensive. Here are some alternatives, all app controlled.

GE Link
Sample price: $15 for a 60-watt, soft-white equivalent.
Works with: Wink app for iOS and Android devices.
Wireless technology: ZigBee.
What to expect: Wink is becoming a major player in the smart-bulb industry. This smart-home app and hub combo from Quirky arrives with powerful partners — the New York invention factory developed the app with General Electric and its related products will be sold at Home Depot.
The Connected Home Hub ($49.99) accepts signals from the app and translates them for the 60 or so products that work with Wink from 15 partner companies. The app turns a smartphone into a light switch with dimmer. It also schedules on-off times by the day or week.
Available: Ordering now at Home Depot, expected in September. Deep discounts when bought with accessories.

Sample price: $99 per bulb (1,017 lumens, or about 75 watts)
Works with: Android, iOS.
Wireless technology: ZigBee.
What to expect: A Hue-style light show, with a bulb displaying 16 million colors. But this flat-top bulb, at $99 each, makes the Hue starter pack with three bulbs and a wireless ZigBee bridge/hub ($189.99 at amazon.com) look like a bargain.
Lifx is brighter than the Hue (1,000 lumens vs. 600) and uses a direct Wi-Fi connection instead of a hub. Yet the app is still trying to catch up to Hue’s. Researchers also showed Lifx’s vulnerability recently by hacking into a home network, via Lifx. They could do more than dim the lights too: They accessed Internet passwords.
With a rated life of 40,000 hours, this bulb could last 27 years if used four hours each day.
Available: Now.
Information: lifx.co

Connected (TCP Wireless)
Sample price: $79.97 kit at Home Depot with two bulbs (800 lumens, or 60-watt equivalent) and a Gateway hub.
Works with: Wink (Android, iOS).
Wireless technology: Wi-Fi.
What to expect: Basic lighting control at reasonable cost — and bulbs that bounce, not shatter, when dropped.
Available: Now.
Information: tcpi.com

Philips Hue Lux
Sample price: $99.95 kit with two bulbs and a wireless bridge.
Works with: Android, iOS.
Wireless technology: ZigBee.
What to expect: A lower-cost, white-light version of Hue. Unlike TCP, possibly the best value in starter-kit controllable lighting, the Lux offers the luxury of teaching the bulbs new tasks with the free IFTTT (If This Then That) automation service. For example, I programmed a Philips Hue bulb to blink each time my work email account received an incoming email. That, blink-blink-blink, is not the best use of IFTTT.
Available: Late summer.
Information: meethue.com

Samsung Smart Bulb
Sample price: N/A
Works with: Android, iOS.
Wireless technology: Bluetooth 4.0.
What to expect: Bluetooth allows the smartphone app to communicate directly with the bulb, eliminating the need for a wireless hub. No pricing yet, but these bulbs will have IFTTT-type intelligence.
Available: Later this year.

WeMo Smart Bulb
Sample price: $99.99 for Lighting Starter with two bulbs and a WeMo link hub.
Works with: Android, iOS, Kindle Fire.
Wireless technology: ZigBee.
What to expect: A bulb (800 lumens, about 60 watts) that fits with Belkin’s family of WeMo motion sensors, light sensors, netcams and other home-automation products. F
Available: Later this year.
Information: bit.ly/1pVWIgV

Sample price: $60 for smart adapter.
Works with: Android and iOS devices.
Wireless technology: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0.
What to expect: A universal adapter that lets you use any combination of bulbs.
Available: Sometime next year. People who funded this Kickstarter should get theirs in February.
Information: emberlight.co

Source: MCT Information Services