Yes, I’m turning into a bit of a curmudgeon about “Internet of Things” products these days, mainly because of home automation products that don’t work like they should. But there is a class of devices that just seem to work all the time — those that are controlled using an iOS app and Bluetooth. The Yeelight Bedside Lamp ($69.00, affiliate link here) is an LED lamp that can create 16 million colors through a free app or touch controls, and looks good in the process. Sadly, it’s lacking some software capabilities that could really make it stand out from the competition.
The Yeelight Bedside Lamp is a modern-looking cylinder just under 4 inches (about 100mm) in diameter and standing about 8.75 inches (22.25cm) in height. The bottom of the lamp is silver, while the lamp — when turned off — is solid white. A silicone ring on the bottom keeps the lamp from sliding.
As you’d expect from a bedside or desk lamp, the Yeelight is plugged in. There’s an unobtrusive AC adapter with a nondescript white cable that runs up to the base.
The top of the lamp (see image at right) is where the controls are. There’s a central power switch for turning it on or off, another button for changing modes or enabling pairing with your iPhone, and the entire surface of the lamp acts as a touch-based level control. Run your finger counterclockwise to dim the light or clockwise to make it brighter.
Turning on the light, it defaults to a rather bright “soft white” light that has a bit of yellow-orange to it, similar to what you’d see with a standard incandescent bulb. From the app, it’s possible to control just about everything — tap on “white” and swipe up, and the light becomes brighter. Swipe down, and it grows dim. Swipe to the left to make the color “cooler” (more blue), or to the right to make it “warmer” (more orange).
One button in the app controls the power from up to about 30 feet (10 meters) distance, and there’s a hue button for going completely wild with colors. Tap the hue button, then swipe left or right to travel through the spectrum. Once again, swiping up and down controls the intensity. Finally there’s a flow button. It’s possible to assign four colors using a color picker that the lamp cycles through one after another. In the default setting, the lamp cycles entirely through the spectrum. If you’d like for the lamp to match a specific color or colors — say some tones in a photo — you can allegedly use the color picker to grab those. I say allegedly because I found no way to actually save those colors for use in the elsewhere in the app.
There are other modes that can be set through the app: schedules lets lamp owners turn the device on and off throughout the day on a set schedule; a sleep timer turns the light off after a set amount of time once you tap and hold the light atop the lamp.
Night mode turns the lamp on with a swipe of the top of the lamp during pre-set hours with a very dim glow — perfect for not waking someone else up. Wake-up Light mode lets you set a wake-up time, then gradually increases the brightness of the lamp for 30 minutes.
There are a couple of things that should be fixed in the app; for example, it should use either the AM/PM or 24 hour clock convention depending on the way the iPhone is set up. It would also be nice to have the sleep timer gradually dim the lamp rather than keep it at full brightness until it shuts off.
As this product is made in China, there’s a control for connecting it to WeChat, a mobile text/voice messaging service that has over 650 million active users. A similar function for allowing friends to “ping” the lamp via Facebook or Twitter would be nice.
Sadly, the Yeelight Bedside Lamp has no capability for control by IFTTT or HomeKit, both of which would require built-in Wi-Fi support. Since those capabilities are available in so many lighting kits and lamps — including the Philips Hue line — it’s surprising that Yeelight doesn’t provide them now.
With a surprising range of colors available, touch controls, and a number of app-based controls and timers, the Yeelight Bedside Lamp is a relatively low cost and capable Bluetooth-connected LED lamp. The app could use some improvements and a future version of the device with HomeKit capabilities would make it even more useful.