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Pogue's cheap, unexpected tech gifts No. 4: The TP-Link Smart Light Bulb

David Pogue
Tech Critic

Internet of Things” light bulbs aren’t a new thing. Bulbs you can control from a phone app, like the Philips Hue and the GE Link Bulbs, have been kicking around for years.

The concept: You can turn these lights on and off, set them to a schedule, or even change their color, all from an app. The drawback: They’re expensive, because they don’t work without a separate hub, a router-looking thing that requires an internet connection and power.

Now, though, there’s the TP-Link bulb. It doesn’t require a hub. It’s a self-contained smart bulb you just screw into any light socket or lamp. You use its app to introduce it to your WiFi network, and boom: Self-contained LED bulb that you can control remotely.

Better yet, it’s also voice-controlled, thanks to its compatibility with the Amazon (AMZN) Echo. “Turn on the library lights,” you can say, and it is done.

Better yet, it’s only $35 for the 60-watt bulb (LB110), whose “color” you can make warmer or cooler at your pleasure. Or $45 for one (the LB120) whose colors you can change just like the Philips Hue. (The TP-Link app also lets you create “scenes” that memorize the brightness and colors of multiple bulbs at once, so you can call up your Good Morning lighting or your Romantic Friday lighting with a tap.)

The setup isn’t exactly plug-and-play, but the app walks you through the necessary steps in about five minutes. After that—it just works.


David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. On the Web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s poguester@yahoo.com. Here’s how to get his columns by email