Vakkotaur (vakkotaur) wrote,

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i(not at all)SuperBlue

Sometime last year I bought a fancy bluetooth-enabled LED bulb (name: iSuperBlue) that could be controlled from a phone. It's one of those good ideas that doesn't quite work, at least not yet. The idea is neat: An LED bulb that be controlled somewhat remotely by a device you're likely to have with you anyway. The color can be changed. The brightness can be changed. By using the phone's microphone, the light can change with sound for some effect. The light can blink or fade on and be used as a visual alarm clock. And it can do that, sort of.

It's a real rascal to get the bulb and the phone to pair up. If the connection lost, by say, walking away with your phone, it can mean needing to cycle power to the bulb and restart the phone. Not a very friendly remote control setup. If I had only my current in-use phone, the bulb would be pretty much useless - turning it on by the main switch has it cycle through some colors, which might be a nice diagnostic, but is lousy for a "light up this area now" bulb.

Fortunately, I had my old (smart)phone and it can do bluetooth. As long as the power stays on, and the old phone remains parked on my nightstand, the pairing holds. The fade-on is nice, but it's a set speed and the final brightness seems to be less than full or the way to set it is not at all obvious. I'd like to slow the fade on and make it more dawn-like, have it come to full brightness, or at maybe even start red or pinkish and change to white - like real dawn does. That would seem a great, slow, easy on the system aid to waking. Since I currently work nights, the simple expedient of opening the blinds won't provide this.

But with the old phone as a dedicated remote, and giving up on a nicer fade-in, things are workable yet still amiss. Sometimes the light fades on and is simply on, as I wish. And sometimes it blinks or fades brighter and dimmer and brighter and dimmer, cycling - something I do not want. Sure, it might wake me up more effectively, but also more annoyingly (and I have a sound alarm, to be sure, anyway) and once awake I want a steady light. As if that wasn't irksome enough, the app for this thing is not just flaky about bluetooth. The alarm [SNOOZE] [DISMISS] buttons are fine and work as expected. The simple "ON/OFF" button is part button, part dial (dial the brightness). But it's not at all easy to just turn the thing on or off without changing the brightness. And the button is a circle.. and somewhere near that circle, but not exactly matching, is the active ON/OFF area of the screen.

I like LED lighting. I like the idea of this bulb. But no matter how much I like the idea, I do not like the lousy way this one "works." I'm keeping it, as I can get it to sort of do what I want, but will NOT buy another of this make, and I suggest nobody else buy any iSuperBlue either. Wait until someone else does it right.

What needs to be done to do it right? Absolutely required:

1. The bluetooth connection needs to resume/reconnect automatically and reliably.[1]
2. The ON/OFF region of the screen should be the same as, or at least within the ON/OFF image on the screen.
3. The brightness control must be 100% independent of the ON/OFF control.1
4. App features that demand a phone MENU button should be moved - not all have this as hardware, alas.
5. Blink off means blink OFF, and it stays off.

Be nice to have:

6. Control of fade-on speed.
7. Control of initial and final color (and brightness) of fade-on.

I expect someone will get this right, eventually. But it's going be a while before I risk more money on a device like this. I'll want to know the thing will work correctly.

[1] No, I do NOT want a "wifi" controlled bulb. How do I set a proper password or such, at a minimum? And I'm not about to let things be open to the point where some neighbor or drive-by can control MY light(s).

Tags: bad design, bluetooth, isuperblue, led, lighting
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