Ikea unwraps a $10 decorative smart filament bulb

The price is nice, but the new E26 filament bulb requires a wireless “steering” device to work.

ikea tradfri led smart filament bulb 2

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Ikea’s new decorative smart filament bulb is certainly a beauty, and the price is right. But while it’s less than half the price of a competing Philips Hue filament bulb, Ikea’s latest smart bulb won’t work without some extra hardware.

On sale now, the $10 TRADFRI LED bulb E26 250 lumen boasts a coiled filament that glows at a warm 2200 kelvin.

The globe-style bulb features tinted brown glass, and it’s designed to fit in a standard E26 socket.

Just $10 for a snazzy looking smart filament bulb sounds like a pretty good deal, especially compared to $25 for a similar filament bulb from Signify’s Philips Hue line. But unless you’re already invested in Ikea’s TRADFRI smart lighting system, you’ll have to cough up a few extra bucks to control its latest bulb.

All of Ikea’s Zigbee-enabled smart bulbs, including this new filament bulb, require a “steering” device to work. The cheapest is the TRADFRI wireless dimmer for $7, while the $16 TRADFRI wireless remote lets you control up to 10 compatible bulbs. There's also a TRADFRI wireless motion sensor for $20.

If you want to group your TRADFRI lights or control them with the Ikea Home smartphone app, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit, you’ll have to spring for the $35 TRADFRI gateway, which connects to your router via ethernet.

On the other hand, Philips Hue’s new filament bulb (and indeed, all of their latest bulbs) are both Zigbee- and Bluetooth-enabled, which means you can snap up a $25 Hue White filament bulb and control it with the Hue Bluetooth smartphone app, no Hue Bridge required. If you decide later to add the bulbs to Hue’s $60 bridge, no problem.

Still, Ikea’s TRADFRI smart lighting line makes for an attractive alternative to Philips Hue once you’ve ponied up for the requisite hardware (and assuming you can tolerate its somewhat finicky setup process). Indeed, based on the steady pace of new TRADFRI products we’ve seen over the past couple of years, the Swedish furniture retailer seems determined to make a go of it in the smart lighting space.

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