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If you’re looking for an affordable color smart bulb that works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, the Sylvania A19 Smart+ Full Color bulb is a fine candidate, although you can’t buy just one.
This standard A19 bulb connects directly to Wi-Fi networks, meaning there’s no need for a bridge or smart-home hub. Sylvania’s mobile app offers a variety of grouping options, lighting scenes, and powerful automation tools. That said, we still prefer the more polished apps that come bundled with our favorite A19 smart bulbs from LIFX and Philips Hue. The Sylvania bulb also lacks the HomeKit support that LIFX and Hue bulbs deliver, but that will matter only to Apple users who use that ecosystem.
The Ledvance-owned Sylvania brand offers four Wi-Fi enabled Smart+ bulbs: the color A19 bulbs we’re reviewing here, a dimmable but non-tunable soft-white A19 bulb, a full-color BR30 floodlight, and a soft-white BR30. On an individual basis, these Smart+ Wi-Fi bulbs are relatively inexpensive; for example, the color A19 bulbs cost about $8.75 each, while the color BR30 costs a reasonable $12.50 a pop. There’s a catch, however: the bulbs are only available in four-packs, which means if you want a color A19 Smart+ bulb, you’ll pay $35 for four.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart bulbs, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Physically, the A19 Smart+ looks like a garden-variety light bulb. Measuring 4.33 inches high, 2.26 inches across, and fitted with an E26 base, the bulb will screw into most standard light sockets.
Rated to last up to 15,000 hours, the A19 Smart+ bulb’s white light is tunable from a warm 2,700 Kelvin, which is an ideal temperature for a bedroom or a sitting area, to a cool 6,500K, which is equivalent to daylight on a hazy day. The bulb can also glow in up to 16 million colors, which you can select using a circular slider on the Sylvania Smart WiFi app.
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Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 (Bluetooth + Zigbee)
Capable of emitting up to 800 lumens of brightness (about equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb), the A19+ can easily light up a room or a workspace; installed in a lamp on my bedside table, the bulb did a fine job of illuminating my bedroom. Still, we should note that the brightest A19 smart bulbs can achieve lumen ratings in the 1,100 range.
The first step after installing the Sylvania Smart WiFi app is to register for an account; you’ll need to enter your email address and create a password, as there’s no option for signing in with Apple, Facebook, or Google.
Once you’re signed up, you press a “+” button in the top-right corner of the interface to add a new bulb, assuming it’s screwed in and switched on. The app quickly found the three A19 Smart+ bulbs I’d installed, but it refused to add them until I’d switched off the 5GHz band of my dual-band Wi-Fi router—unsurprising, given that almost every Wi-Fi smart bulb we’ve tested is compatible only with 2.4GHz wireless networks. The pairing process went smoothly once my router was in 2.4GHz-only mode, and afterwards, I turned the 5GHz back on without encountering any further hiccups.
Grouping, scenes, and routines
With the bulbs added to the app, you can begin moving them into “rooms” in your home. I ended up with two bulbs in the “Master Bedroom” and one in the “Kids Room.” Confusingly, simply adding some bulbs to a room won’t let you control them simultaneously; for that, you’ll need to add them to a separate lighting group. The process of adding lights to a room or a group is somewhat confusing. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll be able to turn the grouped lights on and off, change their brightness, and adjust their color temperatures, all in unison.
To manually control a light or a light group from within the app, you just tap it, then tap one of the four tabs at the bottom of the screen. The Basic tab lets you tinker with the bulb’s white light, with one slider controlling the brightness while the Warm/Cool slider lets you adjust the color temperature. The Color tab features a circular color palette, while the Effect tab lets you pick a white light or color preset, or you can create your own, adding strobe or fade effects. Finally, the Schedule tab lets you set basic on/off schedules that can be repeated on a daily or weekly basis.
Returning to the app’s main interface, the Automation tab lets you create both lighting scenes and routines. For scenes, you first name the scene and add a “cover” (basically a variety of images representing bedrooms, kitchens, entertainment rooms, and so on), then you program “actions,” which involves adding various lights and/or light groups and then setting their brightness, color temperature, and power status. Once you’ve created a scene, you can tap Perform to trigger it manually, or you can incorporate it into a Routine (which I’ll cover next). Scenes are added to Alexa automatically (more on Alexa integration in a moment), and you can also add a Smart+ scene as a Siri Shortcut.
Moving on, Routines allow you to customize a wide variety of conditions—everything ranging from the temperature and humidity to weather, wind speed, sunset/sunrise, or a run-of-the-mill schedule—that can trigger lighting scenes, control individual lights or light groups, or even send notifications to your phone.
If the Smart+ app’s routines sound familiar, that’s because they’re virtually identical to Peace by Hampton’s routines (it’s not uncommon for apps from different smart home manufacturers to use the same off-the-rack template). In any event, Sylvania’s automation tools share the same powerful customization options (including the ability to add delays to your routines) as those in Peace by Hampton’s app, while lacking other key features, such as a vacation mode and a sleep/wake mode that gradually dims and brightens the lights according to the time of day.
Luckily, you can fill in many of the gaps in Sylvania’s Smart+ app by using the A19 Smart+ bulb with either Alexa or Google Assistant. You can easily add the bulb to Alexa and Assistant routines, including wake/sleep schedules (with brightness ramping for Alexa or Google Assistant’s Gentle Sleep and Wake feature), or you can set the light to perform various actions depending on whether you’re home or away. Naturally, you can also control the A19 with Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands.
The Sylvania A19 Smart+ bulb doesn’t support Apple’s HomeKit platform, but as we previously noted, you can add light scenes from the Smart+ WiFi app as Siri Shortcuts, which means you could trigger a lighting scene by asking Siri.
While the Sylvania A10 Smart+ Full Color bulb won’t replace our favorite A19 smart bulbs, it still stands as a sensible, no-hub-needed choice for smart-home bargain hunters. It’s inexpensive per-bulb price is a mark in its favor, along with its powerful customization tools and compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant. But a more polished app would have been nice, as well as a vacation and sleep/wake modes and HomeKit support for those who want it.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.