Cree’s first smart bulbs in years change color for just $10 – CNET

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Cree’s new line of hub-free smart bulbs include a color-changing 100-watt replacement bulb as well as indoor and outdoor floodlights.


Cree Lighting

After making a name for itself in the lighting aisle by selling low-cost LED light bulbs with decade-long warranties, Cree Lighting is back at it with a new line of automatable bulbs that change colors and connect with voice assistants — no hub necessary. Pricing starts at $8 for a dimmable white light smart bulb, or $10 for a dimmable bulb that can change colors. 

Ten bucks is the lowest price I’ve ever seen for a name-brand color-changer, beating out our current top bargain bulb, the $13 Philips Wiz Connected LED.

The new bulbs are called Cree Connected Max LEDs, and they’re the company’s first smart bulbs since the arrival of the original Cree Connected LED five years ago. Like that bulb, the new Max LEDs are designed to work with multiple platforms, including Alexa and the Google Assistant, and thanks to the fact that each one uses its own built-in Wi-Fi radio, they can do so without need for any additional hub hardware.

That’s a marked improvement from the original bulbs, which required a Zigbee hub or a bridge device connected to your router in order to translate their signals into something your home network could work with. The new Max bulbs can skip all of that and send signals directly to your router on the 2.4GHz band.

Along with white light smart bulbs for $8 and full color smart bulbs for $10, Cree’s new smart lighting lineup includes color-changing indoor and outdoor floodlights, along with an extra-bright, 100-watt replacement bulb that changes colors, too. Here’s the full list, as detailed on Cree’s Amazon landing page, where the bulbs are temporarily listed as out of stock ahead of a pending launch.

Per the specs on the box, the $10, full-color 60-watt replacement bulb puts out 800 lumens at peak brightness from a power draw of 9 watts, and would add just over $1 to your energy bill each year with an average of three hours of use per day. Along with Wi-Fi, the bulbs include Bluetooth radios for easier pairing with certain platforms.

You’ll also be able to pair the bulbs with Cree’s app for Android and iOS for quick control, automation and scheduling of your lights. That’s a change from the original Cree smart bulbs, which didn’t offer an app of their own at all.

There’s no official launch or ship date listed for any of the bulbs, but a Cree spokesperson tells CNET to expect them to hit the market in mid-November (just in time for Black Friday, I might add).

“From tech lovers to first time smart home product users, consumers can look forward to intuitive app control without a hub, flawless Wi-Fi and Bluetooth pairing, and exciting options to customize color and scheduling for any lifestyle available through select retailers by Nov. 11,” says Phil Primato, Cree Lighting’s director of consumer retail.

We’ll be testing them out soon alongside similar, hub-free smart bulbs from GE, but if Cree’s new bulbs can keep up with the current crop of smart lights at $10 each or less, then they’ll be well positioned as a strong value in home automation.