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GE Link

GE Link is a collaboration between GE and Quirky. GE builds the bulbs and Quirky supplies the hubs. The GE Smart LEDs, like the WeMo family of products, are part of a larger Home Automation offering from more than 15 companies.

The Link hub, included in the GE Link starter kit and shown below at right, is much like the WeMo hub. It has approximately the same form factor, is wireless and has a similar Wi-Fi setup scheme. Its communications are limited to Wi-Fi and Z-Wave.

GE Link Starter Kit

GE Link Starter Kit

Quirky also makes the Wink Hub. In addition to Wi-Fi and Z-Wave, the Hub can communicate using Bluetooth LE, Lutron ClearConnect, ZigBee and Kidde protocols. Quirky has developed its own standard named "Wink".

The first thing that you'll notice about the GE Link is the bulb. Rather than having a frosted bulb, the GE bulb has a clear plastic dome. Looking at the bulb from the top, you'll see that there are 16 LEDs arranged in a circular pattern around the center of the bulb. Surrounding the ring of LEDs, there's a plastic ring designed to help diffuse the light. While the plastic ring does diffuse the light, at full brightness, the best way to describe the light is "glaring". It's the only light that hurt my eyes to observe at full brightness.

If you look back at Table 1, you'll note that there are a lot of "N"s in the GE Link column. The product doesn't support fade in/outs, scenes, sunrise/sunsets or away modes. However, it does provide a very usable interface for controlling the lights. You can create "shortcuts" for frequently used unscheduled actions such as "All on", or "turn on light 1". The actions are limited to turning on one or more specific bulbs at a specified brightness, or turning off specified bulbs. Interestingly, though the Wink interface supports grouping of bulbs, when you create a shortcut, the group(s) you created don't appear as a selection for your shortcut.

Wink lets you create location-based "Robots" that perform actions such as turning on / off lights, sending a notification through your mobile device and / or sending you an email. I first created a location called "Home" based on my address. The robot lets you create a rule based on when you either arrive at a location or leave from a location.

I set up a rule to turn on Light Bulb 1 when I left home and to send me a notification. I had the Wink application installed on my Samsung S5 phone and gave the app permission to read my location. When I left home yesterday evening, I got an in-app notification that I had left and when I returned home later, Light Bulb 1 was turned on. I guess you can debate whether or not this is "geo-fencing", as you can't control the size of fence around your departure or arrival.

Wink is an extendable platform and products other than Smart LEDs may add capabilities to the Robot feature. While there aren't any IFTTT recipes designed specifically for the GE bulbs, there are some recipes for other products controlled by the Wink infrastructure.

The GE-Link / Wink platform also has an activity log - a unique feature in this roundup. Every activity, including Robot activities, is logged with the action taken and the brightness level for the bulb(s).

The composite image below shows the Lights screen (l) and the dimmer adjustment screen (r). Tapping on the drawer icon (horizontal bars) in the upper left corner of the screen takes you back to the home page included in the gallery below. Tapping on the three "more" dots takes you to a screen that shows your linked devices, groups (if any), the activity log, and the menu for scheduling.

Wink Light page (l) and dimmer adjustment (r)

Wink Light page (l) and dimmer adjustment (r)

The screen on the left shows that Bulb 1 is on and at minimum dimness, Bulb 2 is on at ~50% and Bulb 3 is off. To turn a bulb on or off, just tap the bulb's icon. To change the brightness setting of a bulb, you drag you finger horizontally left (dim) or right (brighten) across the bulb's icon. If you tap and hold a light bulb icon, the screen at the right appears.

In my testing, I started with the light at 100 percent - ie, the dark orange right fully clockwise. Sliding my finger horizontally to dim Bulb 2 (left image above) didn't really have any effect at the "12 o'clock" position. Only when I got to about the ll o'clock position did the bulb start to dim. Neither dimming interface showed a percentage brightness. Although I don't have a meter to measure light output, it appeared that the GE Link bulbs don't dim as completely as some of the other bulbs in this roundup. Finally, if you tap the Groups icon, you can create or edit groups of light bulbs and control your groups of bulbs with a similar interface.

Like the Philips and TCP light bulbs, the GE Link bulb has a color temperature of 2700K, so it's a "warm" bulb. The GE Link is specified to used 12 W to generate its 800 Lumens of light. At 66.7 Lumens/W, the GE Link bulb is the least efficient bulb in our roundup.

The gallery below illustrates several of the features discussed in the review.

Pro: Starter kit and additional lights are very affordable
Con: Clear bulb is glaring without shading

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