The $70 LIFX Z light strip can be customized to display more than 16 million colors - it's also cheaper than many competitive light strips
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- Philips Hue may be the go-to for many smart home lighting needs, but there are good reasons to buy other devices like the LIFX Z LED Strip.
- The LIFX Z LED Strip doesn't need an extra hub and can be set to show up to 16 million colors in different "zones,"or sections of the light strip, making it more versatile and creative.
- It's also less expensive than others, but the quality is just as comparable as its pricey competitors.
A smart light strip can transform any space. Not only can it provide light when you need it, but it can also give your home a modern, colorful flare without you really having to do much work. There are a few smart light strips on the market, but they're not all created equal. Generally, the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus is a great option, but it can be pricey and requires the use of a hub. What if you don't want to spend the extra cash?
That's where the LIFX Z LED Strip comes in.
The LIFX Z still isn't necessarily cheap, despite being a little less expensive than some other options. But is it worth still spending the money? We put the smart light strip to the test to find out.
The LIFX Z looks more or less the same as any other light strip except for a few things that make the device a little more convenient. In the box, you'll get a power supply and two strips of light, each a little more than three feet long. What that means is that you can use one strip or both at the same time depending on your space. It's not quite as versatile as the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus, which allows you to literally cut the light strip to the size you need, but it's nice that there is some customization.
On the back of each light strip segment, there's 3M double-sided tape so you can attach it to pretty much any surface. I found that the light strip was pretty secure when attached with the adhesive, it never felt like it would come off even after a month later. Once set up, the light strip supports a whopping 16 million colors, meaning that you can set it to any color you can imagine.
It's also worth considering the design of the app. I found that the app was fine and easy to navigate, but a little buggy at times. It was sometimes slow to react to changes and skipped around a bit. That said, once everything is set up, you may not have to use the app at all, especially if you use a smart home system like Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa.
- 6.6 feet long (3.3 feet x 2 sections)
- Works with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana
- Mounts with 3M double-sided adhesive
- 1400 lumens per 2 meters
- 16 million colors
You'll need to physically set up the light strip and then go through software. Physically mounting the device is pretty easy. Simply take it out of the box, connect as many sections as you want to use, and then attach it to your preferred furniture or location. The light strip is perfect for mounting onto the back of a desk or table.
Then you'll need to connect the device to the app. If you haven't used a LIFX device before, you'll need to download the app and create an account, after which you'll follow the on-screen instructions to connect a new device first and then connect that device to Wi-Fi. If you've have the app, just hit the little plus sign on the top right-hand corner and add the light strip.
What makes it stand out
There are a few things that make the LIFX Z light strip stand out - namely that it doesn't require the use of a hub and supports a range of smart home ecosystems. Our current favorite, the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus, requires the use of a $40 hub, which isn't ideal for those who only want to use a light strip and not buy additional lights. Those people would be better off buying a device that they can use over Wi-Fi and without a hub, like the LIFX Z.
One of the best things about the LIFX Z, however, is that it works in zones - which essentially means that you can set the strip to show different colors at once. That makes it a whole lot more creative and versatile than the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus and other light strips that only allow for one color at a time. The LIFX Z has eight zones per section, or a total of 16 zones when both segments are used.
There's also the fact that it works with a range of smart home ecosystems. LIFX products work with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and even Microsoft Cortana so you can use them with current smart home devices without issue. I used mine with all of those smart home systems except Cortana with decent success.
I especially liked the HomeKit integration because it was reliable and quick, and I didn't have to use the LIFX app when I wanted to control the light strip from a phone. In other smart home systems, you can't control specific zones, but you can still turn the light strip on and off and set it to a certain brightness.
Cons to consider
The LIFX Z light strip is a great device, but it's not perfect. As I mentioned, the LIFX app can get a little buggy at times, so if you plan on using the device exclusively with the app, that may get a little annoying. Generally speaking, the app works perfectly fine and it's mainly during the set-up process that you might find some bugs, but it's still something to keep in mind. Sometimes the light strip can also be a little slow to respond compared to some other products, but it's still relatively responsive.
The bottom line
The LIFX Z is more than just a great alternative for those that don't want to buy a hub. It also allows for more creativity through the fact that it can display multiple colors at once, which is great news for those that truly want to add some color to their setup.
The device isn't as responsive as some other light strips, but if you can put up with the slightly buggy app and occasional delays in response, then it's worth buying. If, however, you already have other Philips Hue devices set up, then it might be worth simply getting a Philips light strip for easy integration.
Pros: Can setup different zones, works with a range of smart home ecosystems, bright and colorful
Cons: Slightly buggy app, occasional lag in response
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