Late last year, I reviewed the Amazon Echo Dot second generation device and started my journey with Alexa. With a new assistant in the home, I started looking for solutions I could connect to this service. Looking through the list of supported devices, I found TP-Link to have a full range of solutions that connect directly to the Echo Dot without the need of any smart hub.
I contacted TP-Link shortly after reviewing the Echo Dot to see if they had any new smart home solutions. To my surprise, they were just announcing the LB130, a third-generation LED bulb and adding to this they had already launched the HS200, a full replacement smart switch, so we had both sent over for this review.
The HS200 is a replacement switch for those that want a clean install. This switch supports a full range of smart home features including remote access, scheduling, and away mode, along with having a small LED ring to aid in finding the switch in a dark room and full Amazon Alexa support.
The LB130 is a LED bulb that has what TP-Link is calling "color-changing hue." This bulb is an RGB solution that supports 16 million colors and white light from 2700K to 9000K at 800 lumens. This solution also supports an array of smart home features including remote access, a circadian mode that dynamically adjusts light temperature and intensity, and voice control with Alexa.
For each of these solutions, you will need an iOS 8+ or Android 4.1+ smartphone or tablet. The MSRP of the TP-Link HS200 comes in at $39.99 with a one-year warranty, and the MSRP of the TP-Link LB130 comes in at $49.99 with a one-year warranty.
Starting with the HS200 switch, the packaging gives a glimpse of the design of the switch.
The spine highlights the setup process.
Included with the switch is a quick guide and orange wire nuts.
The switch itself carries a slightly larger footprint than a typical mechanical solution. At the bottom, we have the branding.
The back of the switch has each of the four wires labeled for installation. Reading the label, we find this switch can handle a 600w incandescent bulb or 15A load.
Moving over to the bulb, the packaging is quite similar the switch image has been replaced by the bulb, but we do have added marketing for the RGB features and a 60W replacement rating.
The back of the packaging goes into more detail on the color changing features of this bulb. They even added a sticker to mention it works with Amazon Alexa.
The scope of delivery includes a standard sized E26 bulb with a quick start guide.
The bulb itself has a navy blue ring around it with a bit of branding.
On the second page of the app, you have all the included social media backups along with cloud services.
It's just a touch taller than a standard bulb as seen above comparing it to a Cree LED bulb.
We are using an iPhone 7 Plus for this review, and the app is called TP-Link Kasa. When first starting setup, you choose the device that you are working with and tap next.
It takes a few second after wiring up your switch, but you will see an amber LED flashing.
You then must do the Ad-Hoc to the smart switch to finish setup.
After you enter the Wi-Fi network and password, you will be greeted with the message above.
Bulb setup is pretty much the same; you wait for the bulb to blink three times, connect directly to its Wi-Fi signal, select the host Wi-Fi network you want to connect to and enter the password and then you're done.
Settings for the bulb include a circadian mode that will adjust the light automatically per the time of day.
There is also a standard incandescent glow to full white LED mode.
Last, we have RGB mode that lets you choose from 16 million colors along with its intensity at the bottom.
With the bulbs, you get an energy meter to show how much you have saved compared to a 60w incandescent.
I'll start out this conclusion by saying each of these TP-Link solutions were some of the easiest I have ever setup. A lot of times smart solutions have apps that make setup a real hassle or apps that work great with some products, but not others. Each of these solutions both enjoyed a very quick and painless installation process.
The build quality of the HS200 smart switch is quite good, the wiring coming out of the back could be a bit better if copper wire was used, but having aluminum isn't terrible by any means. I found the wire length to be adequate for most cases, but for those living in older homes, you may have issues connecting this switch. I say that because older homes that use tube and knob wiring always had the common wire dead end at the lighting fixture with the switch controlling a break in the hot wire.
The TP-Link HS200 requires both a common and a ground wire to be in the box resulting in more work than you may not want to do. Adding to this, I would like to see TP-Link offer double or triple gang faceplates for these solutions as many installations will be done in boxes that control multiple outdoor fixtures.
As far as the LB130 is concerned, it's a quality solution as well. After setup, I played around with the bulb's location to see where it fits the best and I can say it seems to save all its connection information and really takes no time at all to be back on the network. The RGB feature is unique and something I never experienced outside of my PC chassis and it does have the ability to set different moods based on the color. The remote functionality worked first time without issue and best of all I did not need a hub to connect this solution to my Echo Dot.
Overall, while solutions like these can be quite expensive, at $40 for a light switch and $50 for a bulb, TP-Link does have cheaper options if you don't need the RGB. Otherwise, prices are rather competitive in an emerging market of such devices.
|Quality including Design and Build||90%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||90%|
The Bottom Line: TP-Link has a good thing going with their smart home lineup and each of these solutions are a great place to start your smart home journey.
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