C by GE Revamps Their Lineup With New Products, Features, and IntegrationsBy - 04/01/2019
For a long time, the C by GE smart light series maintained a limited product lineup, but that changed during CES 2019 when GE announced a slew of coming soon products.
The C by GE Series Before CES 2019
C-Life & C-Sleep
Before we talk about what’s new, let’s talk about what was. Our first review of their lineup dates back to 2017, when Samuel, one of our reviewers, performed a hands-on test of the C-Life smart bulb. C-Life is C by GE’s most basic smart light. It’s a dimmable light bulb that relies on Bluetooth for smartphone control and offers features like group lighting control, schedules, and scenes. C-Life is available in A19-type bulbs (C-Life General Purpose) and BR30-type bulbs for recessed ceiling fixtures (C-Life Indoor Floodlight).
C-Sleep is also a Bluetooth-enabled dimmable smart light that shares the same features as C-Life. The only major difference between C-Sleep and C-Life is C-Sleep’s tunability. Aside from being able to dim your lights, you can also tune the color temperature to one of three settings: Vibrant, Active, and Calm. It can follow your sleep/wake cycle or produce different light temperatures based on the time of day. For example, you can set the bulb to wake you up using a vibrant white light (Vibrant), transition to soft white in the middle of the day (Active), and tune to a warm, calm light at night (Calm). C-Sleep is also available in A19 (C-Sleep General Purpose) and BR30 (C-Sleep Indoor Floodlight) versions.
What’s amazing about these smart bulbs is their Bluetooth mesh technology. As I’ve said, they rely on Bluetooth for smartphone control, but you don’t necessarily have to be within Bluetooth range to control the bulbs as they interconnect via Bluetooth and create a Bluetooth mesh network. With this technology, you can control any of your lights so long as you’re within the Bluetooth range of one of your C by GE bulbs.
|Bulb Type||A19, BR30||A19, BR30|
|Light Temperature||Active (Daytime Lighting)||Vibrant, Active, Calm|
|Wattage||9.5W||9W (A19), 9.5W (BR30)|
|Rated Life||13.7 Years (3 hours per day usage)||13.7 Years (3 hours per day usage)|
|Alexa||C-Reach Required||C-Reach Required|
|Google Assistant||Made for Google or via C-Reach||Made for Google or via C-Reach|
|HomeKit||Coming Soon||Coming Soon|
Sol (a.k.a. C by GE Lamp)
C by GE’s third product is Sol, a tunable table lamp/ring light. It supports five color temperatures (Warm White, Soft Warm, Soft White, Cool White, & Daylight), but it’s an actual lamp, not a smart bulb, so it’s not for everyone.
Sol has one stand-out feature: Alexa Voice Control. Yes, it’s a smart speaker and smart lamp in one device. It’s one of the first products outside of Amazon’s own Echo lineup to offer the full power of Alexa. It can even do things that Echo devices can’t. For example, if you set a countdown timer via Alexa, Sol’s inner ring lined with LEDs will visually display the countdown.
As Sol is Wi-Fi enabled, it’s also the first C by GE product that can be controlled remotely. You can turn it on or off, dim or brighten, or tune the light temperature from anywhere, so long as your phone is connected to the internet.
Sol is available on Amazon.com (check prices)
C by GE launched C-Reach around the time they launched Sol. C-Reach is a Wi-Fi bridge for C-Life and C-Sleep. It pairs with your smart bulbs via Bluetooth and connects them to Wi-Fi so you can control your lighting from anywhere. But that’s just one of its two features. Reach can also enable voice control via AI assistants. Before its launch in 2017, it was promised to work with Alexa and HomeKit. However, HomeKit compatibility was delayed. HomeKit compatibility is set to activate later this year via an OTA firmware update. What C-Reach currently offers is Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.
Its Alexa compatibility is made possible by C-Reach and the C by GE Alexa Skill. The skill allows you to control your lighting with your voice, including turning an individual light or multiple lights on or off, dimming, and tuning. On the other hand, the Google Assistant integration is possible via the C by GE channel on the Google Home app. Besides voice control, it also lets you ask for the status of each light (e.g., “Is the light on in the kitchen?”).
You can buy C-Reach on Amazon.com (check prices).
Just before CES 2019, C by GE launched a new product: a smart switch. C-Start is a touch-sensitive, Wi-Fi enabled, in-wall, dimmer switch that can control both traditional bulbs and C by GE smart bulbs. To control traditional bulbs, it must be wired to the bulb socket’s electrical line, just like a traditional switch. To control a C by GE smart bulb, it must remain plugged in. Keep in mind that the switch doesn’t necessarily have to be placed in the same circuit as the smart bulb you want to control because it uses Bluetooth. For example, you can install C-Start in your bedroom and wirelessly control a living room bulb. The switch can also control multiple lights (e.g., a traditional bulb and two C by GE bulbs).
Another feature it offers is voice control via Alexa and Google Assistant. C-Start is Wi-Fi enabled, so you can easily pair it with your Echo or Google Home. Also, it can function as a Wi-Fi bridge for your C by GE light bulbs, essentially replacing C-Reach.
C-Start is currently available in two versions. The basic version ($50) includes all of the features mentioned above. The C-Start Smart Switch – Motion Sensing + Dimmer ($75) shares the same features plus the ability to control your lights based on motion and ambient light. For example, if there’s no movement in the room for a set amount of time, it can turn off your light to save energy. Or if the room starts to get dark, it can automatically turn on the lights.
Everything C by GE Announced At CES 2019
Color-Changing Smart Bulbs
C by GE is yet to give an official name to their newest smart bulb, but its features are already locked in. It will be the first color-changing light bulb made by GE. Although it will offer a slightly lower Lumen rating than C-Sleep and C-Life (760 Lumens), it shares the same features as C-Sleep. You’ll be able to dim it, tune its color temperature to different whites, and create schedules, groups, and scenes. It will also work with C-Reach and is thus compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant (and perhaps soon with HomeKit).
The C by GE color-changing bulb will be available in three versions: an A19 bulb ($40), BR30 bulb ($45), and custom-length light strip ($75).
New Smart Switches
C by GE also launched a trio of new smart switches. The first version is the C-Start Smart Switch ($40) that looks exactly like their existing smart dimmer switch minus the dimming function. It simply turns lights on and off. As with their existing smart switches, the new on-off smart switch can control traditional bulbs (wired) and smart bulbs (via Bluetooth), control multiple lights, and act as a Wi-Fi bridge.
The second and third versions offer the same features as the first one, but they look more like traditional paddle-type and toggle-type switches respectively. Both are slated to retail at $35 each.
C by GE Accessories
GE also announced a couple of accessories set to launch by Q2 of 2019.
First is a motion sensor that can control your C by GE bulbs based on motion activity. You will be able to program how you want your lights to respond to motion events. For example, you can set your lights to simply turn on when there’s motion or turn off when no motion is detected within a set period of time. You might also be able to set your light to turn on at its brightest setting when motion is detected. The motion sensor is battery-operated and talks to C by GE bulbs via Bluetooth.
The second accessory is a smart wall plug. Little is known as to what features it will have, but we do know that it has a physical switch, it can be controlled using your smartphone (in-home or from anywhere), and it will sell for $25.
Made For Google
In my opinion, I saved the best for last. C by GE did more than just announce new products; they also announced a new integration: Made for Google.
C by GE smart bulbs have been compatible with Google Assistant for years now. However, the integration required the use of C-Reach and the C by GE Google Assistant skill. Now that C by GE bulbs are a part of the Made for Google program, you can pair them directly with Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Hub, no bridge or skill required. Once paired, you can start controlling your bulbs using voice commands. The Made for Google integration also enables you to control your lights without a C-Reach. The catch is that you can only control your lights remotely using the Google Home app, not the C by GE app.
As soon as GE made the Made for Google announcement, they started selling Made for Google starter kits that include at least two smart bulbs (C-Sleep or C-Life) and one Google Home Mini. However, you don’t need to buy the starter kit to enjoy this integration. If you already own C by GE smart bulbs and a Google Home device, you can pair them via your Google Home app’s dashboard. To do this, tap the “+” button, select “Set up device,” and then tap “Set up new devices.” Enabling Bluetooth on your phone is also required.
What’s Next For C by GE?
Ever since GE launched the C by GE smart light series, I’ve thought of it as an underdog when compared to Philips Hue, LIFX, and other more established smart light brands. However, CES 2019 changed all my opinion. Launching color-changing smart lights, switches, Made for Google, and accessories might be enough to save them from extinction.
So what’s next? First, let’s see if they can follow through my launching the products they’ve promised and also if they can make good on their promise to deliver HomeKit. Most of the new products are slated to launch by the second quarter of 2019. Second, let’s see if the new products perform. C-Life and C-Sleep have greatly improved since we tested them in 2017 and we hope that the new products will continue that positive trajectory.
You can learn more about C by GE products by visiting their website, cbyge.com.
Photo Credit: GE