I got my new smart LED lighting strip today (destined to go behind the TV for some colourful ambient lighting) and it prompted me to throw up some notes about the various Bluetooth devices I’ve bought recently. Because it’s been a thing.
When I rearranged my bedroom some months ago, I found an old TDK iPod dock. It came with the old non-lightning connector, but I had a cheap Bluetooth adaptor to enable my newer iDevices to play music through it. I put it in the bedroom, figuring it might be good to have music every once in a while. It was pretty good, but I had to remove the Bluetooth widget whenever I wasn’t using it (otherwise I’d have this horrifically bright blue light shining at me all hours of the day) which meant a mildly tedious re-connection procedure every time I wanted to to play music. It was ok, but it was not perfect.
It started me wanting a proper Bluetooth speaker but I didn’t really want to spend a fortune, because this was only ever going to be for casual use. I eventually found a Logitech X300 on sale for $40. It looked pretty cool so I ordered one. When it arrived it was about half the size I was expecting, and had the sound to match. It wasn’t bad, but when playing it side by side with my existing TDK speaker there just wasn’t a match.
The hunt continued, until I found a website called Shopmonk. I’d stumbled across the site because of their cheap mobile phone prices, but they also had a Bluetooth speaker section … which featured just one model: a Harmon Kardon Onyx. It was $110, which was heading above my preferred budget, but the reviews were good and the typical retail price was considerably higher than $110–and if there’s one thing that’ll get my attention, it’s a bargain. So I bought it. And it was awesome. The battery life isn’t great, but it’s gorgeous looking and the sound is terrific. In fact it thumps with so much bass that I’ve had to resort to equaliser settings on my apps in order to tone it down a little.
With my Bluetooth speaker urge sated, I turned my attention to Bluetooth lights. I picked up a Magic Blue LED smart bulb to go in the front room (to replace the bargain basement LED bulb I had in there, with a remote control that allowed me to pick exactly five out of the supposedly 16 million possible colours). The Magic Blue bulb can be controlled from my iPhone, rather than relying on a tacky remote, which is pretty cool. Naturally, I then decided I wanted to get some smart lights for my bedroom, primarily because every single other bulb I’ve tried in there has been way too bright. I eventually picked up a three-pack of Tabu LuMini smart bulbs (which had the advantage of coming with the E14 fitting, which all of my bedside lamps have).
These weren’t so good. They work well enough when they work, but there’s quite a song and dance to get them to connect to the Bluetooth: some mystical and secret combination of turning the lights off, turning Bluetooth off on my phone, at least two minutes of really solid cursing, and various other secrets that I’ve yet to learn.
Of course, I’ve not yet set up my smart lighting strip so I can’t conclude this gripping narrative at this time. I can, however, share the irony that it’s wifi controlled, not bluetooth. So make of that what you will.