General Electric, more commonly recognized as simply GE, has been making accessible and affordable smart light bulbs in the past couple of years, and for the most part, they've been decent and straightforward products.
When unveiling the C by GE light bulbs, GE focused on affordability — as they communicated with the smartphone via Bluetooth, there was no need for a bridge peripheral. But while that kept costs down, it also disabled the bulbs from supporting any kind of voice assistants, and it meant that users who wanted voice commands had to switch to models that supported hands-free control.
GE Light Bulbs Gets Wi-Fi Bridge
Thankfully, that's not the case anymore. GE has introduced a hub, called the C-Reach, that puts its light bulbs on Wi-Fi and enables support for Amazon Alexa and — by the end of the year — Google Assistant. With this, homeowners will be able to control individual lights just by talking to their smartphone or smart speaker.
"Using voice to control lighting unlocks an entirely new world of opportunities for consumers," said Jeff Patton, product manager for GM Connected Home. "Sitting on the couch hoping for a cozy experience for your favorite movie? Ask Alexa to dim the lights without getting up. Snuggled in bed with a book? Ask the Google Assistant to turn the lights off once you start to drift off."
The bridge connector costs $50 standalone, but GE will also sell C-Reach bundles at a discount: the $65 option comes with two "Life" bulbs, which only display a single color, while the $85 option comes with two "Sleep" bulbs, which display three.
Is The GE C-Reach Worth It?
The C-Reach is definitely a useful peripheral that helps GE's light bulb line make much more sense and offer more functionality. But there's a risk in it, too. The strength of GE's light bulbs has always been that they're significantly user-friendly than most in the marketplace, since they readily connect to phones via Bluetooth, as mentioned.
Unsavvy tech folks might not immediately understand what a bridge does, or how it enhances the bulbs. They might see it as something that has become too complicated. What's more, with the added price of the bridge, some may simply opt for Philips Hue, a more popular and arguably more capable lighting system.
Right now, the bridge only supports Alexa and Google Assistant, but GE promises that it'll add the Apple HomeKit system to the roster, too. For now, that means this only benefits those who already have either an Echo Device or Google Home lying around the house.
Thoughts about GE's C-Reach accessory? Sound off in the comments section below!