The 60’s were big on mood rings and lava lamps and other ways to bring a spot of color and panache into the bedroom. Today it’s all about “green” so LED bulbs are the “in” thing. But there’s no reason a lamp in the bedroom can’t still dance to the tune of the past, providing there’s a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device and the Lumen TL800 App-Enabled LED Color Mood Light Bulb. The Lumen may be unremarkable to look at — a stubby LED bulb that screws into a light socket in the normal fashion — but the $69.99 price contains more than just the physical LEDs inside putting forth light. There’s also a dimming circuit and electronics for “mixing” Red, Blue and Green LEDs into variable colors. And to control this all, a ring — sorry, make that a Bluetooth receiver built inside also. And we shouldn’t forget it’s smaller upcoming version either — the TL100.
I screwed the Lumen into my night table lamp, turned it on and it asked and then near-instantly paired with my iPhone automatically (I had downloaded the free app from Tabu earlier). One of the first things I did was to activate an “Autolink” function on the app, which would connect me to any Tabu LED BT bulb once I got in range. This is a very sensible feature, one that apparently is only for iOS devices. Otherwise an Android app can do the same things an Apple device can.
Once done, I checked that a connection had been made by tapping the All On/All Off icon. The bulb responded with its default “warm white.” It was noted as being a single bulb on the app and I could also see that a “group” could be created, so that multiple bulbs might be used, as well as differentiating bulb(s) as being for the living room, the den, backyard or whatever name was desired. I also tested the dimming control and tried out the Wake Up setting where I set a time and day for the bulb to illuminate, including a few minutes for it to reach full intensity. This is a much more pleasant way to be woken up by light, especially since the color cast can be altered for this specific use. I also saw how the LuMini, while functionally similar to its older “big” brother had a lower light intensity: I’d say it is more similar to a 13-18 watt incandescent. So if you’re looking for a light intensity adequate for reading, the LuMini wouldn’t be a good choice, but where less illumination doesn’t matter, it’s just as good for mood and decor use as the TL800. You can’t beat having 16 million color combinations to choose from; which is another good reason for the two “Mood” presets — one being a “romantic” rosy glow that is also comforting and calming — being as accessible from the LuMini as the Lumen.
I could also see a lot of uses for either bulb outside of the bedroom, such as it replacing a bulb near a spa or in a patio where lighting can be directed towards creating a mood as opposed to providing just a bright light source (neither LED bulb is waterproof and so shouldn’t be used where it could get wet). In fact I replaced the porch light with the LuMini at a friend’s house when I had gone there for a backyard BBQ, and a number of people remarked that this was cool when I demonstrated how I could alter the color of the lighting. But I admit that when I set it to pulse with the music playing from my iPhone, it didn’t get the attention that the color changes had. Nor did either of the two “Party Modes” make a hit — maybe the “Disco” effects are more suitable indoors for partying with a younger audience than I and my contemporaries (one mode slow blinks while the other simulates a strobe effect by very rapid blinking). But speaking of “younger,” I can see how this LED bulb (the LuMini in particular) could be used in a child’s room to provide a more usable nightlight than the commonplace one. Just dial in a soothing color combination and dim the results.
Bottom line: The Lumen TL800 App-Enabled LED Color Mood Light Bulb turns the common light bulb into a multi-use lighting tool. Thanks to Bluetooth, the TL800 is easy to use, efficient in operation and packed with enough “smarts” to provide a wealth of opportunities to those who have it. And the upcoming appearance of the TL100 will only add to its usefulness where incandescent lights once ruled.
Can flash light for incoming phone calls, 40 watt equivalent
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.