Smart lighting is one of those try-it-to-believe-it things. On its face, the ability to control your lights using your smartphone might not seem that convenient, but once you have it, you won’t want to go back. Philips Hue is without a doubt the most recognizable smart lighting brand, but its offerings can be prohibitively expensive unless you catch a good sale. At the other end of the spectrum sit companies like Govee, which sells surprisingly high-quality smart lighting products at equally surprisingly fair prices. I’ve been using Govee’s Lyra RGB lamp for a couple of months now, and like smart lighting in general, it’s grown on me.
The Lyra is, essentially, an RGB LED strip fixed to a four-foot aluminum pole, sitting on a base just heavy enough not to tip over. The idea is to place it in a corner, facing the walls, and let it fill your space with ambient light of just about any color (or combination of colors) you can imagine. Govee offers up some fun combinations and patterns in its Govee Home app — from themes-based on the four seasons to animations that mimic fireworks to gently pulsing rainbows, there’s a lot you can do with this thing.
If none of Govee’s pre-programmed themes grab you, the lamp has eight discrete segments you can choose the color and relative brightness for yourself. You can also create and save customized color schemes based on Govee’s existing scenes — though doing so is an exercise in guesswork. With abstract names for user-defined qualities, it’s hard to tell what you’re making until it shows up on the lamp; the Style field, for example, has options like Gorgeous, Retro, and Science fiction. What do any of those terms have to do with lighting? Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s pretty fun to find out.
There’s also a mode where the Lyra will react to music from any source using either a microphone on the lamp’s power cable or the one on your phone (if you keep the Govee Home app open). When it works, it’s a lot of fun — but the position of the lamp’s built-in mic and finicky sensitivity settings mean it’s not super reliable. Still, like the Lyra’s other novelty light patterns, it’s got a lava lamp sort of quality that’s soothing to just zone out and stare at for a while.
With both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, the lamp can be controlled remotely whether you’re near it or not (it also comes with an old-fashioned remote control). You can link Govee Home to Google Home, too, letting you control the Lyra by voice or add it to your Assistant routines.
My favorite use for the Lyra has been a wake-up function that gradually brightens the lamp from faint glow to full blast as your “alarm” time approaches. It’s pretty standard smart light stuff, but the indirect shine the Lyra provides is gentle enough not to be jarring and does a better job mimicking a sunrise than, say, a standard smart bulb in a lamp on your nightstand.
Unless your home is especially modern, the Lyra might not mesh well with your decor; whether it’s on or not, it’s very noticeable, particularly against darker wall colors. Dark walls also make it a less effective light source (since light from the lamp is meant to reflect off your walls and darker colors = less reflection). The Govee Home app is a little opaque, too, so there’s a learning curve here.
If you’re after some smart mood lighting that won’t break the bank, though, the Lyra should definitely be on your radar.
At $150, it’s a full hundred bucks more affordable than Hue’s comparable Signe lamp, and it does most of the same stuff. It’s available at Amazon.
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