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Home Software Novostella offers smart lighting for budget buyers

Novostella offers smart lighting for budget buyers

In the off chance you didn’t know it, smart homes are really cool. Ask around and you’ll surely understand that having a house with devices connected to one another is not just convenient, but really awesome.

There are plenty of ways to get started with a smart home, regardless of budget. You don’t have to begin with an appliance like a washing machine; you can start as small as a single speaker. Or a light bulb.

The connected and smart light space is an increasingly crowded one with all sorts of wonderful options. And while consumers might be tempted to first reach for familiar brands like GE or Philips, they’re far from your only options. Indeed, Novostella is one such company who offers an array of smart light products.

Our team was provided with a couple of sample units for review; we were sent a two-pack of 20W Smart LED Flood Lights and a three-pack of 13W (A19 E26) Smart LED Light Bulb. We’ve had them in place for about two weeks now, putting them through some of the normal day-to-day paces. What follows are some of our impressions and review of Novostella’s products.

Setup

We’ve had plenty of experience setting up smart devices, including other brands of lights. Our first instinct is to just skip the instruction manual and jump in, but that’s always wise. And we don’t recommend doing that here.

As a brand that we’ve not worked with before, we looked through the paperwork and installed the accompanying app. Going through the process wasn’t all that difficult but we didn’t stick directly to the app. Why? For starters, it’s not a Novostella app; it’s called Smart Life and doesn’t match up directly with products or models.

Skimming through, we recognized that it was going to revolve around powering on and off the lights in rather quick succession. For the flood lights it was a case of plugging in, unplugging, plugging in, etc. For the more traditional bulbs it was simply flicking the light switch on and off.

Doing that about three times prompted the lights to start flashing, signaling they were in pairing mode. From there, we did proceed with the “automatic” part of the app.

The app found each bulb easily and lets you identify them individually in the app. You can name them, add them to rooms, and do some basic configuration. If you don’t have Google Assistant or Alexa setup, you can control everything from here.

Usage

Once we had the bulbs named and grouped we went into the Google Home app and added them to the network. That’s as easy as logging in with the Smart Life credentials. You will need to set up the rooms and lights again, especially if you plan to use voice controls.

Inside the Smart Life app you can manage the lights, selecting specific colors and hues. You can turn them on and off individually, brighten, schedule automatic shutoff, and more.

We appreciate that there’s no extra hub or bridge to mess with, or purchase. Some of the earlier generations of lights, and a few that you can still buy today, do require extra hardware.

20W Smart LED Flood Lights

  • Wattage: 2-Pack 20W Smart RGBCW LED Flood Lights
  • Lumen: Max 2000LM, 80+CRI
  • Cord Length: 3.28ft/1.5m US Plug
  • Waterproof: IP66
  • Wireless Type: Wi-Fi 2.4GHz (not supprot 5GHz)
  • Lighting Color: RGBCW (RGB+Warm White+ Daylight White)
  • Working Temperature : -25℃ ~ 40℃
  • Input Voltage: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz

It’s pretty easy to get accustomed to controlling lights by voice, or letting them work independently based on time of day or other conditions. Once we set up our lights we pretty much stopped using the Smart Life app. More often than not we let the bulbs turn on automatically and use a routine (Good night) to shut them off.

We’ll ask Google to adjust colors from incandescent to daylight or soft white; sometimes it’s by voice, others it’s in the Google Home app. Picking colors is done the same way, adjusting to crimson, chocolate, smitten, deep blue sky, or forest green, among dozens of others.

General Impressions

The traditional bulbs are currently found in a ceiling fan which we’ve left “physically” powered on at the switch. They’ll come on automatically at a set time, but we also ask Google to adjust them.

Having all three light a room from the top feels just as natural as any other bulbs, so long as you use something between white and yellow. Switching to colors is a little strange but it does look cool.

13W Smart LED Light Bulbs

  • Wattage: 13W (120W Equivalent)
  • Bulb type& Light Base: A19/E26
  • Input Voltage: 100-240V AC
  • Color Temperature: 2700K-6500K
  • Max Luminous flux: 1300lm
  • Beaming angle: 270 Degree
  • Protection Rating: P20
  • Color: RGB, Cool White, Warm White

If you’ve never added smart bulbs to your home, we suggest starting with lamps first. Having a few of them in one room looks cooler when you switch them up to different colors. The glow that comes from a lamp seems to work better than one from a ceiling fan, but that’s no fault of Novostella. Simply put, rooms show off color better when it’s glowing on a wall.

Although the flood lights we have are designed to withstand weather and the elements, we’ve kept them indoors for now. We’ve leaned them back on their base and have them glowing from the TV stand.

We wanted to get a feel for how well they work, how bright they are, and what sort of control we had on them before moving outdoors. With that said, we’re considering adding a few of these to the exterior of the home. They’re incredibly bright and look to be easy to screw into a base.

Perhaps we’ll tie them to a motion light and have them flash red at night if movement is detected in the back yard. Or maybe we’ll have them shine different colors for seasons, holidays, or events.

Conclusion

Prior to our review units we were not all that familiar with the Novostella brand. After spending a few weeks with its products, we’re more than willing to look to Novostella for future needs.

Aside from the two types of lights we tested there are other options available from Novostella, including light strips. Further, there are products which do not have the full color spectrum but just degrees of white light. Similarly, the flood lights come in different wattage and also in a traditional flood light bulb. All are priced affordably and none of them require extra hardware.

Setup could be a little easier but we don’t think people will have too much trouble. The accompanying instructions, Novostella website, and Amazon all have resources, too. Along the same lines, the app and instruction book have the occasional spelling error and wonkiness, but nothing here keeps us from recommending them.

Each product comes with a one year warranty but if you register on Novostella’s website, you can pick up an extra six months for free.

Availability

Learn more about Novostella products at its website where they’re available for purchase. You can also head to Amazon where they’re often discounted. As of today, the 2-pack of 20W Smart LED Flood Lights are $89.99, or about $45 each. The 3-pack LED bulbs are $69.99 ($20 off), or about $23 each.

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Sennheiser GSP 670 headset review: premium price, subpar performance

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It’s big and comfortable without looking too ridiculous.The earcups are equally nice with large plus fabric cups that will keep your ears away from the driver covers. If you prefer leatherette cups you’ll want to find another option, but I did find these to be one of the most comfortable headsets to just sit and listen to music on. The clamping force is just right (although uneven; more on that later) and the earcups provide a wonderful seal to keep the noise of the world away from your ears.One the outside of the headset, there’s a small tactile wheel to adjust chat volume if you’re using a gaming console, a large volume knob, and a multifunction button that will provide audio prompts for battery level and put you into pairing mode when you hold it down. The only thing we’re missing here is a physical switch to move between Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards, and we’ll tell you why that matters in a bit.The microphone is on the left side of the headset and provides a nice tactile click when you flip it all the way up. This is how you mute your microphone and comes in handy when you need to have a quick conversation and get back to whatever you were doing before.I wish I could report that the microphone provided better audio quality but I was pretty disappointed. It’s been a struggle to find a wireless headset that really gives great performance in this area (I’m guessing there’s a bandwidth issue) and the Sennheisers fall disappointingly short. I think they sound much the same as every other headset released in the last decade, which isn’t saying a lot.Both Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards are here. Plugging the USB dongle into my computer, the headset paired almost instantly and opened up a world of opportunity to tune through the Sennheiser app. There are options to tune your EQ, how the microphone sounds, and even provide a noise gate in case you have a noisy background. I didn’t find much difference in how the microphone sounded using these options so hopefully, they continue to be tuned in future updates.The sound that comes through these headphones is a completely different story. This has been one of the best audio experiences I’ve had in my time reviewing tech. I’d put it up there with the Sony WH-1000xm3 in terms of enjoyment. Where Sony offers amazing noise cancelation, the Sennheiser GSP 670 takes the crown in terms of audio quality.I found music pleasingly bass-y without feeling like I’m slogging through the mud just to listen. Mids are very clear while highs are crisp without being piercing.I just wish I enjoyed wearing these more. I can’t overstate how heavy these things are. At just under 400g, they’re one of the heavier headsets I’ve tested and it can be exhausting during long sessions. With 16 hours of battery life, those sessions can last all night, but you’ll need breaks.Additionally, I don’t like wearing these because of how the cups sit on my head. While the cups themselves are large enough that my ear doesn’t touch anything, the clamping is uneven and annoying. You can use the sliders in the headband to adjust your clamp, but I always end up with more pressure on the bottom of the cups than at the top.Frankly, these don’t look great and certainly don’t look like something I’d pay over $300 for. They’re big and bulky with muted colors and an … aggressive? design. I’m not entirely sure what to call this design language but there are definitely better-looking options on the market. 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While they’re best in class in terms of audio quality, the things they miss on are a killer and make them harder to recommend over other competitors.After a bit of searching, I’ve found the Sennheiser GSP 670 around $300 and sometimes cheaper on sale. I think if you can find these cheaper than that, go for it. Your ears will thank you. At full price, they’re a tough sell.Buy the Sennheiser GSP 670 at Amazon

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