The MiPow Playbulb Sphere smart LED lamp steers away from being too venturesome, unlike the Mathmos Bump Lantern. Instead, for just £49.99, it integrates into your home and lifestyle as a naturalistic colourful light with the freedom that comes with an integrated battery.
The MiPow Playbulb Sphere is made from glass, so it’s smooth to touch, and one of the real attractions of this lighting product is it’s a decorative piece. The frosted sphere is majestic - more so when it’s emitting colour - and reminds us of a fortune teller's crystal ball. Nevertheless, this does boast an ability that you wouldn't anticipate a smart lighting product to have - it’s waterproof and dust-proof (IP65 rated). A few of these would look great next to the pool at night, or scattered to highlight a garden pathway.
It comes supplied with a mat which it can sit on to be wirelessly charged/powered via micro-USB. The mat also has an understated design that blends into the environment. The wire too can be dangled behind furniture for an out of sight view.
Setup & App
After downloading the Playbulb X app, available for iOS & Android, it directed us through a simple procedure to establish a connection to the Sphere. Basically switch on Bluetooth, jump back to the app and you’re finished. Repeatedly hopping onto the App is no issue - it always finds the Playbulb Sphere lamp from all our devices. It can be controlled by physically tapping it through a cycle of colours too.
The App’s interface displays a colour wheel which enables the theoretical selection of millions of different colours, and the desired brightness is set via a slider. There is absolutely no delay seen via the MiPow Playbulb Sphere as you wiggle your finger over the palette to illuminate a rainbow of transitioning colour and there’s 5 lighting effects inbuilt too, one of which nearly gave us a seizure - seriously, stay away from effect number 3 on full speed! Effect 1 flashes at a speed you choose via slider to any static colour of your desire, followed by pulse - essentially the same thing but the colour pulses. There are then 2 rainbow modes which are similar to the previous modes but change colour. The last mode is candle - but doesn't work. A music facility is also offered for lighting that follows the beat, we assume, but did not work within the App on the latest iPhone 6s. Some updates seem necessary!
Colours are rich and not at all washed out and the whites are clean. The vibrancy is really enhanced by the fact that the lighting doesn't appear as if it’s coming from many LEDs in the core of the ball, but instead the LEDs are harmonious visually and all light looks as if it’s being illuminated from the very exterior of the MiPow Playbulb Sphere. Thus there is always an enjoyable vibrant spherical display of colour. This majestic light produces a peaceful ambience in a home environment, altering a room's mood, and can be taken from the main room to the bedroom thanks to its battery, making a subdued bedside light. We utilise the latter ability with a kind and warm whitish light that makes sleeping very pleasant.
This is similar in many ways to the artistically designed and more expensive but brighter £65 Mathmos Bump Lantern, also with battery, but that can’t be App controlled. Solely on its own outputting 230 lumens, the MiPow Playbulb Sphere is not going to light up an entire room. But in harmony with other Spheres in close proximity it could effectively create an atmospheric light allowing for activities like drawing and typing.
Using this as a bedside light, left on all night, it managed to outlast the stated 8 hours of operation to continue for 10 hours on bright white light. Perhaps if we enabled Bluetooth and colour changing we’d have lost 2 hours?
Looking for a colourful glass ornament to purchase for your home? Then the MiPow Playbulb Sphere lamp could be your perfect answer, with millions of colour choices literally at your fingertips via the free App (has some bugs). For £49.99 this snappy to operate smart glass-cased lighting product produces enchanting vibrant light of all colours - not just freely around the home but also outside.