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LIFX HomeKit X Razer Chrome Connect Review
Review By @ 01:49pm 11/02/20



Product: LIFX HomeKit
Type: Smart Lighting
Price: From $34.99 and upwards (pending device)
Availability: Out Now
Link: https://www.lifx.com.au/

The house I live in is old. We rent and so haven’t really ‘remodeled’ in any meaningful way, though we’ve definitely fashioned it as a space reflective of our personalities; essentially we live in a gaming museum. The geek side of our decorative stylings aside, and also being fairly tech-heavy because of mine and my wife’s positions within the gaming industry, I’ve never thought about smart-housing the place. We have a giant 65” Samsung QLED Q9 4K TV sporting a Samsung Q90 soundbar. We have every console -- PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and Nintendo Switch; two Alienware gaming laptops -- a workhorse 2015 M13 and a slick 2019 M17 an Oculus Rift and a PSVR headset. My son has his own 55” (old) Samsung plasma TV, an Xbox One S and his Nintendo Switch. We’ve got the latest iPhones, an iPad, a Microsoft Surface Pro a decent Logitech PC sound system, wireless Bose noise-cancelling headphones, Razer Nari Ultimate PC and Xbox One Haptic wireless headphones (the only way to play Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, mind), numerous other headsets, keyboards, mice, external SSDs, chargers… the works.

There’s an Nvidia RTX 2060 videocard and Ballistix DDR Ram sitting on my desk awaiting full construction of a new gaming PC (pending a new monitor and a decent motherboard). Outside in our ‘entertaining area’ we even have a mini beer fridge next to the BBQ with an outdoor sound system to annoy the neighbours. I often work out there for… reasons.

"Out of the box, the LIFX app already allows for you to manipulate each part of your overall setup -- from individual bulbs to panels (or, “Beam”), strips and beyond..."



Suffice to say, we have some cool shit. But I’ve never before thought about going that extra mile with smartifying my digs, and all the aforementioned “cool shit” within it. That is until I received a LIFX startup kit.



More recently, CES 2019 revealed that gaming tech powerhouse, Razer, had partnered with LIFX, bringing them into the Razer Chroma Connect family of supported devices. This means anyone playing around with Chroma Connect and Synapse for PC gaming, music or other entertainment from their rig of choice could integrate LIFX into their experience. Out of the box, the LIFX app already allows for you to manipulate each part of your overall setup -- from individual bulbs to panels (or, “Beam”), strips and beyond. And before we get to the gaming side of all of this, let’s quickly go over what LIFX can simply bring to any room in your abode, from a mood, fun and tech perspective.

Illuminating

Based on all of the above, there are three gaming and entertainment areas of our house with actual ‘tech’: the lounge (main), our son’s room and my work-from-home office (see pics). With the kit we were sent I set up a seven-shaped beam collective next to the big Samsung Q9, and placed a LIFX A60 in each of the two free-standing lamps we have set up in each corner of the lounge (which is rectangular-shaped). My son’s room has what we refer to as his ‘gaming nook’ and he also has a freestanding lamp, which we set another A60 to.

In the office, I placed the two strips we got for review above the laptop beneath the top shelf of my two-story desk. They fit perfectly along the support beam and these are the lights I currently use when gaming via Chroma Connect. What’s important to point out with the LIFX family of products is that they’re incredibly modular. With all of the above, each setup has its own Wi-Fi receiver, and on our network I’ve collected them into three groups: Living Room, Gaming Nook and Office Strips (I hope to get more lights for the office). But, further to grouping, they each have an individual space within the app: Darksiders Corner, Collection Shelf and Giants Corner (my wife is a GWS Giants fan and there’s a Giants hat that dangles off that lamp) make up the Living Room grouping, while my son’s and my office, which don’t have multiple lights, are named singularly.

"
Numerous other apps and applets also work with LIFX. I use IFTTT to have the lights flash when I get tagged on Facebook, for example..."



You can control every light in the house as a full group, within their own groups or individually. When my boy goes to bed, we tend to set his light to the preset Dream theme setting and diffuse the bulb to 30% of a possible 175% brightness. Other presets include things like Soothing, Relaxing, Peaceful, Proud, Cheerful and even Sports, which I tend to use a lot (it creates a warm green hue that just really works with the energy of live sports). Beyond basic themes built into the LIFX app, you can also play with effects such as having the lights fade through warm pastel colours or respond to music playing (which utilises your phone’s microphone). And it’s surprisingly responsive.

Numerous other apps and applets also work with LIFX. I use IFTTT to have the lights flash when I get tagged on Facebook, for example. Another friend who put me onto it (and who publishes content with our friends over at Press Start) set his up to flash whenever he gets an Uber if he’s out late, so his partner knows he’s on his way home. If he gets home really late and full of a few cordials, the lights come on as soon as his Uber ride has ended. But they don’t turn on aggressively, rather they light up slowly and with his own preset softness, so as not to wake his kid, or partner. And all of this is largely customisable. And the above are just examples of the potential here.

Gaming

Out of the gate, I’m hoping a LIFX app comes to all three platforms where consoles are concerned. Right now, it’s all PC-based, but thankfully, as you know, there are a couple of PC games out in the wild you can play.



Jokes aside, I was worried the plug and play nature of the network-connected ‘living’ setup would fail in the PC space with an overabundance of tinkering required. But that’s not the case. Similarly to the smartphone app, all you need to get LIFX up and running in your desktop environment is Razer Chroma Connect and Razer Synapse. If your machine is on the same network as what you set your lights up on, it’s simple. From there, firing up any game on your rig across the likes of Steam, Epic Games Store, Windows 10, GOG, Battle.net, et al, now has your lights working for your inputs and ambience.

Beyond basic flashes and colour shifts, you can, through Synapse, go into Advanced Effects and change everything; from hue and brightness, to when lights explode or don’t. Largely, these work best against games from the base app, unless you’re a lighting genius and know how to assume your entire playthrough will work, but even at the most basic level, it’s dynamic and smart. I tested it against Darksiders Genesis as I’m still loving that, and the intro cinematic alone lit up the room in all the right ways. In gameplay, it was subdued more because action in that game comes in dribs and drabs, but when magic was flying and enemies were exploding, boy did it all amplify the whole thing.

Overall

The ease at which I got all of this working in disparate parts of my home setup and to work for different experiences was simply awesome. The gaming side of things was just a few extra downloads, but was up and running inside 20 minutes. The joy my boy gets out of his one light while playing games from his Gaming Nook would be worth the price alone, and if we can see apps heading to either current-gen or even the next gen of consoles would be a massive boon. Years ago Microsoft teased the value of responsive lighting with IllumiRoom, but it never left the R&D cutting room floor in Seattle. But now, here we are with LIFX; an as good - if not better - alternative. And best of all, it’s simple and approachable. I name-dropped all of my household setup earlier because we’re all surrounded by tech, and some tech offers chances to explore new and enjoyable experiences, but largely they’re just vessels by which creators effectively ‘stream’ ideas. LIFX brings those ideas and experiences to life, in a whole new way.



And on that note, I’ll do my very last name-drop: KBit -- the artist also currently known as Kosta “Toadovsky” Andreadis who, in his spare time, is also a synth musician with more than a few epic 80s-inspired releases under his belt. I couldn’t leave such a review without having played his last release, Future Yesterday, through LIFX with all of its neon-punch potential. It did not disappoint. The tear in my eye was merely cause for impact in that during this neon and synth outlay of childhood perfection, I also needed some lens flare action, and it’s overcast and rainy outside, so… reasons.

Must-have tech emotive amplification.



What we liked
Reactive, dynamic lighting
Easy to setup and manage
Create the best mood for your entertainment or party/activity of choice
Easily integrable with other apps
Various options for lights
Excellent power-rating
What we didn't like
Can be seen as expensive to be expansive with
We gave it:
9.0
OUT OF 10
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