Xiaomi-backed Yeelights are bright and vibrant, but there’s a catch

By Subhrojit Mallick | Published on 24 Oct 2018
Xiaomi-backed Yeelights are bright and vibrant, but there’s a catch
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Xiaomi's Yeelight launched the smart LED bulbs and the smart LED light strip in India. Both can be controlled by Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Xiaomi’s Yeelight has made its entry to the Indian market, right on time for Diwali. The Chinese company known for its wide array of smart lighting solutions introduced its smart LED lightstrips and bulbs - Yeelight Aurora and the Yeelight Candela - in India. There is a burgeoning market for smart lights now that both Amazon and Google offer their ecosystem of smart home solutions, and Yeelight wants to take a slice of that market. 

So far, smart lights in India have not managed to make a significant mark. Philips Hue lights have been available for quite some time. They also work with an array of smart home ecosystems and are quite rich in terms of the features they offer. However, the Philips Hue lights are priced prohibitively high and you need a separate hub to control the lights. The Yeelights aren’t that expensive though. The Smart LED bulb (colour) retails for Rs 2,999 with a special price of Rs 2,799 on Amazon India, while the Yeelight Aurora LED lightstrip is priced at Rs 5,999 (Rs 4,999 on Amazon). That’s relatively a lot cheaper, but is the price tag worthy of the products? We have been toying with the Smart LED bulb (colour) and the LED lightstrip for a few days now, and here’s what we think:

Bright and vibrant

The Yeelight bulbs and lightstrip both glow with high brightness and look quite vibrant. A single bulb, however, is not really adequate to light up a decently big bedroom. I use a combination of three bulbs to light up my bedroom and they all work in sync.

The light strip however is just less than two meters in length. You can also extend it up to ten meters by connecting more lightstrips, but that means you bear the added cost. The light strip is a bit stiff though and is difficult to match it to the shape of things like a desk, PC, etc. I tried to set it up around the posters on my wall and had to struggle to bend it along the sides. It’s perfectly fine to affix on a straight surface though.

Seamless setup

The Yeelight smart bulbs have a screw-shaped design. You will need a compatible socket to house them. Good thing is that they don’t need additional hardware for the smart features. There’s a Wi-Fi module integrated in the bulb that can connect to your router. You will have to be on the same Wi-Fi network to connect to the light though. Further, the lights only support 2.5GHz Wi-Fi channel.

In India, Yeelight is offering two types of bulbs —  One is tuneable white where you can change the colour temperature, and another offers full 16-million range of colours. Connecting the bulb is also quite seamless. You need to have either the Yeelight or the Mi Home app installed. You’ll see an option to add devices. Select the relevant product (the Smart LED Colour or Smart LED white in this case), and let the app scan for it. After a few seconds, you’ll notice a MAC address which means the bulb is ready to pair. Tap on it, select the Wi-Fi address, type the password and let it connect. It takes a few seconds to finish the setup, and you’ll be ready to go. The process is the same for the Aurora LED Lightstrip. We did notice that the last step tends to fail sometimes. In that case, you will have to start all over again.

In case you want to pair the lights with some other Wi-Fi connection, you have to reset them. To reset the bulb, flick the bulb switch on/off five times till the bulb starts glowing, and then follow the setup process once again. In case of the Aurora LED Lightstrip, you have to keep the power button of the controller pressed and then switch the light on/off. Hold the power button for five seconds till the strip starts glowing in different colours. Follow the same setup process after that.

App control

Yeelight devices are controlled with both the Yeelight app and the Mi Home app. Both apps are available on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. The Yeelight app offers a range of controls that make using the lights a fun affair. You have options to set the scene (sunrise, sunset, home, movie, etc.). Further, you can sync the bulb to change colours with the beats of music. There’s a music mode that allows you to do it. You can also group the bulbs together so they work in sync. Then there’s the option of ‘Flow’. Here, the lights cycle through five different colours and you have the option to increase the speed and brightness.

There are options to set custom scenes which can then be synced with Google Assistant and Alexa commands.

Works with both Alexa and Google Assistant

Both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are supported. You basically get full control of the lights using just your voice. For Alexa, you need to have the Yeelight skill installed. Using the skill, you can ask Alexa to increase the brightness and change the colour. You can also set up custom commands and program the bulb to either glow in a particular colour, turn on/off, or flow with multiple colours. With Alexa, it’s a bit cumbersome since the voice commands are longer. The commands basically go like “Hey Alexa, ask Yeelight to turn on the bedroom lights”, where you’re asking Alexa to activate the skill first and then control the light.

Google Assistant bypasses that. You can directly ask Google to turn on the lights without having to activate a separate module. Setting up the bulb with the Google Assistant is also quite easy. You need to go to Home Control in Google Assistant Settings and set up the bulb. After that, you can set custom commands as well as use generic commands like increase the brightness, change colour, etc.

What’s the catch?

The Yeelight bulbs and the LED light strip are both useful devices to own. But to make full use of them, you have to ensure certain things. First is a stable broadband connection. It won’t work well with a Wi-Fi hotspot. You will need a dedicated router which provides connectivity to your smart speakers, smartphone, etc. The lights also tend to fail a lot. I have been using the LED bulb for quite some time now, and it randomly unpair themselves if it has not been used for some time. The biggest catch, however, is the pricing of the products. I got the LED bulbs from a Mi Home Store in Shanghai where I paid around Rs 1,000 each for the colour bulb. In India, the bulbs are priced almost double that amount. You can order it off Ali Express and you’ll end up paying around Rs 1,500 per piece, or you can ask someone travelling to China to get it for you. Either way, the Yeelight products are poised to shake up the smart home market. With the onset of smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home, the demand for smart lights are only going to go up...gradually.

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Subhrojit Mallick
Subhrojit Mallick

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About Me: Eats smartphones for breakfast. Read More

Tags:
Yeelight Xiaomi Smart light Smart home
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