(Pocket-lint) - TP-Link's sub-brand Tapo isn't, perhaps, the biggest name in the smart home market at the time of writing, but products like this nifty Smart Wi-Fi Light Bulb will do plenty of work to raise its profile.
The smart bulb market is pretty much dominated by the huge range of Philips Hue bulbs that most experts will spotlight as the best in the business, but there's plenty of room for lower-priced options, and Tapo has made a great one here.
What is the Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Light Bulb?
This smart bulb isn't a very complicated one - it's a simple white light, without any more sophisticated colour options or indeed colour temperature adjustment settings.
The bulb has an E27 screw-in base, which is the most common sort of household base, but you can also pick it up with a B22 base in case that's better for your home.
It's pretty much the exact same size as a standard light bulb, though slightly heavier, not that it'll matter once you've installed it.
What can the Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Light Bulb do?
This is a dimmable light bulb, which in practise means that you can use the Tapo app, or your smart home control app of choice, to choose your brightness, in slightly more noticeable clicks than some other sliders allow for.
The bulb connects to your Wi-Fi network during setup, and this connection means that you can control it from wherever you are, provided your home network is up and running. It doesn't rely on an external bridge or controller for the functionality, and makes it a doddle to check you turned the lights off after you've left your home.
The bulb also has some nice scheduling features, which let you set it to come on in the morning at low brightness, dim itself in the evenings or, most usefully in our mind, set a random schedule of on/off periods to mimic presence at home - which is useful for when you're travelling.
Tapo's bulb works with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to let you control it through either intermediary. Apple HomeKit is sadly absent, which is a bit of a shame - but nothing new given Apple's slower uptake on the smart home front.
Setting up the Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Light Bulb
Most smart home devices claim easy setup processes now, but Tapo delivers one for the Smart WiFi Light Bulb, which took two or three minutes to get up and running. You simply screw the bulb into a turned-off socket, turn on the power, then wirelessly connect to the bulb via your phone.
Opening the Tapo app then lets you redirect the bulb onto your home Wi-Fi network, and you're done. At this point, you've got control over your bulb in the Tapo app, can turn it on or off or set any schedules you want.
Adding the bulb onto Google Home or Alexa is as easy as following those two service's processes - and in both cases we found it worked without a hitch, getting us setup with voice assistants in a matter of minutes as well.
Tapo's bulb really offers everything we'd want it to at this price - you get easily dimmable lighting and remote control, plus scheduling, all without needing an additional 'Bridge' product or any other hardware at all.
The setup is really straightforward, the bulb is nice and bright, and it feels like it's priced sensibly, making for a pretty complete package. You'll get scheduling, an away mode, remote control, plus dimming - and all you need to make sure it works is a home Wi-Fi network.
That makes it perfect for those who want some remote capabilities but don't feel like investing in a huge and more complex system.
Philips Hue white extension bulb A19/E27
This is Philips' simplest Hue bulb, and you get largely the same experience from it for a very similar price to Tapo's - with remote control and dimming easily handled. However, while the latest version packs Bluetooth to let you control it without an additional Bridge product, some features do need that extra hardware to work. If you're thinking of getting a more complicated and quality system, this could be a good place to start, but for immediate control Tapo has the edge.