Govee Smart Lights review: How does Philips Hue-Killer work?

Govee Smart Lights review: How does Philips Hue-Killer work?

In the connected lighting market filled with imitation brands, one name is rising to the top of nearly every smart shopping search: Govee. Thanks to what appears to be a combination of paid merchandising and real market appeal, Govee’s product listings outperform Amazon and other retailers’ shopping search results whether you’re searching for “smart bulbs” or other brands like “Philips Hue.” You don’t have to be excited, either, to notice that Govee’s sometimes similar offerings are usually discounted well below the retail prices of those other brands, sometimes by as much as half.

As anyone who has wasted money on cheap smart bulbs knows, when it comes to connected devices, you’ll often get exactly what you pay for. A seasoned shopper, however, will notice many of the Govee items that appear to stand out: polished, professional product photos and videos; Packaging like anything you’ll see from Philips Hue and the like; And positive comments, tens of thousands of them. Could Govee be the exception that proves the rule?

Mostly yes, with a “no” but a noticeable one. The Govee app you need to set up and control a company’s suite of smart home products is weak compared to similar apps by competitors. However, Govee products consistently produce pleasing lighting in a wide range of colors and brightness and look at least as reliable as the higher priced alternatives. Is dealing with a substandard app experience worth it in the long run?

We think so, especially since you can outsource your Govee lights control to other, more user-friendly apps, like Alexa and Google Home. We’ll get into that and more as we browse through our five favorite smart lighting products from Govee, starting with our all-time favorite, the Govee Lyra Floor Lamp.

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If you’re thinking of making the leap from regular smart bulbs to a custom smart lighting device, the Govee Lyra Floor Lamp ($135 at Amazon) is a great starting point. Lyra’s nearly 5-foot-tall aluminum tube casts color and white light across a wall or corner to create an array of moods ranging from subtle ambiance to stunning light show. (Pro tip: Try it in the stairwell.) It’s clearly modeled on the Philips Hue Signe Floor Lamp ($330 at Philips Hue) which sells for more than double the priceβ€”when it’s in stock, which it hasn’t in months.

What makes the Govee Lyra especially great is how easy it is to integrate with other smart lighting brands once it’s connected to Alexa or Google Home. Not only can you set a wide range of individual colors from within the Alexa or Google Home apps, but you can also play various Lyra animations, which range, again, from subtle (sunset glow, ocean) to fireworks (fireworks, snake Greed). Simply create a scene or routine in Alexa or Google Home to turn on all your smart lights at once, regardless of brand (you can do this with all Govee devices on our list).

Govee Glide Wall Lamp

Turning to Govee’s next favorite, the $80 Glide wall lamp, it’s easy to think about whether they’re trying to get the big smart lighting companies out of business one product at a time. Previous Govee Glide, LIFX Beam ($150, LIFX) also sold out. Regardless, at half the price and achieving roughly the same effects, the Govee Edition is the one to buy anyway.

Similar to the Govee Lyra, the Govee Glide is a tube that produces gradations of white light that can be either stationary or moving. Change? Well, you can mount the Glide directly to the wall or under the cabinets instead (pro tip: we’ll also put it on top). That form factor loses some of the Lyra’s subtlety, since you’ll see not only the reflected light, but the LEDs themselves, giving the Glide a more futuristic feel.

Govee immersion TV background

One of the coolest effects you can achieve with a flat screen TV is not achieved through the TV itself but through the addition of backlighting. While the LED backlight doesn’t exactly project the onscreen image through the wall behind the TV, it simulates the effect by projecting colored light from the edge of the screen in real time through the wall. Philips Hue pioneered the technology with the Sync Box ($230, Philips Hue), which connects to HDMI to your TV. However, this device also requires a 55-inch Gradient LightStrip ($230, amazon), a 65-inch LightStrip ($250, amazon), or a 75-inch Lightstrip ($280, amazon).

Instead of dropping over $500 on an HDMI-based backlight device, you can instead buy a Govee Immersion TV Backlight for 55- to 65-inch screens ($69) or the larger version for 75- to 85-inch screens ($130, Amazon) and save hundreds of dollars Literally.

barter? You will have to install a small, relatively unobtrusive camera above the TV to capture the colors displayed on the wall. However, once the devices are turned on, they are almost indistinguishable.

Jovi smart light poles

A more subtle alternative to lighting the cord frayed around the perimeter of the back of your TV is to place light bars on either side of the screen, which is exactly what Govee’s Smart Light Bars designed with the camera ($75, Amazon). The effect isn’t nearly as strong, but the stabilization is too (although you still have the annoying camera calibration to deal with). You can basically do the same thing with Philips Hue Play White and Color Smart Bars ($150, Amazon), but you’ll need to add the Sync Box ($230, Philips Hue), which brings the total cost up to four times that of the governor.

Govee smart light bulbs

govee smart light balls

No, we haven’t forgotten the unknown factor of any good smart lighting kit – the modestly colored smart bulb. Govee color bulbs are typically available in the $10 per bulb range, as is this four-pack ($42.99, amazon). Colors are as saturated and bright as anything you’ll get from LIFX ($180 for four packs, Amazon).

HomeKit compatibility missing

Apple HomePod Mini Lead JS

Time to admit the elephant in the room: So far, at least, Govee lighting devices aren’t directly compatible with Apple HomeKit, so if you’re using Apple’s smart home system, you’re basically out of luck. Unless, of course, you’re running a workaround like the Raspberry Pi-based HomeBridge, which allows non-HomeKit-compatible devices to connect to HomeKit and, in turn, Apple’s Siri. But this requires next-level smart home chips that the average consumer doesn’t have.

But if you don’t exclusively use HomeKit, the cost savings alone are worth the extended learning curve required to master the Govee app (both with and without relying on Alexa or Google Home, with which these devices integrate beautifully).

Additionally, Govee appears to be a new (ish) tech company eager to constantly evolve. It wouldn’t be surprising even if the hurdle of the unwanted Govee app was finally overcome.

Prices are accurate and items are in stock at time of posting.

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