Living Color: Elgato Avea Flare Smart Lamp Review

Elgato Avea Flare Smart LED Lamp
The Elgato Avea Flare Smart LED Lamp. Elgato

What do you get when you marry a lamp to a smartphone?

If you answered irreconcilable differences, well, nice try, buddy. Given the plethora of colorful smart lights out there, however, The obvious answer would be a smart lamp. Then again, the doohickey I’m reviewing this time came as a bit of a surprise.

I typically equate Elgato with video game capture devices, such as the one I reviewed here called the Elgato Game Capture HD 60.

But a smart lamp? Consider my curiosity piqued.

The first thing I noticed about the Elgato Avea Flare is its size. Unlike the Ilumi Color Tunable LED Smartbulb or even Elgato’s own Avea Bulb, the Avea Flare LED lamp is big. A lot bigger. Unboxing the flare reveals an egg-shaped sphere with a flat bottom that stands nearly 9 inches tall. I named mine “Saitama” in honor of One Punch Man, though older generations might prefer the moniker “Conehead.” The Flare also comes with a little plate that serves as a charging base. Kudos to including plugs for various regions, which removes the need for fishing out an adapter. Then again, the gadget is probably a bit on the large side for frequent traveling, but it’s still a nice option to have.

Instructions are sparse, though the Flare is quite easy to set up. First, you’ll need to download the Avea app on a compatible gadget, which includes the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or newer Android devices.

Just make sure you have Bluetooth on and the app will start searching for a compatible Avea device nearby. Once that’s done, just push the power button on the base of the Flare and you’re good to go. Just keep in mind that the button doesn’t have much give, at least for the device I tested, so give it a good press until you hear a clicking sound.

Once the lamp is synced, it will ask you to give it a name. And you probably thought I was kidding when I said I named my lamp Saitama. To quote George Washington, “I can never tell a lie.” Well, at least tell one in a believable manner. Naming your device also helps if you have more than one Avea light in the home.

On the main app screen, you’ll find yourself confronted with a smattering of lighting options with catchy names such as Magic Hour, Calm Provence, Mountain Breeze and Fairy Woods. These basically represent variations on colors such as orange, purple, blue, green and the like. Personally, I liked the soft pink of Cherry Blossom, soft yellow of Sunny Field and soft turqoise of Caribbean Sea, so I starred those to bump them up higher on the list. Yeah, I’m a big “softie.”

If your idea of a good time is pretending that you’re Little Nicky, you can pick Cozy Flames, which turns your room into the perfect setting for a 1980s slasher movie via a blood red tinge. For a more varied light show, you also can pick Candy Land, which cycles through the entire color spectrum. Otherwise, you can just pick solid green, yellow, orange, red, purple, blue or white. For folks looking for a wake-up light, the Flare has a setting called, well, “Wake-Up Light,” which turns the gadget into an alarm clock.

Just set a time, a sound you want to wake up to, turn the Flare light off via the app and you’re good to go. The default sound uses audio of chirping birds though you can pick music from your iPhone or other device as well.

On the plus side, the Flare is great for setting the mood or ambience in your abode, thanks to its multitude of color presets. The built-in 8-hour battery is also a plus as is the convenience of using its charging cradle. Nevertheless, it has a few niggles as well. One is that the light could be brighter. Even at its maximum brightness setting, the Flare isn’t that powerful, especially for folks who want a lamp with extra punch.

Although it has an alarm, it doesn’t have a timer function for turning off the light after a set amount of time. The alarm also needs to be set every night and relies heavily on your smartphone or tablet, which is the actual sound source and has to be on for the alarm to work. Pricing also might be expensive for some at $99.95.

Final thoughts

The Elgato Avea Flare is a solid option for folks looking for a smart lamp, thanks to its ease of use, 8-hour battery, alarm function and selection of colors. Admittedly, it could be brighter and the alarm interface design could be improved. It’s also one of those interesting gadgets that looks neat and is pretty cool but isn’t exactly necessary for a lot of folks. For folks in the market for a smart lamp, however, the Avea Flare is a solid option.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Jason Hidalgo is About.com’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too. For more nontraditional electronics, check out the Other Devices & Accessories hub.

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