a Matter smart bulb that reveals its limits

Matter is the new protocol that must unify the different technologies related to the connected home. Unfortunately, the products are still scarce and so we jumped at the chance to test the first Matter smart bulb on the market. An effective Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart Bulb E27, but which highlights the youthful flaws of the new protocol.

Matter continues to be talked about! And for good reason: its heavy mission is to unify in a single protocol all the existing technologies dedicated to the connected home. Despite a fanfare launch, the products are still few in number. It is therefore with great curiosity that we tested the first Matter smart bulb on the market, the Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart Bulb E27.

A product that offers an original design, making it possible to concretely check whether Matter brings this extra flexibility that we are entitled to expect.

Design and functionality: an atypical light bulb

This bulb has an atypical design with its multifaceted bulb shape. It will not change much in use, but if you use it with a transparent light or a ceiling light, where it will be visible, this originality can bring a touch of style to your interior. The design is of high quality and should not pose any particular inconvenience over the long term.

It displays a fairly standard template with dimensions of 6.1 x 11.1 cm. This bulb announces a maximum brightness of 1,100 lumens and a color temperature ranging from 2,700 to 6,500 K. This should allow it to create many shades of white and up to 16 million colors. It uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for connectivity. On the side of the bulb are a QR Code and a Matter ID number. They will be used during the installation process.

Installation and configuration: Matter overcomes the difficulties

There are two ways to install this product: by simply going through Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Alexa, or through the Nanoleaf application.

To function perfectly, this product requires a Matter hub, which must be purchased separately. If you already own a connected speaker (Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo or Google Nest) or a latest-generation Apple TV 4K, these products also act as a Matter hub.

Good surprise: once powered on, the bulb is automatically detected by your smartphone and you are prompted to start the pairing process. If this is not the case, do not panic, you only have to launch the installation process via the application of your choice and it is identical in all situations.

Thus, you will be asked to scan the QR Code Matter present on the product; if it does not work, a nine-digit numeric code can be used. The process is then completely automatic, of rare simplicity, except for a few remarks.

First downside: if you install the bulb via Google Home or Home Kit, this does not automatically make the bulb appear in the Nanoleaf application, while the reverse is true. Even if we had to try twice before synchronization with HomeKit was effective

While Matter works perfectly with the Google Home and Home apps, we were unable to pair it with an Amazon Echo HUB, despite the latest updates supposed to make them Matter compatible. Then, we noticed at the beginning of the losses of connections. They disappeared after a few days of use, but we have no explanation for this phenomenon.

The features offered in the Home or Google Home apps are a little more limited than on the Nanoleaf app. Thus, we can adjust the power of the bulb and choose from six pre-selected colors, but impossible to define a precise shade manually. To do this, you have to go through the Nanoleaf application. However, it is very easy to integrate them into groups of bulbs, for example, and create connected home scenarios with just a few taps on the screen.

The Nanoleaf application is the one that allows you to fully exploit the possibilities of the Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart Bulb E27. Thus, you can refine the colors you want to diffuse and set up your own light scenes. It’s even possible to create circadian lighting, so the light syncs with your bedtime and wake-up time.

Nevertheless, the application remains marked by the range of luminaires to be composed from the house. Thus, it offers many features and scenarios created by the brand or users. They are very numerous and download in a few seconds. However, the majority cannot be applied to the Matter bulb and all this only weighs down an interface that does not shine with its simplicity. It would have been wise to purify the interface for users not using Neanoleaf light panels.

Finally, the use of voice assistants is done very naturally, even if we noted some erratic problems on the command of extinction, but nothing which cannot be corrected in the future.

In use: efficient and practical

The bulb announces a maximum light output of 1,100 lumens, one of the highest figures on the market. However, the peak power is measured on the whites and not the color as we will see below.

In white mode, the light is lively and very well balanced. We can very easily go from a really bright white, to warmer or colder, in a few seconds, just by playing with the little wheel seen above. The result is very satisfying and has nothing to envy to the high-end competition.

At 50% power, we can read a book without difficulty in a room of 25 m². You really have to go below 20% for it to become very difficult. At 100%, the room is well lit and can even tackle small precision jobs.

When it comes to color, we appreciate having a wide choice at our disposal. However, the light output is much lower in this mode. Thus, at 50% power, reading a book requires effort, at 100%, it is much more acceptable, but we remain on a more subdued light than bright. However, with the aim of creating luminous atmospheres, you can only be satisfied.

Finally, what disappointed us the most in this product is Matter . The protocol is still young and needs to be refined. Thus, we do not have access to all the features that the Nanoleaf application offers in Home or Google Home. In addition, once installed with a HomePod mini as a Matter hub, we had to repeat the operation for the Google ecosystem. The hubs do not yet communicate with each other.

Currently, Matter offers to unify installations between different hubs via code, but it does not work perfectly yet. Another detail: if you use several connected bulbs of different brands, you will have to synchronize the color shades and the power of each bulb manually to obtain a harmonious result. Can’t wait for Matter to do it for us…

Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart Bulb E27 Price and Availability

The Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Smart Bulb E27 is available at a price of 19.99 euros on the manufacturer’s website and at partner retailers such as Amazon.

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