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Is the Holi Smart Mood Lamp the ultimate night lamp? Mood lamp? Disco ball? Quite possibly.

From French start-up FiveFive, the Holi is currently retailing in Europe for €199 and is expected to launch in the US in March for around $200. That’s on par with a Phillips Hue starter kit, a set of of three RGB smartphone-controlled bulbs that fit into your existing fittings.

You’d expect great things for €200, so does it deliver? What better way to find out than to buy one? Since we spent our own cash on this review unit, you should expect an honest, unbiased product review.

Design and First Impressions

holi smart lamp review

The box is sparse; containing the main unit with attached cable, USB power adapter, European and UK plugs, and a quick start guide.

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holi smart lamp review

From the front, the sleek aluminium frame certainly looks like an objét d’art. It’s smaller and lighter than I expected – a square of no more than 21 centimetres. Can it deliver enough light?

holi smart lamp review

Around the back, a clear plastic panel encloses a total of nine super bright RGB LEDs – three on each side except for the base. There’s also a further nine white LEDs used to provide basic light. In total, the unit is claimed to output around 500 lumens, which is just brighter than a 40 watt bulb. It’s all rather solidly made and doesn’t feel like it would break easily.

holi smart lamp review

But the illusion of grandeur is abruptly shattered by the inclusion of a bright blue power cable. In fairness, it is a nice durable cable with a woven nylon sheath, but honestly what were they thinking? I’m no expert in interior design, but seriously, blue? Why blue?

holi - hideous blu cable

Also somewhat disappointingly, the thick power cable actually is located right in the corner and so stiff, such that out of the box the lamp actually can’t stand up right without falling over. I needed to forcibly squash it flat a few times. The fact that’s it naturally unstable given the nature of a being a tall bit of metal obviously doesn’t help here, but I do think a little more thought could have been put into positioning that cable.

holi lamp review

Setup

The instruction guide – a four-panel pictorial – isn’t rocket science. After plugging the device in, three seconds on the power button turns it on, with a soothing blue pulsating light indicating it’s ready to be connected to. From any iOS device, you can then find the Holi through Bluetooth, and pair with the device – it pulses green to indicate success.

holi smart lamp

Features

First up is the Collection – a selection of keyworded light scenes and “choreographies” supposed to represent specific seasons or evoke particular emotions. Most of them are dynamic in some way rather than being static colour, though to varying degrees. The autumn scene, for instance, is predominantly red/orange with a little swirl of white and yellow occasionally, while the “twist” is a fairly rapid cycle through the full colour spectrum.

Next is the Music mode. When it works, the music mode is surprisingly satisfying – a basic colour is chosen for each song, which pulsates to the bass and tempo changes, with the bright white LEDs being used like “blinder” effects at a concert. That said, the music mode only works through the iOS app – there’s no microphone on the lamp itself – and even then, you’ll need to queue songs using the app. Considering you can buy a hardware musical interface for a strip of 5 metre RGB LEDs that are brighter and work with your existing music system for $30, this is a little underwhelming.

holi smart lamp

Lastly, there’s a Wake Up mode, which acts like a sunrise alarm. There’s only 4 different scenes that can be selected here, none of which can be previewed – it simply continues playing whatever scene was already programmed. When you hit “activation”, the Holi turns off. I presume this is designed to be done just before going to bed, but it’s somewhat limiting if you have to do this every night. The alarm also sounds on your iOS device at the designated time with a suitably relaxing bit of music – a different one for each alarm scene. It would be nice to preview these, but I’ve got to say I’ve really enjoyed being woken up by the Holi, and I’m not normally one to go for alarms. That said, putting together your own Arduino sunrise alarm Arduino Night Light and Sunrise Alarm Project Arduino Night Light and Sunrise Alarm Project Today, we'll be making a sunrise alarm clock, which will gently and slowly wake you without resorting to an offensive noise-making machine. Read More isn’t tough.

There is also a single switch on the front of the device; a single tap activates the lamp to the last scene that was programmed, even if the app is closed or your iOS device has disconnected. A second tap turns the lamp on full white brightness; a third at half brightness; and a fourth tap to turn it off again.

holi lamp review

Living With the Holi

Sadly, the software is just not up to par. Actually, that’s a ridiculous understatement. It sucks beyond anything you could imagine.

First, the Bluetooth connection is lost every day. The app is unable to reconnect automatically, so you need to go back into the settings screen of your iOS device, then reconnect, then switch back to the app. Now, this could be a hardware compatibility issue, but I doubt it since I have a third generation iPad. Second, even after reconnecting Bluetooth, the scene selection and other functions are inactive until you “turn on” the lamp using the initial on/off screen. It seems patently obvious to me that if the lamp wasn’t on and you touched a scene selection, you want it to turn on to that scene. You can’t even set the alarm unless the lamp is first activated.

holi lamp review

Lastly, the sunrise alarm function is a pathetic afterthought, when it should have been a primary feature. Only once was I actually able to get the alarm sound to work; on every subsequent night of the two weeks I tested the device, the notification just failed. The light came on, but the sound from the iPad did not, and no notification was triggered. That’s a pretty fundamental flaw, but even more annoyingly is the fact that your alarm time isn’t remembered each night. You heard me right – you actually have to set the alarm every night before going to be, because presumably your life is just so random that you don’t have any sense of structure at all, waking up at a different time each day. Whatever you do, don’t rely on this to actually wake you up in the morning.

There’s also some other promised features yet to materialise, like the “smart” lamp timer:

(Instructions to set automatic on times) Open holî’s app and go to the “smart” page. Two, select at what time your holî shall start and at what time your holî should stop. Three, enjoy your holidays. (feature available Q4 2013)

Is It Worth The Money?

holi smart lamp review

There’s really only so far technology can take the humble lamp, and the Holi tries so hard – yet fails so spectacularly. Aside from the chunk of metal, I could build one that’s twenty times the brightness for a quarter of the price, and $100 to outsource and app developer who would probably be competent enough to make an alarm that actually remembers the time you set.

But to address the most important question: is it pronounced Holy or Holly? Who knows!

MakeUseOf recommends: Don’t bother – this is overpriced and dysfunctional crap.

How do I win the Holi Smart Mood Lamp?

You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.

After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.

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This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, March 7. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.

The Winner

Congratulations, Keith Wolstenholme! You would have received an email from jackson@makeuseof.com. Please respond before March 16 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

  1. Morrison
    March 8, 2014 at 7:01 am

    This would depend on how it compared with the features and functionality of other options (which I am currently unaware of). Hopefully the company will release fixes to the iOS app to remove the annoyances James outlined, as the device's feature set is otherwise cool.

  2. VIRGINIA WEAVER
    March 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I WOULD DEFINETLY BUY THE MOOD LAMP IF I HAD THE MONEY. IT IS THE COOLEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN AND MY OLDEST DAUGHTER WOULD JUST LOVE IT!

  3. Francesco Fiorino
    March 5, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I'd choose it only for 20€, not 200€!!

  4. Shannon M
    March 4, 2014 at 4:44 am

    I wouldn't spend $200 on something that doesn't work like it's supposed to, plus, I own Android devices, not i-stuff!

  5. Hugo P
    March 2, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    For $200, no thank you!

  6. Jaafar Husin
    March 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I probably would buy this lamp. It looks cool and would be great in the house.

  7. Bill
    March 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I'll take a free one if you don't mind.

  8. Sam K
    March 2, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Holi Lamp looks good. Not aware of any other similar product

  9. Sandi Gules
    March 2, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Looks interesting

  10. Anonymous
    March 2, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Looks interesting

  11. ciel harvey
    March 2, 2014 at 8:02 am

    I dont think id buy it, i do like the look of it though,

  12. Abdelrahman El-Feky
    March 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    No. Philips Hue system.

  13. Milos D
    March 1, 2014 at 8:22 am

    For this price, no!

  14. Keith W
    February 27, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Probably not. The Philips Hue system looks interesting.

    • Evelyn C
      February 28, 2014 at 1:23 am

      No I sure wouldn't pay that price until they worked out all the kinks. I would take one for free however.

  15. Simone Marroni
    February 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    If it was cheaper it could be a nice gift

  16. jose benavides
    February 27, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I would be very interested in this lamp.. I want it

  17. Igor S
    February 26, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Yes

  18. Edna W
    February 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I would not buy for the price.

  19. Dana R
    February 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I like it but it is a little pricey

  20. Richard
    February 26, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    For free? Definitely!!!

  21. Beh H
    February 26, 2014 at 11:10 am

    No, but if it is free, I will get this.

  22. DAN J
    February 26, 2014 at 12:28 am

    No I would not buy this for $200... I'm not in the mood. :)

    Free... OK ...but why?

  23. Rick
    February 25, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Not at $200, I can get LEDs for less and a sound module that will alternate colors for me. It would be a Nice Gimick-Lamp to win. Great review by the way!

  24. Marcelo
    February 25, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Sure yes!

  25. Vitaliy P
    February 25, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    I dont now )

  26. jlp
    February 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Nice conversation piece.

  27. Jasmin
    February 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Probably not with the price like that.

  28. Denis K
    February 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    no I do not think

  29. Debbie Hall
    February 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I love mood lighting and really need one cuz my psych meds no longer work, LOL!

  30. Nicole H
    February 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I want to win an overpriced and dysfunctional crap please!

  31. Adly A
    February 25, 2014 at 11:49 am

    No, thank you.

  32. Luis Miguel Zumaeta
    February 25, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Wouldn't buy it for $200. I'd be better of with a lava lamp.

  33. Kendall B
    February 25, 2014 at 5:23 am

    I wouldn't waste my money on a lamp, but will be extremely grateful if I win.

  34. John D
    February 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

    I said no way

  35. Junil M
    February 25, 2014 at 4:49 am

    No, not interested in mood lamps much. i thought this just looks good.

  36. JeffC
    February 25, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Umm. Nooo! You might have to pay me to take this one if I happen to win it! With my luck I probably will!

  37. Denis K
    February 25, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Nope, but would love to win 1 :P

  38. Jo-anne P
    February 25, 2014 at 1:18 am

    What an entertaining review! loved it. Heck no I would not buy it but free that is a different story. Love the blue cable it will go well with my printer cable of the same colour (must have been a sale on the dye). Thanks for keeping us informed and in this case entertained.

  39. magykmaster
    February 25, 2014 at 12:32 am

    I would get smart light bulbs

  40. Julian
    February 24, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    No, not really. I'd probably get one of those cool water lamp speaker things though!

  41. ?????? ?
    February 24, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Yes! I will pick smart connected lighting!

  42. Dan D
    February 24, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    No way, much too expensive for a color changing lamp/light.

  43. Va D
    February 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Probably not. That's a pretty expensive s*x lamp. I can buy a light bulb with a remote for less than $10 that does the same thing.

  44. Stephen G.
    February 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    The review certainly hasn't convinced me to buy a Holi Smart Lamp. I'd rather buy some interesting pieces from Adafruit and assemble something on my own.

  45. Dave Wells
    February 24, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I wouldn't purchase the Holi lamp due to being poor value for money. Seeing as this is my introduction to smart lighting I would choose the Holi lamp.

  46. Daniel
    February 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    No.

  47. moorandro
    February 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    If the price is lower then of course....

  48. Dmitriy S
    February 24, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Nope

  49. Serg
    February 24, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    No, I would not buy this product

  50. Gord
    February 24, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    No, after reading your review I will not buy one. I don't use mood lighting.

  51. Matthew W
    February 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Would not buy Holi or other mood lamps. I just like to win stuff.

  52. Jaime B
    February 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    I would buy one if they lowered the price. Thank you:)

  53. Stephen
    February 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I would not buy this particular lamp. The reviews don't seem to great for it. Honestly, I would not go out looking for a mood lamp, but wouldn't mind one if I got one.

  54. Jennifer Bay
    February 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    If it was cheaper i may buy

  55. effe
    February 24, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    i'll have it

  56. MarkTGT
    February 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I would consider it if it was Android compatible. If I win, I would give it to one of my Apple using daughters.

  57. Jón
    February 24, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    No, I would not buy this product and if I win I will give it to someone I dont like!

  58. Tejash C
    February 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Definitely NO! I don't like to spend on lamps.

  59. Mihir C
    February 24, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Given the current price, I would definitely not buy one! I'm not much a lamp guy!

  60. Eric R
    February 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    nope would not buy the mood lamp

  61. Louis C
    February 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Way, way too expensive !!! But .......... if it's free, it's for me !!!!

  62. Dany B
    February 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Yes, I would buy one but after some other stuff I want to buy first.

  63. Nabil Z
    February 24, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I don't think so, 200€ i'd rather buy a cheap android tablet than used as a lampe!!!

  64. Victor O
    February 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Yes, I would buy the mood lamp.

  65. ?????? ?
    February 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Yes, I would buy the mood lamp.

  66. Aman Kumar
    February 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Its better to use Philips led lamps

  67. Mandip D
    February 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I have no idea about mood lamps :P

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