Time2 Direct wifi lighting

Time2 is a UK based company, fairly new to the smart device scene. Its wifi home lighting kit caught our eye for testing as it offered the white AND coloured light combination available from the smart tech big hitters like Philips, but without quite such an eye-watering price tag.

Obviously cheaper is sometimes a long way from better in technology, so we wanted to see if Time2 lighting provided some genuine competition in this market.

Our rating:   5/10

Amazon rating:  4.8 out of 5 stars, however there are currently too few reviews on Amazon for us to consider this a reliable rating.

Verdict:

The Time2 wifi home lighting demonstrated great reliability, during our tests we didn’t once lose our connection to the bulbs which is a big plus for the essential functionality of smart lights.

However, Time2 does have a couple of downsides. It is let down by its app functionality which is pretty limited when compared with other smart lighting kits, however we were able to edit the timer and alarm programmes remotely which gets a big tick for Time2.

The colour wheel provided good novelty value, but while the bulbs themselves looked good, when in use they felt a long way short of the 64 million colours that Time2 claim they offer, and are really missing out on their inability to adjust along the 100%-white-to-100%-colour range as other colour lighting can do.

Time2 lighting has an eye-catching price tag when compared with other smart coloured lighting systems but ultimately we think it would benefit from continued development to compete with other leading brands of coloured smart lighting.

The makers were impressively quick to respond to any issues though and based on this we would be optimistic that they may also be quick to implement improvements to these lights in the areas they are falling short. We’ll watch with interest.

Pros

Extremely reliable connection once set up

Offers both white and coloured light

Simple to operate

Alarm setting steadily raises brightness

Allows remote editing of timers/alarms

Cons

Took ages to establish the initial link

Lighting range feels limited

Only one timer can be set per bulb

Cables in pack are too short/no plug provided

No geofencing option

Review score summary:

Ease of set-up (test 1) 2/10
Ease of set-up (test 2) 6/10
Effectiveness 6/10
Simplicity of use/app 5/10
Did it make life easier? 5/10
Value for money 6/10

Want the full low down on the Time2 Direct lighting kit? Read all about it here:

Oh, where to begin. Initially, the kit and instructions seemed beautifully straight forward. However I hit some issues pretty quickly that dampened my optimism.

The full gory details are below, but if you want the short version, here it is: there were more than a few issues getting this system set-up including extra bits of kit you’ll probably need, cables that are too short and general connectivity problems but I eventually got the blighter to work – however it’s safe to say that by that point my relationship with the lights was seriously frosty. Want the full car-crash version? Read on…

Glancing through the original instruction manual that came with the box it was apparent that there was no mention at all of the bulbs. When do I screw them in? When do I switch on the power? Do I add both together? Or set up one then the other? Given that the timing of connecting the bulbs has been a critical factor in the other smart lighting systems we have tested I was already anticipating problems down the line.

Secondly, the instructions require that you plug the bridge into a power supply via the USB cable provided – unfortunately the adapter plug that the USB cable plugs into does not come with the kit, so unless you happen to have a spare one knocking around or are happy to never charge your phone again, you’d have to get back online and buy one…which would be pretty annoying.

Having tracked down an old charger plug and made the executive decision to leave the installation of the bulbs to the end of the set-up, I got started.

At which point issue number three exposed itself rather unpleasantly. You need to plug your smart bridge into both a power supply and directly to your router, however the router-to-bridge cable that comes in the box is a grand total of 26cm long, which coupled with the regular USB cable length, means that if your router is more than a whisker away from a power supply you will also need to add an extra long USB cable, or a replacement router/bridge cable to the USB adapter plug already in your Amazon shopping cart from before.

To make life even more tricky, our bridge wouldn’t work when it was plugged into an extension lead (ours has surge protection), only when plugged directly into the wall meaning we had to unplug a load of other devices in order to make way for the bridge.

Having relocated the router, stolen my other half’s phone charger plug and unplugged half of the electrical devices in my living room, I added the bulbs at the end of the process and crossed my fingers.

Nothing.

So I started over, with the bulbs in from the start of the process.

Still nothing.

Okay, time to hit the internet for some help. I eventually found a new set of instructions that Time2 themselves created, presumably to fill the gap left by the original instruction manual after a stream of customer queries.

This guide is far more comprehensive, giving step by step instructions along with useful images to visually demonstrate the process. Much better.

Having followed every step, I switched on the lights on the app (the final step) and waited for the green flashing light that signalled a connection between my phone and the light bulb…

But once again, nothing. Grrr.

I repeated this process, from scratch another three times, trying the other bulb, then in a different light fitting, and finally via a different phone. Still nada, zip.

The team at Time2 had emailed me after I made the purchase telling me to contact them directly if I have any issues with my bulbs, so I duly did. They responded impressively fast albeit by sending me the link to the second set of instructions that I’d already found, but beyond that could only suggest I return the bulbs so they could check they weren’t faulty.

I finally conceded defeat and left the bridge and bulbs in ready for removal and return to sender the next day.

In the morning, in a bout of renewed optimism, I tried the final step of the set-up instructions one more time – doing exactly the same thing as I had the previous day – on one of the bulbs that I’d left connected to the bridge overnight – and hey presto, green flashing light. I put the second bulb into a lamp and it worked first time too.

As my 6 year old said, “maybe they just wanted to get to know each other before they started working together first?”

This leaves us struggling to award many ease of set-up marks for our first test. The two we gave are for the in-depth instructions given in the second user manual – unfortunately this wasn’t the one that came in the box – though maybe it will be in the future.

2 out of 10.

However, it should be noted that we wanted to give Time2 a second chance as individual home circumstances can throw up issues that aren’t the norm, so we tested it again in a different Wifi Pad, with completely different, and far smoother results….

Our second attempt at setting up Time2 lighting in a new location was a completely different kettle of fish. This time it connected straight away, with no delays at all and absolutely none of the connection issues experienced in our first test. So while our issues with the instructions, the missing plug and the cable length still stand, the rest of the set-up was good.

There aren’t a huge number of reviews on Time2 lighting so far online so it’s hard to tell which of our two set-ups is the norm, but one customer who responded to an I enquiry left online regarding set-up said “It took me ages before I got them to work. …was about to send back and gave it one more try and bingo.” So maybe this is not such an unusual occurrance?

6/10 for this set-up attempt.

For the sake of our overall review score we will use the average of our two Ease of set-up scores: 4/10.

Given our rocky start I was not overly optimistic about these lights, but I must admit that immediately switching over to the colour light setting and basking in a bright blue glow that I like to call ‘ice cave ambience’ before switching to ‘hot pink aura’ via ‘green goddess mood’ made me really quite happy and the kids actually broke into some dancing in their colour-saturated elation.

I entertained myself playing around with the colours for a while, until my other half walked in and asked why I was sitting in a living room that was lit up like the touristy bit of Amsterdam? And with that, the illusion was shattered and I struggled to find any coloured light that didn’t just seem odd. Either too dim, too lurid, or too ‘school disco’.

Sadly, what I’d imagine is the most useful colour light range: white with an adjustable tint of colour to allow for subtle mood lighting, was not an option. It was either plain white (variable from warm white to bright white) OR full on red/orange/yellow/blue – nothing in between.

The lights are dimmable meaning you can increase or decrease the brightness of the light, which is good for the white light range, but you can’t adjust the colour saturation along the range from 100% white up to 100% colour which would allow for a less extreme lighting situation.

But if you like to be saturated in colour, then a big tick for the Time2 lights was that we had absolutely no issues with the connection (once it had been established) and were able to reliably control the lights remotely via a phone when away from the house.

6 out of 10.

The app ‘Kit4home’ is extremely simple to use, but some people may find it too limited in its range of options to tick all their boxes.

Aside from the two light wheels (white and colour) the app has a few other options:

  1. you can adjust the brightness of your bulbs from 1-100 (or 1-8 on the Android app);
  2. select night mode – which changes your current light to a minimum brightness, warm white;
  3. sleep mode – which steadily reduces the brightness before switching off entirely after 15 minutes;
  4. the alarm setting which switches your light on or off (depending on your starting point) at a preset time;
  5. a timer which allows you to set just one ‘on’ and one ‘off’ time for each bulb or group of bulbs – this is a long way short of the multiple timers and rules you can set with other brands.

While it delivers the basics adequately, the app is far more limited than other brands we have tested. In this area at least, you are getting what you pay for.

Like other smart lighting sets we have tested, Time2 also struggled with dual control. We were able to get it responding to the app via two different phones, but when both devices had on/off rules set for the same light (albeit at different times) the lights didn’t respond at all.

While this isn’t the end of the world, if two people both programme an on/off timer for the same light-bulb on their different phones before going on holiday, they will inadvertently leave the house in a state where the light won’t come on at all.

5 out of 10.

The Time2 bulbs certainly tick the box for having a couple of simple, reliable, wifi controlled lights that you can easily programme to go on and off at a set time while you are on holiday, or if you don’t usually get home before dark. Convenient and useful.

However given that you are paying for the colour changing aspect with these light bulbs too I think there is room for improvement in the range of colours you can choose that will allow for subtle mood lighting rather than full on disco lighting.

As with all the smart lighting we tested, we found that having the bulbs installed in our main ceiling lights could be frustrating. While you can still flick your lights on and off at the mains in the usual fashion rather than rooting around for your phone every time you want to grab something from a room, this is likely to end in the situation where your lights are off at the mains leaving you unable to adjust them remotely when you need to. However, when used in secondary lighting, we found them far more useful and convenient to use.

5 out of 10.

While the price of the Time2 wifi lighting is pretty eye-catching for a colour changing, dimmable, smart lighting set, especially when compared to other colour smart lighting sets, ultimately, the lower price inevitably brings a more limited functionality.

Time2 haven’t cut corners aesthetically, we thought the bulbs were among the more attractive on the market which is preferable if they are going to be visible in your light fitting.

The lights work reliably – which is a big tick given some other brands’ inability to get this consistently right, and they deliver the basics perfectly adequately, but if you want to realise the full potential of smart coloured lighting, in a range of colours that allow for more subtle mood lighting in your home, Time2 falls short of the functionality and performance offered by Philips Hue.

6 out of 10.