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Friday, January 10, 2014, 12:33 pm PT (03:33 pm ET)

First look: MiPow PlayBulb, an iPhone-connected Bluetooth light bulb & speaker

One of the more unique products at this year's Consumer Electronics Show is the MiPow PlayBulb, a device that integrates both an LED lightbulb and a Bluetooth speaker into one iPhone-connected accessory. AppleInsider offers a first look.

PlayBulb


Brian Holmes, vice president and general manager of MiPow, explained that the PlayBulb is a Bluetooth 4.0 lightbulb with music. It actually includes two separate Bluetooth chips in it, so that it can use machine-to-machine profiles, allowing the light and music to use the correct Bluetooth profiles simultaneously.

The device has 80 LED lights at the top, which creates enough light to be equivalent with a standard 60-watt bulb.

Holmes told AppleInsider that the goal of the PlayBulb was to "blend into the background," whether the device is being used in a patio or a dorm room. The combination device allows for both convenience and space savings, allowing people to listen to music from a speaker that's doesn't exactly stand out.

The PlayBulb is the first of a series of products being planned by MiPow. The company says it plans to offer new options with various colors and form factors in the future.

PlayBulb


The PlayBulb's design has radiating audio out of the side of the device — the company said this gives the bulb the best audio quality, while also allowing the device to work with a larger range of light fixtures, such as lampshades and ceiling fans.

PlayBulb is not meant to be a user's primary stereo system, but we believe the accessory does make sense for use where background music may be desirable, but setting up speakers could be a hassle.

A dedicated application allows the PlayBulb to be used as an alarm clock, playing music and gradually increasing the light. The device supports iOS and handsets running Android 4.3.X and newer.

At this time we noticed that PlayBulb does not permit controlling multiple lights for multiple room schemes. Currently, each Bulb is turned on or off individually, but MiPow promises that multi-room controls are coming in the future.

The PlayBulb will retail for $79, and is expected to launch this quarter alongside the official application on the iOS App Store.