AppLights Projection Spotlight programmable Christmas lights

AppLights Projection Spotlight: Inexpensive, App-Controlled Christmas Lighting

Electronics Gadgets Hacking the Holidays Reviews
AppLights Projection Spotlight programmable Christmas lights
AppLights Projection Spotlight in action (Photo by Brad Moon)

It’s holiday decorating season and as I do every year, I was keeping my eye out for interesting outdoor lights. I’ve been quite happy with connected lights like the Philips Hue series and when we saw the AppLights Projection Spotlight at Home Depot, we thought we’d give it a try to supplement our usual assortment of LED Christmas lights for the front of the house. Here’s how it’s worked out.

The AppLights Projection Spotlight is a multifaceted globe-style light mounted on a stake. It has a Bluetooth connection and a free app for iOS and Android that offers a combination of 140 effects between changing colors and themes.

This is what the promotional photo shows:

Applights: what they say it looks like
AppLights promo shot (Image copyright AppLights)

It looked like a great idea for adding some colorful lighting to the front half of the house that lacks Christmas lights. We didn’t want razor-sharp laser points all over the place, more of a multi-color kaleidoscopic effect with a little motion, so this was about right.

Setup was easy, although the app does take some experimentation. It’s complicated enough that it has both a tutorial mode and a built-in user guide.

And this is what it looks like in real life:

AppLights, what you really get
AppLights, the reality (Photo by Brad Moon)

It’s not quite up to the sample photo, but it’s not bad especially when there’s no background light coming from those basement windows. A little snow would have helped, too, but we haven’t had any in the past few weeks.

The projector isn’t all that high powered, so there’s virtually nothing to be seen until it’s fully night. And if you have bright lights nearby, they’re going to diminish the visibility of the AppLights projection. There’s also the issue of security. As in there isn’t really any. Anyone with a supported Bluetooth device and the AppLights app who comes into range could theoretically take control of the projector, at least if my wife’s phone has released its connection. It’s not like they can use it to project porn on the side of the house or anything, but they could mess with the colors and effects.

The AppLights system is expandable (including icicle lights, C9 light strings and candy cane lights) and having more components synchronized would undoubtedly add to the effect.

In general, the AppLights Projection Spotlight is kind of “meh,” at least on its own. It’s far from spectacular, but at 60 bucks I wasn’t expecting all that much. And it does offer a way to project a little holiday cheer onto areas where it would be a pain (not to mention more expensive and time-consuming) to install strings of Christmas lights. We might switch it to a green mottled effect and it put it in the back yard shining up into a tree in the summer — if that works and the projection spotlight’s programmability makes it effectively a year-round, multi-purpose light, then it’s totally worth it.

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