Alexa is everywhere and has even started showing up in non-Amazon devices. By moving the voice assistant out of speakers or puck-like devices and into a fridge, for example, it becomes a feature of something you already use, rather than an object taking up space on the credenza. The first Alexa-enabled lamp, C by GE Sol, is available today, so you can get your weather updates and morning alarms (and all of Alexa’s other tricks, like smart-home control) from your bedside light.
The lamp’s base looks a bit like a taller Dot. Inside are the microphone and speakers. The ring lights up in various shades of white, going from crisp white to more yellow tones. You can set it to wake you up with the brighter color and switch to the more muted one at night. In addition, blue and red dots chase one another around the inside of the ring, indicating the time.
There are several controls on the lamp’s base: one for muting Alexa, another for turning on the lamp, and two each for turning up and down the volume and brightness. You’ll have to set up scenes (like “wake” and “movie time”) in the app, and then you can ask Alexa to adjust the Sol accordingly. You can also say, “Alexa, turn my Sol light to warm.” But don’t say, “Alexa, make the Sol light warm,” or she won’t understand you.
We tried out a demo version of the lamp and app. It functioned much like any other Alexa product, but it did give a visual representation — via its glowing inner ring — when we set a timer. To set it up, you’ll have to either link it to an existing Alexa account or create a new one. When it’s all done, it will tell you, “Your Sol is ready.” Hooray?
One big drawback of any non-Amazon Alexa device is it won’t have the “ESP feature.” If you have two Dots or an Echo and a Show, these devices will use their microphones to determine which you’re closest to, and only that one will respond. We found our Dot and Sol would both answer our questions and try to play music when we were in close of proximity to both.
At $200, the Sol is a bit more expensive than the Echo, but it’s also a cool-looking lamp. If you want Alexa to be a bit more functional and don’t have any nearby voice-assistant devices that will interfere with it, just let your Sol glow.