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Govee StarPal Smart Lamp review: The take-it-anywhere portable light source

Govee StarPal Feature
Govee StarPal Smart Lamp review: The take-it-anywhere portable light source
MSRP $50.00
“The Govee StarPal Smart Lamp is a solid product marred by poor app design.”
Pros
  • Multiple scenes and color options
  • Portable thanks to battery power
  • Affordably priced
  • Vibrant colors
Cons
  • Antiquated app design
  • Feels fragile

Smart lamps seem like they’re a dime a dozen these days, but it’s tough to find quality — especially at an affordable price point. Smart lamps are perfect for creating ambience in a room, whether you’re watching a movie with your spouse or sitting down for a gaming binge.

Philips Hue kicked off the smart lamp boom with its Bloom Table Lamp and the Go Portable Light, but both of these smart lights are expensive, at $70 and $80 respectively. The newer Philips Hue Iris Table Lamp is $100 by itself. Govee offers a more affordable alternative: The Govee StarPal Smart Table Lamp, which starts at just $50. It packs all of the features you expect from a smart lamp into an attractive package.

Features and functions

I tested two different models of the Govee Table Lamp — the H6055 and H6058. The main difference between the two is that one is Bluetooth only, while the other is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible. The H6058, known asthe StarPal Pro Lamp, is the focus of this review because of its Wi-Fi compatibility.

A feature that immediately stood out is that these lamps are battery-powered. You can plug them in and use them all the time (and that’s the way I would recommend), but if you want to charge them up and take them on the go, you’ll get about six hours of battery life with the lights on full brightness from the 3350mAh battery. At 4.9 feet, the power cord is long enough that you won’t have to struggle to find an outlet for your lamp.

Govee StarPal Smart Lamp emitting pink light.

The lamps can display around 16 million different colors, as well as shift from warm white to cool white over the course of the day. Color temperatures range from 2,200K to 6,500K. These can be swapped at will through the app or through voice control.

The Wi-Fi lamp (but not the Bluetooth lamp) works with Alexa and Google. There are also IFTTT Govee applets that you can use to further control your lights, although the applets control the Govee Home app — not individual lights.

If you ever feel like an impromptu dance party, you can sync the lights to music. They will flash and change colors in time with the beat, and you have full control over how sudden the shift is thanks to a bevy of different options within the app. You can choose the source of the sound, from built-in music to your phone’s microphone.

Of course, the lights also come with the standard smart features: Scheduling, sleep/wake cycles, and more.

Setup and installation

The Govee StarPal Smart Lamp has two small feet that make it easy to place on any flat surface. Once you do, a physical button on the back is all you need to turn the light on for the first time. You’ll also need to press the button once while syncing the light to the app.

The Govee Home app walks you through the setup process. It isn’t difficult, but it does present a particular oddity: You have to manually enter the name of your Wi-Fi network and the password, rather than selecting your network from a list. If you haven’t renamed your network to something easy, I suggest doing so beforehand.

The setup process was fairly straightforward other than that one step. Alexa detected the new devices immediately and allowed me to add them to the Living Room Group without a problem.

Software and performance

As functional as these lights are, the app is terrible. Almost every time I open the app, it initially shows that the lights have been disconnected and makes me wait several seconds before it sees them again.

The lights can be turned on and off from the home section of the app, but that process takes two to three seconds. A little buffering wheel even appears on the app while it works. I expect a small amount of lag between my phone and smart devices, especially those working over Bluetooth, but the amount of time the Govee app takes just feels like too much. It’s far easier to control the lights (and receive faster feedback) through the Alexa app.

Aside from the strange lag in controlling the lights, the app does display a lot of information at a glance. It shows how the lights are connected (whether through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or both), the amount of charge each lamp has, and whether it is currently turned on or off.

Selecting any of the lights opens up further options. You can customize timers, change the color of the light, adjust its brightness, and change the mode. There are four different modes: Music, Color, Scene, and DIY. These modes are used to manipulate the effects on the lamp. There are more than 32 preset scenes to choose from, and some of them are pretty awesome. Others fell a little flat, with slow transitional effects or jarring color combinations that didn’t look good together.

The app presents you with an emotional color wheel, where each emotion is displayed alongside its corresponding color. If you are trying to create a specific mood in the room, this unique feature can help. It’s certainly not something I’ve seen before in other products.

Strangely enough, the Govee StarPal Pro responded to commands faster when manipulating individual lights than when turning it on or off from the home page. The app lets you group devices together for instant control through the Smarts section of the app, but it’s not intuitive at all.

The Govee app has a lot of interesting features, but it also has a lot of problems. The app itself needs refinement, and the controls need to be made more intuitive. I was able to figure out how much of it worked, but I would be concerned that someone who doesn’t work with smart home devices for a living might hit a wall.

Over on the performance side of things, the StarPal Pro is best reserved as an accent light because I wouldn’t necessarily say it has the strongest light for reading. Still, with so many color options and scenes to choose from, I absolutely love using it as an accent light to complement other main sources of light in a room. Lower-priced smart lights tend to be weak in terms of color production, but I’m happy to report that it produces rich, vibrant colors that help to set the mood.

Our take

The Govee StarPal Pro is a budget-friendly lamp that works great — provided you don’t use the Govee Home app. After you set the light up, use Alexa or Google Home to control the lights and you’ll be much happier. Control issues aside, the StarPal Pro is a great-looking light that creates ambience and atmosphere in your home.

The lamp is a solid device that suffers from poor app design. The good news is that if Govee updates the app to be more user-friendly, most of the issues I had with the lamp will go away. Just make sure you look for the Wi-Fi-compatible model, rather than the Bluetooth-only model. Let’s face it: No one wants a smart device that can’t be controlled remotely.

Are there any alternatives?

The Philips Hue Bloom is $70, but has the reputation and power of Philips behind it. On the less-expensive end the spectrum, you might consider the Amazon Echo Glow. Sure, it’s designed for kids, but it can create the same ambient effects and work as a wake-up light in the mornings, and all that for just $30.

How long will it last?

The Govee StarPal Smart Lamp is made of plastic. It’s incredibly lightweight and feels somewhat fragile. I had the impression that it would last a long time with proper care (and with LEDs, the lights aren’t likely to burn out anytime soon), but don’t expect it to survive a fall from a shelf. There’s a one-year limited warranty that covers defects.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Despite my complaints about the app, the lights themselves look great. The amount of control each light provides is impressive, and the $50 price point makes these lamps much more affordable than other options on the market.

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