GE Cync full color Dynamic Effects smart light strip
pros and cons
- Easy integration with Alexa & Google
- Bright white light
- Individually controlled segments
- Music sync
- No hub required
- Not HomeKit-compatible
- Adhesive mount alone is weak
- Adds to Wi-Fi load
- Plastic coating attracts dust
more buying choices
GE Cync dove right into the world of smart lighting with the immersive and innovative Dynamic Effects line. And while the company is expanding the Dynamic Effects collection this spring, there are several products already available to light up your smart home.
The full-color Dynamic Effects smart light strip has become as much a part of my home office as my desk — and I mean that almost literally.
The light strip lines the back of a small desk where I edit my videos and it’s become part of my backdrop in YouTube videos for ZDNET.
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|Length||8 foot and 16 foot|
|Color changing||16 million colors|
|White temperature||2,000K – 7,000K|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 2.4GHz – Bluetooth|
|Extendable||Cuttable and extendable up to 32 foot|
|Compatibility||Amazon Alexa, Google Voice Assistant|
|Installation||Self-adhesive and/or included clips|
Why add LED light strips to your home
I haven’t met anyone who hates color-changing lights. Everyone in my house enjoys them, especially if you ask the people under six years of age.
And I can’t blame them: As a little kid in the early ’90s, I loved watching in awe as our Christmas tree lights changed colors before my eyes. I thought it was the coolest thing and have been longing for the same in my tree as a grown-up.
But ever since setting up a Christmas tree was added to my own set of adult responsibilities, I’ve always opted for the tamer all-white lights for fear that something too colorful would soon get boring.
It turns out I was wrong. After getting a GE Cync light strip for my home office, I will never go back to a black-and-white workplace again.
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These GE Cync Dynamic Effects light strips offer a white temperature range from 2,000K to 7,000K and up to 16 million colors, with preset and custom light shows in the Cync app, music syncing, automations, and compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, all through Wi-Fi, so no separate hub is required.
Setup and installation
When I opened the Dynamic Effects smart light strip from GE Cync, I was just expecting a good way to add some color or extra light to dark areas. I considered where to put it: Popular places include behind a TV, under or above kitchen cabinets, underneath bed frames, along crown molding, baseboards, or the edges of furniture, and behind monitors.
Finally, I decided to add the light strip to the place I spend most of my time: my home office. As a remote worker, it’s important to me to have the home office be a comfortable place. I keep many of my favorite things there: my iMac, a TV, and a tiny hairy roommate, which is my dog. I figured the colors from the light strip would do well as the backdrop to my videos, and maybe help set the mood when I need to focus.
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The Dynamic Effects smart light strip comes in two sizes, 8 feet and 16 feet, and is cuttable and extendable to up to 32 feet. I got the 16-foot light strip, which came with the power supply with a plug, reconnector wire, six mounting clips, and the installation guide in the box.
The strips are self-adhesive, so you just need to peel off the backing and stick them to a clean, dry surface (a cleaning wipe is included in the box). However, I found the adhesive lacking — I stuck the strip to a vertical surface, the back of my desk, and the strips began to peel off within a day of setting them up — so I believe a combination of the adhesive and included mounting clips is the best way to install. Since my desk has metal legs I couldn’t use the mounting clips, which require nails, so I had to DIY a solution with zip ties, which worked out.
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The strips have a plastic coating similar to silicone texture that is just opaque enough to diffuse the LEDs and blend the individual segments, but translucent enough that the brightness loss is minimal. This covering, however, is a dust magnet, so it’s a good idea to wipe the strips down if dust accumulates on them.
Syncing with the Cync app
These lights work with Wi-Fi, so while there is the plus that there’s no separate hub required, they do add to your router’s load, which is something to consider if you have a lot of devices connected to it.
You’ll need to get the Cync mobile apppowered by Savant, which is available for both iOS and Android. Once you download the Cync app and set up an account, you can add new devices, which only takes a minute or two.
Once I fixed the light strip to my desk and set it up with the Cync app, it was time to explore the different settings, customizations, and preset themes in the app.
Seeing the colors fill the walls took me right back to my childhood living room and warm, tropical Christmases. I found what I didn’t know I was looking for, all reflected in the memory and hankering to see color-changing lights before me. Sure, I have other kinds of smart lights all over, but I’d never bought a frivolous color-changing strip before, and it did something for me that different colors from bulbs, while fun, don’t do.
There’s that magic of whatever wistful yearning that clings to random things from your childhood — a smell, a place, a food — and, for me, it turns out, that nostalgia came with color-changing light strips.
Voice control and routines
The GE Cync smart light strips are consistent in performance, they don’t randomly drop off the Wi-Fi like other smart lights and, though the Cync app logs me out every now and then, other than that they work seamlessly with Amazon Alexa.
These light strips aren’t compatible with Apple HomeKit, just Google Assistant and Alexa, so I couldn’t use them in my iPhone’s Home app, which was a little disappointing but not uncommon. They’re also not Matter-compatible, as according to GE Cync’s director of Product Launch, Casey Klock, there won’t be retroactive Matter upgrades to existing products.
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Most of the time, I use these light strips with Alexa. I’ve set up routines for the strips along with a Roku smart bulb in my office, and I keep an Echo Dot on my desk. Telling Alexa that I need to focus, for example, sets the lights to a preset purple and blue theme; saying I’m in a meeting makes them red, to alert anyone who might walk into my office not to interrupt. When I say, “Alexa, I’m out” the office lights all turn off, giving my fuzzy roommate a break from my daily light circus.
Sync to music
This feature is pretty fun to have, even if it’s one I don’t use often. Music synchronization with compatible music apps is a common feature of smart LED strips; unusually, the GE Cync Dynamic Effects light strip uses a built-in microphone, so you can sync without linking a music source to the strip or buying a separate device.
One drawback of this approach is that the light strip will react to every noise that’s reasonably near or loud enough for the mic to pick up. The first time I set up music sync I thought my lights were glitching when they were just reacting to my steps on the wood floor. Still, this feature should make it easier to create an immersive experience.
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The GE Cync Dynamic Effects smart light strips are a great way to upgrade existing entertainment setups, and versatile enough to work in bedrooms and home offices. For the just-under $90 price tag you get 16 feet of well-built light strips that could compare to Philips Hue’s light stripswhich are $100 for 6 feet, and need a separate hub to unlock all the smart features.
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Though there are more affordable color-changing smart light strips on the market, these Dynamic Effects strips are backed by GE for dependability and seem durably constructed, with covered rather than exposed LEDs, and consistent performance with the Cync app. Those pros could rank them over cheaper options.
Though I’ve used this GE Cync Dynamic Effects smart light strip almost daily for the past couple of months, I still get a tinge of excitement when I turn it on each morning. Based on its construction, easy setup, and reliable performance, I would definitely buy more of these strips to put around my home.
The magic I felt when I started playing with these lights — the flashbacks to 1995 Christmas, with Gloria Estefan crooning in the background and surroundings with abundant flower-adorned rattan furniture in the heat of the tropics — was enough to win me over. And I’ll definitely try smart color-changing light strips for my tree come December.
It seems GE Cync is well on its way to a place alongside Nanoleaf and Philips Hue in the smart home market. The company’s new line of products should appeal to different types of consumers, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Cync.