The lava lamp was invented by “entrepreneur and nudist Edward Craven Walker in 1963”, the internet says, which is perhaps why it has a slightly disreputable association. No such issues should face the Moonside Neon Lighthouse, which while it can be thought of as a modern lava lamp has a sleek, modern look to it.
Rather than paraffin wax heated by a bulb, the Lighthouse is powered by an array of LEDs to create a plethora of colors. The light output is impressive, and the colors are vibrant and varied.
Moonside describes it as the most dynamic smart lamp around and playing with it for a while it’s hard to disagree. The LED strip is encased in a light-diffusing material surrounded by a white plastic shell – and the result is a bright and colorful light that offers an impressive array of effects, all of which are easily accessible via the accompanying app. My favorite feature though is that Lighthouse responds to music thanks to a built-in microphone. Party on, dudes!
The lamp is powered by a large white plug that connects to a small controller – it is this that contains the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi gubbins, and it offers hardware controls to change brightness, switch between themes, and an on and off switch. While the light itself is well made the controller is plasticky and perhaps not as sturdy as it should be. I was sent two lamps, but sadly, one of the controllers was DOA. That sort of thing can happen though, and Moonside was quick to send another controller out in the post to get me going again. I also found that the large plugs made it hard to place the Lighthouse in my dark cinema room so extension cables for more discreet placement may be required.
Unlike my rather chunky and dated lava lamp, the Lighthouse is slender. It’s just 35cm/14in high and one could easily see a longer version being popular.
Set up via the app was straightforward and from there you can choose from a selection of simple single-color presents, such as Energetic or Relax, or use a color wheel to play with it manually. The app even lets you manually address the 90 individual addressable zones, so if you want to spend ages creating your own exact look for your lamp, you can. Life’s too short though, and I was happy to use the presets.
My favorites though were the built-in ones designed for reacting to music. The microphone responds best to low frequencies so pulses impressively to drumbeats, but is less effective with say, classical music. Set up four of these in each corner of a room using Dancing Red though, and you’d create a convincing club vibe.
You can also control the Lighthouse via a smart speaker. Set up here is a tricker in that it has to be set to “Wi-Fi Cloud” rather than direct control over Bluetooth, and then link them to your smart speaker accounts – and then search for the speakers. This didn’t always kick in but after a bit of trial and error, I got it working.
I found that both Google Assistant and Alexa struggled to hear the default name of “Moonside” so you might want to rename it. I could only use Alexa to turn the lights on or off – I had no luck getting it to change to a particular color or preset – hopefully that side of things will get a bit more polish in future updates. Another feature Moonside says is incoming is Homekit support, but with the restrictions that Apple puts in place, I do wonder if that will come to pass.
As of writing the Neon Lighthouse is £109/$123.90 for two and I’d certainly factor in the additional cost of the bases. While these are optional extras, they will enable you to stand it up on its end without having to worry about it toppling over if someone walks past or there is a gust of wind.
Overall, the Neon is a cool little light bar and I look forward to seeing the product continue to evolve.