Before I start in on this charming little LED Egg, let me just say that the box it came in was absolutely infuriating. Every single component was wrapped in what can only be described as cardboard origami that was an absolute bitch to extricate it from. The egg (for I refuse to call it anything but – just look at the thing) is itself quite a bit bigger than I would have expected from pictures – usually, when you read “portable” as an adjective describing an item, you expect it to fit in your pocket. But in this case, “portable” means “a seven-inch tall, four-inch wide textured white egg that kind of sort of fits in your hand, if you’ve the hands of Kawhi Leonard.”
Now that we’ve gotten my signature ramble out of the way, we can actually talk about the Elgato Avea Flare. As mentioned above, the Flare is advertised as a Portable Mood Light. I’m not sure what, exactly, that phrase means beyond the scope of the literal definition of the words that comprise it, but I can say that I’ve found very little practical use for the thing, though it is a rather entertaining little piece.
After you get past the copious amount of cardboard packaging, the process of setting up the Flare gets significantly easier. Pairing is simple – you just turn on the egg, download the Avea App from the Play Store, place your phone close to the egg…voila. Paired and ready to create moods – portably (that’s probably not a word. I don’t care). A slight beef, though; having the egg pair simply by connecting to the closest phone seems kind of insecure – perhaps some interface within the app to manage devices that can control the egg would be more efficient and secure. A hard pair using Bluetooth would also make it easier to stay connected to the app, which has a tendency to lose pairing when you move to a different app.
In-hand, the Avea is really light; the textured, soft white exterior almost feels cheap when combined with the lightness of the egg, but the IP65 rating slapped on the sucker seems to imply that it’s at least moderately resistant to ingress. There are two buttons on the bottom of the egg – Power and Mode. The former, obviously, powers the Flare on, which, even when dimmed, will allow you to command it with your smartphone. The latter button, meanwhile, will either dim or brighten the current color of the egg – something that can also be done from the app itself – or dim it to black altogether. While both buttons have a rubberized feel and a solid click to them, I wish there were LEDs within the buttons to let you know what state each is in.
Also on the bottom of the Flare is a wireless charging contact, which lets you painlessly charge the egg by dropping it on the included wireless charging pad. When it’s not charging the egg lasts up to eight hours on a single charge, which isn’t bad at all. A convenient hanging hook is hinged to the base, which is at once very useful and also not very well-designed. It doesn’t sit flush with the egg bottom, which is rather annoying.
The actual quality of the light is quite good – bright, vivid colors from all across the spectrum set any mood you could possibly want, though the brightness of the egg is, predictably, not particularly bright. If the mood you’re going for is “a well-lit room,” you’ll probably fail in setting that tone. Transitions between brightness and shades is at once smooth and slow – I wish it was a bit faster, personally. The app has a number of preset color profiles: Magic Hour, Cherry Blossom, Calm Provence, Mountain Breeze, among others – including a rather useful “Wake-Up Light” that slowly brightens your room at a specified time and uses your phone to play sounds or music at increasing volumes to wake you up. It’s a nice touch, but I’d like to see a scheduling option.
And on that note, I’d love to have seen Elgato integrate a speaker into this little bad boy – how better to set a mood than to be able to play music to go with your light and to have the light react to the change in tempo and pitch? I feel like this addition would make the Flare significantly more worthy of the $99.95 retail price – though that price without the speaker isn’t terribly exorbitant.
The app a ridiculously simple affair with relatively few options – all you can really do is pick one of the pre-configured profiles or a solid color, and modify the vividness and brightness. I’d have loved to see the ability to create your own profile – and choose the pace and brightness of a number of colors the egg cycles through. The app can connect to multiple Avea products, and shows the battery life of each device right in the device list.
On the whole, the Elgato Avea Flare performs exactly as you’d expect it to – it’s an LED-powered egg with a couple unique features that set it apart, and for those features, you pay a bit of a premium.