C by GE Sol review: GE has transplanted Alexa’s brain into a funky lamp

C by GE Sol

The C by GE Sol ($200) is the first lamp I’ve seen that fully incorporates Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. If you can get past its 1950s sci-fi aesthetic, it could be a good addition to your smart home. This goes double if you also use C by GE smart bulbs.

I control 95 percent of my home’s indoor and outdoor lighting using Amazon Echos and Echo Dots, so I’m accustomed to the convenience that the Sol offers. (It’s pronounced “soul,” by the way, not “saul.” I used the latter pronunciation a few times, and Alexa kept hearing “salt.”) But in addition to letting you use voice commands to control the lamp’s brightness, the Sol also lets you use voice commands to change the color temperature of its outer white LED light ring, from a cool 6,500K to a warm 2,000K (the inner LED ring is reserved for visual feedback—more on that later).

The Sol doesn’t produce a lot of light, hitting just 550 lumens at its peak. The C by GE teams tells me this is about the equivalent of a 60-watt bulb inside a lampshade, but a lampshade directs the light from the bulb it surrounds. The Sol’s light ring diffuses everywhere and is concentrated nowhere. I didn’t find it sufficient to read a magazine by (it seems all the books I read nowadays are on a backlit Kindle).

sol living softwhite1

GE Lighting

I’m convinced the Sol is not the only light source in this photo. I found its 550 lumens much too dim to read by.

In addition to being a nearly complete Echo clone, the Sol has a built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth bridge. That enables you to use voice commands to also control any C by GE smart bulbs in your home—adjusting the brightness of the C-Life and C-Sleep and tweaking the color temperature of the C-Sleep. In addition to those features, the bridge enables you to control the Sol and C by GE bulbs remotely, as well as put them on schedules. Those improvements resolve some of the past criticism we’ve had of GE’s Bluetooth bulbs. Last May, GE announced a standalone bridge—the C-Reach—that will do the same thing if you have C by GE bulbs don’t want the Sol. GE intends to add HomeKit compatibility down the road.


  • What it’s like to use the C by GE Sol?
  • The Sol has no soul–for music
  • The C by GE app has gotten much better
  • Should you put a C by GE Sol in your home?

What it’s like to use the C by GE Sol?

As I mentioned earlier, LEDs line the Sol’s inside ring, too, but these are used only for visual feedback. Summon Alexa, and a series of blue dots will travel up the left and right sides of the inner ring until the entire ring is lit with them. When Alexa responds, the dots briefly shift to a grayish white and then back to blue before turning off by traveling back down the left and right sides of the ring.

The inner ring has other functions, which you can enable and disable using the C by GE app. Mute the Sol’s microphone, and the inner ring glows red, just as Amazon’s own smart speakers do (although the Sol’s much larger size makes it look as though there’s an emergency in your house). Ask Alexa to set a timer, and the inner ring will light up with grayish dots that disappear as the timer counts down. When the timer is up, you’ll hear the familiar Alexa chime. If the Sol encounters a communication problem, the inner ring glows yellow.

sol timer