Every now and again a tech idea comes along that makes you stop and say "why didn't I think of that?" The Scott Luminor wireless speaker system is one of those ideas. It's an iPod dock that uses wireless light bulbs with built-in speakers to generate sound. Yep, that's right: the Scott Luminor uses existing household light fixtures to build a sound system.
Scott Luminor: How it works
The concept of the Scott Luminor is fairly simple. The product consists of a compact iPod dock with built-in wireless transmission. The wireless communicates with the built in LED light bulb speaker, which screws into the popular E27 connection: many Australian households use this type of light bulb connection, so the Scott Luminor should be compatible with a wide range of dwellings. In addition to fixed fittings, the wireless lamp speaker is also compatible with many lamps.
The Scott Luminor dock is one of the more compact iPod dock's we've seen. It has a nice gloss white finish and we like the four rubber feet on the bottom, which prevents it slipping when place on a flat surface. The dock is designed for iPod and iPhone devices, but an auxiliary input on the rear means it will work with any device that has a standard headphone jack. We tested it with both an iPhone 4S and a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and it worked the same on both devices. The Scott Luminor dock also has a USB port and an SD card slot on the right side, so it will play music on these devices, too.
Scott Luminor: Setup
The Scott Luminor wireless speaker system is fairly easy to set up. You simply plug the dock into a AC power, screw in the supplied wireless lamp speaker into the light fitting of your choice, and insert the supplied AAA batteries into the included remote control. The package comes with one included wireless speaker and it's automatically paired to the dock out of the box.
We were supplied an extra wireless lamp speaker for our review which provides stereo sound. However, any additional speakers need to be manually paired to the dock. This is an annoying process which involves using a paperclip or sharp object to press the pair button on the dock when it is in standby mode, waiting for the lights on the dock to flash, and then use the same object to press the pair button on the speaker within 60 seconds. Although you only have to pair this once, we wish it was a simpler process. The Scott Luminor system can support up to seven light bulb speakers simultaneously.
Scott Luminor: Sound quality
Once you've paired any additional wireless speakers, using the Scott Luminor is as easy as turning on the dock, plugging in your music source of choice and turning on your light or lamp. The wireless light speakers need their power source to work, but if you don't want the light on you can use a button on the remote control to either dim (two settings) or turn off the lights and still have music playing. The LED lights — 85 of them in each wireless speaker — are very bright and are rated to last more than 30,000 hours. The Luminor dock has a range of about 30 metres, though we found it closer to 25 when we tested the device.
Sound quality is admittedly below average. The speakers only have a power output of 20W each, so they are fairly small. If you're expecting the Scott Luminor to potentially replace a dedicated home theatre or sound system, you'll be left disappointed. With this system its more about convenience than sound quality. We found it perfectly suitable at low volumes, but if you're after blaring, loud music then the Luminor isn't for you. It noticeably distorts at high volume levels and bass reproduction is poor. To enhance bass, Scott will sell an optional wireless subwoofer ($149) from February 2012.
Considering its below average sound, the Scott Luminor is quite an expensive package. It costs $249 for the dock and a single light bulb speaker, but additional lights are an extra cost at $110 each. You'll definitely need at least two to make this system even remotely worthwhile. Creeping up to $400, you start to get in the price range of quality iPod speaker docks that will give you much better sound.