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WinkBed with coolControl review: A comfortable bed with a frustrating app

Quality sleep is vital to good health, but if you’re sweaty or shivering from the cold, it’s hard to rest properly. The $3,499 WinkBed with CoolControl is designed to solve that problem, and enhance the comfort of your night’s slumber. This pricey mattress manages that thanks to an air-driven temperature control system. With it, you can dial up the heat, or cool things down to match your personal preferences. It offers independent control over two separate zones, too, so you can accommodate both yourself and your bed-sharing partner.

However, there are big problems with the WinkBed. The constant hum of its blower fans makes the mattress a poor choice for sleepers who prefer complete silence. It’s big and bulky, too, and towers over low-slung nightstands. Worse, WinkBed’s app control through Bluetooth is a train wreck. Most of the time it failed to connect to the bed. And if it eventually did, the connection didn’t last long. The WinkBed can’t track or analyze your sleep either. Nor does it communicate with other smart home products.

I suggest the Sleep Number 360 instead. You’ll spend more money on a Sleep Number model that’s similar to the WinkBed I reviewed ($4,100). But you’ll wind up with way more useful features the WinkBed can’t match. That list includes firmness and temperature control, along with sleep monitoring. To get a great smart bed value, consider the $1,798 Eight Sleep Mars+ (without its base). Not only does it track your sleep in detail. It also works with the most smart home products such as Nest and Alexa.    

More sleep than smarts

The WinkBed with CoolControl barely qualifies as a smart bed. Almost all of its technology resides in its temperature control system. A bulky control box sits on the ground besides the bed. Encased in dull gray plastic, the machine plugs into the CoolControl base, a thin platform for the mattress. The control box requires a wired link to another beefy box that houses a Bluetooth radio (hub). You need to plug both units into power outlets, too. 

All that adds up to a lot of junk (and wires) on the floor. You can slide these parts under the bed, as long as there’s at least 2 inches clearance (bed to floor). Keep in mind, the manual specifically advises that they “not be covered or near fabrics.” Both the control box and hub “must be in a well-ventilated area” as well.   

The WinkBed CoolControl system uses not one, but two bulky control boxes that sit on the floor.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Blower fans inside the base push air up into the mattress above. That air flows through the bed at four separate points, conveyed by plastic tubes. The control unit manages air temperature as well. You have three heating and cooling levels to choose from (low, medium, high). You can activate these modes directly through the control box, or with one of the two remotes (for each side of the bed) that come with the mattress.

The WinkBed comes with two remotes to control the temperature for each side of the mattress.


Chris Monroe/CNET

An app with issues 

What makes the WinkBed with CoolControl technically a smart mattress is its mobile app. Available for both iOS and Android devices,  the app provides command over the same WinkBed functions as the control box. Unfortunately, that’s not what I experienced.

When it’s working, the CoolControl app lets you select heating, cooling and air flow level for each side of the bed.


Brian Bennett/CNET

While I was able to link the CoolControl app (Android version) with the bed, the connection was unstable. My Google Pixel XL ($385 at Amazon.com) (first gen, Android 9 Pie) would link with the WinkBed’s Bluetooth module. Minutes later, sometimes just seconds, the app connection fell apart. The only way to repair it was to cycle power on the module (turn it off and on). I had to do the same with my phone’s Bluetooth radio. 

I tried to use the iOS version of the CoolConnect app, too. My experience here was even worse. Despite multiple attempts, I could not get my test iPhone 6S (iOS 11.4.1) to communicate with the WinkBed’s Bluetooth module.


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