PRODUCT REVIEW Gareth Poley
Philips have expanded the smart connected world of Hue, and Gareth has taken the new gear for a whirl.
After receiving the Hue starter kit from Philips, I took a look at their website to find out more about what had just come across my desk. I was intrigued to find out that the products I was unpacking were so much more than just light bulbs, but actually an electrifying product (pun intended) that I could control from my iPhone.
As I began to trial them, I found that I could use the lights to notify me with alarms, timers and alerts – imagine being reminded by your lights when your favourite TV show is on, or when dinner is ready... that is exactly what Philips Hue does for me now.
I can even set my new lights to alert me when I receive an important email, Now that’s smart!
I took the opportunity of a weekend away from home to try out Hue’s security and safety settings which help to keep our home more secure.
Before I left, I set the lights to come on in the evenings and then turn off and on at various times throughout the night to make it appear as though I was still there. This can be done automatically by setting a schedule before leaving home, or alternatively they can also be controlled remotely via a smart device.
Ease of use
I was expecting them to be a lot more complicated to set up, but it was actually really straightforward. Within minutes of unpacking them, they were all set up and ready to go.
It was as easy as 4 steps to setting up Philips Hue:
1. Replace bulbs in house with Philips Hue range and turn light switch(s) on. You can add up to 50 bulbs to the system.
2. Plug in any additional lights (e.g Bloom/LightStrips).
3. Connect bridge (supplied in starter pack) to router and plug in.
4. Open application on smart phone and follow prompt to push centre button on bridge to connect app to phone.
It’s that simple, and you’re now ready to experiment with shades of white from invigorating blue/white to a cosy yellow/white or play with a choice of over 16 million colours.
The Hue range is very responsive, lights turn on / change colour pretty much immediately as you touch the screen of your phone to control them.
Let’s just say the first time that I brought some friends in to show them, their jaws dropped and they were grinning like cheshire cats – I’d say these products impress, particularly when you use some of the third party apps developed for Hue. I tried out the Hue Party app which listens to your music and transforms it into a lightshow. When I first looked, there were already 84 third-party apps in the iTunes app store developed that can open up new possibilities with your Philips Hue products.
Some sensors would have been a nice inclusion in the starter pack that would turn on your lights as you enter a room and off as you leave rather than having to take your phone out each time to turn your lights on or off. Granted they do turn off when you leave home using GPS technology, but it could be nice if they could have an integrated solution for while you are at home and moving around the house.
A work around could be to buy a Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion and pair it up using the IFTT; I will explore this as an option.
I was also a little disappointed that they do not offer bayonet bulbs, and I am unsure of the reasoning for that. I have looked online and have seen that you can buy an adapter which allows you to connect an edison screw bulb into a standard household bayonet fitting, but it does make the bulb protrude out a lot further than normal.
Having said all of that, they do look very good; and the Bloom lamp is made from quality materials, is like a piece of art and a focal point in the room.
For what these products are offering, I would have expected that you would have needed a much larger initial outlay with a far more expensive connected home system, but their solution with the wifi technology and the intuitive app has just made it so accessible and at a very good price point for the starter kit and additional Bloom lamps.
The Hue LED bulbs are premium quality and promise a lifetime of 15,000 hours (approximately 15 years) but they cost $79.95 each, which is about 10 times more than what a Philips Tornado energy saver bulb would cost you. I understand it’s not an apples for apples comparison as the Hue range offers so much more than a regular bulb, but I imagine some would consider this cost difference for implementation a little high. For example, in my two bedroom apartment, I would need an additional 16 bulbs in addition to the three supplied in the starter pack if I wanted to connect my entire home which would cost me an additional $1279.20.
I have enjoyed using the Philips Hue range, and although they were not even on my radar before I got them, they very quickly shaped parts of my daily routine – I have now also started looking at more connected home products!
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All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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