In our original look at Hue more than a year ago, The system wasn’t much more than a novel way to impress your friends and family. You were limited to a basic starter pack available only at the Apple store. While there was an iPhone app that was somewhat fully featured, Android users were left with half of the experience because of a deficient app. In the starter kit, you’d find a hub (bridge) to control the lights and 3 of the only bulbs available. All of that for the not so low price of $199.99.
Has Philips Hue matured and evolved from a expensive toy into something more? READ ON to find out!
A lot has happened since we last spoke about Hue. Really though, A LOT! Hue has become a better product overall adding IFTTT integration, a bunch of awesome supported apps, expanded Android compatibility that now matches iPhone functionality, and additional fittings and bulb sizes. To compliment the original system we reviewed, we’ve been introduced to “Friends of Hue” as well. Different add-ons and alternative kits that help round out the system and assure that there is a light for every need. Overall, it feels like Philips is continuing on the path of innovation started by the original Hue. There are now more competitors in the space, but nobody seems to have reached the level of polish and fun that Philips is currently achieving with Hue. We’re going to go over a few of the new additions one by one below.
The first eyebrow raise for Hue came from the price. $200 for 3 light bulbs is not an expense that we’re used to as consumers. Even those who like to be ahead of the tech wave would need to think a bit before pulling the trigger on something like Hue. In comes Lux with a similar experience below the century mark. We have the same starter kit type bundle as the original, but we move down to 2 bulbs and lose the color for $99. That’s right, Lux are bright white bulbs that are fully dimmable and remote controlled like Hue, just without the namesake splash of color. If you don’t need the whimsical effect of a room that shifts color, Lux gives you the same smartphone control and home automation introduction at half the cost of the original.
Starter Kit – $99
Hue LivingColors Bloom and LivingColors Iris
Hue bulbs fit into basic light fixtures. That means that down lighting is covered, but what if you have a flare for the dramatic and you decorate your space with light as carefully as you would art? The LivingColors additions to the line, Bloom and Iris, will add some up lit style that can turn a boring studio apartment into the hippest loft space in town. Bloom is the more basic of the two, while Iris adds some tremendous translucent design that allow it to serve dual purposes as both light source and sculpture.
Bloom (single light) – $79.99
Iris (single light) – $99.99
Both will require an existing Hue bridge to function. If you don’t already have a Hue product, both are also available as starter kits. The Iris starter kit comes with one light, while the Bloom kit comes with 2 lights.
Bloom Starter Kit – $179.99
Iris Starter Kit – $139.99
Similar to Bloom and Iris, LightStrips are one of the “Friends of Hue” that appeal to your less practical side. Not meant to light a room as much as to accent certain features of one. These are adhesive backed 6 and a half foot strip LEDs that can be applied to the back of a mirror, bookcase, or even a TV to mimic the elusive Ambilight TVs that Philips doesn’t sell in the US. All Hue products can actually work alongside certain Ambilight TVs. When properly configured with Ambilight, all of your lights will change and react along with the images on your TV. LightStrips come in 6 and a half foot lengths, but they can be cut down to fit your specific needs. After you cut the strips though, the portion that’s detached will not work anymore and can’t be reattached – so be sure you need to snip before you reach for the scissors.
LightStrips – $89.99
You can also get LightStrips as a starter kit if you haven’t started you Hue setup yet.
LightStrips starter kit – $199.99
Finally, the Pièce de résistance… Hue Tap, the most amazingly advanced piece of tech I’ve ever seen – and it doesn’t use wires or batteries for power! Tap is a wireless light switch that has 4 buttons in total that use nothing but kinetic energy generated by the actual button press. It feels like magic every time I use it. As silly as it sounds, the tactile satisfaction of pressing a button and having the lights react is extremely refreshing. As we move forward in tech, everything has a touchscreen or is at least controlled by one. We lose something by tapping the same flat piece of glass to do everything. Pressing a button, flipping a switch, turning a crank – should we be trading all of these in for a lackluster double tap? When it comes to Hue at least, my answer is no. You can program each button to control an individual light or a specific scene using the Hue app. Setup is simple and using Tap is even simpler. If you use any of the Hue products, spring for Tap and be happy that you did.
Tap Remote Switch – $59.99
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!