Review – Philips Hue – Smart Bulbs

crawfordandjohnReviews

https://flic.kr/p/fHbA77
The Good
  • High Quality Bulbs
  • Outstanding app support
  • Great 3rd Party applications
  • Substantial range of additional bulbs
  • Apple Homekit Support iOS 11
The Bad
  • Cannot save colours etc for quick access to favourites
  • App is not fast enough for convenience
  • Setup could be faster with Starter Kit

What is Philips Hue?

For the uninitiated, Philips Hue is the name that has become synonymous with smart lighting. The company have ambient or colour changing lights, with an app to control them, and really was one of the pioneers in smart home lighting. What is great about Philips, is they have adapted to new technologies over the years and now support Apple's Homekit, Google Home, Amazon's Alexa smart speaker amongst many many others. These all contribute to creating the space age future we all dreamed of as kids.

From the top

Let us start from the ground floor, and start with the Philips Hue Starter Kit. When setting up a new kit, you need to attach your Hue Bridge to your home router via an ethernet cable. Once you have completed this initial hardware set up, you need to download the Hue app from your App Store, (available for Android or iOS) and follow the onscreen instructions. When you have added your initial 3 bulbs, you can start organising them into your rooms, in the app, and it is a great place to turn on and off all the bulbs instantaneously. 

Very simple setup and easy to use app.

So, now your initial setup is complete. Go crazy! You can now start looking at using the standalone Hue app or if you're coming from iOS use the proprietary iPhone app Home. On both apps, you can control the lights independently or together, and even granular colour controls for each light, just maybe steer away from keeping your front room lights red at night.

Hardware

One of the absolute best things about Philips Hue bulbs is that they fit right into the same fitting in your house. That means no extra fittings, no changes to wiring, just a clean and simple unassuming install. The bulbs just look slightly bigger than a regular LED bulb, and you wouldn't know what they were until you illuminated them. This is how smart home tech should be, unassuming and unobtrusive. Another great point about Philips Hue is that currently, at the time of writing, there is a great range of bulbs ready for your home. 

Now the bulbs in the starter kit come in a bayonet and edison screw fitting, so make sure you get the right ones in the starter kit and any additional you might purchase. Let me tell you having the Philips Hue Starter Kit is like getting a tattoo, a very addicting experience. If you are in the market for some additional fittings, Philips offer E27, E14 and GU10 also in bayonet, there is 3 variants of bulbs to look at, and these can range from £15 to £50. The cheaper variants, which are the "standard" home bulbs are a warm white, and can be dimmable. From there you have the mid-range that can have the ambient spectrum for your home, cool to warming. Finally you have the cream of the crop, which comes in the starter kits, the White and Colour Ambience.

Motion Sensor & Switches

I was also very fortunate to get my hands on the Philips Motion Sensor. You can get really great results with this, using the Hue app or if you have an Apple TV, setting timezones for this to activate. I have mine set to come on from 9 o'clock at night and pointed towards our stairs, so in the night if my wife or I need a glass of water, we step into the landing and our Hue lights guide the way. It can be hugely flexible and I definitely want to get a couple more around the house.
I haven't yet got my hands on the 2 switches that Philips offers, but from reading a few reviews online, the switches could do with a few more design options to fit better with customer's aesthetic and apparently feel quite cheap and plasticky. From my understanding though, the switches can be programmed in a plethora of ways and would be a great addition to any home with multiple rooms set up with Hue bulbs. I am holding out for Philips to create a switch replacement for my home, whilst I appreciate this would involve some wiring knowledge, it would help further blend my smart home tech.

The Verdict

A great all in one system, built for the newb and techie alike. Easy to use app, and very well built. It has great 3rd party support inc. IFTTT and Smarthings and can be easily controlled.

Product

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