Philips Hue Connected Smart Bulb Review


So long clapper! There’s new lightbulb technology in town; they call it a “connected bulb,” we call it a smart bulb. The highly anticipated Philips Hue has finally hit the market. Philips Hue is a network of color changing lightbulbs that are not just controlled with your existing lightswitch, but also with your computer, smartphone, and any Internet device. Sleep in dim yellow light, wake up to bright white light, dine in faux candlelight, party in funky carribean-themed lighting–the choice is yours!

What’s in the Box

  • 3 Philips Hue Lightbulbs
  • Network Bridge Base Station
  • AC Adapter
  • Ethernet Cable

Set Up

How many Chip Chick readers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Just one. Half the process is screwing in the bulbs. They don’t have to be in the same room, but the experience is a little better if they are. Once installed, the bulbs all function normally and emit yellow light just like an incandescent bulb.

The other half of the installation process is setting up the base station bridge. Simply plug the power into the wall and the Ethernet cable into a router. Download the iOS or Android app and follow the prompts. You just have to be connected to the same network and then tap a button on the bridge to ensure the connection. The process can be repeated to control Hue over the Internet on any computer or Internet device.

The entire setup process only takes a few minutes. The same goes for learning the app, though there’s a few features buried deep.

Features

Each bulb is 8.5 watts and can deliver 600 lumens of virtually any color on the visible spectrum. There’s 16 million colors, hope that’s enough! The light output is similar to a 60 watt bulb. The Hues are LED bulbs and use 80% less electricity than your standard bulb. They have a lifetime of 15,000 hours; that’s almost two straight years or about 15 years with regular usage.

We wouldn’t label the Philips Hue a “Smart Bulb” if it didn’t impress us with some sort of automatic features. Currently, you can program the bulbs to turn on/off or to any preset/scene on a schedule of your choosing. You can wake up to bright light that fades in over time and you can have lights switch to a dimmer yellow/red light around bedtime and add a timed fadeout too. You can use a geofence on your phone to shut the lights when you leave and turn them back on when you return. You can even remotely control your lights and emulate regular lighting behavior as a security measure while you’re out of the house or on vacation.

You can have up to 50 Hue bulbs per bridge and there really is no limit to what you can do with them. Philips opened Hue up to 3rd party developers so there’s already a bunch of apps in the App Store that bring unique features and controls to the table. The app Hue Disco, for instance, can make your Hue bulbs strobe like a rave or even have the Hue bulbs play to sounds picked up by your iPhone’s microphone.

Performance

The Philips Hue is a beautiful product. This was an immediate winner in our book and here’s a big reason: the Hue bulbs always default back to regular light bulbs. Your phone can die, your WiFi router can break, but you’ll always be able to flip on your light switch and have the Hue bulbs functioning like a regular incandescent light bulb. Hue is merely enhanced by its app, and “enhanced” is an understatement. Now with that said, there’s no way (yet) to change the default color of the bulbs for when you flick the light switch off and on, it’s stuck as yellow for now. Ideally you wouldn’t rely on the switch anymore and would mainly be using your app and smart settings to control lighting.

It was refreshing to see the Hue bulbs react almost immediately to controls over WiFi and even the Internet. We’re talking a delay in the milliseconds. It was also really refreshing to see Hue emit an ample amount of light (plus you can dim down to 5%). I’m using two bulbs in my bedroom and the light is comparable with the 100w incandescent I was using. The last big relief is that the physical size of the bulb is comparable to a regular bulb, unlike a fluorescent bulb which can be too gigantic for a light fixture.

Switching between yellow light and white light is the best, this was the real reason I wanted Hue. Productivity is always maximized in bright white light since it’s like artificial daylight. Yellow light is best kept for relaxation, it definitely helps switch gears before sleepy time.

Final Thoughts

Philips Hue is an amazing start to the smartbulb craze that hasn’t quite begun. The starter pack is the way to go; without three bulbs it’s hard to fully appreciate the experience, capabilities, and beauty. The best part of Hue is that it will continue to get better as the app evolves and as new third party apps hit the app store. The Philips Hue Starter Pack costs $199.99. It sounds pricey, but when you factor in the 15 year lifespan, the 80% power savings, the personalization, timers, and extreme awesomeness…it’s not such a bad price at all. The Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting Power Pack is currently available from Amazon.com and is compatible with iOS and Android. Additional Hue Bulbs cost $59.97.

 

The Good: Beautiful, Unlimited possibilities, Online hub of user-created scenes, 15,000 hour lifespan, 16 million colors, Power Efficient, iOS and Android controlled, Can use over the internet from any device, Nearly instantaneous feedback, Dimming, Timers, Geo-Fence, Works like regular 60W lightbulb.

The Bad: Philips Hue app could be more intuitive with a better UI.

Buy it!