Quite recently we reviewed the Philips Hue 3-SmartBulb Starter Kit, a WiFi controlled lighting capable of creating scenes and easy lighting automation. These 3 LED bulbs have been going strong and have been wildly convenient and useful. We just got our hands on two brand new additions to the Philips Hue lineup, interestingly labeled as “Friends of Hue”, the Hue Bloom spotlight and the Hue LightStrips. Both Hue additions integrate seamlessly with the app, and can fill in a gap in the Hue experience by adding accents to your floors and walls.
The Bloom is an interesting mix between a desk lamp and a flood lamp. It’s designed to sit on the floor, desk, or cabinet with a large face of light angled upward. The face of the lamp is roughly 5 inches wide and can crank out 120 lumens of light in up to 16 million colors. It can add a splash of color to any setting or cover a wall in vibrant shades. Unlike the Hue Lightbulbs, we’ve noticed the Hue Bloom doesn’t emit a solid color, rather it radiates a beautiful combination of the three primary colors. This attractive color combo adds meaning to the name “Bloom”.
The design of Bloom is incredibly simple, it has a glossy and clean white finish with no buttons or controls. There’s no light fixture required. It’s made of a dense plastic and metal combo. There’s a non-removable cable that plugs into a regular AC outlet. We like the simple design, but a physical on/off button would have been convenient. Bloom can be controlled from any iOS device or internet browser. Like the SmartBulbs, you can simply assign any color in real time or on a schedule.
There’s two meters (6.6ft) of flexible LED lightstrip to play around with. The strip is an excellent addition to the Hue lineup; it allows you to add accents and illuminate unreachable areas for an overhead lightbulb. Around cabinets, behind your home theater, underglow for your bed, you name it. There’s adhesive attached to the underside of the strip which allows you to stick them to any solid surface. The flexibility allows you to wrap the strip around columns and corners. Again, Philips gifted the LightStrip with 120 lumens and 16 million color options.
The adhesive on the LightStrips was my biggest concern. I reapplied the Hue LightStrips about 5 times before I was content with its placement and there’s yet to be an issue with stickiness. The LightStrip is really lightweight so there’s not a lot of force trying to push it down. The cord that plugs into the wall is nice and long and only connected to one side of the strip; you have a lot of options on placement. Like the Bloom, there’s unfortunately no tangible on/off switch.
The LightStrips are a really fun edition to Hue, but it’s missing out on one key feature: animation. The bulbs can change to any color, yet the current Hue software version only allows you to emit one color. We want a multicolored lightstrip with animation! We imagine there will be an update, or 3rd party application, soon enough.
Easiest setup ever! Plug both of these Hue lights into the wall and they’re already beaming in full-on color (red, by default). If Hue is already setup then just navigate to “find new lights” in the app settings. Within seconds you have full control over both lights. You probably won’t even have to touch the base station.
Philips Hue is awesome! Until recently, it only included their Smart Lightbulbs, so it’s really great to see Hue expanding the lineup with innovative lighting concepts. Hue is an investment…The 3-bulb starter pack is nearly $200, the Bloom is $79.95 and the LightStrips are $89.95. Nicely, the return on investment is savings on energy, ~15 years of life out of the bulbs, and innovative lighting automation and control that’s quick to please and impress anyone and everyone. We recommend you start with the starter pack, and decide from there how you’d like to enhance the experience. Both devices require the starter pack, or at least the wireless bridge that comes with it. The Philips Friends of Hue LightStrips and Bloom are both available from store.apple.com.
The Good: Beautiful additions to the Hue Lineup, Easy to use and setup, Wireless control from mobile device or web browser
The Bad: No physical on/off switches, LightStrip only emits one color (for now), Philips Hue app needs work, Pricey