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Welcome back to our second review of the Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs – this time, of the Gen 3 with Richer Colors. 18 months ago, I wrote a review of the first generation Philips Hue. Since then, Philips has released a second generation. And, more recently a third generation. I’ve gotten my hands on a Gen 3 “With Richer Colors” Hue bulb, and I’m going to give you the rundown of how this latest model differs from the earlier ones.

The Philips Hue was the first major brand smart color lighting system to gain popularity, but the first generation of Hue had some issues with color range, so that newer competition significantly surpassed those earlier Hue bulbs.  Let’s start out by saying that these Gen 3 bulbs are much improved, making Philips Hue competitive again.

Philips Hue Gen 3 with Richer Colors - Overview

Here are the basics: The Philips Hue line of smart bulbs have the ability to change color, turn on/off, and dim while being controlled remotely via your mobile device over WiFi. For more information on the basics of the Hue line, and more info about Philips’ other products, check out our review of the first generation bulbs.

I received the Gen 1 Philips Hue starter kit (3 bulbs + 1 bridge) in May 2015. For the purposes of this update review, I will be describing the differences between generations 1 and 3, talking through how the newer Bridge’s design and features differ from the original Bridge, and comparing the Gen 1 and Gen 3 bulbs’ performance.  Hint – the Hue Generation 3 bulbs are far superior to the older ones.

Hue Basic Specifications: The Cost, Comparison to Earlier Generations

  • Gen 3 starter kit (3 bulbs, 1 bridge): $199.99 – standard cost for the new generation – on Philips Hue, Amazon, and several other retailers
  • Gen 3 bulb a la carte (no bridge): $49.99 per bulb
  • Gen 2 starter kit: Down to $179.99
  • Gen 1 starter kit: Still available on Amazon for $149.95

We highly recommend the Gen 3 Hue over it’s predecessors!

 

Basic Specifications: The Bulbs

  • 800 lumen output (about equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb)
  • 16 million colors (close to that anyway – more on that later)
  • All shades of white, from warm to cold color temperatures
  • Dims via RF down to 5% (doesn’t use an external dimmer – in fact, don’t use one. If you’ve got your bulb connected to a dimming wall switch, leave it at max brightness and do the dimming from your smartphone)
  • Beam angle of 160 degrees, plus or minus 20 degrees (similar to conventional light bulb)
  • 25,000 hour lifetime
  • < 0.5 second start up from standby
  • < 2 second start up from AC power
  • Software upgradeable
  • 10 Watt maximum power draw?  (Hue specs are vague)
  • Standard E26 screw base bulb that we are all used to
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Basic Specifications: The Bridge

  • Supports up to 50 lights and 12 Philips Hue accessories using the Hue App
  • 1.5W max power draw on standby
  • 3.5″ x 3.5″ x 1″
  • Apple HomeKit compatible on iOS 9.0 or later
  • 2 year warranty
  • Software upgradeable
Click Image to Enlarge

How the Gen 3 differs from earlier models

The Bridge

The biggest different between the Gen 3 and my Gen 1 starter kit is the bridge. (This device is the hub for the lights – just plug the bridge into a power source and connect it to your WiFi router using the cable provided to connect your bulbs to your mobile device.)

 

The new bridge was released with the Gen 2 bulbs, and it has a completely new, sleeker design. But for many, the big plus is that the bridge is  now Apple HomeKit compatible, a feature the earlier version lacked. This lets you integrate your Philips Hue bulbs with your other smart home products more easily, so that your control is more focused and intuitive. Apple HomeKit support  means the the Hue lights are compatible with Siri, Apple’s Personal Assistant with voice control.   Philips Hue is also compatible with Amazon Echo, so you can also tell Alexa to turn on your bedroom lights as you’re heading upstairs. A number of Z-Wave  hubs also support the Hue family.

An important thing to note: You do not have to replace your original bridge if you upgrade your bulbs to Gen 3 – the newest bulbs work with the oldest bridge. In my case, I wasn’t interested in the Apple HomeKit compatibility, since 1) my 1-bedroom rental NYC apartment is < 600 square feet and takes about 10 seconds to walk through and reach any given light switch, and 2) I don’t use it for any other smart products via Apple HomeKit. So, I saved myself the money by skipping the new bridge and just opting for the new bulbs. How those differ from the earlier bulbs is the real story here!

Hue Bulb Life

The Gen 3 with Richer Colors bulb should last you up to 25,000 hours, up from the original model’s 15,000 hour lifetime. That’s all well and good, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll upgrade long before you get to that point!  Let’s face it, 25,000 hours, is 6 hours a day for about 12 years!

Hue Generation 3 Brightness

The Gen 2 and Gen 3 bulbs are all 200 lumens brighter than the original model, clocking in at 800 lumens vs. 6oo lumens. It’s not a huge difference – I don’t immediately notice it, but it will come in handy if you want to fill a larger room, plan on using color during the daytime, or will have a practical use for the lights in a work space like a home office or kitchen (as opposed to just as decoration).  The improvement, however, seems to be mostly limited to white.

The Improved Colors

The biggest difference between Gen 3 and the earlier generations is apparent in the name: “With Richer Colors.” The color improvement is absolutely huge!  Of course, that is only possible because some of the limitations of the earlier Hues allowed so much room for improvement.

Check out what I mean: In the photos at the top of the next page, my 3-prong standing lamp displays two Gen 1 bulbs (top and bottom, right side) and one Gen 3 with Richer Colors bulb (middle bulb, left side). You should be able to tell immediately which is which based on the vibrancy and accuracy of the colors.

Next Page :: Philips Hue Gen 3 Smart Bulb “with Richer Colors” Review and Comparison – Continued
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