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Philips Hue Smart Colored Light Bulbs

Page 1 of the Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting Review:

Hi all! I’m Lisa, daughter of Smarter Home Automation/Projector Reviews founder, Art. I received the Philips Hue personal wireless lighting system as a gift before Art was able to get his hands on some to review… So I’ll be the one writing up a short review on this great option for personal wireless lighting!

Philips Hue - Overview

The Philips Hue bulbs have the ability to change color as well as dim while being controlled remotely via your mobile device over WiFi. Before I say more, I want you to know that setting up the Hue system took only a few minutes.  It really was easy.  More on that later.

The Philips Hue bulbs are only one of several types of bulbs in the family. Philips describes the Hue family: In addition to  the standard Hue, lights, there’s the Hue Lux (it doesn’t change colors, but it can be dimmed), as well as the Hue Go, which is almost bowl-like in shape, and operates as a portable light you can move just about anywhere—from your bedside table to your desk to your back patio! Of particular importance is the Hue Bloom, a flood light that’s ideal for recessed ceiling lights, but looks like an accent lamp if placed on an open fixture. Those are the other family members of Hue family, but the simple “Hue” I’m reviewing is the original.

Today I’m reviewing the standard Philips Hue bulbs, which I received as part of the 3-bulb A19 starterkit ($199.99). The starterkit comes with 3 Hue light bulbs, 1 Bridge (which controls the system), 1 Ethernet cable (to plug the Bridge into your WiFi router), and 1 power adapter (to keep the Bridge running).

Philips Hue Basic Specifications

Let’s talk bulbs first. Here are some of the basic specs of the Philips Hue bulbs:

  • 600 lumen output, the approximate output of a 50 watt incandescent bulb (reasonably, but not particularly, bright)
  • 16 million colors
  • 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)
  • 15,000 hour lifetime – that’s over 4 hours a day, 365 days/year for 10 years
  • < 0.5 second start up from standby
  • < 2 second start up from AC power
  • Software upgradeable
  • 9W is max power draw
  • Standard screw base bulb that we are all used to

So Why Do I Need Colored Lights, Anyway?

Most of us think of colored lights as something we would use for a really poppin’ party, and only a poppin’ party. I admit, when I first got the bulbs, my first thought was “but I don’t entertain enough!” Well, never fear! The Hue is perfect for everyday use (though I do know from experience that it’s great for parties too).

Technology has completely changed the way we think of using colored lights in our homes, and the Philips Hue makes it easier than ever. Want to incorporate colored lighting into your living room? Great! But you wouldn’t want to make all the lights in your living room bright red, and leave them that way permanently…  You’d get tired of that very quickly.  But then, what if there’s a really beautiful red sunset one night? You can easily dial up some soft colored sunset-colored lights to complement the view.

Hue allows you to get creative with your lighting without committing to permanent color schemes and arrangements. Change the color, the brightness, the tone… Or just switch them to plain old white if need be.


Controlling the Philips Hue Bulbs by WiFi

While the bulbs are the stars of the show, nothing is possible without the Bridge. The Bridge is the brain behind everything—it’s what talks to your WiFi and to the Hue bulbs, allowing you to remotely control your lighting from your mobile device.

You can actually use up to 50 Philips Hue bulbs on a single Bridge! And if you want more than 50 bulbs, just purchase a second Bridge… But you will have to control it separately from the first. However, I’ve only got 3 currently because I’m working with the starterkit. The Bridge is sleek—with a white finish and round, modern design—and fits right in with my Apple AirPort Time Capsule and white WiFi router. You could mount it, but I’ve just let mine live on the floor with my other WiFi equipment (there isn’t much room for creativity when you’re a temporary renter in a NYC apartment).

The Hue bulbs/Bridge work with iOS 7.0 and upwards on iPhones 4, 4S, 5, 5S, 5C, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as with many variations of the iPad, iPad Mini and even iPod touch. If you’re not an Apple person, you can use Android 2.3 and upwards on the Galaxy S2- S5, the Google Nexus 5, the Motorola Nexus 6, the Google Nexus 7, various versions of the Note, the OnePlus One, the HTC One, AND the Sony Xperia Z3. Just in case none of those apply to you (unlikely), I imagine they’ll continue to expand their repertoire of compatible devices as time goes on.

Click Image to Enlarge

Using the Hue bulbs in my Manhattan Apartment

Because I’m a temporary renter, I’m limited with how much I can customize my living space: I can’t paint my walls, so I’m stuck with white. Any major upgrades seem silly since the lease is up in 10 months. Basically, the only real control over the “look” of my 2 bedroom apartment was wall décor I could easily remove, but even that was tricky since I share my space with a roommate and all décor decisions are made jointly! I wasn’t sure how to make my temporary space feel more permanent.

Additionally, my bedroom posed some functional issues. My bedroom only has one small overhead lighting fixture, so I found myself squinting when reading at night or putting on makeup in the mirror in the morning: I needed more light (and something less fluorescent). And my walls were bright white: I needed some color. My only light switch is across the room from my bed, so I needed to get up out of bed and cross the room in order to turn the lights off before falling asleep.

The Philips Hue could fix all of these problems! I decided to put my 3 bulbs into a floor lamp with 3 adjustable branches, so that I could point one at my mirror, my bed, or my closet if I needed extra brightness. The 3 adjustable branches also meant I could angle the bulbs to different walls, so that when I turned the bulbs different colors, I could add several different splashes of color to my sterile, white room. And the mobile capabilities (more on that shortly) meant I could turn my lights off from my iPhone while lying in bed—I never had to get up!

Also, I put the Hue bulbs in a standing lamp because I liked the portability! I am glad I can move the lamp out to the living room if I want—in case I’m hosting people over for dinner or a party! If I had put the bulbs in my existing ceiling fixture, they’d be way less mobile and less versatile. I also have pretty high ceilings and don’t own a ladder.

So if you want to replace all of the bulbs in your overhead lighting/permanent fixtures, maybe you’ll need to buy an extra Hue bulb (or two) – problem solved.

Next Page :: Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting – A Review: Part 2
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