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Apple iPhone X

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« Apple releases series of inspiring YouTube short films for Global Accessibility Awareness Day | Main | Netflix download zones are coming to Ontario cottage country »
Thursday
May182017

Review: Philips Hue Smart Lighting System

 

Philips Hue turns the lightbulb completely on its head and manages to bring such a vast range of possibility in terms of lighting homes, offices, commercial spaces and any place that's in need of smart illumination.

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

One of the most impressive implementations of smart appliances or IoT (Internet of Things) has been by Philips, whose Hue line of smart lightbulbs, bridges, and switches, has all but revolutionized one of the oldest and most immutable devices and made it into a connected and smart appliance.

Lightbulbs are the oldest electrical devices. They're also the dumbest. You buy the lightbulb in the wattage you need, screw it into the socket and let it work until it dies, and then gets replaced. The cycle is endless.

If you want coloured lightbulbs, you buy them in the colours you need. Each lightbulb is one colour, forever. Not anymore. Read on.

The Philips Bridge is the hub that enables wireless connectivity

Philips Hue turns this idea completely on its head and manages to bring such a vast range of possibility in terms of lighting homes, offices, commercial spaces and any place that's in need of smart illumination.

I received the Philips Hue White starter set which came with two smart Hue lights, a Hue bridge that connects to my wireless router, a smart switch that can be installed on a wall but also used remotely plus the delightful Philips Hue app which I downloaded on both my iPhone SE and and my HTC 10 smartphones.

Setting up the lightbulbs was easy, replace exisiting same-size lightbulbs and turn them on. Plug in the Hue bridge, run the app and pair everything. 

Philips also sent me a single Colour ambiance bulb which was perfect for my foyer lamp. This one can tune into a range of colours (16 million, to be exact) and can change the look of a room and set the mood.

At its very basic, Philips Hue gives you unrivalled control over your lights. Unlike basic bulbs, Hue lights can be dimmed or brightened via the app or using the simple remote control.

The can also range in colour and tone from yellower to bluer hues depending on what you require. Philips even simplifies this further by  explaining how some settings are good for reading, concentration, relaxing, etc.

The Colour Ambiance bulbs offer even more range and the ability to project up to 16 million colours to create a wide range of looks for homes and offices. Philips didn't stop there, it opened up its API's so that you can connect your smart lights to other services.

The lights can flash red if the smart thermostat or smoke detector senses smoke, or connecting it to Netflix can mirror the colour of the show you are watching in your family room, for added dramatic effect. 

Being able to use the smartphone app to set, brighten, dim or extend the lights is quite empowering. I found that the Philips Hue was even more impressive when used with Google Home, Google's smart voice assistant.

Say "hey Google, turn on the lights in the living room," and your Philips Hue lights magically come to life. "Hey Google, dim the lights," and the lights quickly dim by 15 per cent," the system just works.

Philips understands that by offering a well-designed product, users will consider adding more Philips Hue lights and accessories to their homes. While

I only have three Philips Hue bulbs in my home, I've already planned to add more to my bedroom, possibly a lightstrip in my desk and I've been looking at the new additions (which include standalone lamps, hanging lamps and other sizes of bulbs). 

Knowing what I know, I'd keep Philips Hue smart bulbs and lighting solutions next time I move apartments or if I buy a house.

There's a lot more to Philips Hue. While Google Home is my IoT solution of choice, it is also compatible with Apple HomeKit.

HomeKit still feels quite experimental at this point, some devices like smart cameras require an Apple TV to act as a hub and I don't own an Apple TV so its hard for me to invest time and money on an incomplete system.

The beauty of Philips Hue is that it is a system that can work independently of any IoT platform. As long as you have an Android device or iPhone, you can run the app and control lights like you've never imagined. 

Hits:

Easy to install

Great app integration

Superb Google Home integration

Nice range of colour functionality

Misses:

Can be fidgety at times if someone manually shuts off the lamp

Not all bulb styles or sizes are supported 

Conclusion:

Philips Hue is a mature, easy to install and deploy smart lighting condition that can dramatically add a lot of functionality, colour and brightness using existing lamps or fixtures. It works nicely with Google Home integration as well as Siri on the iPhone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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