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Philips Hue starter kit review


Philips Hue is considered by many to be the gold standard of smart home lighting systems. The company’s lighting portfolio ranges from basic bulbs to fancy strips that work in tandem with your TV to add another dimension to your favorite movies.

With so many different products and options in Hue’s portfolio, it can be difficult to decide where to start. So for the past few weeks we’ve been testing $119 Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit and $199 . White and Color Ambient Starter Kit. Both include everything you need to start automating lights around your home and can be an entry point into the rest of the Hue ecosystem.

Here’s what we think after a few weeks of using both packages.

The Philips Hue starter kit, although pricey, is well worth the entry cost for those who want a good place to start their home lighting upgrade.

Who, what and how?

Who is: Both Philips Hue starter kits are for anyone looking to get started with a set of smart lights. Both offer a simple entry point into the Philips Hue ecosystem, with four bulbs and the Hue Bridge to provide better connectivity and more control.

What you need to know: Both of these starters include the Hue Bridge and four bulbs, but all Hue Bulbs are not created equal. The four devices included in the $119 White Environment Kit produce different shades of white light, but don’t support Bluetooth – meaning they need a Hue Bridge to work. The four Bluetooth-enabled bulbs in the $199 white and color ambient starter kit can be adjusted to one of 16 million different colors and can be used without a Bridge as long as you’re within range network coverage. However, using the included Bridge not only allows you to create groups of lights in your home, but also allows you to control them all from anywhere.

How does it compare: Philips Hue is one of the most expensive smart lighting options. As for the colored bulbs, you’ll have to pay $199 for four of them plus a Hue bridge. In comparison, you can get a Lifx Proud Parent Bundle for $89.95 includes a total of five bulbs, four white and one color changing; no need for bridges or hubs. If you really want to save cash, the Wyze light bulb is $14.99 for a pack of two. But it’s Hue’s vast product line along with its tight integration with smart home platforms and the reliability achieved with the addition of a dedicated Bridge that makes it an attractive option for any homeowner. Any smart home enthusiast.

Jason Cipriani / CNN

One. Only one person is required to install one Hue light bulb. That’s because the bulbs look like a typical LED bulb with some Hue branding. Once you’ve placed the bulb in your preferred location, make sure the light switch is on, then connect the Hue Bridge to your home’s network.

Included in the starter kit is a power adapter and an Ethernet cable for the Bridge. After installing the Android or iPhone version of the app, you’re done with the setup. You’ll need a bridge connection to your Wi-Fi modem (if you’re not using an Ethernet port, we’re a big fan of these. TP-Link Switch).

Once the Bridge is connected to your home’s power and network, the app will find the Bridge on your network and instruct you to press the button on the top of the Bridge. The next step takes the longest of our installation – Bridge will need a software update to update it, a process that takes around 30 minutes even though the app claims to take only 10 minutes. You have to leave the app open for the first few minutes of the update, but after that it will let you leave it and do other things on your phone.

Once the update is done, you can start adding lights to your Hue setup. We recommend doing it one by one, that way you can specifically identify the bulb you’re naming and where it’s installed (like Home, Office, Bedroom, etc.). Overall, the process is typical for most smart bulbs and easy enough to follow, thanks to the instructions in the app.

Jason Cipriani / CNN

Philips Hue bulbs are bright and (sometimes) colorful

Jason Cipriani / CNN

Whether you choose standard white ambient light bulb or color light bulb, you’ll find they provide plenty of light. Both types performed well in our testing and had enough light to fill the corner of a large room. Or, if you install one over your kitchen sink like we did, you should have no problem seeing both the sink and the surrounding area.

Here’s how it breaks down based on the starter:

  • Four bulbs included in white environment set has a color temperature range of 2200K to 6500K, 10W max output for 60W equivalent power and 25,000 hour lifespan.
  • The four bulbs included in the white and color environmental kit have a color temperature range of 2200K to 6500K, plus the ability to switch between a total of 16 million colors. Again, you’ll get 25,000 hours of use from each bulb, with 10.5W of power consumption, which equates to a 75W bulb.

In simpler terms, those temperature ranges go from a candle-like yellow to a bright white, matching the color temperatures we naturally experience throughout the day during natural movement. of the sun. Another benefit of having an adjustable bulb is that you can adjust it to fit the traditional (read: dumb) bulbs you have in your home.

As for why these bulbs have less wattage than comparable bulbs – that’s the beauty of LEDs. They are much more efficient than traditional light bulbs and do not require as much energy to produce the same level of brightness. Plus, they last longer.

Jason Cipriani / CNN

Well, your imagination is the limit of what you can do when you have a Hue bridge and lights in your home. Of course, the basics are there. Turning lights on and off, adjusting colors, and even adjusting brightness levels are all easy via the app (available for Android or iOS).

Hue works with all major smart home platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings, so you’ll be able to control your lights with your voice regardless of the platform you’re currently using in your home. For example, you can ask Alexa to turn off the lights when you go to bed. Or ask Siri to set the mood for movie night.

Connecting the smart assistant to your Hue account is done in the Settings section of the app and takes just a few seconds. Just select the voice assistant, select the one you want to enable, and then follow the prompts. If you’re activating HomeKit, make sure there’s an original box nearby – the one with the pairing code sticker inside the box.

For easier control, you can create different groups of lights. For example, if you put two bulbs in the same light fixture, you’ll likely want those bulbs to work the same way. Instead of controlling them independently, you can create a group in the Hue app and have them treated as a single device. You can also group other Hue bulbs or lights based on the room they’re in – making it easy to quickly turn off all the lights in your living room with a single command.

Jason Cipriani / CNN

The Hue app also has an Explore section where you can find ideas and other fun ways to use your lights, as well as instructions for using the controls in the Hue app to fully customize your lights. We saw a similar proposal for color ideas in the Nanoleaf app, although Nanoleaf offers more options. The different light themes are fun and interactive, but hard to see on a single bulb. If you’re going to experiment with different themes, we recommend using a Hue strip or placing multiple bulbs in the same room.

One thing to remember is that you should always have your light switches on to seamlessly control your bulbs through the Hue app or through any smart home assistant.

This is the biggest adjustment for us. It’s hard to break the habit of walking into a room and flipping a switch, then turning it off when we leave. However, after a few instances of not being able to control our bulbs, we started to become more conscious of turning them on so we could use an app or an assistant to control them instead.

The Philips Hue Starter kits, while expensive, are well worth the upfront cost for those who want a good place to start their home lighting upgrade. With so many lighting options, along with tight integration with various smart home platforms and an easy-to-use app, the Hue starter kit is well worth the investment.

Not sure which set to choose? The $119 Ambiance Starter Kit in White is best for a more basic experience as it will help you to enjoy the smart lighting background with different shades of white and yellow light. Those who want to be more creative and set the scene with color should choose White and Color Ambiance Kits at $199.



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