The range of Hue smart lighting from Philips promises to make every home a smart home. Darren Price of Techday takes a look at the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit A60.
I can’t deny the idea of turning lights on and off by my voice pushes all the right sci-fi buttons for me. As simple as it is to flip a switch, walk around the house and order Amazon’s Alexa to turn on the lights is like something straight out of Star Trek or The Jetsons. I really can’t think of anything without a full-featured home robot that’s more futuristic. Add the ability to choose the color and brightness of each lamp and you have the future, today.
All of the above is promised by reading the packaging of the Philips Hue Starter Kit A60. The box contains three bayonet lights (a screw-on version is also available), a smart button and a Hue bridge hub unit. The bulbs fit directly into your lighting fixtures and work as standard incandescent bulbs.
The magnetic battery-operated smart button can be attached to any location in the house using a double-sided adhesive tape or magnetically or to the included rectangular switch panel (which in turn can be attached to the wall using the adhesive strips on the back, or mounted using screws).
The Hub bridge hub unit must be connected to your router via the supplied Ethernet cable. There is no wifi option. This somewhat limits the location you can place if you only have one router. However, I found that the Hue bridge will work when connected to any Ethernet-enabled mesh nodes you have.
The system is set up via the Philips Hue mobile app. The installation is quite simple and only takes a few minutes. The smart button does have to be added to the system as a separate device, which annoyed me at first, but the app made short work of getting it up and running.
Individual lamps can be named and grouped into rooms from the app. They can also each be adjusted in brightness and color tone.
The Philips Hue system is scalable, so adding additional smart bulbs is easy. Using multiple lamps in a room allows for custom lighting color schemes. There are pre-configured scenes in the app that can be used to create stunning mood lighting. The lights can also be synced to Spotify for ad hoc disco lights. While the RGB color can be used to create interesting room lighting, I also found it useful to be able to switch from cool white while working to a warmer glow when relaxing in front of the TV.
The coolest thing, though, is adding the light control to your smart home digital assistant. Whether it’s Apple’s HomeKit, Google Home, or Amazon Echo, you can ask Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa to control your home lights. I use an Amazon Echo, which was easy to pair with the Hue app.
Entering the house at night and lighting up the entire lower floor with a voice command or via the smart button (which I installed by the door) makes it easier, especially if your hands are full with shopping bags or otherwise bothered. Likewise, it’s pretty good to adjust the room lighting while watching TV, dim the intensity, or just switch from cool light to a warmer setting.
The only thing that thwarts this futuristic setup is when a member of the family goes all old school and physically turns off one of the lights on the wall switches. For the smart bulbs to work, they must all be turned on on the wall. However, it is very easy to forget and just flip the switch and turn off the lights.
I think the three lights in the kit, while great for getting your head around the system, aren’t enough to use the system effectively. You really need to replace all the bulbs in an area to get the best effect. This is by no means a criticism, on the contrary. Keep in mind that the system is so effective and fun to use that you’ll probably want to expand your setup.
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit A60 is a great way to dip your toes into smart home lighting. It is easy to set up and convenient to use. The modular system can also be expanded to create beautiful mood lighting in the home.
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