Yes, you’ll be able to management the newest Philips Hue sensible bulbs with simply your smartphone or sensible speaker by way of Bluetooth, saving you the price of shopping for the Hue Bridge. But not having the Bridge very a lot limits your choices.
Being a dyed-in-the-wool sensible house fanatic with sensible lighting in each room of my house, I generally neglect that not everyone seems to be keen on diving straight into the deep finish of the pool. So I’ve two distinct suggestions concerning the newest technology of Philips Hue sensible bulbs: For fans like me, I say go for it! For people who simply need to dabble in sensible lighting, I say there are less-expensive alternate options if you’re satisfied you don’t need to wade deeper into the sensible house waters.
The high quality of sunshine these new Hue bulbs produce is each bit pretty much as good because the bulbs that got here earlier than, and so they have one new function the others didn’t: help for Bluetooth along with the extra strong mesh community protocol Zigbee. That change means you’ll be able to management these new bulbs along with your sensible system (or sensible speaker) without having to additionally purchase the Philips Hue Zigbee-to-Wi-Fi-bridge.
On the one hand, that’s nice for dabblers as a result of it is going to save them at the very least $50 (MSRP for the Bridge is $59.99, nevertheless it’s usually on sale, and it prices even much less when it’s bought in a bundle with the bulbs). On the opposite hand, you should purchase a full-color sensible bulb just like the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi bulb (model KL130) for about the identical worth ($29.99 for the A19 style) as Philips expects to fetch for its tunable-white-only bulbs (you’ll be able to change the colour temperature of Hue White Ambiance bulbs from heat white to chill white, however you don’t get the colours of the rainbow). If you don’t care about tuning the bulbs’ colour temperature, dimmable Philips Hue White bulbs price $14.99 every—which is about $5 much less than what TP-Link expects to fetch for its dimmable white bulbs.
Wi-Fi bulbs just like the TP-Link KL130 (and the LIFX smart lighting lineup) supply one other profit, too. If you’re not utilizing the Bridge, the Philips Hue bulbs’ reliance on the comparatively quick vary of Bluetooth means you and your smartphone should be in the identical room because the bulb you want to management. The identical goes for an Amazon Echo or Google Home sensible speaker. A Wi-Fi bulb, in distinction, might be restricted solely by the vary of your router. And if in case you have mesh router, that needs to be wherever in your house.
Are sensible bulbs actually all you’ll ever need?
But earlier than you conclude that Wi-Fi sensible bulbs are the best way to go, ask your self for those who assume you’ll ever need to go farther within the pursuit of a wise house. The Philips Hue ecosystem is greater and broader than every other sensible lighting household available on the market; it consists of not simply the A19 bulbs you’ll set up in lamps and pendants, but in addition the BR30 (bulged reflector) downlights you’ll set up in ceiling cans, PAR (parabolic reflector) bulbs, GU (glass reflector with a U-shaped, dual-pin base) bulbs, and a number of different specialty sizes and shapes, together with lights designed to enrich your TV-viewing expertise. TP-Link has LED strip lights and BR30 downlights—and that’s it.
Philips additionally presents Hue-based lights for each indoor and outside installations, together with landscape and path lighting. There’s additionally a complete collection of accessories, starting from indoor and outdoor motion sensors to moveable switches—and that’s simply the Philips Hue-branded product assortment. (One accent you can use without having the Hue Bridge is the Hue Dimmer Switch.) Explore the Friends of Hue program and also you’ll discover dozens extra third-party merchandise. No competitor comes shut.
None of those choices are cheap, however each system we’ve reviewed thus far has been of very prime quality. (I also needs to notice right here that whereas all the Philips Hue line will ultimately have Bluetooth capabilities, solely the A19 and BR30 kind components have it at this time.)
One of the traits that ties many of those first- and third-party merchandise collectively is a reliance on the Philips Hue Bridge. If you don’t have one, you’re restricted to deploying about 10 of the new-generation bulbs, you’ll be able to’t combine new and previous bulbs collectively, and also you’re barred from integrating a lot of the cool and otherwise-Hue-compatible merchandise with them. But for those who simply need to deploy one or a couple of sensible bulbs with out making a significant dedication, these bulbs will do this for you. And for those who determine so as to add the Bridge down the highway, Philips has you coated there, too.
Supremely straightforward set up
Since you’ll be able to’t entry all of the Philips Hue options with out the Bridge, Signify developed a second model of its app that’s tailor-made to the Bluetooth SKU (it’s known as Hue Bluetooth, and it’s out there for Android and iOS). Once you’ve put in the app in your smartphone or pill, the Philips Hue Bluetooth bulbs are a breeze to put in. That goes double for those who purchase them from Amazon: Use them with an Echo sensible speaker, and if the e-mail tackle related along with your Amazon account is identical because the one you employ to your Philips Hue account, the bulb will robotically pair with the Echo that’s in the identical room (inside 30 toes) lower than a minute after the bulb is powered on.
In my expertise, Alexa introduced that she’d given the brand new bulb a reputation (“First Light”) and added it to her repertoire earlier than I’d even completed enrolling it within the Hue Bluetooth app. The title Alexa offers the bulb received’t essentially be the identical as what you’ll see within the Hue app, however you’ll be able to simply change it in both or each locations, in order that they match.
That kind of direct compatibility, nonetheless, is initially restricted to the Third-generation Echo Dot, the 2nd-generation Echo Show, and the 1st- and 2nd-generation Echo Plus. Once it’s arrange, you’ll be able to discuss to any Echo or the Alexa app in your sensible system to regulate the sunshine (though it will likely be the Echo that’s within the room with the bulb that finally controls it). Google Assistant and Google Home sensible audio system are supported, too, however you’ll must enroll the bulb by the Google Home app within the ordinary method. If you need to use Apple’s Siri to regulate the bulb, you’ll want the Hue Bridge.
You can use voice instructions to show the bulb on and off, change its colour temperature (in my case, “set First Light to a warm white” or “set First Light to a cool white”), change its absolute colour (“set First Light to green,” for instance), and alter its brightness (“dim First Light to 45 percent”). When you flip the bulb off, it is going to retain the identical setting whenever you flip it again on once more.
One factor you’ll be able to’t do with voice instructions is ready the bulbs to lighting scenes. You’ll must launch the app if you wish to set lights to “Frosty Dawn,” “Midsummer Sun,” or any of the opposite preset lighting scenes which are out there in both of the Hue apps. You may use the app to create and save your personal lighting scenes. The impact these scenes have on the various kinds of mild will, in fact, differ with their capabilities. Choosing the “Honolulu” scene will set the White and Color Ambiance bulb to a reddish orange glow at roughly 40-percent brightness, however the White Ambiance bulb will simply tune to a really heat white at 40-percent brightness and the White bulb will simply dim to that worth.
Remember that you just’ll should be in Bluetooth vary to regulate the bulbs along with your smartphone. Philips says you’ll should be inside 30 toes and in the identical room because the bulb, however I skilled longer vary utilizing my Google Pixel 2 XL and was in a position to management the lights from an adjoining room. Your mileage might differ.
Transferring the bulbs to the Hue Bridge
Once you get a style for what sensible lighting can do to your house, you’ll need to add extra of it, at which level you’ll rapidly bump up in opposition to the 10-bulb restrict that Bluetooth imposes (you’ll be able to management as much as 50 Hue bulbs with the bridge, and you may add extra Bridges to your community if in case you have greater than 50 bulbs). Fortunately, Signify makes it very straightforward to switch beforehand put in bulbs from Bluetooth management to the Philips Hue Bridge. Once you will have the Bridge hardwired to your router, merely open the Hue BT app, click on the Transfer to Hue Bridge button, after which click on the I Have a Bridge button on the following display screen. Press the bodily button on the Bridge itself, and the app will switch the Bluetooth bulbs you choose (all or any) to the Bridge. The complete course of took lower than 5 minutes to switch the 4 bulbs I examined.
One of the numerous benefits of utilizing the Hue Bridge is the power to assign Hue bulbs to rooms, with the intention to management all of the lights in a single room concurrently—turning all of them on or off with one button press, dimming all of them with a single slider, or setting a lighting scene within the app. Having the Bridge additionally permits you to set up room-based routines (together with a geofencing setting that can set your lights to at least one scene whenever you go away and to a special scene whenever you return house); set your lights to function on a schedule or a timer; management your lights whilst you’re away from house; and much extra.
A worthy successor within the Philips Hue line
Signify’s Philips Hue bulbs are by far the most costly sensible bulbs you should purchase, however they’re additionally probably the most succesful and no bulb we’ve examined produces higher-quality mild. And it bears repeating that the Hue ecosystem is greater and extra full than every other sensible lighting system you’ll encounter.
Adding Bluetooth makes it simpler and cheaper to get began with Hue lighting, as a result of it saves you the price of the Bridge, and you may nonetheless management them with Alexa or Google Assistant voice instructions (utilizing suitable sensible audio system). But the bulbs themselves aren’t any inexpensive than the earlier technology. And most individuals will need the Bridge ultimately anyway—it simply provides too many enticing advantages. Fortunately, Philips makes that switch virtually simpler than establishing the bulbs on Bluetooth within the first place. So is the brand new technology worthy? Absolutely.