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.

Michael Brown / IDG

Signify is presently delivery its next-generation Philips Hue bulbs in BR30 (proven right here) and A19 kind components, however all the line will ultimately help Bluetooth along with Zigbee.

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.

philips hue with bluetooth Michael Brown / IDG

The A19 model of the Philips Hue sensible bulb appears to be like no completely different than the earlier generations. The solely distinction is the addition of a Bluetooth radio.

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.)

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