Product Review :: Philips Hue lights :: Week 1

As part of the Connected Devices class, I’m testing out the Philip’s Hue light system for a few weeks, and will be posting several reviews here.  First things first: Unpacking.

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I got the basic starter kit, containing 3 Hue bulbs and the hub, or bridge as Philips calls it.  I also got 2 Lux bulbs.  The Hue bulbs can vary in brightness and also color, while the Lux bulbs are just variable brightness.

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The unpacking experience was nice.  Much different than say a new iPhone, which feels pretty luxurious.  But I was really pleased at the Hue packaging.  All the packaging was cardboard and a little paper, with some very brief informational text printed on the back of the “welcome” page inside the box.  No plastic at all.  That is in stark contrast to iPhone packaging that features lots of individually wrapped plastic pieces.  So all in all, great packaging.  Maybe some feel that an expensive tech product should have really fancy packaging, but I thought Philips did it right.

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Now onto setup.  The installation really couldn’t have been easier.  Plug the bridge into the router, and plug the power cable into an outlet.  Needing to plug into the router is a potential constraint I suppose, but it is not a problem for me.  I want to test the bulbs out a little further from the Bridge to check the range.  After plugging in, you download the Hue app, pair the bridge and you’re ready.

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I placed one Hue bulb in this floor lamp, and one in a hanging star fixture, both in the living room.  I have the 2 Lux bulbs in my bedroom.  I’m still trying to figure out where to place the last Hue bulb I have.

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Colored light bulbs!

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Star light in action

For the most part, the app is easy and straightforward to use.  Once you screw in the lightbulbs, they become available under the “Lights” menu, where you can turn them on, off or vary the brightness.  The 3 included Hue bulbs are waiting to be activated, and I had no trouble adding the two Lux bulbs into the Lights panel.  Setting alarms is also available, but I’ve been having some difficulties with it.  So far, I haven’t figured out how to set alarms for the Lux lights in my room – it appears to only be working with the Hue bulbs, which in my case isn’t doing me any good.  It also seems that you can only set them to turn on a Scene (more on that below), not just turn them straight on.  I might be missing something, so I have more time to figure it out.  The real test will be waking up early for class on Wednesday when it’s typically dark out when I get up.  The alarm would be really helpful then.

 

The “Scenes” feature is interesting – it let’s you assign a color palette to the 3 Hue bulbs based off the color palette of a photograph.  You can use your own or samples they provide, or mix a new palette.  I haven’t quite gotten too much use out of this.  It seems like that would be more fun to have during parties, especially given the 3rd party apps that I see floating around that let you coordinate animations and light sequences.

 

So far, I have really enjoyed the bulbs.  The Lux bulbs in my room have been really useful.  I have them in a ceiling light fixture, whose switch is across the room from my bed.  The combination of just a bright on or off feature, and the switch location has been annoying to me for a while now, so this is really a perfect solution.  Being able to gradually dim the lights from bed as you’re getting ready to sleep is a great simple pleasure.  I still need to get the alarm dialed in how I want though.  The current price point is too high for me to consider buying the unit at the moment ($200 for the bridge and 3 bulbs pack, $30 for each Lux bulb), but I’m already impressed and intrigued.  Now that the lights are up and running, I’m looking forward into checking out some of the 3rd party apps and the API.