Finally! You’ve heard about ’em and read about ’em. After much delay, we have the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Review. Let’s determine whether it’s worth its salt.
[Disclosure: We reached out to Signify Malaysia (formerly Philips Lighting) and they were kind enough to send us a Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance unit. This is not a paid review. All views expressed in this review are solely of the writer. We would like to thank Signify Malaysia for sending us this unit. ]
Bulb size: E27
Series: 3rd Gen
Unboxing and Looks
The Hue packaging comes in a box that’s kinda substantial considering that it has three bulbs plus the Hue bridge.
First thing to greet you is the bulbs and the Hue Bridge.
Clockwise from top left: UK/Malaysia three pin adapter, power adapter, Hue Bridge, LAN cable.
Three Hue bulbs.
Everything included in the box.
How the Hue bulb looks next to an Ikea bulb.
Do check out the setup steps for the Hue bulbs.
The main feature of the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs is you’re able to change its colour and brightness. This is done via the Hue app. Changing colour is by accessing the colour icon. Once there, move your finger to the desired colour and tap to select. There’s also a white shades icon where you can select different shades of white; from warm white to cool white.
Features – Whites – Warm White
Features – Whites – Cool White
Features – Colours – Colour 1
Features – Colours – Colour 2
Features – Scene – Savanna Sunset
Features – Scene – Tropical Twilight
Features – Power-On behaviour
Sometimes there are power cuts or you may accidentally physically turn off the Hue bulb. Because of that, when you turn it on again, the bulb will usually default to a brightness of 100%. The ‘Power-On behaviour’ feature gives you a choice between maintaining the last known configuration before a power cut or having it at full blast. Pretty handy if you don’t want to be blinded all of a sudden.
Features – Routines
Routines are custom schedules you can create. For example, with a ‘Wake Up’ routine, you can have the lights turn on in the morning. With ‘Go to sleep’ the lights will change to a warm light setting and gradually fade as you prepare to sleep. Another routine to mention is the ‘Home & Away’. With this, you can set the behaviour of the lights when you leave or arrive home using the location services on your phone.
Features – Hue Sync Desktop app
The Hue Sync app is a software that’s available for Windows and Macs. With Hue Sync, you’re able to match the Hue bulbs’ colour to video, audio and games. For example, for music, the Hue bulbs will cycle through predetermined colours depending on what song is being played. You can also enable the intensity to match the beat of the music.
Usage and Performance
The usage of the Hue bulbs was a straightforward and pleasant one. The response time of bulb was much faster compared to previous smart bulbs I’ve tested. Changing colours was also spot on. The colours were easy on the eyes compared to the other smart bulbs I’ve reviewed. Different shades of white was also represented properly with the minor exception of cool white. I felt at the max setting of cool white, it wasn’t really as ‘cool’ as I would’ve liked it to be.
Entertainment is where the Hue bulbs shine. For my setup, I was using the Hue Sync app on my laptop (Windows) and I had two hue bulbs in my living room (one on each side of the TV stand). Having the ‘music’ mode on, the lights really set the mood for the songs that I listened to on Spotify. And how it works is really simple; the Hue Sync app detects the internal audio of your system (Windows, Mac) and syncs the bulbs according to the music. To appreciate these modes fully, you need to have at least two bulbs operational. It shouldn’t be an issue though since most of you would have purchased a starter kit which comes with three bulbs.
For ‘video’ and ‘game’ modes, the best way to use this is if you have a good sized monitor or by hooking up your desktop/laptop to the TV. By placing hue products (bulbs, strips, etc) behind or next to the display, the Hue sync app will set colours matching to the visuals on the screen. What this does is create a more engaging experience by ‘extending’ the display to the wall. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get to test this as my TV is currently kept away in the store due to some re-arranging of furniture.
The one area that can be improved is the ‘wake-up’ time. What I mean by ‘wake-up’ time is the duration it takes for the bulb to respond after being idle. At times, while using the app to turn off/on after a period of inactivity, the bulb would not respond. Even when the app says it’s connected, toggling it didn’t result in any changes from the bulb. This was also apparent when using Alexa. After giving a command, Alexa would reply “Sorry, the device is not responding”.And at times after replying, the lights would eventually respond. All of this when the Hue bridge clearly shows all three indicator lights (power, network, Internet) are active. So there were some inconsistencies while using it and I hope that this could be fixed.
Cost – Comparison with TP-Link, Yeelight and LIFX
In terms of cost, how does having a bridge (hub) system compare with other brands that have it built into the bulb itself? Let’s do a comparison with three other brands; TP-Link, Yeelight and LIFX. The comparison below takes into account the retail price (no discounts or promotions). As the price fluctuates and differs slightly from region to region we will only put down the percentage difference. This difference is just a general indication and not set in stone.
Scenario: You want to start with four smart bulbs for your home.
For Philips Hue, you would need to get a starter kit (three bulbs) plus a stand alone hue bulb. Although Amazon does list a four bulb starter kit, we will be basing our comparison on the three bulb starter kit as this is what is officially available in Malaysia.
Comparison: TP-Link, Yeelight and LIFX
It would be 16% less expensive if you bought a pack of four LIFX A19 bulbs.
It would be 32% less expensive if you bought four TP-Link LB130 bulbs.
It would be 55% less expensive if you bought four Yeelight multi-coloured (2nd gen) bulbs.
The Philips Hue brand
From the comparison we can see that the Philips Hue is pricier and in some cases way pricier. Which begs the question, ‘Is the price jump justifiable? ‘ Because if you look at the competitors mentioned above, they are all reliable brands that Jumpadevice has tested. Although the bulbs we tested were the basic models (dimmable and tunable whites), our experience with them was good and would expect the same quality with the colour models.
The answer to the question is, it is justifiable, if you’re looking for a premium product. This is because what you get with Philips Hue is innovation and simplicity of use. With innovation, you have the Hue Sync app which allows you to use the bulbs in conjunction with your music, video or games and create a more immersive experience. I do not know of any other competitor that has this feature with their smart bulbs at this moment. With simplicity of use, what you get with the Hue app (iOS & Android) is a very intuitive and polished user experience. The menus are well organized and the icons are clear and identifiable.
Where to buy
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit can be purchased on Lazada here.
International readers can head to Amazon. The difference between the model listed on Amazon and the model reviewed here is that the Amazon is a four bulb starter kit.
[Disclosure: Jumpadevice is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Jumpadevice stands to gain commission if you decide to purchase through the link. Jumpdadevice has tested these products and recommends it. However, please do not spend money if you feel it doesn’t meet your needs and goals.]
So should you get a Philips Hue? Yes, if you have the budget . The Philips Hue is a product that ‘takes care of you’ once you have it installed in your home. It is versatile in that you can have it in any configuration to your liking. And if you have other Hue products, you can mix and match to create the perfect ambiance for relaxing or for entertainment. Do not fret though if you do not have the budget as there are alternatives that you can still buy. Other brands like LIFX, TP-Link and Yeelight come in at a more manageable price without compromising quality. All in all, the Philips Hue bulbs have the seal of approval and is recommended by Jumpadevice.