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Dec 23, 2013

Philips Hue Starter Pack Review – smarter lighting looks great

by Stephen Ashby

Give your home a new look and feel with light bulbs controlled by your iOS device

Philips HueKey Features • Control individual bulbs wirelessly • Activate lights remotely • Set customised colours

Learn more: www.meethue.com

Available from: store.apple.com

Price: £179.95/$199.95

How would you like to control every light in your house with a tap of your iPhone’s screen? With Philips Hue this is not only possible, but extremely straightforward; the new home automation accessory enables you to control all your lights from one place, and customise them however you like.

The Starter Pack includes three of Philips’ special Hue bulbs, along with the base station required to link them all together. Hook it up to your Wi-Fi router and download an app and you’re nearly set up. The bulbs use standard screw connections, so will fit into most sockets; it would be nice to see Philips offer some different connections in future, though. You’ll need to leave the light switches in the on position at all times, but once you’re hooked up you can control everything from your iPhone, iPad or Mac. The app itself enables all kinds of customisations thanks to the multiple colours that the Hue bulbs create. There are controls for each individual bulb, along with presets that you can activate with a tap. These range from an Energise mode that beams brighter, white light into the room, to quirkier options like Undersea, focusing on blues and greens. You can create your own presets with colours set for each bulb, or use a photo to pick colours for each bulb. The app lets you customise the bulbs to your own needs, too, renaming each one, splitting them into rooms, and, brilliantly, setting alarms and alerts that can help you wake up in the morning.

It’s environmentally friendly, too; the bulbs use less than 9 watts of electricity each, and they will each last for 15,000 hours or 15 years of use, whichever comes first. In standby mode it uses 0.4 watts, meaning you won’t need to worry about wasting money. What we love is how responsive the system is – tap on a colour and within a second the light will have changed. Everything is so simple, from setup to customisation, and while the bulbs are great fun to play around with, we found ourselves regularly changing things depending on our activity.

For some users the novelty will undoubtedly wear off quickly, and for the price you really need to be sure whether you’ll use these lights before you invest. But if you want a better light experience, and something to show off to your friends, it’s a great choice.

Buy now?

Pros: Easy to use and gets the basics spot on

Cons: A little niche, and an expensive purchase

Verdict: Orange 4 Stars

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