28 October 2013

REVIEW: Philips Hue

Nice to meet Hue.

For the past century or so, humankind has enjoyed the knowledge that come night-time all they need do to light their way is flick a switch on the wall. But now it seems that even the humble and erstwhile light bulb has had its day and become... well, soooo last century. These days it seems that as a people we are no longer satisfied by the gentle orange glow of our lights, and instead prefer a rich red. Or soothing blue. Or mellow yellow. Or anything in between for that matter. We blame tech giant Philips and their new LED lighting system, Hue.

Hue is essentially a system that involves swapping your conventional boring light bulbs for brand spanking new WiFi connected versions which can shine in a plethora of shades and tones. As with other modern home technology, the bulbs are controlled via a smartphone or tablet app, available for both Android and iOS.

In the box you get three bulbs and something called a Bridge, which is basically a networking station for connecting the bulbs to your wireless router. Fortunately setting up is easy peasy as all you need to do is plug the Bridge into your router using the cable provided and screw in the three bulbs wherever you want them in your house.

Next up, download the app and once installed it will automatically search for any Hue bulbs connected to your network and give you full control over each of them.

The app itself is a pleasure to use and thankfully laid out fairly simply. Changing the colour of a bulb, for instance, is as easy as jabbing your finger on a colour wheel and dragging about to get the desired shade. It reminded us of the Sphero app but was far less fiddly and infinitely more customisable.

One feature we found particularly interesting was the ability of the app to open a photo saved to your device onto which you can then jab your finger to select a colour. The Philips Hue lights will then replicate that same colour allowing you to, so the website says, "recreate that epic vacation memory". In reality this does work quite well and we were particularly impressed by the bulbs ability to recreate the sense of an old photo. It was surprising to just how much the average living room can change with only a slight alteration in colour.

Other stand out features of the system include a timer (whereby the bulbs can be programmed to spring to life at any moment - handy in the morning) and a remote access function which allows everything to be controlled while not connected to the wifi network. This means it is possible to switch on your lights before you get home or turn them on and off while on holiday, creating the illusion that someone is home.

We found it pretty tricky to actually get a photo of just what the Hue system does to a room (or rather a photo that was any good) because Philips have engineered a very subtle and subdued system. Nothing about Hue is stark or overly brass and all the colours and tones shift gently and effortlessly. A real pleasure.

Couple all that with a system that even a child could set up and you have an extremely innovative and enjoyable gadget that is perfect for warming these cold autumn nights.


Available from www.amazon.co.uk

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