The concept of the “Smart Home” continues to gain pace with great new technology being launched all the time. One of the challenges with the Smart Home though is complete integration, and different products working together. There’s also sometimes a real issue with the lag in some devices doing what you ask them to do. Philips latest range of Hue products begins to fix all those issues.
When I installed Philips Hue lighting at our home in late 2014 I was blown away by the simplicity of the system, and the outright coolness of having lightstrips and coloured lights almost anywhere in the home and control them with an app on my phone.
Over time I’ve added new bulbs, and “blooms” to my system to create colour effects in various rooms based on mood, or activity.
Late last year they launched an innovative control switch for the Hue – the Hue Tap. This switch connects wirelessly to the system and allows you to have four actions, off, on, colour scheme 1 and colour scheme 2 for example all at the press of a button. But the amazing thing was it had no batteries. The Tap uses kinetic energy to power itself and its communication to the Hue base station (bridge). Brilliant.
So this week I installed the “version 2.0” Hue.
First and foremost this involves an all new Bridge. With more memory and power than the first one, the new Bridge also comes with Apple HomeKit compatibility.
These improvements to the user experience are evident from the first moment you use it. Your lights will respond faster – almost immediately – to your commands. That’s a big win, especially for people new to “smart” technology which can often suffer from tiny lag that is much more evident to those unfamiliar with “smart tech”.
Then there’s HomeKit – by enabling HomeKit Phillips Hue is Siri enabled – so you can say “Hey Siri, turn off all the lights” or “Hey Siri dim the Kitchen light to 10%”. There’s also widgets you can place in your notification tray on iOS.
Fortunately too, there’s still strong IF integration (Formerly IFTTT, If This then That) which means your Philips Hue can be triggered by commands from other smart devices like your phone’s location, the rain on your connected rain gauge, your instagram posting or the weather on the day. It’s brilliant.
Hue Dimmer Switch
This is both excellent as a part of your total Hue system and also a great way to get started on “Smart” lighting.
You can buy the Dimmer on its own for $34.95, but buy it with a White Bulb for a total of $59.95 and out of the box, with no other Hue product and you can start dimming your light right away. No electrician, just change the bulb, and the switch works right away.
If you’ve got a bigger Hue system then the Dimmer can be paired with the Bridge and allocated to a “room” on your system.
With that, the dimmer can control the brightness of the scene, turn the scene off and on, but also scroll through five scenes you set in the app.
In a bedroom for example you may have several colour options, but one scene where just the bedside lights are on. The dimmer will scroll through those preset scenes.
The switch itself comes off as a remote, but comes with a mounting bracket that can simply stick to your wall.
Not Hugo, it’s Hue Go – which is basically the updated version of what was called Bloom. A round light that works great on a shelf, bench or pointing in the corner against the wall to throw light at an area.
The Hue Go is 100% wireless, and while it also works well plugged in all the time, the battery will last 3 hours at full brightness, so it can be taken and placed in the centre of the dining table for a subtle light.
On the back is also a single button that will scroll through a bunch of preset options like colours, brightness and plain light.
And of course then there’s the lights that you can place around your home to evolve your lights to LED and smart control.
There are two types of bulb, White and White+Colour. The white allows you to create shades of white colour (more yellow through white) for mood, while the “White and Colour” bulbs allow you to choose from a huge range of colours around the white and total colour spectrum.
Great news for 2.0 is the availability of both screw and bayonet fittings – to suit the vast number of Aussie homes still fitted with Bayonet light sockets.
Light Strips are the coolest thing on the Hue range, allowing you to run long strips of light above or below benches or behind bookshelves – long areas of light.
The new strips can still be cut to size, but better still the new Hue Light Strips can also be plugged in together to make a longer run of lights.
The pièce de résistance though in the range are the Hue G10 Downlights. Yep, replace your halogen downlight not just with LED lights, but Smart ones. The G10 is a larger bulb than your Halogen, but fits directly on 240v lighting without the need for a transformer.
They will fit and replace any recessed downlight with ease.
I’ve already got a Hue system.
Good news, everything in the range is both forward and backward compatible. This means your old lights will work on a new Hue Bridge, but if you don’t need the HomeKit functionality and speed, the new lights will also work on the original Hue Bridge.
If you own the original Bridge, when you setup your new Bridge the Hue app will simply guide you through the process and it will copy all the settings you have including scenes and settings across from the old Bridge to the new. Simple!
Tell ’em the price son
Ok, here they are:
- Hue Go – $149.95
- Hue Bulb, White and Colour – $89.95
- Hue G10 Downlight – $89.95
- Hue Lightstrip Plus 2m – $124.95
- Hue Lightstrip 1m extensions – $44.95
- Hue Bulb, White – $29.95
- Hue Wireless Remote Dimmer Switch – $34.95
- Hue Wireless Remote Dimmer Switch and White Bulb – $59.95
- Hue White Starter Kit (Bridge + 2 Bulbs) – $144.95
- Hue Colour Starter Kit (3 Bulbs + Bridge) – $289.95
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.