Philips has started making connected lights for people who are having fun, and they are starting with a clever portable.
For most folks, smart lights that change color and do clever things are irresponsibly priced and not worth owning. It's not an unreasonable point of view, but when you look at smart lighting beyond a simple utility and start looking at them as entertainment accessories or technology to extend your digital presence beyond your smartphone, these products can be a healthy mix of useful and fun.
What we're going to talk about next leans much further into the fun category than it does useful. In fact if you're not already sure Hue bulbs are worth it for you I'd suggest clicking Lloyd up in the top left corner and finding something else to read, because the Philips Hue Go is not for you. Everyone else? Lets party.
Hue Go is a stylish little plastic bowl you can't open with a Hue light and a battery inside. There's a little nub on the bottom so you can prop this bowl up at an angle and use it like a Hue Bloom accent light, but it's primary purpose is to be a portable Hue bulb you can take with you places. Those places can be indoors or outdoors, and because the light gets as bright as a regular Hue bulb there's a fairly wide variety of places something like this could be useful as a lantern or temporary light source, but since it's not waterproof you need to take care with where you set it down.
On the bottom of this bowl you'll find a single button, which cycles through a list of light scenarios that are similar to what you'd send to a fixed Hue bulb from a Hue app. This feature works no matter where you are, even if you're not connected to a Hue network, because it's embedded in the bowl itself. There's a pair of generic light temperatures, and four animated light scenes if you're using the Go as more of an accent or mood light than an actual light source. One flickers like a candle, while the others go through softer transitions with greens and blues. These animated light scenes are usually only available through third-party Hue apps, so it's a little odd to see Philips recognize the feature as useful in this form factor but then not make the feature available through the official app.
Go feels like the first bulb in the Hue lineup that was built for fun
Of course, when you are at home and connected to a Hue network, you can use this light like any other hue bulb. Whether you're connected to power or running on battery, the bulb can be manipulated through any Hue app once it's on the network. According to Philips, the Go defaults to 40% brightness when running on battery and 100% brightness when connected to the included power cable, but when looking at the light through third-party apps it looks a little more like the split is 60/100. Through the Hue apps, however, you can set the brightness to whatever you want. The only consequence is battery life, which Philips rates at 3 hours of constant use. In our tests, battery could be stretched as far as four hours depending on what you are doing.
Eventually we've got to talk about the price. When you consider it's $100 price tag, the question becomes less about how practical this product is, and more about whether your activities could be improved by a smartphone-controlled glowing bowl. The portability of Hue Go means you can do some things you otherwise wouldn't bother with, like stick the bowl behind your television for a gaming session through the Huey app or an episode of 12 Monkeys with Syfy Sync connected to Go. It means you can build a fort with your kids and do silly things with lights, or gain some temporary lighting for a photo you're trying to take. Go feels like the first bulb in the Hue lineup that was built for fun, but it can also live as an accent bulb somewhere when not being this toy. If that's your thing, or if you've been looking for a good excuse to get into the Hue ecosystem, Go is worth checking out.