Skip to main content

The first weekend with Philips Hue

Over the weekend I finally acquired something that has been on my 'want' list for some time now - A Philips Hue starter set. To this day I couldn't put in words exactly why I've always wanted some, and I don't think I'd be able to say anything after a year, two years using them.

Perhaps it's just the nerdy side of me. Another toy to play with, something else to connect to my phone. Smart home products fascinate me but I'm still yet to really translate that into actual use. Hue is such an insanely simple to use product that its appeal can go far beyond nerds. I suppose that's the bigger picture for products like this, but the past few days has been a lot of fun.

Part of the fun has been seeing what the Android developer community has been doing with access to the Hue system. Philips provides a good, relatively easy to use app to control your lighting, but it's a tad fussy. On the whole it's actually pretty solid but controlling individual bulbs is a messy experience. You have to scroll up and move the color pane out of the way to get to the bulb controls, then back down again and drag them about round the palette until you get to the color you want. There's a ton of options but it's so easy to go just a little too far and end up with something you just don't want.

There are some great third-party alternatives out there, however. You'll need to use the official one to first set up and generally manage your system, but there are some developers out there doing good things — which is less of a surprise.

I highlighted one such app during our Editors app picks. I like it because it's a much easier to use app, it has a simpler design and replaces what I don't like about the official app with something preferable to me.

There's a bunch of other good ones I've already tried, too. Huey is a pretty interesting case where it opens the camera and changes your Hue lights color to match whatever you're pointing the camera at. I don't quite know if I'm going to put this into use, but it's cool as hell. That's before you look into IFTTT and just what's possible using that. In fact, I've probably spent more time looking at what you can do with Hue this weekend than actually using it.

I'm also hugely impressed by this, a product of the recent Netflix Hack Day. Philips is already starting to integrate Hue within some of its Ambilight TVs, but how this works with Netflix is pretty astounding. It's like the Huey app mentioned above but without having to point the phone at the TV. I want it. I want it now.

Hue isn't the only smart lighting system out there, but even after just a few days I'm so pleased with it. The lights aren't cheap, but already I've got one up in my soon-to-be first born's nursery as well as my home office. The shopping list is growing by the hour, too. It's also pretty fantastic that something like this exists in our ever more connected world. It's literally so easy to use and have fun with that a child can do it – and no doubts will be doing in future years.

Since I'm an outright noob, I'd love to hear what tweaks and cool things you guys with Hue have done with your own set ups or any favorite apps of yours. I've got tons of ideas of my own but I'd love some more so hit me up in the comments below. And if you're not yet a Hue owner but it sounds like something you'd be interested in, check out the links below where our buddies over at Connectedly have set up a handy beginners guide and a look at the best smart lighting you can buy.

  • Am I the only one that thinks this is ridiculously expensive for what you're actually getting? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Probably not :)
  • Nope, It's why I haven't even bothered with it.
  • That's really the only reason that I haven't jumped on this yet. Hopefully it'll drop at some point. (Maybe after wider acceptance?)
  • The colored ones are, the new Lux white bulbs are more reasonable - $100 for two bulbs and the hub. Even just varying warm and cool lighting I find make a noticeable difference in my mood.
  • No, you're not the only one. Priced on Amazon. $194.99! Ridiculous.
  • Of course not, these things are crazy expensive but still pretty cool. I think AC reported on the GE Link bulbs coming out in September that cost around $15 a bulb (which is slightly higher than regular LED bulbs) but can only output white in color. Nice to see a little competition in the smart bulb market, maybe we'll see these Hue bulbs drop in price in the future to compete :)
  • I was in Home Depot over the weekend and was checking out some flyers they had for the Wink Hub that can control products from other companies like nest, phillips hue (not the color changing), and a couple other companies. The wink Hub is much cheaper then the Phillips Hue hub.
  • You're not. But I bought a set anyway. Best Buy and The Home Depot had a deal where you buy the starter pack for the floods and get an extra bulb for free. That's how I got sucked in and they're really amazing although pretty expensive. I'll be buying more for sure. Hopefully they have more deals/sales like these. Otherwise the Hue's are one of those things where you honestly can't justify the purchase/why you need them but you buy them anyway and have a blast owning them. And then spend more money to get more.
  • I have a system myself and I love it! Yes it is expensive but the effects you can create and the automation is so nice.
  • If I hadn't had $100 in Amazon gift cards to subsidize the purchase I wouldn't have bought it. But I really wanted one and like Richard, I couldn't really say why. I do love it though and it's super fun. It's a little flaky in that it disconnects all the time and so I have to go to the hub and reconnect. And every time the power goes off (which is too often at my place) all the lights reset and turn on. I also settled on the Lampshade app as the best one.
  • I use my Hue lights with Tasker mainly. AutoHue plus AutoVoice lets you say "ok Google, lights on" and have it work. Novelty still hasn't worn off. Also have a lightstrip under the couch, but it mostly just reminds me how much I need to vacuum under there.
  • Came here to say this. Tasker + AutoHue + AutoVoice is amazing. Like all things involving tasker, setting it up is a pain in the ass, but the functionality is near limitless. I have 12 hue lights, and about 10-15 tasks for turning on/off lights in different rooms, or changing colors or brightness. Being able to control my lights with my voice is pretty awesome, and is definitely my favorite thing about the Hue.
  • Good to hear you guys are enjoying AutoHue! The looks on the faces of friends and family when you casually say "Ok google, turn on the lights" are always priceless :D. As for the hue lights, they are pretty neat (and expensive..) but I think they should come with the Hue Tap that is supposedly coming out soon, for me it happens too often that they are physically turned off, which really defeats the purpose...
  • Lampshade is my every day app, which it looks like you already use. I highly suggest the Hue Taps. They are great for leaving and entering the home. Just tap one of the 4 programmable buttons and it will change to the scene you want.
  • There are three main protocols fighting from dominance in the HA industry... ZigBee, Insteon, and Z-Wave. I believe the Hue uses the ZigBee protocol. Do some Google searching and you can learn the strengths and weaknesses of each. I believe ZigBee protocol has issues with using devices from different manufacturers. ZigBee is based on a 802 wireless standard. The products still aren't main stream enough for the prices to be reasonable. If you like to tinker or hack things, this is a great hobby. Posted via Android Central App
  • Absolutely. I haven't used the other products like Lifx, but what's probably most surprising to me about Hue is just how easy it is to set up. I'm also left wondering where to hide the bridge...
  • Richard, check out the Hue Tap: just got it and they're amazing: physical switches, used to switch between light scenes without the need of an app or anything. Great for guests, great for convenience. Best of all: no battery needed, it's kinetic energy.. pretty cool stuff
  • The problem is that most typical manufacturing and hardware companies are clueless when it comes to software. The bugs you experience are all because Philips does not know how to code. Whether it is Samsung, LG, Gm, Ford, Sony, etc. on their own they are all crap at coding and delivering and end-user experience based on it. Until, this new light bulb is partnered and enhanced as a platform through a tech company is silicon valley (apple, google, etc.) I would never risk my $ on their products that have an element of software. PS Remember the IKEA TV Uppeleva disaster?
  • While I respect and understand your opinion, I think you're looking at things wrong. LG programs just fine. It's why their TVs are very solid physically and electronically. Samsung holds a massive foothold in the worldwide smart-device market. The same cam be said for several companies. It's not that their coding is shit, it's the workflow for producing and testing the products that fails. Sometimes it is the software, and sometimes it is the hardware. It doesn't mean their coding department is worthless.
  • Have you used TouchWiz? How about an LG phone before they started using Android? Let me remind of ATI in the 90s and early 2000s. Do you remember their drivers? Yes, some company's coders are shit. They may excel at the hardware but they almost always fail to get out of that box. ATI case in point. Their drivers were so bad and unstable - the running joke was that even if Windows and chip makers gave them their full source they still wouldn't be able to ship a stable driver set. The market share for the companies you mentioned above are held in-spite of their terrible UX skills. They only grabbed share on specs and pricing. I agree when you point out that failed "workflow for producing and testing the products" are the root cause, however, when companies hire people who only focus on the hardware aspect and are not trained to assess the overall UX (or just not empowered because the company does not prioritize it) you land up with the current heap of products that purely compete on specs and price.
  • Right, but that assumes that the company has a finite pool of programmers. Most companies have a relatively fluid pool of programmers to pull from with varying levels of experience. Not every product is going to be perfect with constantly changing teams of developers. This means that at any given point in time, a product may fail, but that doesn't mean that the coding is suddenly horrible. It means that particular iteration is not up to par.
  • I have hue (from a Connectedly contest). I like them but they are pricey. The problem with smart bulbs is dumb switches. A $60 smartbulb is useless when the $3 wall switch is off. Thats essentially why I think $40 zwave dimmer switches with $10 led dumb bulbs will ultimately win. And even when you need a hue-like color change bulb you will need a smart switch to make sure there's power. Even then, lamps with their own switch will be problematic. Posted via Android Central App
  • I think by ultimately you mean in the short-term, because in the mid-term both will probably be used in conjunction, and then in the long-term automation, voice, and touch will win.
  • I have 9 Hue light bulbs and 1 Hue Strip (plus 2 lamps compatible with Hue).. I enjoy using tasker/hue apps/voice commands, but when I have guests it's sometimes a problem. I recently solved this with the new Hue Tap (Richard, check it out), which is basically a physical switch you can use to switch between difference light scenes. The switch doesn't use battery or power, it's driven via kinetic energy. The idea sounds kinda dumb but it's GREAT.. now I can't live without a few switches around my place.
  • +1 on the tap... It's deceptively simple... But extremely useful... No batteries either... I also have 9 bulbs and the tap is a great addition to the system. I love the Hue concept and also my ambilight TV... Crossing my fingers they bring ambilight TV back to the US! I'll buy one when they do! Posted via my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (Verizon)