Philips Hue has released a colourful addition to their Hue family with the Philips Hue Play Light Bar. Find out what we thought in our review!
*This product was sent to FYIG by Signify for review purposes*
I’ve always been pretty fascinated with anything that constitutes as a smart home product. There’s just something very satisfying by being able to see the status of different things in your home from the comfort of your couch. With that being said, I was happy to receive these new Play Light Bars from Philips Hue. Let’s take a deep dive into the pros and cons of these cool new additions to the Hue family.
The Hue Play Light Bars come in a pack with two plastic light bars that are available in black or white. The two I received were black which goes with the rest of my home theater quite well. The package also includes two vertical stands and two clips for mounting the bars on the back panel of a TV or monitor. I chose to use the vertical stands, but I might end up sticking them on the back of the TV to hide them a bit better. To help with that, there is some double-sided tape and mounting screws for the vertical stands. The power pack included is quite large which was a bit annoying to me, but it does power up to three light bars so I can give it a pass there.
This package costs $129.99 US, a bit on the pricier side and that isn’t even the end of it. You’ll also need a Philips Hue Bridge to actually connect to these devices and use them to their full potential so that will set you back $59.99. Want a third light? That’ll be another $59.99 (Hue Bridge – $69.99 CAD/Hue Play single pack – $89.99 CAD/Hue Play double pack – $169.99 CAD) . As you can see, it gets pretty pricey, but that’s par for the course for the range that you get with these lights. They’re really that good. Each bar measures 10 inches long, 1.4 inches high, and 1.7 inches wide. There’s a rubberized base (complete with 3 mounting holes which were a nice surprise) with a translucent light cover and it fits in well with the rest of the Hue family. There’s a fairly long 78-inch power cable so you can mix and match where you want the lights without worrying about not having enough cable-length. Inside, there’s a 530-lumen LED bulb that is capable of displaying 16 million colors and 50,000 shades of white. The bulbs are dimmable and rated to last up to 25,000 hours.
The Play Bars use the same Hue Android and iOS app as the Hue products out there on the market. The home screen shows the rooms or zones that you have created and allows you to select each individual bar or both at once. There are even themes that you can choose to make your setup look like an arctic setting, a sunset, a spring day, etc. I loved playing with all the preset themes and you can even make your own. The options are seemingly endless.
There are four buttons at the bottom of the app. The Home button returns you to the home screen, obviously. The Routines button takes you to a screen where you can configure Home and Away settings, configure fade on and fade off settings, and set timers. The Explore button is like a digital guide where you’ll find out how to control the Play Bars with Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and Google Assistant voice commands, and how to make them work with other smart home platforms including SmartThings, Vivint, Logitech Harmony, and Nest. There’s a lot of interoperability which is nice for those who have a ton of different smart products and services. Adding the Play Bars is as simple as going into the Settings button and scanning for new lights. They show up really fast which is great because that was something I was skeptical about. I will note that it took me a long time to perform a software update for these lights, but that could be a random issue as I’ve since updated all my other Hue products much faster.
Hue Sync is a Windows PC/Mac desktop app that lets you sync the Play Bars (and other Hue lights) with music, movies, and video games. It works really well with movies and games by matching the dominant colours on-screen. Music is equally as awesome with the lights changing to the beat. Hue Sync is a really good app but, there’s only one problem, it only works with content that comes from your Windows or Mac PC. This means that it doesn’t work with content streamed directly to your smart TV or gaming consoles. It’s a bit of a bummer considering that’s what most folks will want these lights for, but I still think they’re well worth it for what they can do.
All in all, I really couldn’t expect more out of these Play Light Bars. They offer great ambient lighting in any setting and offer an incredibly easy setup. My biggest issues with this product has to be the price. It’s over $200 when you factor in taxes which is a lot to stomach for some people, especially if this is going to be your only Philips Hue product. For me, I ended up getting a bunch of other Hue products and I’ve been very happy with them so far. The other negative is that you can’t use it directly with a TV, at least yet. Hopefully, Philips Hue can get an app out there for Smart TVs and gaming consoles to offer some more functionality. Other than that, this is a fantastic product that I can’t recommend enough!