I picked up the Philips Hue Color Starter Kit to review and let me tell you, I was pretty impressed. Not only were the new bulbs super beautiful (and able to produce a deep, deep, green) but the technology and interface was seamless, the learning curve was super shallow, and integrations seem limitless. I do a deeper dive into Philips Hue features and advanced capabilities here.
Amazingly Powerful 3rd Generation Bulbs
At the top right hand corner of the packaging is a new label spouting “richer colors.” So what’s this all about? Richer than what? This is a Philips Hue gen 3 vs gen 2 sort of thing.
Essentially, this is because Philips really wanted to improve their 2nd generation bulbs that were sorely lacking in deep greens, and certain styles of blue and yellow.
The problem with the 2nd generation hue bulbs was that the greens were very washed out and shined an awkward yellowish color. Similarly, the yellows and light blues were washed and displayed a harshed white color more than they generated a true blue or yellow.
Those issues have been addressed in the newer 3rd gen bulbs and they are gorgeous, and indeed rich. During my demonstration, I found myself needing to squint in my own living room the colors were so powerful!
Unboxing the Philips Hue A19 Starter Kit
What’s in the box! The package I purchased was the 3rd generation Philips Hue color bulb starter kit. This retails right around $200 depending on where you buy yours. Inside the box I found:
- 3 white and color bulbs
- Hue Bridge
- Power Supply
- Ethernet Cable
How to Set Up The Philips Hue Lighting System
Setting up the Hue lights was pretty intuitive. There are only 3 simple steps to getting your Hue lights set up:
- Screw in the bulbs
- Set up the bridge
- Download Hue App to Connect to Wi-Fi
Step 1: You have three bulbs. Not much else to do with them but to just screw them into lamp or wherever you want colorful bulbs. Super intuitive, right.
Step 2: The bridge only has two holes in the back. One is for connecting the included ethernet cable for internet and one is for connecting the included power brick for power. Run the ethernet cable to a modem/router and power to an outlet. I know. Duh, right?
Step 3: Download the Hue App. This is actually really simple too. Download the app to your phone while it is connected to your home’s wi-fi. Once the Hue app is launched for the first time it will automatically start searching for the hue bridge. It took mine maybe 7 or 8 seconds to discover the bridge on my network.
The app will ask you to press the button on the top of your bridge (it is the only button) and this basically verifies to your Hue app “this is the bridge I wish to connect.” It will sync instantly and then you are asked to set up your first room.
To set up your first room you just have to create a room name and select which bulbs you want in the room. I named my room “Living Room” and included all the bulbs in that one room. I could have done “Living Room” with 2 bulbs then created a “Bedroom” with the 3rd bulb. You get the point.
Using the Hue App
On the Home Screen there will be four navigation icons at the top and your rooms listed below. All I had was my living room.
The living room bar itself contains three buttons.
Button 1 is the living room icon. Tapping the icon allows you to control all the bulbs at once. You can adjust the color and intensity of all bulbs associated with that room simultaneously.
Button 2 is the room name. If you tap the room name you’ll get the option to edit each light bulb individually. This is also where you go to control scenes.
Button 3 is the on off switch. Tap the on off switch to turn all the lights associated with that room on and off simultaneously.
Using Scenes Feature
When you tap your room name you’ll see the following screen:
Notice at the top there are two options: LIGHTS and SCENES. Under the LIGHTS control you can manually operate each individual bulb within a room. By selecting SCENES option you can use one of the coolest features Hue Lights offer.
Scenes is an ambiance feature that causes your Hue Light Bulbs to mimic the colors of a particular image. Philips includes a couple colorful images for you to play with. What’s really cool is you can use scenes feature for any image in your phone’s gallery. Personally, I think the best Hue scenes are the ones you create yourself.
Within the scenes options you can zoom into particular areas of the scene you wish to emphasize, and increase or decrease the intensity of your bulbs.
You can command Siri to set scenes for you, but as far as I know, echo and Alexa does not support this feature directly. You can’t just tell Alexa to set a scene and it work. You have to set it up through a 3rd party. That’s a great way to dovetail into my next point!
Devices Supported and General Details
What devices and services does Hue support? What is the longevity like? These are important things to consider if you are thinking about dropping $200 on light bulbs, right?
The Hue lights work with Android and Apple phones. In fact, my review and demonstration was performed on an Android.
Hue lights can be controlled by voice through Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home.
The particular package came with 3 Philips Hue Color Bulbs. They are LED bulbs. They are very responsive and can get painfully bright.
Philips states that their LED bulbs last for 25,000 hours of use. So what does that mean? That’s a lot of hours to try and think about practically.
In short, if you use your light bulbs EVERY DAY for 6 hours a day, your Philips Hue bulbs should last over 11 years. That’s a strong life. In IoT (Internet of Things) years, your Hue bulbs will live to be 7,000 years old.
Also consider this: and average light bulb only lasts between 1,000 and 2,000 hours of use.
For even more details on advanced Hue features and additional spec information, make sure to check the link I dropped in the opening paragraph.
I was really impressed with the performance of the 3rd Generation Philips Hue Color Starter Kit. It was extremely intuitive to set up and use. The bulbs themselves performed amazingly. The colors were robust and beautiful (even painful at times). And they will last a really long time.
The 3rd Generation bulbs are available on amazon and eligible for Prime two-day shipping so you can get yours fast!