IoT and the concept of smart homes are the highlights of 2019 in tech but the adoption of such technologies has yet to breach the mainstream markets. For those who would like to take their first steps into IoT or upgrade the home with some smart techs, we at Stuff Malaysia always recommend that you get familiar with smart lights first. Smart lighting is probably one of the easiest IoT categories to adopt as most smart lights are made to be compatible with contemporary bulb sockets. With this review, we explore if the 'Philips Hue White And Color Ambiance Starter Kit' is such a product for early adopters wanting to spruce up their space with some intelligent and programmable lights.
Out of the box, the Philips Hue White And Color Ambiance Starter Kit contains three smart light bulbs, a device known as the bridge (includes power and ethernet cable). So long as you have a good WiFi router, a smartphone and internet connection at home, you're all set.
The smart lights are compatible with E27 sockets, which many modern home uses these days. So high chances are, it would be suitable for use with lamps, pendant lamps, and ceiling lights.
The bridge is the quintessential part of the kit as it serves as the 'hub', which wirelessly recognizes any active Philips Hue smart lights within range. It is also the hub that sends and receives information to and from each individual active Philips Hue smart light in order to push commands and programs that are performed through the smartphone app (Philips Hue app) and also upload latest firmware updates to them. Active here means the lights are installed on a socket that is powered on.
The bridge needs to be connected to a power outlet and a wireless router (via ethernet cable). By doing so, the bridge is ready to be paired and detected by your smartphone using the Philips Hue app.
Using As Normal Lighting
Because of its 16-million color light output, the Philips Hue smart lights can replicate the output of normal cool or warm lights for the home or office. But it must be noted that the maximum lumen output is around 800. Therefore, it adequately illuminates the space but not with blinding intensity. For those who are used to brighter bulbs that offer a higher lumen output, it might take a while to get used to.
In my case, I tested the bulbs on different pendant lamps at home. I love setting it to cool white for the kitchen while having warm light at other areas such as the living room creates an entirely different ambience - especially if one is looking for a more relaxing aura.
Playing With Colors
With 16-million colors, you can create a lot of experiences for the home or office. I agree that people generally don't need colored lights at home but it might become useful one day, perhaps.
With the Philips Hue app, you can practically set any color you like, and of varying brightness. In these photos, I tried setting the lights to pink and blue-green respectively and the results were quite pleasant.
Colored lights can certainly set the mood for special occasions - such as Valentine's day or when you're meditating. It has a degree of effect on the mood as well as emotional states, but that depends entirely on the user and the preference.
Setting Moods For Gaming
We were advised to try using the Philips Hue Smart Light Kit to enhance our gaming experience, which it did! We tested the smart lights with a console game and was able to match the lights' color based on the in-game environment that we are in.
We set it to a firey red color to match the volcanic in-game terrain, sky blue to paint set a tone for an icy forest and indigo purple when it was night-time. By doing so, it literally increased the immersion to the game in such way that you could feel the in-game's environment flooding onto your real space. It was pretty cool.
The App That Controls Everything
In order to truly use the Philips Hue Starter Kit, the Philips Hue app is required in order to control the smart lights. And surely, it's a no-brainer app and fairly straightforward to use.
There are existing presets to choose from if you're lazy to select and experiment with the colors and brightness. The presets are also beneficial if you just want to switch between cool or warm light configurations.
If you're feeling adventurous, just use the color plate to control which light to illuminate in the specific color and brightness level that you want.
The app also allows you to program the time your lights would turn on or off and gives a myriad of programming controls to make the lights "smart". Thanks to that, you don't have to actively switch off the lights when you're going to bed as a scheduled program would allow you to do so on a specified timing of the day.
Photo derived from MacStories
Some Benefits And Conclusion
The Philips Hue Starter Kit may benefit you financially in the long run. Interesting stuff we found was how much it helped us saved in our monthly electricity bills - down to almost 50%.
It provided us with alternative lighting during the day where we don't need as much electrical light due to having adequate sunlight. Instead of switching on our fluorescent lights in the day, we used the Philips Hue Starter Kit to provide enough light for our use throughout the daylight hours. And sure enough, we paid less on electricity toward the month-end.
In conclusion, the Philips Hue Starter Kit may be pricey as an initial investment but it certainly has benefited us in saving via our bills. It is highly compatible with the very common E27 socket and can paint the home or office with some mood-lifting energies depending on the user's preferences. We definitely recommend this for anyone who would like to take their first steps into adopting an IoT lifestyle.