Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack Review

Updated January 31, 2014
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Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack
Bottom Line

The Philips Hue is the most sophisticated LED lighting system we've seen. The kit includes a hub called the Hue Bridge, three 600-lumen bulbs, and a smartphone app to adjust their color and brightness. The Hue system offers an incredible range of functions, and reviewers say it's great for amazing your guests. If all you need is basic lighting, however, the Hue is way too complicated and expensive.

Performance

Endless possibilities. The Hue system lets you change the color and brightness of each bulb individually. You can run preset lighting "scenes" or create your own, and the web-based IFTTT (If This, Then That) protocol allows you to coordinate your lights with anything from the weather to your email. Reviewers say the Hue system is easy to set up, but the app isn't intuitive to use and the Android app has fewer capabilities than the iOS version. For all their advanced capabilities, Hue bulbs aren't the best for basic lighting; they're only 600 lumens each at max power, about equal to a 50-watt incandescent.

ProsWide variety of functions, IFTTT compatible, Easy to set upConsComplicated to use, Bulbs aren't very bright

Value

An expensive toy. The capabilities of the Hue system come at a stiff price. The starter kit will set you back $200 and you'll pay $60 a pop to add new bulbs. The bulbs are reasonably efficient at 8.5 watts each, but they must stay connected at all times and will drain a tiny trickle of power even when they're not lit. The Hue's rated lifetime of 15,000 hours is shorter than the 25,000 hours offered by most LED bulbs, and its two-year warranty is much shorter than the five- and 10-year warranties of our top-rated LEDs. For basic lighting, there are much more cost-effective options.

Our Sources

1. CNET

Lighting Up Your Connected Life, Rich Brown, Sept. 8, 2013

Rich Brown awards the Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack 4 stars out of 5. He says it's easy to use and offers lots of potential, but its $200 price tag is pretty steep for a toy that may quickly lose its novelty.

2. The New York Times

New Reasons to Change Light Bulbs, David Pogue, March 20, 2013

Technology columnist David Pogue tests six brands of LED light bulbs in his home, and reports on their light quality, appearance and value. He describes the Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack as "a blast" for entertaining guests, but concedes that "the novelty wears off fairly quickly."

3. Popular Mechanics

Reviewed: Philips Hue, the Color-Changing Connected LED Lightbulbs, Glenn Derene, July 9, 2013

Glenn Derene is ambivalent about the Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack. He says the kit shows just how much potential LED bulbs have for versatility and interconnectedness, but admits that for everyday use, it doesn't have much advantage over an ordinary bulb.

4. Amazon.com

Philips 431643 Hue Personal Wireless Lighting, Starter Pack, Frustration Free, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014

The Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack gets about 270 reviews at Amazon.com, with ratings averaging out to 4.1 stars out of 5. Owners describe the kit as a cool, if pricey, toy with a wide variety of possible uses. Most find it easy to use, but some disagree.

5. Apple.com

Philips Hue Connected Bulb – Starter Pack, Contributors to Apple.com, As of February 2014

When first introduced, the Hue was available exclusively at Apple stores. The starter pack gets more than 200 reviews at Apple.com, where it earns an average rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. As with most other sources, the price is a pain-point with reviewers, but the novelty of the bulbs is a boon.