Our Philips Hue Starter Kit review is a must read if you're considering investing in what many consider to be the best smart lighting currently available on the market. If this is your first foray into the world of smart lighting, a starter kit is essential to getting started. But is the Philips Hue range really worth the hype?
We've enlisted the help of TechRadar's James Peckham to help us cut through the jargon and reveal – once and for all – whether Philips Hue is worth the investment. When you're done reading, you might want to compare this offering from Philips Hue with others that feature in our guide to the best smart bulbs.
Philips Hue Starter Kit options
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There are multiple versions of the Philips Hue Starter Kit (opens in new tab) available, but don't let that confuse you when making a purchase. The main difference is the type of bulb available. Options include:
- White ambience – this allows you to make the white light warmer or cooler.
- Colour – this is the most expensive option available, but you'll benefit from access to 16 million colours to choose from.
You’ll also have to decide the type of bulbs you need as Philips offers GU10 (those are spotlights) as well as B22 and E27.
What comes with a Philips Hue Starter Kit?
Every kit comes with the following:
- Two to four bulbs, depending on which set you purchased
- A bridge – this will give your bulbs smart capabilities
- Some come with an additional dimmer switch, but we’ll explain more about that in a moment.
You’ll find the Bridge to be the most important part of the Philips Hue set up, and you should think of this as your hub for all the extra Hue products that you may add to your collection, in future.
The Bridge is connected to your Wi-Fi (you can also use an ethernet cable) and acts as the brains to control all of the lightbulbs in your home. You may have three bulbs in the box here, but you can have up to 100 different lights connected to a single Bridge.
There’s also the option to purchase a dimmer switch, if required. We found it particularly useful, as it’s easy to press the buttons to turn your lights on or off when you’re not near to your phone or you don’t want the hassle of chatting with your smart speaker.
The dimmer is easy to attach to a wall so even your guests can control your lighting without any hassle. So far these just sound to be like normal light bulbs, right? Let’s dive into the smart features on offer.
Philips Hue and voice control
Voice control is one of the most exciting elements of having smart lighting. If you own a speaker with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple's Siri – all o f which we've reviewed – you’ll be able to connect up your lighting and control it by chatting to your speaker.
For example, you can ask your smart speaker to set your lighting to a blue shade and the lights will come on in a default blue shade. You can then ask for it to be warmer or cooler to change the look of the lighting but it’ll remain blue.
Testing it with an Amazon Echo and Alexa, we found the speaker to be the quickest and easiest way to control the lighting in our home. There are also the tools to switch your lights on or fiddle with the features within the smartphone app if you’re not in the same room as your speaker.
Within the app, you can choose from up to 16 million colours and even set up some favourites so you can in the future just ask your smart speaker for specific colours. One of the highlights is the pre-set moods in the app that offer optimum lighting for reading or relaxing before you settle down to sleep.
Other smart features
When you start to think about it, there really is a whole host of potential that accompanies smart lighting – and the Philips Hue Starter Kit, in particular. Some of our favourites include:
You can also set up in the app when your smart lights turn on and turn off, which means your lights can already be on when you get home from work on a cold winter’s night. It can also give you peace of mind that it looks like someone is home even when you’re away on holiday or a work trip.
Enhance your home security
If you like the idea of the added home security, but don’t want your lights on a timer, you can manually turn them on through the Philips Hue app no matter where you are in the world. The three lights in the Starter Kit aren’t going to light up your whole home, but it’s better than nothing.
Enhance your gaming or home cinema experience
If you opt for the full colour kit, a fun tool is called Sync that allows you to connect your lighting to the music, TV shows, movies or games you’re currently listening to, watching or playing. It works through your PC or Mac, and sadly that’s currently it.
It’s a genuinely great feature that takes whatever you’re watching and mimics the lighting to fit the images on screen, but it’s only currently on your computer and it won’t work on games consoles or TVs. We hope Philips plans to include this on other tech as soon as possible as it’s an innovative idea that’s fun to play around with.
Is the Philips Hue worth the money?
Hue is the one of the most accomplished platforms, and the Starter Kit is the best way to get started on filling your home full of smart products from the brand.
The extra functionality of being able to fiddle with the brightness, temperature and when the lights come on is a big help, and we particularly like how you can integrate it with all of the major smart speakers.
The colour bulbs Philips Hue offers are the highlight, but if you don’t need that you’ll likely be happy with either the white or ambience kit that are both a little cheaper than the full-blown top-end Starter Kit.
It may be expensive to kit out your entire home with Philips Hue, but the Starter Kit gets you up and running as it’ll allow you to cover at least one room in your home with all the necessary tech.