Hue Play Review
Philips Hue has been the go-to when looking to light up your living space. Their brand of smart light bulbs and accessories gives users the freedom to control their lights via smartphone, or through voice commands. Philips Hue lights also feature many customization options that are welcoming additions to anyone building out their smart home.
The Hue Play light bar is a slightly different breed when it comes to Philip’s Hue family. Unlike the ubiquitous Hue White and colour ambiance bulbs, which can be suitable for almost any room of your home, Hue Play is catered for your living room or PC gaming space.
Hue Play is best positioned behind your TV or arranged on your entertainment unit console. Alternatively, you can place Hue Play behind your PC monitor for a similar effect. Connecting wirelessly through the Hue Bridge (sold separately), you can pair your light to your smartphone and adjust the lighting effects with the Hue app on iOS and Android. Two Hue Play Starter Kits are available. The single in includes one light, while the double pack includes a second unit.
Out of the box, one Hue Play smart light bar comes with two stand options allowing you to position the unit vertically or horizontally on your desk or entertainment unit. The package also includes an adhesive patch so you can mount the Hue Play light to the back of your TV or monitor if you wish to do so. In addition, the included wall plug has three ports as to not create an overload of wires behind your TV when connecting more than one light bar. The Hue Play unit itself is quite elegant and the design of the base is sleek. Measuring in at 10 inches, the Hue Play can comfortably sit on any TV stand without becoming intrusive. The LED bar is said to provide lighting for over 25,000 hours and is capable of shifting between 16 million colour tones.
Using the Hue app, you’re able to adjust the intensity and switch the colours fluidly to create an ambience no matter the mood you’re in. As I began testing the Hue Play, it just so happened that Netflix launched the third season of Stranger Things. With the sun setting, and my living room dark, I started the first episode and matched it with a high-intensity red light from the Hue Play. Shining the stark red light across my white wall, the effects were especially fitting for the series. With over 16 million colour and shade options, I later changed the appropriate lighting over to pair with Apex Legends. Through the Hue app, I chose an off-yellow, almost a beige light to match the colour pallet of Respawn Entertainment’s game. In both cases, Hue Play’s rich colours complement what was on screen and helped amplify the experience.
Pairing on Hue Play light with a 65” TV, the effects were quite outstanding. Hue Play has a much more directional-focused light in comparison to the standard Hue bulbs. One Hue Play LED will beam across your wall and provide significant coverage. Having such a wide TV unit, the lighting effects could have been amplified with a secondary Hue Play but the immersion and ambient effect was not impacted significantly. Alternatively, having two Hue Plays would allow you to shine two separate colours at any given time.
Swapping colours to match the tone of what’s on your TV is quite simple and effortless. Using Hue Play on either a PC or Mac, however, you gain the added benefit of never having to bungle around on your smartphone to adjust the lighting. Downloading Hue Play Sync, the app picks up on what you’re watching and calibrates the colour tones automatically. In the case of watching a movie, scenes that shift between bright and dark will be compensated with appropriate lighting.
Hue Play Sync captures and reads a large segment of the screen and runs a “smart colour algorithm” in real-time. Regardless of whether you’re watching a movie or gaming, this is where Hue Play shines the brightest (pun intended). The immersion that comes from the synchronized lighting effects almost erase the borders of your monitor. The display seems to bleed out over the desk as muzzle flashes extend across your walls each time you fire a gun. Hue Play Sync is also able to pair with music being played from your PC or Mac. Whether calm or fast, the algorithm program matches the intensity with dynamic lighting effects––it’s quite the lighting performance.
If you’re like me and can’t get decide where your Hue Play should reside, you can move the light bar between rooms with ease. The Hue app lets you set “scenes” which set the light to certain specifications based on the placement. You can also set times to automatically turn your lights on at a specific time. If your home has been building up a selection of smart home devices, Hue can also interact with Google Home and Alexa for hands-free control.
Hue Play lights are not a cheap addition to the home, however. The single starter kit runs for $89.99 CAD, while the Double Kit costs $169.99 CAD. Keep in mind that in order to use either, the purchase of the Hue Bridge, which is the beating heart of all Hue products, must be purchased as well.
RBG colour effects are the latest craze in supplementing your gaming and TV binging experience and Hue Play is great addition to any entertainment space. You’ll often see how it well it sets a space apart on Twitch as streamers have been using it to liven things up in their background. Even if the Hue Play lights are just for you, the immersion granted from the light will grab you. The total cost of investment may be a bit hard to chew at first. However, when you begin to factor in the ease of use, customization options, and flexible portability over the standard Hue bulbs, it does make the Hue Play an attractive purchase for imbuing your entertainment space.
A Hue Play bar was provided for review purposes.