Editorials

Review: Philips Hue Play

Philips Hue smart lights are making their steady way into homes around the world. Each time I pop over to a friend’s house, there sits a Philips Bridge, and either the most popular light bulbs, or the more entertaining Lightstrips or the most recent – the Hue Play bar.

The Philips Play bar adds ambient lighting to any television and can even sync up to what you’re watching on your television. It’s a neat little addition to any home theatre from the Dutch technology company for those who want a little something extra to enhance their setups. The Hue Play is exciting for what it offers: 16 million colour variations that create the perfect ambiance whether you’re watching Netflix’s Stranger Things or a televised sporting event.

 

Set up

Make no mistake though: the Play is meant to be an accomplice to your already ambient lighting setup. Granted it isn’t required to own a full lighting system but using proper lighting in tandem with the Play offers the best experience. Don’t let that deter you, the accented lighting you’ll get after breezy installation is well worth the purchase. All you’ll need is the Hue Bridge, Hue Sync app, and roughly 15 minutes to install them.

Coming in both a single and double pack, the Play comes in both black and white. In the box, depending on which iteration you’ve chosen comes with the Play, a vertical stand, a clip to mount the bar to the back panel of your TV (with 3M tape), screws to mount the Play and a power brick. Each brick is able to connect upwards of three Play bars, but if you own only one it’s rather bulky and unnecessary.

A nice addition to any smart home, the ability to sync up your Play bar to Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant is a nice touch. As mentioned, the installation and having the Hue Bridge find the Play bar is stress-free and within minutes everything is ready to go. A word of warning though because I ended up having to delete the setup Apple Home – name your rooms accordingly and distinctly. Otherwise, your assistant or Siri may have a tough time doing what you ask of them. When it worked though, turning on the Play was as easy as any other Siri command.

Bright and smart

The output is rated at 530 lumens; the device weighs less than a pound and is 1.4 inches x 10 inches. The Play is a small device that adept and plays well with most setups. And, the colour schemes offer an array of colour, scenes to set the mood of your home, and my personal favourite – the Sync ability that I haven’t been able to stray far from since installing the Play bar on the back of my television.

With Hue Sync, you’ll need a computer and of course, the Play bar. From there, you’ll download the required app that searches for the Bridge in your home. Then, it captures content you’re watching, listening to or playing and translates it into an immediate light script for an immersive experience. The only downside here is that in some instances the app isn’t able to pick up the audio from Netflix’s Windows 10 app, and there isn’t an easy way to use the app with your consoles (PlayStation Remote Play works on PC though).

In terms of when to use the Play – that itself is a question of preference. Of course, there’s no harm in using it while you are at home during the day. My usage was relegated to night time only and when the television was powered on. Any more than that and I find the light to be distracting (you can dim the light and even set the Play to provide the perfect light to fall asleep to). You can set timers for how long to keep the Play on, a schedule for when it turns on and when you what it to turn off.

Verdict

If you’re looking to add a little extra to your home theatre set up or to add a little bit of colour to a room, the Philips Hue Play is an excellent way to do that. While the Play bar doesn’t natively support consoles or televisions, there are workarounds, but they take some work. If you have a PC connected to your television though, there is a great tool in Hue Sync which ease of use makes set up painless and simple. With some minor adjustments to the Hue line in general, every home will one day sport some form of smart lighting. Third-party support will also play a crucial role in the future with more users incorporating programs like Plex or Kodi in their homes. At the end of the day, removing the need for a PC entirely is what will make this product stand out in the future, for now, it’s a wonderful idea tied down to one platform.

You can purchase the Philips Hue Play here or as a pair here.

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Bobby has been gaming since he was old enough to walk. Since then, the interest has only grown stronger, and here we are today. Follow Bobby on Twitter, and just go with it. @bpashalidis

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