These Philips hue smart LED bulbs are can be controlled via an app to turn lights off/on, dim and change color. It’s my first experience with smart bulbs, lets see what the hype is all about!
You do need to have a Philips bridge to use these bulbs. (1st or 2nd generation bridge will work). The bridge is simple to setup, you connect it to your network via wired cat 5 cable, use the “Philips hue” app to search for the hub and press the button on the hub to sync, takes about 5 minutes.
Usability & usefulness:
One of the things I didn’t understand before testing these is why would anyone spend the money on a hub and bulbs when you can just replace your wall switch with an app controlled switch. One of the reasons might be the ease of use, simply replace your existing bulbs with these A19 screw in bulbs (much easier compared to rewiring a switch). Once the bulbs are in place, with the app on your phone, you can turn the lights on and off, dim/brighten, change the color from bright white to warmer yellow lighting, or anything in between including light blue tones (there as another hue bulb that allows you to change to all sorts of colors, red, green, blue etc). The app has preset settings that some may find useful such as “Bright”, “dimmed” and “nightlight”. I was testing these bulbs with 2 hanging lights on the center island of my kitchen. Being able to dim the lights or change it to different shades of white/off white etc, was something I never thought I needed. It did come in handy a few times, such as watching a movie, I didn’t want the kitchen to be very bright, but bright enough to walk in and find the bag of popcorn. You can also setup “routines” for example, when you wake up, the lights come on or sleep and they’ll turn off at a certain time. They can also be set to turn on or off based on your location (based on smart phone GPS).
Keep in mind that whichever lights you swap these bulbs out with, you have to leave the switch “on”. They won’t work if the switch is in the off position, this is where changing a smart switch would work better.
These Philips Hue bulbs are compatible with Alexa, Google Home and if you have the Gen 2 hub, they work with Apple HomeKit as well. I tested it with Alexa and it worked fine. You simply name the lights, such as “kitchen” and say “Alexa, turn on kitchen lights”. The commands that Alexa knows are fairly limited, they include turning lights on and off, dim, brighten, make lights warmer or cooler.
These bulbs are neat, they work great, but to me, they’re more of a novelty, not a must have. To get started with the hub and bulbs, they’re a bit pricy which is why I've rated them 4 star instead of 5. They would be worth it if you plan to use the hub to control additional lighting, such as the Philips strip LED lighting to light up underneath your kitchen cabinets.