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Philips Friends of Hue review - Iris and Light Strips

Tom Morgan
31 Oct 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
125
inc VAT

Philips expands the Hue smart lighting range with more flexible standalone kits, but they're still expensive

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Specifications

Warranty: One year RTB, Details: www.philips.co.uk, Part code: 7199661PU

When Philips launched its smartphone-controlled Hue light bulbs last year, we were instantly impressed by their easy to use app interface and the stunning effects they could have in adding colour to a room - even if the £180 starter kit was very expensive for three light bulbs. The company has now extended the range with Friends of Hue, a diverse set of light products that complement the original Hue bulb. We've looked at two today; the Hue light strips and LivingColors Iris standalone spot lamp, to see how they fit in with the system.

First up, the light strips. As the name suggests, this row of multi-colour LEDs comes on a roll which can be positioned almost anywhere; we used it to illuminate a home theatre cabinet, but you can hide them behind cabinets, under sofas or beds, or around door frames to add a splash of colour to any room. The 2m long strip is covered in adhesive tape on one side, which makes it simple to tack it into position, but removing them again can be a little trickier.

You can cut the strip to size, but any LEDs trimmed off the edge of the strip can't be re-used – once snipped, they are effectively dead, with no DIY kit able to split the strip into two usable light sources. This seems like a real waste, especially if you want to illuminate something small. With a 120 lumen output, it isn't as bright as a regular lightbulb, but the lightstrips are intended to add colour rather than light up a room. With over 16 million colour combinations, they can make an object the focus of a room, or softly illuminate it to make it stand out a little more.

Naturally your lighting creations will have to be in reach of a plug socket; Philips includes a 3m cable with the strip, which you'll have to work out how to hide if you don't want wires running around your rooms.

Because the light strips are designed as an addition to an existing Hue setup, rather than an entry into the range, it doesn't include a Bridge in the box. That means it's next to useless by itself, as there's no way to control it with your smartphone. If you already have a Hue starter kit, however, it slots right in, syncing to your bridge in just a few seconds once you press the pairing button on each device.

The Iris lamp, meanwhile, can be bought as a standalone kit, which includes a Bridge in the box in case you're completely new to Hue. This small unit plugs into your router and lets your smartphone or tablet communicate with any Hue lights in your home, rather than pair them all individually over your Wi-Fi connection. If you bought a starter kit already, you can buy the lamp separately for slightly less.

Made from white plastic, with a transparent body and an angled base, Iris takes up about as much room on a shelf or table as any other lamp. The 210 lumen output is much brighter than the lightstrips and can comfortably illuminate a small room, although the upward-angled shape makes it more suitable for uplighting corners of a room with colour, with a brighter lightsource providing white light.

Whether they are used in isolation or as part of a wider system, the Friends of Hue products work almost identically to the original Hue bulbs. They rely on the same app to turn them on and off, as well as changing colours or applying 'scenes' preset colour combinations that use photos as a reference point for changing multiple lights at once. It works on both Android and iOS, although you'll have to invest in the Tap remote control if you want to change colours or brightness without a smartphone. As with the rest of the Hue system, both Iris and the light strips use the open ZigBee protocol, meaning you can use third party accessories and remotes to control the lights too.

Hue lights have never been cheap, and the Friends of Hue additions are no different. The lightstrips will set you back £80 per 2m strip, of which only 1.8m is actually comprised of LEDs, while the Iris lamp will cost £95. If you need a Hue Bridge too, the Iris starter kit costs £120. When the original Hue bulbs launched they were fairly unique, but now there are several competitors which cost less, including the £40, Bluetooth-controlled Avea bulb. Even so, anyone already converted to Hue will be able to add even more colour with the Friends of Hue range.

SPECIFICATIONS
WarrantyOne year RTB
Detailswww.philips.co.uk
Part code7199661PU

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