The Philips Hue lamps are smart and popular – and now also feature Bluetooth. Swedish Tech Report has them in the test lab and has looked through it’s advantages and limitations.
Smart bulbs like Hue from Philips are often the appetizers for the smart home. But instead of arousing hunger, they sometimes beat on the stomach. Because residents can control the light via smartphone or voice, you need to connect a wireless adapter, the so-called bridge, to the router and create a cloud account. Hue manufacturer Signify wants to break down this hurdle and is now expanding its light sources with the Bluetooth radio standard. This allows the light control without WLAN and without detour via a bridge. What this brings and where the limits of this technology lie? Swedish Tech Report has looked at the Bluetooth versions of the Hue lights.
Philips Hue Bluetooth: Limited startup selection
The first Hue bulbs with Bluetooth are available in three versions with the classic E27 or GU10 socket typical for halogen lamps: a white one for 20 euros, a cold to warm white one for 30 euros and a colored one for 60 euros. They cost as much as the current models, which only work with the Hue Bridge via Zigbee wireless standard. Because this bridge is no longer necessary, costs amounting to 60 euros. Buyers have to take a closer look in future: the new Hue variants can be recognized by the Bluetooth symbol on the packaging and the light. Otherwise they are indistinguishable.
Philips Hue Bluetooth in the test: Simple – and safe?
The start is actually very easy. Screw light bulbs into the socket, load the new app “Philips Hue Bluetooth” for iOS or Android onto your mobile phone, search for the lamp in the app, pair with Bluetooth, and you’re done. Between cell phone and light bulbs may not be more than? 90 centimeters in the first contact and the bulb may be switched on for a maximum of 30 minutes. Both serve as protection against unwanted access from the outside. The app does not ask for a code. This seems tricky, but in the practical test, a coupling attempt through an outer wall to a lamp placed near failed.
Philips Hue Bluetooth: Amazon Alexa with hurdles
The light control users just like with the previous app. You can turn the lights on and off, dim, change the color, incorporate them into ready-made scenes or create your own. The control signals reliably received the Bluetooth bulbs in the practice test even in 10 meters. The control is also not limited to a single smartphone, other residents can install the app. Saved lighting settings and scenes can not be transferred to other phones. So far, the bluetooth lights are only receiving voice commands from the Amazon Echo Dot 3. Compatibility with other Alexa speakers and with the Google Assistant should follow via software update. In the test, Alexa also claimed at the establishment, no new lights to recognize, but she secretly added to the Amazon App. However, the app did not inherit the names from the Hue app, so users need to manually adjust the names in the Alexa app. Otherwise, the smart assistant does not know which lamp is meant
Philips Hue: switching from bridge to bluetooth
The voice control works better over the previous Zigbee radio technology including Bridge. This option remains in place because the new Bluetooth bulbs can also be integrated into existing Hue installations in the old app. Who starts with Bluetooth and buys a bridge, can transfer its complete installation in the Bluetooth app by pressing a button on the classic app, then disappear the bulbs from the Bluetooth app. A return requires a completely new coupling process.
Philips Hue: Bridge is more
Zigbee and the connection to the router also allow more functions beyond the voice control. Instead of a maximum of ten users can operate up to 50 bulbs in all imaginable sizes as well as ready-made lamps. In addition, other Smarthome platforms such as HomeKit, IFTTT or Conrad Connect can be connected via the bridge. The lamps can also be remotely controlled via a wall button, motion detector and via the Internet. If you want to wake up with an artificial sunrise or let the lights shine in the rhythm of music and videos, you also need the Hue Bridge.