Philips Hue First Impressions

I've had the Philips Hue system installed for a few days now. Here are my initial thoughts about the system now that I've had the chance to live with it a little. For a recap of the setup process, click here for part 1, or here for part 2.

Firstly, I have to say that I was pretty impressed with how easy it was to get the system installed. I'm a technically minded person. That is to say I've been involved in computers and technology for most of my life. The prospect of installing smart technology in my home is an exciting one. However, I can easily see that for plenty of others, it would be daunting.

Indeed, a lot of people might feel that replacing a tried and tested approach to lighting, with something that involves more technology is asking for trouble. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". 

If smart home technology is to appeal to the masses, it has to demonstrate itself to be easy to both setup and use. Philips Hue certainly passes that test. The app walks you through setup in just a few steps, and asks nothing complex during installation. 

Add to that the plug and play simplicity of the physical side of setup (changing a bulb, sticking a light switch on a wall), and I have no problem in starting that most people would have no trouble installing Philips Hue. 

One obvious issue some might find, is that it renders your existing light switches obsolete. The whole point of this system is to leave your lights set to 'on' all the time.  The actual bulbs themselves are being turned 'off' (ie, instructed not to produce any light), via the Hue system.  Training yourself to not keep hitting the regular light switch could prove difficult!  I've heard of some people actually removing their light switches and hard-wiring their lights to be permanently on.  I don't know that I'll choose to go to that extreme, perhaps a piece of tape over the switch will suffice.  Time will tell; I'll only truly get to grips with this after I've expanded the system into other rooms.

Using the system is as easy as setting it up.  Using the app or the Hue 'Tap' switch results in the lights coming on, with a pleasant 'fade' effect.  The app allows easy access to a variety of pre-set 'scenes', which quickly set the lights to certain colours and brightness levels.  You can of course easily create your own.  This can be accomplished by simply setting each light up how you want it, creating a new scene, and telling the app to use the current light settings.

The Tap switch is easy too.  Assigning scenes to it's four buttons is simple to do.  Having the switch available is -I feel- very important.  Without it you would have to use your smartphone to control your lighting.  You'll always need the app for the full power and flexibility of the Hue system. However on a day-to-day basis, there's nothing faster and simpler than a physical button that you can push.

So far, so good.  However I still have questions.  Is 'colour changing' a useful feature for example?  I've made some limited use already of changing the colour temperature of white light.  However we've barely used the colour features.  I suspect I might explore this more if I can get movie or music sync working. This is a feature I simply cannot see in the Hue app, so I'll need to do some digging.

Also requiring some digging is the Hue 'Routines' features.  This lets you have the lighting work automatically when you arrive at, or leave home.  It also lets you set wake up / go to sleep programs for your lights, and allows for custom scheduling of lighting.  There's also the 'Hue Labs' feature, which seems to allow for interesting modifications of the default Hue behaviour.

There is a lot to play with still, and I'd like to expand the system by installing some more bulbs, replacing the regular ones in a 'tower' light we have in the living room.

I'll be making more posts soon as I explore and play with these feature areas. At some future point I'll also do a bigger, more comprehensive 'review' of the system.  For now thought, it's all in and working, and I'm fairly happy with it so far.