The Philips Hue kit I ordered (as mentioned in my post 'Starting Smart Lighting') arrived! I've unboxed it and set it up in our living room. I'd like to share with you how that went, with a few thoughts on the setup process and initial impressions. I recorded the process, both the unboxing and the setup, so you can see that in the video. I'm also splitting this into two parts. In this part I'll focus on the Bridge and Bulbs, and then in part 2 I'll cover off the light switch.
First up, what did I actually get? I acquired a Philips Hue Bridge, three bulbs (1 B22 Bayonet Cap, 1 E27 Edison Screw, and 1 E14 Candle bulb). All three bulbs are from the Hue 'White & Colour Ambience' range. That means I can control their brightness, colour and colour temperature. I also purchased a Philips Hue Tap switch, which I'll be exploring in part two.
The way I purchased this kit was probably not the best value. Philips actually offer several starter kits, which represent a saving vs buying the components separately (as I did). However, as I have various light fittings in my living room, all with different connectors, I needed bulbs that would integrate with that.
Starting with the Bridge, the box contains everything you need to get started. The bridge itself is very light and small, and fits in the palm of my hand. So, it's easy to conceal, and is now tucked away behind our sofa! The bridge features a nail hanging notch in the back, so if you wanted to, you could mount the unit on a wall.
Also in the box is a network cable (which you'll need to get started), and the power connector. Thankfully, this is a simple adaptor, so no large power brick. There are also a couple of small setup leaflets to help get you going.
The bulb boxes are fairly simple. They contain the bulbs, a setup poster, and that's it. After all, all you're going to be doing here is changing a lightbulb (insert joke about how many 'somethings' does it take to change a light bulb here).
Setup was simple and straightforward. Just power on the bridge and then download and launch the app from the app store on your chosen device. It's available for iPhone and Android, so that should keep most people happy. There's a large circular button on top of the Hue Bridge, and -after a short discovery process- the app asks you to push this to confirm it has the right bridge.
After discovery, the app alerted me that an update for the Bridge was available, and offered me the chance to apply this. You can skip this step, but i'd strongly recommend anyone doing this apply these sort of updates. It adds new features and more importantly keeps the system secure.
From there, the app walks you through the process of setup, activating Apple HomeKit (Which requires you to scan or manually enter a code on the back of the device), and add your light bulbs. This too was easy, just plug in the bulb, turn on the light, and then run a discovery process in the setup wizard to add it.
It's then a simple matter of giving the light bulbs names (if you choose to), and setting up a 'room' that the bulbs will belong to. Rooms are how Hue groups lights together for easy control. Giving each light a name is an easy way to help distinguish between multiple lights in the same room. I named my lights 'Living Room Ceiling', 'Living Room Floor' and 'Living Room Table'. Since that's where those lights went.
With the setup process complete, it was time for more updates. Both the B22 and E27 bulbs had firmware updates available, so I applied these. This was easily done in the settings section of the Hue app. I must confess, the idea of firmware-updating a lightbulb was unusual even for me! However it's good that Philips are on the case bringing out security and feature updates for their products. It shows they take security seriously. If Smart Home kit is going to be trusted, then manufacturers have to treat security with the importance it deserves.
One thing I wasn't asked for during setup was to create any kind of login with the Philips Hue online service. This it seems is completely optional, which is refreshing. I signed up though, as doing so allows you to access additional functionality like controlling your lighting away from home. Perfect for those who routinely forget to turn off the lights when they leave!
I'll have a play around with the app some more, but the next job is to unbox and setup the wireless Hue 'Tap' Switch. I'll get onto that in part two, which I'll post up very soon.
After that, I'll give myself a little time to get used to using the system, and post some sort of 'first impressions' of Hue and how it's working out for us.
UPDATE: Part 2 online now