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Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting

Star Rating: 
8 out of 10

The Pitch

Mood lighting for the 21st Century. Want to have the option to light up your Halloween party in garish green and purple, warm your Christmas bash with jolly red lights, and then bathe your custom make-out area with the gentle glow of a log fire, all without ever changing the bulb? Then this is the product for you.

What It Really Is

It’s exactly that. The Philips Hue Personal Lighting system is a series of bulbs that change color at the touch of a button – or, more specifically, a swipe of your screen, since they’re controlled by a free smartphone app. You can choose from pre-set themes – like Sunset, or Deep Sea – and the three bulbs that come in the starter pack (which also includes the wireless bridge that’s capable of controlling up to 50 bulbs) will change their color accordingly. If you don’t care for the suggested themes, you can create your own, saving your preferred color combos and giving them appropriate names, such as our headache-inducing mix of super-bright white and hospital waiting room blue, which we simply named, “In-Law Remover.” And if you really, really want to match the colors of that super awesome photo you once took, then it can do that, too, although in all honesty, we only have bikini photos here at Maxim, and it turns out that flesh tones don’t work so well as an office lighting scheme.

Who It’s For

Anyone who feels like a little mood lighting, but to us, it’s the perfect Man Cave accessory. We tried out the three bulbs in the $199 starter pack alongside the Friends Of Hue Lightstrip (a 6-foot, flexible, LED-studded strip that we discovered looks awesome when framing the TV - $89.95) and the Friends Of Hue LivingColors Bloom (a compact, portable spotlight that claims to be able to light your home over 16 million different ways - $79.95), both also from Philips and controlled by the same app. We ended up spending hours playing with the setup in the Maxim office Christmas Grotto (which is basically just our Man Cave, but with a Christmas tree and a Festivus pole). We hit on dozens of cool Christmas-y combinations, but mostly we just spent ages scrolling through the colors of the rainbow and watching all five lights change in time with our mesmerized swiping.

What’s Missing

A UV and strobe option to maximize stupid dancing potential. There are third-party apps such as Hue Disco that create a strobe, but you'll have to download them separately. And thinking about it, maybe we’d better leave the UV light out of our man cave – no one needs to start having CSI flashbacks this close to Christmas.

What’s Extra Cool

You can actually win a bunch of this stuff by entering on Philips' Facebook page. Philips is asking people to either create cool images using Hue in their homes, or simply provide colorful and inspirational images that they would like to recreate in their homes using the Hue system. The contest runs from now till December 19th (with winners judged on the 16th and 19th). Every five days, 10 winners will each be awarded one Hue Starter Kit, one LivingColors Bloom, and one LightStrip. Sadly, you will not win a Festivus pole.


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