Earlier today, Philips announced two new add-ons for its app-controlled Hue system: LivingColors Bloom, a standalone portable fixture, and LightStrips, a 6.6-foot LED tape that you can affix to any surface using the included adhesive back. Both products are fully compatible with the existing Hue system, including the base station and three-bulb kit that launched at Apple Stores last year. Knowing that part of the solution's appeal is its quick and easy setup, we decided to build out a five-light rig at home using three standard bulbs, one Bloom and one LightStrips set. It took less than an hour to get up and running, including swapping out bulbs, running power to LightStrips and setting up the base station and app.
In order to take full advantage of available "scenes" (lighting color macros based on uploaded images), you'll want to install all of your bulbs in one room or open space. You can very easily control the color and brightness of each unit using the Android or iOS app, however, so if you prefer to go that route, there's no reason you can't install Hue all over your house, as long as you don't go beyond the 50 maximum units each base station can support. For now, most of the available scenes support one through three fixtures, not the five you'll end up with if you have one complete kit, a Bloom and LightStrips in your home, so we avoided using scenes for the time being. If you're using app version 1.1 on iOS, you can take advantage of IFTTT integration, too, letting you set up a virtually endless number of macros.
Even with five Hue fixtures in a small space, the room was a bit too dark -- this solution works best for accent lighting, so unless you're prepared to use 20 bulbs in a room, you'll probably want to mix in traditional fixtures, too. Still, Hue serves its purpose well, and we definitely see the appeal despite the $200 you'll spend on the base kit, $80 for the bloom and $90 for the LightStrips. See our installation in action in the hands-on video after the break.
Philips Hue LightStrips and Bloom hands-on