The Philips Hue light bulb lineup is often recognized as the best smart lighting you can buy for your house. But if you're new to the smart home game, there's one catch: you need a hub to set up and control everything, which means an extra up-front cost and additional complexity. As of today, though, things are getting simpler with the Philips Hue with Bluetooth lights. As the name suggests, these bulbs have Bluetooth built-in, which means you can set them up with a smartphone app, no hub needed.
For starters, Philips is offering the Bluetooth-enabled Hue in three varieties. There's a standard white light for $14.99, a white "ambience" light that lets you adjust its color temperature for $24.99 and a white and colored option for $49.99. As with standard Hue lights, these work with Alexa and the Google Assistant -- but if you're an Apple fan, these don't work with HomeKit unless you get a smart home hub.
There are a few other drawbacks compared to the standard Philips Hue bulbs, as well. Most notably you can only set up 10 bulbs total, compared to the 50 you can do with a hub. Additionally, you can't group the Bluetooth lights into different rooms, which means you won't be able to set up more complex routines. You'll only be able to control them all together, making these lights best-suited for a single room.
The good news is that if you decide to upgrade to a full smart home hub setup later, these bulbs will work there as well, with all the grouping features Philips offers with its other bulbs. So these Bluetooth lights work as a good introduction for people to start seeing how useful smart lights can be -- just be aware of their limitations before giving them a shot.