Philips Hue has been a longtime standout favourite amongst smart home enthusiasts, with a range of bulbs and accessories covering almost any requirement. Their bulbs are getting a little smarter this year with the addition of Bluetooth controls with the marketing tagline “instant control”.
Adding Bluetooth makes Hue products accessible to different customers. They’re traditionally controlled by a Zigbee local low-power radio network – that’s why you need to buy the Hue Bridge to go with it (and why you can skip it if you’re using an Amazon Echo device, which has ZigBee hardware built-in).
Not everyone wants to dive so deep into smart lighting though, and adding the price of a Bridge to a bulb or two really drives the price up (and consumers towards the competition).
Setting up a light on Bluetooth will mean that it can be controlled locally (when you’re in the room), but obviously not remotely or when you’re in the next room – and Bluetooth does have a fairly short range, especially compared to ZigBee.
There’s a dedicated app for controlling lights over Bluetooth. One Android device can control up to 10 bulbs, and you can use Alexa on your phone for voice control.
It’s notable that Hue is adding Bluetooth without going full wi-fi. While it’s nice to have options, I’m personally shying away from wi-fi smart lights as I’m trying to keep unnecessary devices off my wi-fi network. ZigBee is great for that, and I’ve been kiting out my apartment with Hue and IKEA Tradfri bulbs and remotes.
However, it’s good to provide a growth path for new users. A customer might now jump in with Hue for a bulb or two on Bluetooth, try it out, and then choose to expand their installation to more rooms with a Bridge.
Given existing stock in retail channels and warehouses, it might take a while to see the new bulbs appear on shelves. It looks like the main tell for new bulbs will be the addition of the Bluetooth logo on the box.
The Hue website has a new landing page for Bluetooth products on the Hue website – but there’s no sign of the products on the Australian site at the moment. We’ll check in with local Hue reps for Australian information.
The Verge reports that prices should remain about the same. Hue bulbs are already some of the more expensive options for smart lighting, but they’re also some of the best. Never fear, though – there’s regular sales going on (Amazon usually has great prices) and with some price matching prowess you might be able to make a good saving in store – Bluetooth or not.