Hue Do You Love? (Or, My Expensive Love Affair with Hue Lightbulbs)

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #111


I first heard about Phillips’ Hue Personal Wireless Lighting when the Apple Store began carrying the Phillips Hue Starter Pack in 2012. It promised everything you needed to get started, namely three color-changing LED light bulbs plus a Wi-Fi hub that lets you control bulb color and intensity with an iPhone/iPad app.

I wanted it badly, but I didn’t want to pay $250 for three light bulbs… so I asked Phillips to borrow one for a possible review, but was told, “due to unprecedented demand we are running short of demo units. Please bear with us.”

I promptly forgot about it and so, apparently, did Phillips. Then, last year, I was in an Apple Store (for a change) and saw the price of a Hue Starter Pack had dropped to $199. Since no review unit was forthcoming, I decided to buy it, review it, and if I didn’t like it $200 worth, return it within 15 days for a refund.

If controlling lights with an iDevice were all it could do, I would have returned it in a heartbeat. But the Starter Pack is like digital crack to a geek like yours truly. I found myself liking the Hue system so much that I've now purchased another LED bulb, a 5-foot long LED light strip with over 100 tiny lights, and a Bloom color-changing flood lamp.

Geofencing is the secret sauce that made me fall in love with Hue. The iOS app lets me set up timers that turn one or all of my lights on or off at a specific time. That’s great, but something I could do it with some cheap plug-in timers. What the cheap timers can’t do is turn lights turn on and off when I enter or leave the house.

That’s what makes geofencing so awesome. Since my iPhone is always in my pocket, my geofence turns all of my office lights on when I’m home, and off when I’m not. I’ve got it configured so the lights only go on when two conditions are met:

  1. It’s after sundown. And...
  2. I’m in the house (or at least my iPhone is in the house).

Now, here’s the coolest part: If I get home between 5PM and 10PM, the lights will be white and turned up to 100% intensity. But if I arrive between 10PM and 7AM, the lights will instead be a soothing shade of blue, and dimmed to around 50%. That’s just too cool!

Soothing blue light is just so nice to come home to…

One last thing that makes the Hue ecosystem so endearing are the third-party iOS apps that offer additional Hue functionality, like changing bulb colors in time to music, switching colors at random or specified intervals, or creating strobe-like effects.

My "Lights" folder contains nearly a dozen third-party apps for Hue lights

Don’t get me wrong. I still think all the Hue products are horrendously overpriced. But now I think they’re so cool, I just don’t care.  


Phillips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack, $199.95 ($179.99 from Amazon); Single Bulb, $59.95 ($59.95 from Amazon); Light Strip, $89.95 ($89.95 from Amazon); Bloom, $79.99. From Phillips.

And that’s all he wrote…