Philips Hue White Ambiance review

Another fine set of pair for smart ambient lighting

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Our Verdict

For consumers looking to get a first-hand experience of the smart lighting system, the Philips White Ambience is for you. It's the perfect balance between an IoT system and a functional gadget that you'll love to use. Automation is something that comes with a high cost though and investing in this ecosystem is expensive considering the current market.

For

  • Easy installation
  • Simple automation options
  • Hue app makes it a child's play
  • Versatile third-party integration

Against

  • Costly
  • Till smart bulbs and switches aren't a thing, adoption rate will be slow

Philips, the lighting solutions giant has theorised this idea of a connected world where your surroundings can be altered with just a tap or voice command on your smartphone. Now, to achieve that, the company brought out their internet connected lighting bulbs which have been in the market for more than two years now. Those bulbs offer more than just a connected lighting experience but can also change color from a palette of 16 million hues and thus the name, Philips Hue.

In the month of June this year, Philips introduced another one of their lighting systems sans the colour changing option. The Philips Hue White Ambience offer colour options ranging in between the white light spectrum. So while users can switch to a cooler or a warmer tone of light, they cannot disco-esque their rooms. Having said that, the Philips White Ambience Starter kit does offer some perks which we found out in our use.

Where to start?

Philips offers a wide range of lighting solutions in India, and people looking to jump the bandwagon into IoT connected devices might get utterly confused as to which light they should opt for. So, let's consider the prices first. The Philips Hue White Ambience Starter Kit will set you back by Rs 12,000 while the third generation of Hue Starter Kit with colour retails for around Rs 28,000.

Apart from the Starter Kit, a Hue colour bulb separately costs around Rs 3,000 and a consumer can connect up to 50 such bulbs to one Hue Bridge which is like a central controller of the Philips Hue system. The best part is that you don’t need a separate Hue Bridge to connect different kinds of bulbs. So, one can get the White Ambience Starter Kit and then try out a colour bulb with that, buying it separately outside of the starter kit.

Philips sent over it's new Hue White Ambience Starter Kit which consists of two white bulbs, a Hue Dimmer Switch remote and a Hue Bridge. This is what we found out.

Installation and Hue app

The installation of the Hue lighting system can vary from the kind of setup one wants to have but it's really very simple a process. After putting up the bulbs in their respective holders, power them on from the mains to make them discoverable by the system. Then plug in the Hue Bridge to the mains and your home router and give it some space as it discovers the bulbs in your house.

Meanwhile, download the Hue app available both for iOS and Android smartphones. When we were setting our bulbs, the bridge discovered the bulbs quickly and easily.

After the app’s setup, it will ask you to connect to the Hue Bridge by holding down the big button on the Bridge.Once your bulbs are discovered you’ll need to assign them to rooms, which allows you to control groups of them much more easily. With your bulbs assigned to rooms, the setup process is complete and you can now play around with the colours.

As stated above, our unit was the White Ambience starter kit which could only be configured to display light within the white spectrum.

But really. We would like to give it to Philips for their Hue app experience that they provide with the smart lighting system. It's a breeze to start using the system and control the lights through the app. The default home screen shows you your available rooms, allowing you to control all their bulbs as a group. You can tap on the switch to the right of the screen to turn them on to their last setting. But if you’re using the default settings you’re nowhere near using the Philips Hue bulbs to their potential. The real fun starts when you tap the room’s icon on the left of the screen, which allows you to customize the exact bulb color.

The easiest way to do this is with Philips’ pre-configured scenes, which range from ‘Energize’ (a cool white light) through to ‘Relax’ (a richer yellow hue).

We found ourselves relying mostly on the activity-specific defaults. ‘Energise’ was perfect for the mornings when the harsh white light worked well to blow away the cobwebs, while ‘Relax’ worked better in the evenings where we wanted our brains to wind down.

Of much great importance is the routines section of the app. From here you’ll be able to set the lights to automatically turn on and off when you arrive at, and subsequently leave the house, as well as allowing you to have the lights turn on and off automatically at different times.

By way of an example, we had the lights turn on to help us wake up in the morning, before automatically turning off when we left the house for work. In the evening we then had the lights turn back on when we arrived back at the house. 

Additionally, the Philips lighting system is also compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Home and Amazon Alexa. As far as controlling the lights from your smartphone is considered, the lights also support Google Assistant and users can control the Hue bridge just by saying keywords like “Turn up the lights” or “Turn off lights in Bedroom 1” and the Assistant will take care of everything else. This is also what makes the Hue app such a great addon to the physical hardware system.