If you’re thinking of implementing a smart home set-up, the $199.95 Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit is a good place to start, though there are some glitches to be worked out.
It comes with a “bridge” and three Philips Hue includes three Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 LED bulbs. Along with the new lighting, there's a "routines" feature in the free Philips Hue app that provides light “recipes” that can gradually brighten lights to help you wake up in the morning or gradually dim them to help you get to sleep at night.
There are also some security benefits; the Philips Hue set-up can make it seem like you're home when you're not, using the schedule function in the Philips Hue app. You can set the lights to come on at a pre-set time, so that, for instance, they’ll be on when you arrive home. You can set the lights to turn off at a pre-set time, such as I do so they’ll power down at bedtime.
The previously mentioned bridge is the heart of your Hue system. It works with the free app; you pair your Hue lights with the bridge to perform any of the aforementioned tasks. With it, you can expand your Hue ecosystem and control your lights remotely or link them up to the rest of the web, newsfeeds or even your own inbox (more on that in a moment).
The Philips Hue starter kit is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit technology, but there are still some bugs to work out. On the plus side, you can ask Siri to turn on or dim your lights or recall presets without touching a single button. Via third party apps you can even link your lights to other HomeKit-enabled devices.
At least this is the case when it works. Sometimes the Hue app couldn’t “find” the Hue bridge when I wanted to use Siri. I had to unplug and reconnect the power source to the bridge to reboot it and make this work. Even then, there were times when I attempted to use Siri with the Hues set-up only to be told that a bridge couldn’t be found — even though the bridge was clearly “connected” according to the Hue app.
You can also control your lights through the hue website. Just make sure you’ve enabled remote access. You need to be online with your phone or tablet to control the lights. The folks at Philips recommend that you use Wi-Fi at home to control the lights. You can also use mobile internet to control the lights, but it will be slower and you won’t be able to create new lightning routine. In order to use the system outside of your home, make sure you’ve authorized both the bridge and app to the meethue portal, My hue.
Overall, the Hues starter kit offers some convenient — and cool — features. If/when the Siri/HomeKit snafus are worked out, it will be a must-have items for smart home aficionados.