I stopped in my local Apple Store this week to pick up a second Hue Starter Pack when a retail staffer told me that two new Hue products had just come out, Bloom and LightStrips, part of the new Friends of Hue line. Would he like me to see if they had any in the stock room? You bet.
Hue is an iOS-controlled LED light bulb and it's amazing. The aforementioned Starter Pack (SRP $199) includes three LED bulbs and a wireless bridge which allows you to control the bulbs from your iPhone or iPad via the Hue app (free, App Store). Hue bulbs can be set to glow in any color in the rainbow (including all shades of white), they pack 600 lumens and use 80 percent less power than a traditional light bulb.
What's not to like?
While the price isn't cheap (ok, it's exorbitant) no one said being an early adopter was cheap.
What makes Hue compelling are the preprogrammed "Scenes" available withing the Hue app. Touching any of the included Scenes changes all of the bulbs to a preset color pattern, and the effect is pretty dramatic. Think of how much a coat of paint can change the entire look of a room, then imagine doing it with light. Then repaint the room again and again with different color schemes with the touch of a button. Yes, it's that cool.
When you outgrow the three bulbs included in the Starter Kit (which will happen), you can add new bulbs for $60 a pop and up to 50 can be controlled from a single bridge. But Hue bulbs are just the beginning.
Philips has expanded its line of Hue intelligent lighting to include two new products as part of its LivingColors family.
LivingColors Bloom ($79.95 at Apple, $59.94 at Amazon) is a standalone table lamp that lets you bring Hue to a space without a fixture. Bloom can display up to 16 million colors and puts out 120 lumens. Just plug it in and point it at a wall or other surface to indirectly light a room. Bloom requires an existing Philips Hue bridge, so you'll need to buy a Starter Pack because the bridge isn't sold separately. [Update: Bloom is backordered 1-2 months at both Apple and Amazon's online stores. You might have better luck in person.]
LightStrips ($89.95 at Apple) is a 6.6-foot strip of LED lights that, like Bloom, put out 120 lumens in up to 16 million colors and are controlled with the free iOS app and a Hue bridge. The flexible 2-meter LightStrips are great for installing under cabinets, counters or couches and highlight striking architectural details, define spaces, and illuminate hard-to-reach spots. What's even cooler is that LightStrips can be cut to specific lengths to meet your needs.
The other illuminating development in Hue-land (sorry, couldn't resist) is the release of v1.1 of the Hue app (free, App Store) which adds some pretty cool new features, including geofencing, alarms, timers and IFTTT support.
Cue the video: