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Philips Hue Connected Bulb starter pack; Smart LED Bulbs

OK, OK, we'll admit that you almost certainly don't need on-demand color-changing capabilities from your home lighting. But admit it -- you kind of want it, right? Well, for $199, that's exactly what Philips is offering with the Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Kit. Each kit comes with three color-changing LED bulbs and the Hue Bridge that you'll plug into your router in order to sync them up with your smartphone. Hue bulbs are compatible with cool products like the Revolv Hub, as well as the free Web service IFTTT, which means you'll be able to flash the lights when your favorite NFL team kicks off, adjust the lighting to represent how well your stocks are doing, or connect your bulbs with other cool smart home products like the Belkin WeMo Switch or the SmartThings suite of sensors. They're a bit of a novelty, for sure, but as novelties go, this kit is one of our favorites.

The Good Philips' Hue Connected Bulb lets you change the color of your lightbulbs and control them from your phones. It's easy to use, and -- most importantly -- nails the basics.
The Bad Three-bulbs-and-a-hub is expensive at $199, the novelty factor will wear off for many users quickly, and Android users apparently come in second on Philips' app development priority list.
The Bottom Line You might not have an obvious need for an Internet-connected, color-changing light bulb, but the Philips Hue Connected Bulb kit offers enough potential to justify its high price tag.
Part Number: 426353


At $49 a pop if you purchase them individually, or $199 for the kit, the Philips Hue Connected Bulb has some useful conveniences, but it's also packed with some likely short-lived novelty. It's expensive compared with a CFL or a old school incandescent bulb. It's even pricier than many other LED bulbs, although not all of the Hue's competition is connected, nor as feature-rich. You can buy a $129 home automation hub from Insteon, for example, and one of that company's LED bulbs for $29, but they don't offer as many color options as the Hue. They're also not IFTTT-compatible.
On the higher-end, the Hue will face broader competition from companies like Lifx and its $89 Wi-Fi-based, hub-free light bulb, as well as the Bluetooth-based iLumi . Neither is in wide release yet, but both had successful crowd-funding campaigns, and should be ramping up production shortly. The novelty factor will make any of these bulbs a hard sell for some consumers. If you like the idea, though, the Philips Hue Connected Bulb nails the basics of lighting and ease of use, and also supports a robust set of extend functions. It's the connected LED light bulb to beat, particularly if you're an iOS user.


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