Review: The Philips Hue Play Sync Box Matches Your Hue Lights to What’s Playing on Your Apple TV

Signify, the company behind the Philips Hue lights, in September announced a new Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, which brings a capability that many Hue users have wanted for years now: the ability to sync Hue lights with content that's playing on the TV for an immersive home entertainment experience.

There's already a Hue Sync app that lets Hue lights be tuned to Macs and PCs, but it's limited to computers. In the past, there have also been limited run light syncing features for "12 Monkeys" and "Sharknado 2" that were pre-programmed, but before the Hue Play Sync Box, there was no simple solution for on-the-fly syncing of Hue lights to content on a TV set.


The Hue Play Sync Box is a simple black box that plugs into a TV with an HDMI cable. It has a power port (and an included power supply) along with four HDMI ports that are designed to accommodate HDMI devices like Apple TV, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and more. It's just a black box, and nothing special to look at, because it's meant to be tucked away on an entertainment unit.


Any console or set-top box can be plugged into the Hue Play Sync Box, allowing it to analyze the colors and tune them to a Hue light setup, shifting colors and brightness to match the content on the TV screen. The box is basically passing video signal to the TV while also detecting the colors.


Setting up the Hue Sync was as simple as plugging it into my TV, plugging my devices into the box, connecting it to my existing Hue Bridge (on a 2.4GHz network) and then downloading and opening up the dedicated Hue Sync app. Using the Hue Sync Box requires a separate Hue Sync app, and it doesn't work with the standard Hue app.

In fact, when the Hue Sync is turned on (which can be done in the Hue Sync app) you're not able to control your lights with the standard Hue app. Though most Hue products show up in HomeKit, the Hue Sync isn't a ‌HomeKit‌ device, it's a standalone option that's just for Hue-branded lights.

Using the Hue Play Sync Box requires an existing Hue light setup (and Hue Bridge) around a television set, and it works best with the Hue Play, the Hue Lightstrip, the Hue Go, and other Hue lights bulbs that are deeply saturated and offer rich colors.


It technically works with any Hue lights, but some of the older bulbs don't have blues and greens that are particularly saturated, which can detract from the setup. Setting up the Hue Sync requires designating an Entertainment Area, which is basically selecting the lights that you want to change in tune with the colors on the TV.

I had mine set with a Hue Lightstrip, a Hue Go, and a few standard Hue bulbs that are located close to the TV in my office, which worked well, though I imagine it would be even better with a Lightstrip and a few of the Hue Play Light Bars.


There are three different sync modes for video, music, and games, along with three intensity levels: Subtle, Moderate, High, and Extreme. Subtle and moderate are the smoothest with fewer transitions that are ultimately less distracting. In High and Extreme modes, the colors change rapidly and it can be a bit distracting depending on what you're watching.

In general, I preferred to watch with the settings on Subtle for regular usage because the other settings were just too much shifting between colors. For a few colorful films I did experiment with the High and Extreme modes and it can make a movie more fun, but these aren't settings I'd want to use all the time.


I'm not entirely sure what the difference is between the video, music, and game modes, because there are no clear explanations in the app, but selecting these did tweak the colors somewhat between modes. By the way, using Sync mode requires activation in the app, though there is an option to do it on the box itself if that's closer (mine's behind the TV so the app is easier). There's no automatic activation mode.

There's an option to set a minimum preferred brightness level and there's an important setting in the "Advanced" section for minimum brightness. To prevent the lights from going off entirely when the screen shows scenes that are black, the minimum brightness setting should be activated to keep a minimum light level. During my testing, I found that there are a surprising number of completely black scenes that cause the lights to go off, which is distracting.


There are also a lot of just plain white/yellow colors in a lot of TV shows, so there are some situations where the Hue lights don't show off a lot of color. It certainly works the best and looks the best with shows and movies that have a lot of different colorful scenes, but the subtle white lighting changes can also make what you're watching more immersive.

I've been testing the Hue Sync for a couple of weeks now, and I haven't noticed much latency if any. My Hue lights change pretty much in the instant that the colors change on the TV screen.


I primarily used it with my ‌Apple TV‌ 4K on a 4K Sony TV, and it worked great. Everything was smooth and seamless, and the colors were detected and shifted regardless of the content that I was watching.


On my Nintendo Switch, the Hue Sync worked well. I tested it with Link's Awakening, and there were some neat video game features like a flash of light whenever I attacked an enemy, along with colors that matched the game environment.


I also tested with my PS4 Pro and had no problems getting the syncing features to work properly. With both my Nintendo Switch and my PS4 Pro, I saw no lag issues with the color changes. As mentioned above, that's with six active lights and a 4K TV (without Dolby Vision).


There's an automatic switching feature (activated in settings) that swaps between different HDMI inputs when a console or ‌Apple TV‌ is activated, which worked well for me, but switching via my remote did not work (since everything is technically routed through one of my TV's HDMI ports) so any manual switching between inputs needed to be done through the app.


Unfortunately there were a few occasions where the automatic switching feature did not work as expected (mostly with my PlayStation 4) and I had to use the app


Based on multiple reviews of the Hue Play Sync Box, some users with devices routed through sound bars and receivers have had issues (though it's supposed to work), so deeper investigation may be required before purchasing to make sure that it works with your particular setup. It does not work with built-in smart TV apps, so you're going to need an ‌Apple TV‌, Fire Stick, Roku, or similar, which is something to be aware of. Content must pass through the box to the TV for it to work.

The Hue Sync Play Box supports 4K at 60Hz and HDR 10, but it does not support HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, so if you have a TV that uses HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, this may not be something that you want to invest in. It does support passthrough so you can still watch HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content, but it can't detect them to create the lighting effects.

Bottom Line


The Hue Play Sync Box is expensive and there are some bugs and issues that need to be worked out, but I think that people who have invested in Hue lights for their entertainment systems will enjoy what the box has to offer.

It's unfortunate that it does not work with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ because I suspect there is a good amount of overlap between people who have HDR10+/Dolby Vision capable devices and those who have a Hue setup that would make the Hue Play Sync Box worthwhile, but for those who can work with the limitations, it's a great way to make TV shows, movies, video games, and music more immersive.


Setup was simple for me, but I also have a simple TV setup without a sound bar and other additions, so there could be more complexity involved, and that's something to be aware of before purchasing. On the whole, I think many of those who love Hue lights will be pleased to have this option for content syncing, and I'm hoping some bug fixes and improvements will make the Hue Play Sync Box a more seamless experience in the future.

How to Buy


The Hue Play Sync Box can be purchased from the Hue website or from Best Buy for $229.99.


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Review: Philips Hue Vintage-Style Filament Bulbs Are Perfect for Accent Lighting

Signify, the company behind the Philips Hue line of lights, recently introduced new filament bulbs, which are designed to look like vintage filament-style light bulbs.

These bulbs, which come in three sizes, are the first bulbs in the Philips Hue lineup that are meant to be used with or without a lamp shade, making them perfect for decorative-style lamps that are meant to have naked bulbs.


There's a Standard A19 bulb that's in the shape of a traditional lightbulb, an Edison ST19 bulb that's elongated and without the rounder bulb shape, and there's the Globe G25 bulb, the largest of the three, which looks like a larger version of the Standard A19.


Though designed to look like vintage filament bulbs, the Hue Filaments are LED bulbs and not incandescent bulbs so they don't get hot at all when in use. You can touch the naked bulb and not feel a thing besides a bit of warmth.

The filaments inside the Hue Filament bulbs are arranged in an attractive spiral shape, with all of the bulbs in different sizes using the same internal design.


All three of the Filament bulbs from Hue are white light only, which means colors are not supported. The default color is a soft, warm yellow, which is ideal for accent lighting and dimmer indoor lighting. For those familiar with the white lighting spectrum, these are 2100K bulbs.

There's just the one yellow shade with no option to change the white light temperature, but the Filament bulbs can be dimmed or brightened to adjust the lighting that is put off. The bulbs can get surprisingly bright, which allows them to light up a room when you're using a few.


Each of the bulbs measures in at 530 lumens, so these are not as bright as your average 60-watt bulb. For comparison's sake, some of the standard Hue bulbs are upwards of 800 lumens, so don't expect the same maximum brightness levels (though you probably wouldn't want that much brightness from a bulb without a lamp shade).

In a naked lamp that's at eye level, a full brightness Filament bulb is impossible to look at, so I appreciated the ability to dim the bulbs down from their maximum brightness. I'm using one of the bulbs in a little monster lamp that I have and at low light, it works perfectly.


Since these are mostly designed to be used without a lamp shade, the Filament bulbs are probably best used at dimmer light, but in a ceiling lamp or up hung up above, the brighter lights will work well and will put off a decent amount of light.

These bulbs are part of the Philips Hue Bluetooth line, which means you can directly control them using the Philips Hue Bluetooth app even if you don't have a Hue Bridge. If you do have a full Hue setup with a bridge, these bulbs are also compatible, and the bridge, of course, adds HomeKit so you can control the Filament bulbs with Siri.

I didn't extensively test these on a standalone basis with the Bluetooth app because I do have an existing Hue setup, but I did try them out with the Bluetooth app and found the control to work well, though response times are bit slower compared to a bridge connection.


Offering the option to connect to the newest Hue bulbs with Bluetooth is a great move by Philips because now people can experience Hue bulbs and control their lights without committing to an entire setup.

As with all Hue bulbs that are able to connect to the Hue Bridge, the Filament bulbs can be used in ‌HomeKit‌ scenes and automations alongside other ‌HomeKit‌ products, and can be controlled either through the Hue app or Apple's own Home app.

Bottom Line


If you've been waiting for a Hue bulb that's able to work in a lamp without a lamp shade, the Filaments are the bulbs for you.

The vintage look is perfect for a naked lamp, and the soft white light works well without a lamp shade. The spiral design is attractive, ‌HomeKit‌ support is included, and if you don't have a Hue Bridge, you can still control these and use dimming and on/off functionality over Bluetooth.


The bulbs are versatile, look fantastic, put off a good amount of light for a decorative bulb, and are an excellent addition to the Hue family. In the future, I'd love to see colored bulbs in this style or adjustable shades of white, but I'm not familiar with the technical details or what would be required for Signify to ultimately release such a product.

For now, though, these are a great option for those who need a more decorative bulb than the traditional Hue offerings.

How to Buy


The Hue Filament Smart Bulbs can be purchased from the Best Buy at the current time. The A19 model is priced at $24.99, the Edison ST19 is priced at $27.99, and the Globe G25 is priced at $32.99.


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New Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box Lets You Sync Your Lights to Your Apple TV

Signify today announced a new device for its Philip Hue line of lights, debuting the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, designed to allow Hue users to sync their lights to their home entertainment systems.

The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is designed to connect between a television set and HDMI devices like the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, video game consoles, and Blu-Ray players with the purpose of syncing lights with TV shows, movies, games, and music.


Signify says the box will work with any HDMI device that you have to take your content "to the next level with surround lighting." You can connect up to four HDMI devices to the Sync Box, and swap between them as needed when watching TV, gaming, and more.

The Sync Box is able to automatically switch between each device depending on which one is in use, so there's no need to worry about fiddling with settings every time you use a different device.


The Sync Box is compatible with all color-capable Philips Hue light bulbs, fixtures, and light bars that are paired to a Hue bridge. Up to 10 color-capable lights can be synced to whatever content is being played.
"People love to escape the pressures of everyday life by getting lost in their entertainment," said Jasper Vervoort, Business Leader, Home Systems & Luminaires, Philips Hue at Signify. "We are proud to present the new Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box and give them a simple way to make that possible. Philips Hue users can now easily connect the color-capable lights in their room with their home entertainment systems, taking their movie- and TV-watching, listening and gaming experience to a completely new level."
There is a dedicated Philips Hue Mobile Sync app that works with the Sync Box, allowing users to control and personalize the lighting experience. Brightness, speed, and intensity of the lighting effects can all be tweaked, and there are options to configure the default settings to better suit your needs.


You can get the Philips Hue Play Sync Box for $229.99 starting in October, but it is available for pre-order from the Hue website today.


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Signify Launches New Philips Hue Smart Plug and Smart Button

Signify today announced several new Philips Hue branded products, adding to its available line of Hue bulbs and devic

The Philips Hue Smart Plug, priced at $39.99, is designed to turn lamps that aren't compatible with Hue bulbs into smart lamps able to be controlled via the Philips Hue app and HomeKit.


You can plug any table lamp, floor lamp, or other device into the Smart plug to add it to your Philips Hue setup. The Smart Plug can be switched on or off using the Hue app or HomeKit controls.

A new Philips Hue Smart Button, priced at $19.99, gives you a physical control option for your Philips Hue lights. You can assign a single press to activate whichever lights you want to control, and a press and a hold can brighten or dim the lights.


Paired with the Philips Hue Bridge, the button can be configured to do things like turning your lights to a preset shade of white and a brightness level that suits the time of day.

In the morning, a press of the Smart Button will turn the lights to cool, energizing shades of white, and in the evening, a button press will trigger warmer, dimmer light settings.


The Smart Button features a magnetic backing and an adhesive mini mount so you can put it wherever it's most useful.

Signify is debuting a new Bluetooth version of the Philips Hue Go portable lamp ($79.99), which can be used on its own with the Philips Hue Bluetooth app or added to any standard Philips Hue setup. The new Hue Go option is similar to the existing Hue Go, but with a longer battery life.


There are also new Bluetooth-enabled versions of the GU10 White and Color Ambiance and White Ambiance bulbs that can be used without a hub over Bluetooth, plus they feature higher lumen output, a new design, and richer colors.

The last new product is a Philips Hue White E12 candle bulb, ideal for ceiling fans, chandeliers, and other similar lights. The new E12 candle bulbs work over Bluetooth or with a Hue Bridge.

The Smart Plug and Smart Button will be launching in October, while the new Hue Go is coming in November. The GU10 spotlights and the E12 candle bulbs will be available starting in September. More info on the new products can be found on the Hue website.


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Philips Hue Line Gains New Filament Smart Bulbs

Signify today announced that its Philip Hue line of lights is gaining several new filament bulb options, which will be available in a variety of sizes.

Filament bulbs are bulbs that can be used with or without a lampshade, unlike other Hue bulbs that are designed for use primarily with lampshades. Filament bulbs can be viewed straight on and look attractive even when displayed in a naked lamp.


The Filament bulbs can be used over Bluetooth without a Philips Hue hub using the Philips Hue Bluetooth app, but if you have an existing Hue setup, the bulbs can also be added in the traditional manner and paired with your other Hue lights.

The Hue Filament bulbs are LED bulbs that are available only in a warm white light (2100K, 530 lumens) with an amber coating. The bulbs can be dimmed, but there are no color options.


There are three Hue Filament bulbs that will be available in the United States starting in October. There's a traditional A19 bulb that will be available for $24.99, a ST19 tube that will be available for $27.99, and a G25 globe that will be available for $32.99.

For more on the new Filament bulbs, check out the Hue website.


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Philips Hue Line Gains Standalone Bluetooth Bulb Option for New Hue Users

Signify today announced that it's going to be easier to get started with the Philips Hue line of lights thanks to a new standalone Bluetooth bulb offering.

The new Philips Hue with Bluetooth bulbs allow those who are newcomers to the Hue ecosystem to get started with a single light. Each of the Bluetooth bulbs can be controlled via an app using Bluetooth, with no need for the Philips Hue Bridge that's normally required for Hue lights.


Using the new Philips Hue Bluetooth app, users can turn the lights on and off, dim the lights, set the lights to millions of colors or different shades of light, select pre-set scenes, and enable multiple users to control the lights.

There are three versions of the Bluetooth bulbs: White ($14.99), White Ambiance ($29.99), and White and Color Ambiance ($49.99). They're available in the A19 bulb shape and the BR30 downlight.

Because there's no bridge involved these standalone Bluetooth bulbs are not HomeKit enabled, but for people who purchase them and decide to then expand to a larger Hue ecosystem, the bridge can be added at a later date and the bulbs can be connected like any other existing Hue bulbs.

Philips Hue Bluetooth bulbs do work with Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Nest smart display even without the Philips Hue Bridge.

The new Philips Hue Bluetooth lights are available from the Philips Hue website and Amazon starting today.


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Philips Hue Expected to Launch New Filament Light Bulbs and HomeKit Smart Plug This Fall

Philips Hue is planning to launch a new collection of accessories this fall, according to a new report today by iCulture. The collection will include filament light bulbs and a brand-new smart plug.

This would be the first time that Philips Hue launches its own smart plug accessory, but it's unclear if you will need a Philips Hue bridge to connect the plug or if it will be a standalone device. Today's report states that you will be able to set schedules and timers on the plug and it will be compatible with HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Alexa.

Image via iCulture

Like other smart plugs, Philips Hue's device will let you plug in a lamp, tea kettle, or other device so that you can control them through voice commands or via your smartphone. The smart plug will launch in Europe for €29.95 and in the United States for $24.95.

As for the light bulbs, Philips Hue is said to be planning to sell a small round, a large round, and an elongated variant of the filament bulbs. These bulbs have a predicted launch date of the second week of September and a price range of €19.95 to €29.95.

The new bulbs are believed to be Bluetooth-enabled, suggesting that you may not need a Philips Hue bridge to operate them. The fall collection will also introduce revamped versions of existing Philips Hue bulbs, including the Philips Hue Go device.


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New ‘Friends of Hue’ Partner Lutron Debuts New Smart Bulb Aurora Dimmer

Lutron, a new "Friends of Hue" partner, today announced the launch of the Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer, a Hue accessory that's designed to be placed over a traditional toggle light switch to prevent it from being turned off and accidentally disabling Hue smart bulbs.

The Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer is a wireless battery-powered dimmer that's meant to be mounted right over a traditional light switch, keeping guests and children from using the switch while also introducing dimming controls for Hue bulbs.


You can tap the Aurora Dimmer to turn your Hue lights on and off or turn the knob to brighten or dim the lights.
"Lutron is pleased to join the Philips Hue 'Friends of Hue' program and offer this unique, wall-mounted smart lighting control that enriches the Hue experience," said Matt Swatsky, Vice President, Residential Mid-Market Business at Lutron. "Lutron prides itself on aligning with global, best-in-class companies like Signify to improve and evolve the lighting experience. Together, Lutron and Signify are addressing smart bulb user feedback with an attractive and practical solution that locks toggle switches in place to keep smart bulbs ready, while providing an additional point of control. The Aurora dimmer simplifies the use of Philips Hue smart bulbs and fixtures for everyone in the home."
According to Lutron, it takes just two minutes to install the Lutron Aurora Dimmer over a standard toggle light switch. The base of the dimmer locks the existing toggle switch in the up/on position to prevent it from being accidentally turned off, while the knob snaps right onto the mounting base.

Like the Hue system, the Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer connects to the Hue base using Zigbee, so it can be used to control Hue lights even when the Wi-Fi is out.


The Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer, priced at $40, can be pre-ordered from the Hue website starting today and it's set to start shipping out in June. It will also be available from Amazon, Apple, Best Buy and The Home Depot.


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Review: Weatherproof Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor Lets You Automate Your Indoor or Outdoor Lights

The Philips Hue line of lights have been controllable via an indoor motion sensor for some time, but Signify is today introducing an Outdoor Motion Sensor that's designed to control the range of outdoor Hue lights that are now available for purchase.

The Outdoor Motion Sensor works just like the indoor Smart Motion Sensor, automating your lights and other HomeKit products to come on when motion is detected and turn off when there's no motion detected, all on an automatic basis.


As with all Hue products, the Outdoor Motion Sensor is designed to work with a hub, so a Hue hub and Hue lights are required to use the product, even though it can interface with other HomeKit devices.

Design


Design wise, the Outdoor Motion Sensor is small and relatively unobtrusive, though it's clearly a smart device that's noticeable. It features a square-shaped plastic housing with a protruding white circle where daylight and motion sensors are built in.


At the back, Outdoor Motion Sensor features a mounting plate and a variety of mounting options so you can put it wherever it works best. There's an option for a flat wall or mounting it at a corner, which would allow for maximum view of a driveway, lawn, or entryway.


I live in an apartment so I'm not able to do wall mounting, but I'm including this image of the Outdoor Motion Sensor from Amazon to show the different ways that it can be mounted -- flat, on an inward corner, or on an outwards-facing corner. For testing purposes, I have tall shelves outdoors where I keep plants, which is what I used, so it also doesn't necessarily need to be permanently mounted to work well.


You can screw the Outdoor Motion Sensor into the wall outside, and the hardware that you need is included (wall brackets, screws, and screw plugs), making it simple to get up and running. There is a built-in battery inside the Outdoor Motion Sensor that's supposed to last for about two years, so you don't need to worry about charging it. It's using AA batteries, so when the included batteries are exhausted, it won't be a hassle to get a replacement.
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CES 2019: Philips Hue Gains New Outdoor Lighting Range and Outdoor Motion Sensor

Signify today announced that its Philips Hue lighting lineup is gaining new outdoor lighting and sensor options in 2019.

New to the Hue Outdoor line is the Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor, which, like the indoor sensor, is designed to detect motion. The Outdoor Sensor is able to tell when a person is nearby, turning on outdoor Hue lights automatically.


The Hue Outdoor Sensor is wireless and operates on battery power, so it can be placed anywhere that's convenient. It has a 12-meter detection range and an integrated dusk-to-dawn sensor, making sure the lights only come on when it's dark outside.

Priced at $49.95, the Hue Outdoor Sensor will be available in February 2019.

Along with the sensor, Signify is introducing several new Philips Hue wall-mounted outdoor lighting fixtures, including the Philips Hue Welcome Flood Light ($109.99), the Philips Hue Discover Flood Light ($139.99), and the Philips Hue Econic family, priced at $129.99.

Hue Discover and Welcome Lights

The Welcome light is limited to one shade of bright white light, but the Discover light is a white and color ambiance light, which means it can be set to various shades of white or one of 16 million colors.

The new Philips Hue Outdoor lights will work like all other Hue lights, allowing for Siri-based voice controls via HomeKit as well as app control options through the Hue app or the Home app.

Hue Econic lights

The lights will also work with scenes and automations, allowing them to be integrated with other HomeKit products and set to come on automatically at designated times if desired. Signify plans to release the lights in February 2019.

More info on the new Hue Outdoor lights can be found on the Meethue website.


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