Philips Hue getting cheaper bulbs and a portable light switch

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Credit: Philips

Philips is looking to stave off new competition in the connected light bulb market with a cheaper version of its Hue LED bulbs.

The new Hue Lux bulbs will cost $40 each, making them $20 cheaper than the current Hue bulbs. The trade-off is that they only offer white light instead of a full range of colors, but they still support dimming, and can be controlled with the same apps for iOS and Android.

As with Philips' existing Hue bulbs, you'll also need a wireless bridge, which hooks up with your home router and communicates with up to 50 bulbs over Wi-Fi. A starter kit with the bridge and two Hue Lux bulbs will cost $100, according to Engadget. That's half the price of the existing starter kit, which comes with three full color light bulbs.

In addition to the new bulbs, Philips will launch a portable light switch called the Hue Tap. It's basically an extension of Hue's mobile apps, letting you map your favorite settings to four physical buttons. Silly as it may seem to buy a light switch for a device that's meant to replace your light switch, the idea is that you'd use it when your phone is out of reach or unavailable. Interestingly enough, the Hue Tap doesn't need batteries, because it powers itself through kinetic energy when you tap a button. Philips says the Hue Tap will cost $60.

Philips is facing some fresh competition from LG and Samsung, which both announced their own connected light bulbs this week. LG's bulbs will cost around $32, but it's unclear outside of South Korea. Samsung hasn't announced a price or release date for its smart bulbs. Other competitors include Belkin, whose $40 bulbs work with the company's WeMo home automation system, and TCP Wireless, whose bulbs start at $28.

Philips hasn't given an exact release date for the Hue Lux and Hue Tap, but says they'll be available some time this summer.

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