The Philips Hue device that syncs images on a TV screen with Hue smart lights is about to get a nifty new accessory: a gradient LED lightstrip that can glow in up to seven different colors simultaneously.
Set for release October 16 starting at a pricey $200 (there’s nothing cheap about Hue lights), the Philips Hue Play gradient lightstrip comes in three sizes: one that fits 55- to 60-inch TVs, another for 65- to 70-inch sets (for $220), and a third for display sizes between 75- and 85 inches ($240).
The gradient light strip works in concert with the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, a device that takes signals from up to four HDMI-enabled video sources and syncs the selected device with your Hue lights, creating a glowing cascade of lights that pulse in time with the images. While the effect can be distracting (you might want to dial down the Sync Box during, say, Mystic River), it can also be thrilling and immersive, particularly when it comes to Marvel movies and games.
The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box can wirelessly sync with up to 10 of your Hue lights, including color ambiance bulbs, Hue lamps, the Hue Play Light Bars (which you can position behind your TV), and the existing Philips Hue indoor lightstrips.
What sets the Hue Pay gradient lightstrip apart is that while a standard Hue indoor lightstrip can only glow in a single color at once, the new LED strip can glow in different colors simultaneously. When used together with the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, the gradient lightstrip can glow (for example) red on just one side of the strip, matching (say) a big red fireball on the corresponding side the screen.
How the gradient lightstrip works
The Hue Play radiant lightstrip comes with a total of seven controllable LED segments, two on each side and three along the top. While it has seven controllable segments, the entire lightstrip only counts as one device as far as the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box’s 10-light cap is concerned.
You can affix the lightstrip to the back of your TV by wrapping it around adhesive brackets that stick to the rear corners of the display. The lightstrip only goes along the sides and the top of the screen; having the LED strip wrap around the bottom edge of the display would cause too many installation headaches and “didn’t add too much to the experience,” an exec for Signify (the owner of the Philips Hue lighting brand) said during an online briefing.
Unlike Philips Hue’s indoor lightstrips, the new grandiant lightstrip can’t be cut to fit, which means you’ll have to pick a version that’s the right size for your TV. If you want to use the lightstrip with a screen that’s larger than 85 inches, you should simply install the strip further in from the outer edge of the display, Signify execs said.
Besides the Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box, the new Hue Play gradient lightstrip will also work with the free Hue Sync app for PC and Mac, which syncs your computer screen with your Hue lights. Of course, the gradient lightsrip is too big to install on most PC monitors, but you could use it on a bigger TV that’s connected to your laptop for PC gaming.
The Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box first came out last fall. In our review, we praised it as the “best way” to sync your TV screen with your living room lights, although we dinged it for its “expensive” $230 price tag and tricky control scheme. An update earlier this year remedied the control issue by enabling the use of third-party universal remotes, such as Logitech’s Harmony line. The update also added Dolby Vision and HDR10+ syncing support, along with support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands.
Signify also announced several other new products in the Philips Hue lineup, including a reintroduction of the Philips Hue Iris table lamp. You can read about those at this link.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.