Hands-on with the Philips Hue Smart button, Smart plug, vintage-style filament bulbs, and more
Slated to arrive in October, the new Smart button lets you control your Philips Hue lights without needing your phone or a smart speaker.
By Ben Patterson
TechHiveSep 5, 2019 12:00 am PDT
Don’t want to pull out your smartphone, bark at Alexa, or yell “Hey Google” just to turn on all the Philips Hue lights in a room? Starting next month, you’ll be able to simply press the Philips Hue Smart button, instead.
On sale starting in October, the $20 wireless button makes it easy to turn on, adjust, and switch off your Philips Hue lights, and it arrives alongside the first Philips Hue Smart plug, the first vintage-style LED filament Philips Hue smart bulbs, and an updated version of the portable Philips Hue Go light fixture.
In a briefing last week, representatives from manufacturer Signify told me that all future Philips Hue lights will feature both Bluetooth and Zigbee radios. The objective is to make it easier for consumers to get into the Philips Hue ecosystem by eliminating the need to purchase the $60 Hue Bridge.
The tradeoff for not buying the Bridge is more limited range—it’s recommended that you and your smartphone or smart speaker be in the same room as the Philips Hue bulbs you want to control. You’re also limited to deploying 10 of the Bluetooth/Zigbee bulbs. The Hue Bridge can support up to 50 devices, and you can deploy more than one Bridge if you want to install more than 50.
Philips Hue Smart button
Let’s tackle the Smart button, first. This is a diminutive device the size of a smaller dimmer dial with a magnetic back and an optional adhesive “mini mount.”
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Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 (Bluetooth + Zigbee)
Powered by a coin cell battery, the wireless Smart button connects to your Hue Bridge and lets you turn on your smart lights with a press.
You can press the button again to switch to a different scene, or press and hold the button to dim the lights or fade them back up.
What’s particularly nifty about the Smart button is that you can program it to automatically trigger different scenes according to the time of day. For example, you could set the Smart button to turn on a warm, bright scene in the morning, a cool energizing scene in the afternoon, and an ultra-dim scene (for, say, finding your way to the bathroom) in the wee hours.
The magnetic Smart button comes bundled with a backplate for wall mounting, or you can snap it onto any ferromagnetic metal, such as the base of a lamp. You can even use the adhesive mini mount to hide the button under a table.
Philips Hue Smart plug
Also coming in October: the Philips Hue Smart plug, which lets you control a standard light using the Philips Hue app or (if you’ve enabled Hue control via Alexa or Google Assistant) via voice commands.
The first of its kind in the Philips Hue ecosystem, the new $40 smart plug is considerably more expensive than the typical Wi-Fi smart plug, which often dip below the $15 mark (that said, our current favorite smart plug—the Leviton Decora DW15P—goes for about $30). But if you’re deep into the Philips Hue world, spending $40 so you can control a light fixture that you can’t screw a Philips Hue bulb into might be a worthwhile investment.
Philips Hue Go portable light
Slated for November is a refresh of the Philip Hue Go portable (and battery-powered) color light fixture. It will feature the same hemispherical design as the original, but adds Bluetooth connectivity. That feature enables you to control the light without a Hue Bridge, or if you have a Bridge, when you’re beyond its reach. As with the original device, you can also switch between seven preset colors by pressing a button on the bottom of the Go.
Besides its added Bluetooth support, the Hue Go comes with better battery life; think about 10 hours rather than just three, Signify reps told me.
Meanwhile, the Go’s 12V charging port has been moved away from an embedded ridge that props up the portable light at an angle, making it easier to cast the Go’s light on a wall while it’s plugged in.
Vintage-style LED filament light bulbs are becoming increasingly popular, so Signify will bring that design aesthetic to its Philips Hue line for the first time in October. There will be a trio of Edison-style bulbs outfitted with both Bluetooth and Zigbee radios: An A19-style bulb will sell for $25, an ST19 tube bulb will go for $28, and a G25 globe will cost $33.
All three dimmable bulbs will produce warm-white light (color temperature of 2100K ) produced by coiled LED filaments bulbs versus the linear variety seen in some competing LED filament bulbs.
New spotlights and candle bulbs
Rounding out the new Philips Hue bulbs are revamped GU10 spotlights, with both the White and Color Ambiance ($55) and color temperature-tunable White Ambiance ($50 for a two-pack) flavors adding Bluetooth to Zigbee, as well as a slightly shorter base that (ideally) won’t cause the bulb to protrude a conventional spotlight fixture.
Last but not least is a dimmable white Philips Hue E12 decorative candle bulb for installation in chandeliers, ceiling fans, bedside table lamps, and the like. A two-pack of the candle bulbs will sell for $33.
Both the GU10 spotlights and the new E12 candle are slated to ship in September.
We’ll have reviews of the Philips Hue Smart button, Smart plug, and all the new Philips Hue bulbs once we try them for ourselves, so stay tuned.