Philips brings smart LEDs to new Hue Beyond light fixtures

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Where Philips' Hue Connected Bulbs gave you individual LEDs to add to any traditional socket, the company's new Hue Beyond series, announced today, integrate the Dutch company's smart LED tech directly into a set of hard-wired, expensive light fixtures.

Starting at £299 for a table lamp with no connectivity hub (for those who already own one), and going all the way up to £529 for either a pendant or ceiling fixture kit, these lamps are for the well-off smart home enthusiast. US and Australia prices have yet to be announced, but those prices convert to $495-$875 and AU$530-AU$940.

They also make gimmicky colored LEDs seem a little less obtrusive. Unlike the Hue Connected Bulbs, the Hue Beyond lamps all have the LEDs built directly into them. There's no bulb to change, and once you experience dimming (only likely after 15,000 hours/15 years of use, says Philips) or a wonky diode, you have to live with it. Yes, Hue Beyond lamps bring with them some risk. You also have to like the design.

The technical appeal of the Beyond line is that each fixture includes two banks of LEDs, one in the top shade, and one in the bottom, and you can control them independently via Philips Hue iOS and Android apps.

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The Hue Beyond pendant light will start at £499, or £529 if you need the Hue connected hub. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Each bank offers the same degree of programmability as the standard Hue Connected bulbs, and the Beyond series is also compatible with the existing Hue network. That means that alongside any Hue bulbs you already have, you can program each set of Hue Beyond LEDs to display one of over 16 million RGB colors, as well as the full spectrum of orange-to-blue white typical of traditional incandescent bulbs. You can also tell them to perform certain automated behaviors.

Imagine using the bottom-most LEDs as a reading light, and programming the top portion to flash red when you have a new email, or when a loved one arrives at a certain location. Because the Hue Beyond works with the IFTTT service as well as various smart home hubs like Revolv and SmartThings, you can tie the lamps' behavior to an ever-growing network of smart home devices and online services.

Given the smartphone-centric control schemes common to many connected home devices, it's refreshing for a product to introduce features, in this case color-coded notifications, that can help us untether ourselves from our various mobile products.

Philips promises the same color rendering quality, 600-lumen output (1,200 lumens for the pendant and ceiling light), and longevity for the Hue Beyond fixtures as for the standalone Hue LEDs. They hit the UK's Selfridges department stores this month, with retail availability coming to the US and the rest of the world at some unspecified future date. We hope to have some hands-on time shortly here at IFA, and we'll update accordingly.

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