Philips Hue Lux review: A less colorful, less expensive Philips Hue

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.3
  • Features: 8.0
  • Usability: 9.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:

The Good The Philips Hue Lux LEDs don't change color, but they do offer an affordable smart lighting entry point. Direct integration with IFTTT and a well-polished app make for a more feature-rich experience than you'll get with other kits.

The Bad The Hue Lux LEDs aren't "color tunable" like some recent competitors, meaning that you're locked in at a yellowy 2,700 K.

The Bottom Line These bulbs make the appealing world of Philips Hue lighting more accessible than ever before. At $30 each, they're definitely worth considering.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: At time of publication, this review stated that the Hue Lux LEDs drew 18 watts, while they actually draw 9. The text has been updated accordingly.

Philips Hue LEDs come with two main draws: smart, app-enabled lighting control, and a color-changing novelty factor. However, at $60 per bulb and $200 for a three-bulb starter kit (£50 and £180 in the UK, not yet available in Australia), they're also priced too high for many consumers. Enter the new Philips Hue Lux LEDs, which cut out the colors, and also cut the cost in half.

That seems like a pretty fair deal to me. At $30 per bulb and $100 for a two-bulb starter kit (£25 and £80 in the UK, not yet available in Australia), the Lux LEDs are priced to compete with cheaper smart lighting setups like the US-only Connected by TCP Wireless LED Lighting Kit that offer essentially the same thing. Lux still costs a little more than those, but for the extra cash you'll be getting direct compatibility with the popular automation service IFTTT, along with an arguably more polished app experience. In my mind, that makes it a kit worth considering.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

Design and features

The Philips Hue Lux LEDs don't stray far from the Philips aesthetic, with the same flat-headed design that you'll see with the original Hue LEDs, along with the white-bodied build of Philips' non-connected 60W equivalent LEDs. In this sense, they're better at blending in with your "normal" lights than some other smart bulbs might be (and also some non-smart bulbs, for that matter).

Like the original Hue LEDs that came before them, the Hue Lux LEDs use Zigbee to communicate wirelessly with the Hue Bridge, which you'll need to keep plugged into your router. If you already have Hue LEDs or Hue BR30 floodlights and want to add Hue Lux LEDs to your setup, the existing Bridge you're using will work just fine.

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Adding Philips Hue Lux LEDs to an existing Hue setup is a cinch. Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

The Hue app is compatible with Apple devices running iOS 6.0 or later, or on devices using Android 2.3 and up. Once you've got the app up and running, you'll be able to dim the light up and down, or schedule it to automatically turn on or off at a certain time. Activate the Philips Hue IFTTT channel, and your automation options with the Lux LED will increase even further.

You won't, however, be able to change the bulb's color or color temperature. The latter of which is called color tuning, and allows you to adjust a white light bulb from a low, yellowy color temperature to something more hot and blue.

The original Philips Hue bulbs have a full white light spectrum to play with, and it would have been a nice feature if the Lux LEDs had access to it, too, in spite of being locked out of the full RGB spectrum. Recently announced white-light connected bulbs like the Samsung Bluetooth Smart LED are offering color tuning or some variation of it.

Still, the Philips Hue ecosystem has been evolving for a couple of years now, which makes for a polished and satisfying user experience. The Hue's open API doesn't hurt, either, as it's helped bring about a number of third-party apps and integrations for the smart LEDs.

Among these direct integrations are popular connected home control systems like Revolv, SmartThings, Wink, and Staples Connect, so if you're envisioning Philips Hue as part of a larger network of smart home devices, you have a couple of ways to go about making that happen. Even without an extra hub hub, you'll be able to sync your lights up with other IFTTT-compatible devices, including Belkin WeMo Switches, Jawbone Up24, and the Automatic smart driving assistant.

You'll also be able to use Lux LEDs with the recently released Philips Hue Tap, a physical controller you can mount on the wall or take with you to trigger specific lighting setups at the touch of a button.

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