Philips Hue's newest lights include an extra-bright smart bulb for $20
It wasn't long ago that $20 was a steal for a dumb 100W-replacement LED with no smarts whatsoever.
Ry CristSenior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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Let's start with the bulb. Available in late July, it's called the Philips Hue White A21 LED, and it measures in at 1,600 lumens -- roughly the same amount of brightness as you'll get from a regular 100W incandescent light bulb. That makes it the brightest bulb in Philips Hue's entire collection of smart lights, and a good bargain pick at just $20 each (in fact, it wasn't so long ago that $20 was a pretty good value for a standard 100W-replacement LED with no smarts at all).
Like other Hue bulbs, the A21-shaped Hue White LED uses the Zigbee wireless protocol to connect with Philips Hue Bridge. From there, you'll be able to control it, dim it, and schedule timed lighting changes from the Philips Hue app on your Android or iOS device, or control it using voice commands via Alexa, Siri or the Google Assistant. If you don't have a Hue Bridge, you can use the Bluetooth version of the Hue app to pair directly with the bulb for basic on/off and dimming control. Alexa users can also skip the Hue Bridge and pair the bulb directly with an Echo Plus smart speaker or a second-gen Echo Show smart display.
100W-replacement LEDs like this one are an especially good value if you're already used to regular 100W incandescent bulbs, because they use significantly less energy to put out the same amount of light. In this case, the bulb puts its 100 watts' worth of light out from a power draw of just 17 watts. Whereas an actual 100W bulb would add about $12 to your energy bill each year if you ran it for at full brightness for an average of 3 hours per day, the 17W Hue bulb would add just over $2 to your bill over the same stretch. That means that it'll only takes two years or less for it to pay for itself in energy savings -- and with a stated lifespan of 25,000 hours, it'll keep shining for years, if not decades.
Of course, there are no colors with the new Hue White bulb -- just standard, soft white light at a fixed color temperature around 2,700K. Signify had nothing to share when I asked if a full color version of the bulb was in the works, but it seems like a very logical next step.
Available this week at Target and everywhere else Hue products are sold later this summer, the new, Bluetooth-enabled Hue Lightstrips will cost $80 for a 2-meter starter kit, with 1-meter extension strips selling for $25 each. They'll still only put out one color at a time, which is a bit frustrating given that the Lifx Z light strip has been putting out multiple colors at once for years now. Feels a bit like Signify wants to make sure that anyone interested in Hue Entertainment's TV-matching color effects needs to pony up for more than one light if they want a true, multicolor experience.
That said, Signify points out that they've updated the design to make it easier for you to reuse trimmed sections of your strips. And as for the new Bloom, Signify says that it's added richer-looking colors and an expanded range of white light tones, in addition to adding in Bluetooth control. Look for that one in stores by the end of July at a price of $70.