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Light Bulbs

Philips Hue promises better greens, but you'll need to buy new lightbulbs

Better, brighter shades of green and blue are on the way, says Philips. The problem? You're gonna need to buy new lightbulbs to experience them.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET
philips-hue-lifx-misfit-bolt-green.jpg

That's an original Hue lightbulb on the left trying its best to put out green-tinted light. New versions of Hue's White and Color Ambiance LEDs will supposedly be a lot better at it.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Philips Hue is finally fixing the fact that its color-changing bulbs are noticeably bad at putting out proper shades of green. The problem? You'll need to spend some green on brand new bulbs in order to take advantage.

Don't shoot the messenger.

The news came tucked in with the debut of the Philips Hue Motion Sensor at the IFA 2016 trade show in Berlin. Calling them both the "next generation" and "latest evolution" of Philips Hue's flagship White and Color Ambiance LEDs, the new bulbs will look and cost the same as the existing ones, but will boast better colors and a brighter light output. You'll be able to tell them apart from the old ones by way of a "richer colors" badge on the box.

That's all well and good, but people who already spent $200 on last year's second-gen Philips Hue starter kit might be understandably peeved. Hue's struggles with green tones were well-documented from the very beginning, and last year's "Hue 2.0" refresh would have been a perfect time to address them -- especially given the strong competition from Lifx LEDs, which consistently outperform Hue in our color accuracy tests.

Instead, Philips waited until Hue 2.1.

A spokesperson for Philips tells CNET that, "existing Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs will continue to work as before," but also admits that users will need to purchase the new bulbs in order to experience the improved colors.

These new Hue bulbs will be the same price as the old bulbs in the US: $200 for a three-bulb starter kit and $50 for each additional bulb (down from the original price of $60). International pricing for the UK and Australia has not yet been confirmed, but the bulbs will sell for €60 each in Europe, or €200 for the starter kit.

At any rate, the new-and-improved White and Color Ambiance LEDs are set to hit store shelves this October, when the new Philips Hue Motion Sensor is set to debut. Also new: GU10 and BR30 floodlight versions of the Philips Hue White Ambiance LEDs, which put out an adjustable range of tones from the white light spectrum. Expect full reviews of all of these as soon as they arrive.

Philips Hue White and Color Ambience Starter Kit A19