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Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit

Philips Hue's newest app-enabled LED light bulbs won't change colors, but they will change color temperatures -- and they'll still work with Siri. Click through to learn more about them.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Color temperatures

When I say "color temperatures," I'm referring to the white light spectrum. At one end, you've got warm, candlelike light. At the other, hotter, more bluish-white daylight tones. The Hue White Ambiance LEDs can do them all.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The bulb

The White Ambiance LEDs look just like existing Hue bulbs, and promise to put out 800 lumens' worth of brightness. That's as much as you'd get from an ordinary 60w light bulb.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The specs

Look more closely at the specs, though. You only get to 800 lumens at a color temperature of 4,000 K. At the default color temperature of 2,700 K, you're getting a lot less.

Published:Caption:Photo:Philips

Outshone?

Take a look for yourself. Here's the Hue White Ambiance LED at max brightness at its default color temperature setting followed by the non-smart Philips 60W Equivalent LED, which puts out 800 lumens. The difference is subtle, but noticeable.

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

The competition

Sure enough, the Hue White Ambiance LED was underwhelming in our brightness tests, at least compared with color-tunable competitors.

Published:Caption:Photo:Ry Crist/CNET

The remote

Along with two White Ambiance LEDs, the starter kit comes with the same magnetic remote that you'll find in the Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Bridge

You also get the second-gen Philips Hue Bridge, which lets you control the lights from afar on your phone. It also brings support for Apple HomeKit into the picture.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Siri controls

HomeKit is Apple's iOS-based platform for the connected home. With it, you'll be able to control your Hue lights and scenes using Siri commands (just remember to be specific).

Published:Caption:Photo:Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

New app

There's also a new version of the Philips Hue app for Android and iOS devices. It's mostly a cosmetic upgrade over the original app, but you will find some new, white-light-specific scene presets.

Published:Caption:Photo:Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

The bottom line

Each White Ambiance LED costs $30, with the starter kit selling for $130 (the White Ambiance LEDs aren't available outside of the US just yet, but other Hue products are -- those prices convert to roughly £20/AU$40 per bulb, or £90/AU$180 for the kit).

Be sure to check out our full review to see whether or not these smart bulbs are a smart buy for your home.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET
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