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CNET Smart Home
Philips Hue vs. Lifx: A color-changing smart home showdownThey're your two top choices for connected color control, but which smart bulb is best? Time for these two LEDs to duke it out.
Tis the season for color changing lights, and if you want ones that work on your smart home set up, your top two are Phillips Hue and Life Ex. Both are well reviewed, both have a lot of fans, and both are pretty expensive. So which should you get. We'll unwrap it all in this Smarthome Showdown. [MUSIC] Now don't get me wrong, color changing smartphones like these are definitely an expensive novelty, especially when you can get tinted incandescence, for just a couple of bucks a piece. Still, it's fun to be able to change the color of your lights right on your phone, or using an integration from Amazon's Alexa, or Apple Home Kit, to control things with Siri commands There's a lot of charm to all of it. To pick a winner let's take a look at how these two options stack up in three main categories. Hardware, the bulbs themselves. Software, the apps that control them and then platforms, the connections they make with third party services and devices to help build a bigger, smart home eco system in your house. So let's start there, with the platforms. They both do a nice job on this front. They both work with Alexa, with Nest, with the IFTTT automation platform online. But I give Hue the edge here. Hue also works with Apple HomeKit so you can control them using Siri commands. Another big win for Philips is that you can use that Hue Bridge to control relatively inexpensive third-party bulbs an expand your setup without breaking the bank. [MUSIC] [SOUND] Next let's talk about the hardware, the bulbs themselves. At the flagship level, the main Philips Hue bulb is its new third gen white and color ambient bulb. And on the LIFX side, we've got the new third gen LIFX bulbs and LIFX Plus bulbs. LIFX bulbs are also much brighter than Philips Hue bulbs, and they offer very accurate colors. Philips Hue caught up on the color front, they've got nice greens now and nice blues if you have the most recent bulb. But LIFX is still the better, brighter bulb as far as specs are concerned. It only uses one more watt than the Philips Hue third gen bulb, but at a lot of important settings it's putting out almost two or three times as much lights. Finally, let's talk about the software. The apps that you use to control these lights are really Important. They're how you'll set them up. They're how you'll program your lighting changes. They're how you'll make quick lighting changes on the fly. Both of them do a nice job and make it fairly easy to do all of that, but I prefer LIFX because it's got a nicer way of choosing colors, that color wheel there in the app. Is a lot easier to use and better than the ocean of pixels on the Phillips Hue app. I also appreciate that LIFX has a couple of extra features that Phillip Hue doesn't. It has a music visualizer, it has the ability to do some limited color cycling stuff. You can't do that in Phillips Hue, in that core app. So I give LIFX the edge here as well. [MUSIC] Now both of these bulbs are pretty expensive. Those Philips U gen bulbs cost $50 a piece where as the LIFX version bulbs start at 60 bucks a pice. Philips U has a very strong lighting platform and a worth while one but if I'm spending that much money on colors like these, effects like these, I want the colors that are the brightest and the best. Along with an app that's really easy to use. For me, that's why LIFX is the color changing smartbulb of choice. [MUSIC]