Think you’ve no room for smart lighting? Think again – the Philips Hue Lightstrip will let you bring a great glow to previously inaccessible corners of your home, making them some of the best smart light bulbs options out there.
Think of smart lighting, and your brain probably jumps to standard looking bulbs with connected, app-compatible features. They’re great – Philips’ Hue being the most attractive and reliable of the bunch – but what if you don’t have a light fitting in the area where you want to illuminate, or not enough room to put one in?
That’s where the Philips Hue Lightstrip comes in. A thin, long, plastic strip of color-customizable LEDs – it can bend, twist and be cut to size, with a sticky back side that allows it to be affixed almost anywhere. If you want to light under a hard-to-reach cabinet, along the back of a TV unit or even along a skirting board, the Philips Hue Lightstrip will allow you to do so.
It connects to your home over your router’s Wi-Fi signal, and can then be set up to be controlled with smartphone apps or voice assistants, as well as being compatible with physical connected light switches and other connected home gadgetry. Whether you’re looking to add some seductive mood lighting to a bedroom, or an energizing cool light to an office desk area, the Lightstrip has you covered.
Philips Hue Lightstrip review: Design and build
- Flexible placement
- 1,600 lumens brightness
- Two meter strip can be cut down or extended
Coming out of the box a bit like a roll of sticky tape, the Philips Hue Lightstrip measures two meters long by 1.4cm wide, and is just 0.5cm deep. It’s lightweight, and the sticky underside of the strip means you can stick it as easily to the underside of a surface as sitting it on top of one.
A plug-socket power supply sits down one end along with a small box that houses the smart circuitry, and its cord limits the distance from wall socket to where you’d like to put the Lightstrip. But that’s essentially the only limitation – light, flexible and malleable, you can attach the Lightstrip almost anywhere. Try to think carefully before sticking it down though: it may be easy to remove without causing damage, but it’ll be far less sticky on a second application.
And though the Lightstrip starter kit is limited to a two meter length, you can extend it to up to 10 metres by purchasing one meter add-on components. They’ll attach together and work in unison as one long light. And, if you’re after a specific length, you can quite easily chop the strips to match the length you need. You should get at least 12,000 hours of use out of the Lightstrip, and its 1,600 lumens brightness is powerful enough to read by. If you’re flush with cash, a Plus version of the Lightstrip extends that lifespan by a further 8,000 hours.
The Philips Hue Lightstrip makes use of the ZigBee smart home standard, allowing it to interact with other connected devices, such as smart speakers, motion sensors and other lighting arrays, around your home. The means the Philips Hue Lightstrip needs the Hue Bridge device to work – these can be found most cost-effectively in a Philips Hue bulb starter pack, but can also be purchased separately.
Philips Hue Lightstrip review: Features
- iOS and Android apps
- Third-party developer support
- Philips Ambilight TV compatibility
Philips Hue bulbs use iOS and Android apps for their set-up processes, and the Hue Lightstrip is no different. Though you can simply plug the strip in to a wall socket and it will power up, to make use of its color changing abilities and other smart features, you’re going to need to pair it with the app.
Thankfully, once you’ve got the Hue Bridge installed, that set-up process is incredibly fast. Within moments the app will recognize the Lightstrip, which can then be controlled by the app or paired with one of numerous smart home control systems: Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit, Samsung’s SmartThings and the Google Assistant are all supported. With the app and a smart controller setup, the Lightstrip comes into its own, allowing you to make it part of groups to be activated in tandem with other gadgets with just a single voice command.
There’s an extensive amount of features supported by the Philips Hue Lightstrip. As well as being able to be turned one of 16 million colors, and have its color temperature tweaked from a soothing warm to a focus-enhancing cool, there are options to set up sleep timers, daily routines, sunrise wake ups and much more.
Where Philips has one over the competition is the way it’s allowed third-party app developers tap into its products too. As well as support for IFTTT (If This, Then That) protocols, letting you program chains of events that trigger one or several of your smart home gadgets, the Lightstrip supports apps that let it sync up with the action of select video games, and pulse in time with music, among many others.
If you’re after the full Hue overhaul for your home, consider getting yourself a Philips Ambilight TV, too. The screens also feature immersive lighting LEDs on their rear sides, which match onscreen action – the Lightstrip can sync with the TV to turn your whole room into a light-filled viewing experience.
Philips Hue Lightstrip review: Performance
- Can be placed almost anywhere
- Reasonably reliable connectivity
The Philips Hue Lightstrip is one of the more reliable connected lights we’ve used. Our time testing various connected lighting arrays has taught us to anticipate the odd connectivity system – as part of a chain that relies on the light itself, your internet connection and potentially a smart assistant, if one gets confused, they can flake out. But the Lightstrip proved relatively resilient, with only the odd reset at the wall required.
Its reliability is of particular importance, given the nature of the product – it may well be the only light source you have in a hard to reach area, what with its placement being so flexible. You wouldn’t want it to fail regularly as a result, which it thankfully doesn’t.
Should I buy Philips Hue Lightstrip?
The Hue Lightstrip is a fantastic product. It’s bright, highly customisable and its unusual form factor makes it easy to place almost anywhere. It’s not particularly attractive when it’s not in use, being a tape-like white strip, but once it’s fired up it comes to life – as will your room.
It’s easy to recommend, but do consider whether ‘traditional’ smart bulbs would suit your needs better. They’re often less expensive, and can be easily fitted into most light fittings. A group of smart bulbs will bring more light to your room than the Lightstrip, for instance – though may not be as easy to fit in those hard to reach places.