Philips has made it easier and more affordable to add immersive lighting to your home theater setup with the introduction of the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box.
The Sync Box works by analyzing whatever's on your TV screen and passing its findings on to your Hue lights, which will then flash, dim and change color to match what's being watched or played.
The box features four HDMI outputs and supports up to 10 Hue color lights, so as well as your TV you can also connect consoles, laptops, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players to your Philips smart lighting system.
Controlling the whole show from the user's end is the Philips Hue Sync mobile app, where you can tweak settings like the brightness, speed and intensity of the light show.
There's no need to manually toggle between the devices connected to the hub, though, as the Sync Box automatically switches itself to the input that's in use. HDMI CEC is also supported, so it should understand voice controls and work with most remote controls.
Support for 4K but Dolby Vision misses out
Before you go to raid your piggy bank, however, there are a couple of important caveats to note.
Firstly, a Philips Hue Bridge is required for it to operate the Sync Box – but we suspect many Hue owners will have one of these.
The bigger issue for home media enthusiasts is that while 4K HDR is supported at up to 60Hz, two of the leading High Dynamic Range formats – HDR10+ and Dolby Vision – are not.
These standards will still pass through the hub and look great, but it's not capable of digesting their visual data to send to your Hue lights.
Still, with a healthy amount of HDMI ports and the ability to automatically detect device switches, the Sync Box seems like a tempting proposition for gamers and TV buffs with a Hue lighting system – throw in one of the best soundbars or best home theater speakers and you've got one heck of a movie night.
The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box goes on sale from October 15 in the US priced at $229.99. Retail partners include Best Buy.
It will also be launching in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, with general European pricing set at €249.95.
More markets will follow in 2020, Philips says.
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