Philips Hue, the intelligent lighting system that you can control - in both colour and brightness terms - via your smartphone, has gained a new accessory in the guise of Philips LightStrips. Light up your life with these bendable strips of LED lights that you can place around the home for dramatic mood lighting.
If you're already on board with the Philips Hue system - which we use every day, and think is fantastic despite the initial £180 price - does the addition of LightStrips make sense, or is it more Christmas lights than mood lights?
Colour Me Beautiful
The concept of LightStrips is simple: it's there to add flexibility - literally - to your Philips Hue lighting set-up. If you don't already own Philips Hue then LightStrips are as good as useless, even if the box happens to be pretty. But Hue fans can get creative: pop LightStrips under the sofa, beneath the breakfast bar, wrap them around an arty sculpture, or wherever you see fit.
READ: Philips Hue review
Available in white or as one of 16 primary colours, whichever LightStrips you select they're all capable of displaying one of 16-million colours. Yup, sixteen million options right at your fingertips.
How long is a piece of string?
The "Friends of Hue LightStrips" that we received for review - available via the Apple store - combine 60 LED lights over a 1cm-wide stretch of plastic that's an alleged two metres in length. Thing is the strip itself is 1.8m, not the 2m it claims. There are also 1.6m and 1m versions available direct from Philips, albeit ones that appear to lack the "Friends of Hue" preface on the box - we do hope that they're more amenable when it comes to length accuracy.
The LightStrips has 3M adhesive tape applied to the back to help you stick it into place, which works well given the light weight of the design. Every three LED lights along - that's 10cm for those more calculating designers - there is a "cut point" so you can chop the strip down to the right length if it's too long for your desired location. But cut it and, unlike a worm where both (unfortunate) sides keep on going, you'll be stuck with a redundant plastic strip on the non-wired side. Consider that before buying the longest version - the 1m kit may well suffice.
Other than that length-based glitch the only real installation issue you may find is that you'll want a plug socket nearby to power the LightStrips. Philips has included a three metre power cable - which can't be cut down to size - but that may look unsightly if you don't consider how to position the cable within the home.
One plugged in you'll want to set up the LightStrips using your Apple or Android smartphone app. The only real faff you'll have here is adding the lights to your current lighting recipes within the app, as the LightStrips aren't automatically added even though the light is plugged into the wall.
Furthermore we weren't able to add them to mirror the standard "Relax" or "Concentration" settings available in the app, but you can still get them to turn on with an accentuating colour instead - a lot more chic we think.
Brightness, too, doesn't match up to a more standard bulb. Like we say, this is mood lighting and the 120 lumen output is designed for dimmer conditions; that subtle push of colour isn't supposed to illuminate a whole room, it's just to complement the Hue system as a whole.
READ: Philips Hue review
We use Philips Hue every day and we love it. The addition of LightStrips we've got heaps of praise for - it's easy to set up and taps into the Hue system with relative ease too. It's all just easy - and looks great.
Despite the confusion of the strip's length - a box marked with 2m length ought to deliver more than the 1.8m in the box - once set up we found the LightStrips to complement the Hue system wonderfully. Just don't buy them without investing in Hue first - if you're new to it then be prepared to bite the cash bullet as Hue is £180, and that's before the addition of LightStrips or extra bulbs.
But it's worth it. Even if LightStrips won't illuminate a whole room with ultra-brightness - that's not what they're designed to do - we found that they were spot on to set the mood wherever installed. It's five-star hotel kind of stuff. LightStrips have certainly lit up our life - and we love Hue all the more for it.