The Philips Hue Play bars are one of the most unique products I’ve ever used in the tech space. They can be purchased in one or two light bundles, and are primarily supposed to be used as an easy way to light the space behind your monitor or television, but the beauty of the way they’re designed means you can use them literally anywhere.
In the box, you have a number of stands that screw into the light bars, so you can play them standing up or place them on their side. You can also stick them to the back of your monitor or television so that they’re completely out of sight, if you’re looking for a backlighting effect.
As far as power is concerned, you get one power brick in the box which can connect up to three Play Bars, so whilst this means that you won’t have cables going everywhere, it means that if you get the two pack, they’ll have to be relatively close to each other (which will work for most setups).
As far as the setup goes, it’s incredibly straight forward. You just need to plug them in and open your Hue app and they’ll be recognised almost instantly. As far as connecting them to Apple Homekit, Google Home or Amazon Alexa, that’s also a piece of cake.
Controlling the lights is a piece of cake too. With my two light setup, I could choose to control them separately or link them together. You can also choose a number of different scenes such as ‘Spring Blossom’ or ‘Savanna Sunset’ in order to have the Play bars show a range of different colours throughout both of them, which create a nice mood.
HUE SYNC CHANGES THE WAY YOU GAME
Here’s where the impressive tech really comes in. If you’re playing on a PC Windows or Mac) and using your lights behind your monitor, you can use something called Hue Sync. This will basically sync whatever is happening on your screen (whether it be movies or games) to the lights behind the screens which makes for an impressive experience that you can’t really get anywhere else.
The only issue with this is that it’s only available on a PC, which makes it a little trickier to get to a home TV. You can do so by mirroring what you see on your PC using something like a Google Chrome or Apple Airplay. You can also run your gaming console through your PC (using something like Elgato software) and then back to your TV, but this is obviously a little bit cumbersome.
Whilst it does feel like it could be a little bit more fine-tuned, if you can get it to work, it’s an extremely impressive experience that is well worth the investment.
DAMN GREAT SMART LIGHTS
Even if you’re not making use of the Hue Sync functionality, these still make really great smart lights. The way they’re long and skinny mean that you can really use them effectively to light up any space discreetly, without needing to stick any strips down.
The amount of light that the bars omit is definitely enough for any situation and whether you’re using a bold colour or just going for a warm/cool white, you’ll be the talk of any guests that you have coming through your house. They work well to provide lighting to a room but you can dim them to the point that they make great ambient lighting as well.
All in all, the Hue Play Bars are definitely a bit pricey. It’ll set you back about $90 for one or $190 for two, so you’ll need to justify whether where you need smart lighting and whether these fit your needs. If htey do, then they definitely won’t disappoint.