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Philips Hue lineup expands with a BR30 bulb, readies for full home takeovers

Philips’ Hue connected lighting system — the set of LED bulbs that you control with your smartphone — has been out for a year and in that time the company has made significant progress with their product. Today Philips has announced the biggest addition to Hue yet: a new bulb type. Hue launched with the most popular bulb, the A19, and today is following that up with a color-controllable BR30 downlight.

As you might recall, Hue was rather sparse at launch, but within in a few months promised features like geo-fencing, alarms, and remote (internet-based) control were delivered and everything got much better. As the year went on Hue landed its own IFTTT channel and then two compatible hardware products: a 6-foot long strip of LEDs and an accent lamp. Both were pricey ($90 and $80 respectively) but they worked well and augmented the Hue system.

Hue BR30 full kitIf you’re not familiar with the BR30, it’s the second most popular bulb type in the United States. It’s a directional lamp (the A19 is usually omnidirectional) that is most often found in ceiling placements. (I fully explained the lamp type back when Cree released their own BR30 LED lamp.)

BR is the logical choice for Hue given its popularity, the number of homes that use them, and the placement of these bulbs in living areas of the home. BB30 bulbs also tend to cost more than A lamps, which will partially hide the expense inherent in the Hue bulbs.

An individual Hue BR30 lamp will sell for $59 while a 3-bulb kit will be $199. The kit will include the Hue bridge — the piece that connects your local network to the lights — and is fully compatible with current A19 Hue systems. Each bridge can control up to 50 Hue products.

I had some time to test out the new bulbs and if you’ve used Hue then you know exactly what to expect. Because my Hue system was already setup the installation process took just a few seconds — I screwed these bulbs into my apartment’s sockets, fired up my Hue iOS app, found the bulbs, and then customized them. The Hue app gets a little busy when you are controlling multiple products, but it’s easy enough to sort through them if you take the time to name each one and do other basic customizations.

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After that, the BR30s are reasonably nice lamps — I wouldn’t turn to them for perfect CRI or top efficiency, but there is no replacement for the color customization they offer. During my time using Hue I’ve gotten quite accustomed to setting my apartment’s lighting to coordinate with what I’m up to. For example, if I’m relaxing and it’s late in the evening I’ll lower the color temperature, but if it’s late and I have to get some work done without falling asleep I’ll raise the color temperature to the point where some blue is coming through and I’ll feel much more alert. Between the updates to the Hue app, the growth in 3rd party Hue apps, and services like IFTTT, the product is a much better buy than it was at launch… even if it is still pricey.

Not every home is suited to BR30s but many are, especially as you venture out into suburbia. Between the A19 and BR30 bulbs Philips has most floor lamps, ceiling cans, recessed lighting, and hanging fixtures covered so as long as are willing to spend $100 (or so) per room you can outfit entire homes and offices with app-controlled lighting. This might not seem like a big deal, but doing the same thing a few years ago would have cost 10x a much — if not more — and not delivered a fraction of the functionality.

Philips has also told Geek.com that Hue line will be a getting a GU10 lamp by the end of the year. The GU10 is a small, directional lamp that is often used in desk lamp and track lighting. With the GU10, the BR30, and the A19 Philips will have most of the home’s indoor sockets taken care of.

Now read: British team achieves 10Gbps data transfer using LEDs

  • Philips Hue – BR30 Kit

  • Philips Hue – BR30 Kit

  • Philips Hue – Full kit

  • Philips Hue – BR30 lamp

  • Philips Hue – BR30 lamp

  • Philips Hue – bridge

  • Hue BR30 full kit

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