Philips Hue’s New Play Gradient Is the Upgraded Lightstrip Fans Have Been Waiting For

Photo: Philips Hue
Photo: Philips Hue

Philips Hue has one of the biggest and most colourful collection of smart lights available today, but this spring, the company is finally introducing a new product that its fans have been demanding for years: a smart lightstrip that can produce multiple colours at the same time.

Unlike Hue’s previous lightstrips, which are only able to output one colour at a time, the new Philips Hue Play Gradient is the first of the company’s lightstrips to feature individually addressable LEDs, unlocking a whole rainbow of colours that can be displayed simultaneously.

That said, while these individually addressable LEDs are bound to have a major impact on Hue’s future portfolio, at least for now, the Hue Play Gradient is primarily designed to enhance entertainment areas by connecting to Hue’s Play HDMI sync box or the Hue Sync app on PC to throw mood lighting around your TV or monitor that matches whatever you’re currently watching.

The Play Gradient will come with adhesive mounts to help buyers install the lightstrip on the back of their TVs. (Photo: Philips Hue)

Available in three different sizes meant to accommodate the most common TV sizes — 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch — Philips Hue hopes that users will be able to simplify their entertainment lighting with a single lightstrip, rather than being forced to configure multiple individual lights arranged in various places around their TVs. In essence, the Play Gradient is a one-stop shop for setting up bias lighting that matches your media.

But for me, the real promise of the Play Gradient will come in the future, as Hue says it’s working on allowing users to customise the lightstrip’s colours in other situations, so you can display all that RGB whenever you want. Currently, the Play Gradients LED are divided up into seven equal sections with two sections for either side of the TV, and three sections for the top.

Photo: Philips Hue

However, Hue says the Play Gradient is actually able to display different colours in 5-inch segments, which will be available for developers to customise in third-party apps via Hue’s APIs., or hopefully in the Hue app in the future. That means on a single strip, you could do multiple bands of red and green for Christmas, red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July, or just go full rainbow if the mood suits you. And if these individually addressable LEDs get used on future products, we could be looking at an entire new range of customisation RGB smart lights.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific timetable yet for when Hue will add that support to the Play Gradient. And with prices starting at $US200 ($273) for the 55-inch Play Gradient and going up to $US240 ($328) for the 75-inch version, Hue’s new multi-colour lightstrip ain’t cheap either.

Aside from the new Play Gradient, Hue has a few other new products arriving soon, including the redesigned Hue Iris and a new E12 white and colour ambiance candelabra bulb.

Here's an official shot of the new Hue Iris. (Photo: Philips Hue)

At $US100 ($136), the Iris (which is a revamp of Hue’s first indirect lighting solution) is like a bigger, fancier version of the Hue Bloom that features a much higher 570 lumen output and a more sophisticated design so you don’t feel like you need to hide it behind other decorations. The Iris also has support for deep dimming, so you can even use it as a night light when your other lights get turned off in the evening. Meanwhile, the new E12 candelabra bulb is simply designed to help support smaller light fixtures like various bedside or desk lamps.

Finally, over in Europe, Hue is also releasing two new large format filament bulbs featuring a huge 125mm-diameter globe-style bulb and a new extra large Edison-style bulb, along with a new black version of its existing Ensis suspension lamp, and four limited edition colours for the Iris.

The new E12 candelabra bulb is available today, while the Play Gradient and Hue Iris are slated to go on sale on October 16 and October 19, respectively.