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Review: Philips Hue Play gradient lightstrip – absolute game-changer

This light strip will seriously transform how you watch TV or play video games.

philips hue ambient lighting strip
Image: Kevin Raposo / KnowTechie
The Good
Colors are bright and fast
Setup is on the easy side
Works with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa
Adds an entirely new dimension to your TV viewing experience
The Bad
You'll need additional hardware to use the lightstrip
Will not work with your TV's native OS
It's expensive
9
Overall

If you ever wanted a cheap way to add ambient lighting to a room, one of my top suggestions is light strips. You can put them anywhere. Whether it’s under a desk, the back of a monitor, or in most cases, the back of a TV. There are tons of options to choose from and they’re relatively cheap and easy to find. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Most of these basic light strips are great and all. But they only perform a few functions. The only thing they’re really capable of is displaying lights to a set of programmed commands. Sometimes you get a remote control that lets you shuffle through colors if you’re lucky. But that’s pretty much it. Again, there’s nothing wrong with them. I’ve just been recently spoiled and I blame Philips’ new Play gradient lightstrip.

We covered it when it first launched but if you aren’t familiar, the new Philips Hue Play is a gradient lightstrip that basically mimics the content of your screen. Instead of displaying a programmed set of colors, the Play gradient lightstrip is capable of matching the colors that are on your screen to the lightstrip. If you aren’t familiar with what we’re talking about, don’t’ worry, we’ve got you covered with a GIF of the lightstrip in action, which you can find below:

philips hue gradient lightstrip

Image: Kevin Raposo / KnowTechie

Insane, right? Well, I’m here to tell you, it really is. So let’s dive into this and see everything this has thing has to offer.

Alright, now before you go ahead and try to buy this lightstrip, there’s a couple of things you’ll need first (if you don’t have them already). You’re going to need a Hue Bridge ($59) and the Play HDMI Sync Box ($229). Not to mention, the lightstrip ranges from $199 to $239 depending on the size of your TV. So yea, it’s quite an investment just to get started. But trust me, it’s totally worth it. Ok, moving on.

Once you have everything, getting set up is pretty straightforward

philips hue gradient lightstrip installation

Image: Kevin Raposo / KnowTechie

Philips makes the installation process really easy and I was able to get the lightstrip attached to my TV in under 10 mins. As to how it’s attached to your TV, it’s pretty simple. Instead of taping on the light strip to the back of your TV, you mount the strip through four brackets placed at the corners of the TV. The lightstrip is pretty thick, so this makes it a much better mounting option.

Adding the light strip to my existing ecosystem of Hue lights was also pretty straight-forward. Philips makes it really easy with its app. The only thing that will take some time is getting the Hue Sync Box up and running. There are a few extra steps that you’ll need to take physically and in the app to get the lightstrip up and running. For the sake of word count, here’s a quick rundown of what it entails in a short simple video.

Since the lightstrip works through the Hue Sync Box, you’ll have to connect an additional HDMI source to the box as well. Whether it’s a video game console, streaming stick, or streaming device – you’ll have to plug it into the Sync Box. The Philips Gradient light strip will not work with your TV’s default OS. For me, this was kind of a bummer because I heavily rely on my TV’s OS. I don’t really use a streaming stick or streaming device, so the only thing I had to test this on was my PlayStation 4 (and now, the PlayStation 5), not like that’s a bad thing.

When I finally got Gradient Lightstrip up and running, man, my jaw dropped. It’s absolutely insane. I powered up my PlayStation 5 and just seeing the colors of the PS5’s interface illuminating my wall had me giddy as a schoolboy. And when I scrolled through different menus, different colors would display on the wall as I scrolled.

philips hue gradient lightstrip review

Image: Kevin Raposo / KnowTechie

Now, keep in mind, this is just for a simple game menu. I haven’t even gotten into its full capabilities yet. So you can imagine my excitement when I actually launched a game and saw what this puppy was fully capable of. Short story, it’s intense and I can’t believe we’ve gone this long without something like this.

It’s really good. Colors are displayed beautifully and accurately to whatever is on your screen. Like, it’s seamless. If one side of the screen is a certain color and the other side a different color, the light strip emulates that. If there are explosions, the light pulses, and flashes to match the explosions, regardless of where they are on the screen. It’s absolutely wild. And not to mention, it makes your TV feel a whole lot bigger than it really is.

The Philips Hue Gradient Light Strip is an absolute home run. No question about it. After testing this for a few weeks, it’s hard going back to a TV that doesn’t have this. It just feels empty without it.

But with all its perks, it has its costs. Literally. Buying one of these puppies and then having to get the same setup for an entirely different TV is going to set you back financially.  There’s a huge upfront cost investment, but if you don’t mind paying, it’s totally worth the price of admission.

Editors’ Recommendations:

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The Good
Colors are bright and fast
Setup is on the easy side
Works with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa
Adds an entirely new dimension to your TV viewing experience
The Bad
You'll need additional hardware to use the lightstrip
Will not work with your TV's native OS
It's expensive
9
Overall
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