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Philips Hue Play Light Bar review: Great, but too expensive

There are tons of new additions to Philips Hue’s lineup of smart lights this year, including a couple that want to serve as color-changing accent lights for your living room or bedroom. Chief among them: new Philips Hue Play “light bars” that splash color across whatever you’ve got them aimed at. The cost: $130 for a two-light starter kit that comes with the power supply unit (about £100, or AU$180). Additional light bars cost $60 each (about £45, or AU$85).

A 2-Play starter kit with the power supply will cost you $130 — and the mandatory Philips Hue Bridge doesn’t come included.

Chris Monroe/CNET

That ain’t cheap, but Philips has always priced its color-changing smart bulbs and fixtures at a premium. For the money, you get the traditional Hue pitch: A full range of RGB and white-light tones that you can control or automate from an app on your phone, or by using Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands. With a directional design that draws attention to the pool of light that these fixtures cast instead of drawing it to the fixtures themselves, the Play light bars offer a nice change from the usual bulb-based Philips Hue approach.

Of course, all of that requires that you have a Philips Hue Bridge plugged into your router — and the Bridge isn’t included in the starter kit. And, while you can connect up to three Plays to a single power supply to help cut down on clutter around your surge protector, you’ll need to buy an additional power supply if you ever decide to expand your setup to four Plays or more. The only way to get that power supply at retail is to purchase the two-Play starter kit, which might be more than you need.

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