Part of the attraction to the Philips Hue smart lighting system is the total control you get from your smartphone or tablet. It's one of the finest examples of connected home products out there, but what if, sometimes, you didn't want to reach for your smartphone. You just want to turn the lights on or off. Well, Philips now has you covered with its first physical switch for the Hue system. Say hello to the Hue Tap.
For some a physical switch might detract a little from the reasons they bought the Hue system in the first place. But it doesn't – and physically can't – replace your smartphone. You can't set up a new system with it, nor can you use it to infinitely tweak the color combinations you have throughout your home. It's an accessory to the system, and it's one you really might want to pick up.
When you crack open the box you'd be forgiven for being a little amazed at how small it actually is. The promotional videos for the Tap leave a feeling that it's physically larger than it is, but the small size is a blessing. You're not limited to just mounting this to the wall and being done with it. The Tap sits atop a bracket which you can mount to the wall with the pre-attached sticky pads but the unit is removable so you can move it about the house as a physical remote.
The Tap comprises 4 buttons and has no requirements for batteries or being hardwired. In a 'magical' sort of way, the Hue Tap harvests the energy it needs every time you push one of its buttons. As such you can put it pretty much anywhere in the house. The four buttons are made up of the three smaller circles with the fourth being the main body of the Tap. Each one of these can be attached to a different scene instruction giving you control over four scenes. And with a range of 15-30m you shouldn't ever be too far away from the lights you're controlling.
So, how do you set it up then? With ease. Like any Hue bulbs you've already set up, setting up the Hue Tap is done within the official app on either Android or iOS. Go into Settings > My Devices and tap on "connect new devices." From there you'll be prompted to hold down button 4 for 10 seconds to connect the Tap to your system. And that's it.
From the "My Devices" area of the app you're then able to customize the name of the Tap and which scene you want each button press to correspond to. Once you've saved your selections there's nothing else to do. From start to finish the whole process of connecting and customizing the Tap can be achieved in about a minute.
That's certainly something in its favor. Besides being ridiculously cool and fun to use, Hue is smart home products at its simplest. It looks really involved to those who aren't familiar but even the least techy person can set a whole home up in minutes.
So, the Tap is a great product on the whole. Are there any drawbacks to it? Sure, the price for one. Hue isn't the cheapest of systems to buy in to as it is, but the Tap will set you back $60. Whichever way you look at it, it's still not exactly pocket money to add to an already pricey system. What it does it does extremely well, but being limited to 4 scenes per Tap may be restrictive to people who's entire homes may be decked out with Hue.
There's also the color to consider, especially if you're mounting it to a wall. For many of us white is just fine, but if you don't like white then you're out of luck. That's all it comes in.
That aside, it's a fantastic addition to any Hue system and one we'd absolutely recommend having. It's not always practical to reach for your phone – the middle of the night for example. Controlling your lights with your smartphone is pretty amazing, but for the times you need something else, you need the Hue Tap.