When we reviewed the Philips Hue Play light bar earlier this year, we had some ostensible gripes we just couldn’t ignore: a hefty price tag, computer app issues and no native TV or console support. It was a decent product in need of improvement.
Today, Philips is introducing a new television connection hub that aims to solve at least one of these grievances, and they’re calling it the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box.
What is the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box?
The Hue Play HDMI Sync Box yearns to be the epicenter of your Philips Hue-powered home theater experience. This device comes equipped with four HDMI ports, allowing native connections to set-top boxes, streaming devices, Blu-Ray or DVD players, and gaming consoles.
The entire lighting experience is controlled by the Philips Hue Sync Mobile app that is expected to launch alongside the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box in October. With just a few taps, you will have complete control over the granular features you’ve come to expect from Philips Hue, such as brightness levels, speed, and intensity of effects, and you can even choose your own default startup settings.
What the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is not
Unlike the original Hue Play we reviewed at the top of this year, the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is not a dedicated light bar, nor are lighting options included in the box. Hue color-compatible bulbs or fixtures will need to be purchased separately.
Although the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is the heart of your home theater setup, it’s not the brains of the operation. Customers will need a connected Philips Hue Bridge to carry out tasks via the Philips Hue Sync Mobile app.
We’ve still got some gripes
We haven’t had a chance to review the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box yet, but on the surface, there are still some evident gripes worth noting. For instance, the price tag on the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box ($229.99) is even steeper than that of the Hue Play light bar ($129.99), and that’s without the required light bulbs, fixtures, or Hue Bridge, which will inflate the bottom line even further.
There’s also no way to know if the Philips Hue Sync Mobile app will suffer from the same bugs that plagued the Hue Sync desktop variant. We won’t know until both products launch in October.
Other bright details
What the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box lacks in extraneous features and uncertainties, however, it makes up for in its capacity to perform.
For starters, up to 10 color-capable Philips Hue lights can be connected at one time, giving you complete control over the sheer quantity and quality of your home theater experience. This also means that, unlike the Hue Play light bar, your lighting options aren’t limited to whatever bulbs came installed on the device; you’ll be able to upgrade your bulbs or fixtures over time as Philips perfects their Hue offerings.
The four HDMI ports on the back are built on version 2.0 architecture with HDCP 2.2 support, which means a Hue Play HDMI Sync Box will drive a 4K Ultra HD television running at 60 frames per second and a 12-bit color depth — more than enough leverage for the average home theater.
Finally, the four HDMI ports on the back ensure seamless channel switching on the fly, empowering you to alter the atmosphere of your viewing experience simply by flipping through your connected devices.
How can you snag yours?
The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is available for preorder now for $229.99 and will ship to customers on October 16, 2019. You can also pick one up from your nearest Best Buy store starting on October 20, 2019.