You don’t want good, color-changing vacation lights. A sensible plug and a pair packs of $20 string lights can do a few of what the $160 Philips Hue Festavia string lights do. However, after spending per week with Hue’s new color-changing good lights, I feel you may need a set to brighten your Christmas tree (or different winter vacation point of interest) with this season.

Hue’s first stab at good vacation lights is a hit. The Festavia are fully-featured smart lights, boasting 16 million colours and tunable white mild, for less than $10 greater than the closest competitors: Twinkly’s $150 white and color string lights.

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Just like the Twinkly strings, the Hue Festavia lights are costly as a result of every LED is individually addressable, which permits for some spectacular lighting results. The gradient characteristic and tunable white mild are belongings you received’t discover on cheaper string lights and make the Festavia helpful as year-round accent lighting exterior of the vacation season.

In fact, you’re paying for the Hue ecosystem too, which — whereas costly — is certainly one of my favourite smart lighting platforms, because of its ease of use, reliability, and interoperability.

Together with commonplace good lighting options — scheduling, voice management, dimming —Festavia string lights can show as much as 5 totally different colours directly. Plus, with Hue’s pre-set lighting scenes, you may go from a jolly inexperienced, pink, and gold glow to a complicated, icy glowing scene with the contact of a button or a voice command.

Different results embody flickering like candlelight, glowing like stars, and flowing dynamically by colours and tone. As somebody who lives in a neighborhood the place individuals spend tons of of {dollars} on loopy yard inflatables, I do know the place I’d somewhat put my overblown adorning finances.

The Festavia String Lights can show as much as 5 colours concurrently and alter to any of 16 million selections.

The Festavia string lights encompass 250 mini LED lights alongside a 66-foot black cable (no possibility of inexperienced, which is a disgrace). The string feels sturdy and sturdy and is tremendous light-weight, in contrast to my present LED tree lights, which have thick cables that crush the branches. They’re rated for indoor use solely, and the LEDs aren’t replaceable however are longer lasting than extra conventional string mild bulbs.

In the event you like your tree actually stuffed with lights, you’ll have to double up

The Festavia comes rolled round a sturdy cardboard reel, which might be helpful for storage and makes it straightforward to unroll. A 5-foot-9-inch energy twine gave me loads of attain from the facility outlet, and the entire string nearly lined the 7-foot tree I used to be testing it on. Every particular person LED is flat-topped to present off a softer, much less pinpoint mild than the everyday tree bulbs, they usually’re situated 3.15 inches aside. In the event you like your tree actually stuffed with lights, you’ll have to double up. 

A hand in front of a Christmas tree, holding a standard strand of string lights and a much slimmer strand of Hue string lights.

My present LED string lights subsequent to the far daintier Hue Festavia.

Sadly, you may’t join two units of Festavia lights. In case you have a bigger tree, the longer energy twine ought to make it doable so as to add the second string midway up the tree after which management them concurrently within the app, although I couldn’t take a look at this.

The Hue app comes with six pre-set dynamic “winter vacation” lighting scenes, and once I arrange a Christmas Zone within the app, it steered six extra scenes “excellent for Christmas.” You may as well use any of Hue’s dozens of different scenes.

The dynamic scenes cycle by their colours and brightness to create a delicate lighting impact. It’s very delicate by default, altering virtually imperceptibly. You possibly can velocity up the modifications, and on the quickest stage, it’s way more apparent with out being flashy. 

Winter Magnificence was my favourite. It’s a stunning mixture of golds and greens, elegant but festive. I additionally made my very own scene by importing a photograph of my godson standing with a colourful pink, yellow, and blue umbrella on a inexperienced garden. The app then created a vivid pink, yellow, blue, and inexperienced scene, and it was good to take a look at the tree and be reminded of him.

You possibly can edit any scene and alter it to certainly one of three kinds: Gradient / linear permits you to select as much as three colours going from high to backside. Mirrored is like linear however, effectively, mirrored, and Scattered scatters as much as 5 colours at random alongside the string, like a standard multicolored string mild.

There are some preset results, Candle, Sparkle, and Fire, and you may sync the lights to music utilizing the built-in Spotify integration or by SmartThings using Galaxy phones. However Hue doesn’t provide any of the extra dramatic, mild show-style results that Twinkly affords. 

The Festavia lights can work over Zigbee by the Hue Bridge or over Bluetooth to your cellphone (Twinkly is Wi-Fi based mostly). You don’t must have a Hue Bridge, however including the $60 Bridge offers you distant entry, automations, the power to customise colours and scenes, and music sync. You additionally want a Bridge for integration with Apple House, and the Bridge provides a extra strong and long-range Zigbee mesh connection, versus the brief vary of Bluetooth. 

Hue Festavia string lights specs

  • 250 good coloration LEDs
  • 65.63-foot twine
  • 5.9-foot energy cable
  • 2200 to 6500 Kelvins coloration temperature
  • IP20, Indoor solely
  • Two 12 months guarantee
  • Zigbee, Bluetooth
  • Appropriate with Hue Bridge
  • Works with Amazon Alexa, Google House, Samsung SmartThings, Apple House (with Bridge)

Like several Hue mild, setup is straightforward. Simply plug it in, and the app will discover it mechanically. You possibly can then add it to a digital “room” and to a zone, too, if you’d like. Zones are methods of grouping lights apart from by what room they’re in. They’re helpful for controlling simply the upstairs lights, for instance. I created a Christmas Zone for all of the Hue lights in my dwelling that I needed to be a part of my vacation decor. 

The place Festavia outshines Twinkly, particularly for year-round use, is in Hue’s in depth lighting ecosystem. Whereas Twinkly has many different types of decorative lights, it doesn’t have conventional bulbs and fixtures, as Hue does — for each indoors and out.

The place Festavia outshines Twinkly is in Hue’s in depth ecosystem

For instance, in my eating room (the place the tree is), I’ve Hue lights in desk lamps and in overhead lighting, in addition to two Hue Play bars that I put beneath the tree. I can apply any scene to all these lights directly and have the entire room change coloration to enhance the Festavia lights on the tree.

This creates a powerful lighting design that extends past simply the tree to really feel extra immersive. In fact, it requires a considerable funding in Hue lights to attain, which is why Festavia is simply value contemplating in case you are already all in on Hue.

I additionally arrange a Hue Tap Dial Switch to cycle by a number of of my favourite scenes and put the distant close to the tree so anybody may simply play with the lighting results. You are able to do this with a Hue Dimmer Switch as effectively. Lastly, I paired all of the lights within the eating room with a Hue Motion Sensor to have the entire room mild up, together with the tree, when anybody walks in. 

Photo of a seven-foot Christmas tree in daylight. Spots of light from string lights are visible in its branches.

One Festavia string mild is simply sufficient to brighten a 7-foot tree.

If you need the fanciest vacation mild present on the block, Twinkly might be a greater possibility. Twinkly string lights have extra spectacular lighting results, whereas Hue’s are extra delicate and complex.

Twinkly additionally has inexpensive string mild choices, together with a color-only possibility with no tunable white for $125 for 250 LEDs. Plus, many extra forms of ornamental lights, from icicles to light curtains to strings with larger bulbs. Twinkly works indoors or out and has a bigger range of lengths (up to 600 LEDs). There’s additionally the selection of a inexperienced wire in addition to black.

Each Twinkly and Hue work with Apple House, Amazon Alexa, and Google House, so you may make the Twinkly lights “work” along with your Hue lights — however the results wouldn’t translate, simply the essential on and off and dimming controls.   

If you have already got a Hue Bridge and are searching for a means so as to add your Christmas tree or one other vacation point of interest into your good lighting setup, the Festavia lights might be an amazing addition. 

Nonetheless, as of publication, the Festavia lights are bought out. Signify, which owns Philips Hue, tells us they’re engaged on getting extra stock. However if you’d like your tree to glitter this season, you may nonetheless seize some Twinkly lights on sale.

Pictures and video by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Good House Knowledge Privateness: Philips Hue Festavia String Lights

Bringing related gadgets into your private home additionally brings with it considerations about how the info they accumulate is protected. The Verge asks every firm whose good dwelling merchandise we evaluation about safeguards it has in place on your information.

To make use of the Festavia string lights you want to enroll in a Hue account, or you may select a third-party sign-in possibility. With both route, Hue will get your e mail handle and account title, and for those who join straight, they know your full title, password, nation, and language.

Hue’s privacy policy states that its merchandise accumulate information on location, machine info, and details about your product use. Location information stays within the machine and within the Hue Bridge. Any information collected by Signify is used for product enchancment, improvement, personalization, and advertising and marketing. Signify says it solely shares information when required by legislation or with person permission and that it protects person information with acceptable technical strategies. It additionally claims to solely hold information till its function has been fulfilled or except legally required to maintain it longer.

Comply with Proceed: Philips Hue Festavia String Lights

Each good machine now requires you to conform to a sequence of phrases and situations earlier than you need to use it — contracts that nobody really reads. It’s not possible for us to learn and analyze each single certainly one of these agreements. However we began counting precisely what number of instances it’s important to hit “agree” to make use of gadgets once we evaluation them since these are agreements most individuals don’t learn and undoubtedly can’t negotiate.

To make use of the Philips Hue Festavia string lights, you could have the usual Hue app put in in your cellphone (iOS or Android). The Hue app requires entry to:

  • Native community gadgets (iOS)
  • Bluetooth (each Android and iOS)

It additionally contains agreeing to Philips Hue’s Phrases and Circumstances and privateness coverage, each necessary. A Philips Hue account is critical for any distant, out-of-home management.

The entire rely is 2 necessary permissions and two necessary agreements.

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