Philips Hue smart bulbs have traditionally had a fairly high price of entry, but that cost doesn't just come from the bulbs alone. Up until now, the only way to remotely control a Philips Hue smart bulb was with a $60 hub that talks to all the Philips Hue bulbs in your home. Thankfully, Philips will now be shipping two new Hue smart bulbs with one additional connection method: Bluetooth.
Philips has already rolled out these new models to your favorite retailers, including convenient options like Amazon, so be sure to look for the new "Bluetooth App Control" logo on the box when selecting your new smart bulb. Right now you can buy a 2-pack of A19 White bulbs for $29.99, or a 2-pack of White and Color Ambiance A19 bulbs for $89.99.
There are a lot more listings on Amazon for various different Hue bulbs that aren't working at the time of this writing, including single bulbs, so expect a wider selection from Philips once those listings get in order.
Bluetooth has become the defacto standard connection method for anything in your immediate vicinity, so it makes sense to have lightbulbs work in the same way. Many smart lightbulb manufacturers have already beat Philips to the punch with this type of connection method, and it shows a trend of choosing more standard connection methods over proprietary ones when it makes sense.
While the addition of Bluetooth to the mix means a lower price of entry for new buyers, keep in mind that Bluetooth only works up to a maximum range of 30ft away. Depending on where you are sitting in your home, this may be a less than ideal way of turning on and off lights than if they were connected to a hub. All Philips Hue bulbs will continue to ship with Zigbee, the proprietary connection protocol that talks to the hub, so this is a simple addition of features rather than a replacement of existing tech.
Connecting to a Philips Hue hub also means easy pairing with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, so you can turn the bulbs on and off or even change the color with just your voice instead of having to navigate to an app to do it.
This also means no remote control of your bulbs while you're away from home, so if you forgot to turn off a bulb before you left the home, you'll just have to leave it on. While these are LED bulbs and use an extremely low amount of energy, it's still nice to be able to turn the lights on or off while away from home or connect them to other smart devices.
There are many ways to link smart devices together and have them react to important events. For instance, you could link a Philips Hue bulb to Google Assistant and create an action where lights in the house turn on when a connected smart doorbell detects someone at your front door. This could dissuade an intruder from entering the home uninvited without you having to physically be there.