For many years I have had a Bose 5.1 speaker system in my Study, connected via a Yamaha AV Receiver to my PC, PVR, DVD Player, PlayStation 3 and a wall mounted TV. It was part of my vision of the dream Study. Over time however it has got less and less use.
A few months ago, we upgraded to a 4K main TV and added a soundbar with sub. The results were better than expected, and it became apparent that I wouldn’t be watching movies in my Study anymore. Consequently, I ended up removing the speakers, Receiver, my PlayStation, and copious meters of cabling.
I was happy with having a less cluttered Study.
I regularly peruse the Battlestations Subreddit on Reddit, enjoying seeing how people configure their computer set ups.
(If my wife knew she might prefer I looked at something more risqué. It would be cheaper.)
With newfound desk space, I thought I might try some of the room mood / RGB lighting that is popular on the subreddit. After investigations on function, price and availability of the various options, I settled on trying the Philips Hue “Smart lights”.
I ended up with a Hue Bridge controller, two light bars, one coloured globe and a wireless dimmer switch.
The tldr summary is I found it easy enough to setup and surprisingly impactful in influencing the ambience in my study.
In more detail.
I thought the Philips Hue range was for the most part extraordinarily overpriced. I understand there needs to be a margin for the research and development that went into them, but the products felt much cheaper than their asking price, and I expect would cost only a tiny fraction of that to manufacture.
There were cheaper start-up kits, but these were focused on the American Market and use primarily screw in bulbs where in Australia bayonet sockets are far more common.
(They might have been shoplifted regularly, as in most shops they were not on the shelves and you had to ask for them at the counter.)
The various components connected quickly and reliably to the Bridge controller / hub and could be found and configured in the Smartphone app or the PC Sync Software.
Updates seems to be pushed regularly to the various components. This process often seems to freeze, but when you exit and come back into the application, the updates have usually been applied.
As I have found with most lighting related software, the configuration of the lights seemed a little more awkward than it needed to be. You add your lights and configure them to rooms and zones. You then had separate concepts of entertainment areas and scenes to configure, plus automation routines and timers available. It meant there were lots of ways you could use them – but at the cost of being somewhat unnecessarily complicated.
Even so, I thought the product line was more mature than I had been expecting.
I found it wasn’t a good idea to use the coloured bulb in the main light socket in my room. It was too easy to get out of sync with the other lights, particularly any time my wife walked into the study and thought it was too dark. I ended up purchasing a new lamp for my desk for that bulb.
The dimmer switch can be programmed with several scenes you can cycle through and was the much better way on a day to day basis to turn the system on and off than using your phone.
You could set up environment options – where the lights react to either music or video. Aside seemingly being a bit behind the action, it didn’t do much for me except get annoying.
I had an unexpected issue of note. Because the Light Bars angle cross-ways instead of straight down, they really show up dust! Things still look dusty almost immediately after diligently cleaning around them.
I must admit that I have enjoyed using them more than expected. I like having a few go-to ambient scenes to use. For example, I particularly like the red scene when I am playing EVE. It adds- an undefinable – something.
The system can also incorporate additional home automation systems and options, which is part of the reason I went down this path in the first place.
I would say – ignoring price – it has exceeded my expectations.
(Interestingly Bunnings have halved the price of lots of the range – after I had finished my purchases. That is indicative of there being huge mark ups.)
There is a little bit of EVE stuff coming – but it is waiting for the conclusion of things in game before I speak about it.