Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip Review – With comparison vs Lightstrip Plus v4

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Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip for a 65-inch TV Review Rating

Summary

The  Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip 65″ is the best option for behind the TV lighting that allows you to sync your media with the TV. There are cheaper options, and you can use a Lightstrip Plus v4 as an alternative, but this provides the best overall experience.

Overall
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  • Overall - 80%
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Pros

  • Perfect design & fit for TV
  • Good brightness and a wide range of colours

Cons

  • Price

I have been slowly expanding my Philips Hue set-up and, in particular, upgrading my TV room. Recently, I have added the new Tap Dial Switch and the excellent but expensive Signe Gradient Floor Lamp.

The Philips Hue Gradient Lightstrip for TVs was launched back in 2020. It is a premium-priced product, and back then, I thought it was insanely priced when you compare it to the Lightstrip Plus v4, which many people had used for behind-the-TV lighting. So much so that I bought the Lightstrip Plus v4 that year with the Play Bars during Black Friday.

The Lightstrip Plus v4 has done a decent enough job considering the low price I paid, but I have now finally upgraded to the Gradient Lightstrip, and the difference is night and day, so to speak.

Features Specification

  • Made for 55″ to 75″ TVs
  • Blends white and coloured light
  • Easy to install with included mounting clips
  • Compatible with Hue Sync and Hue sync box
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant.
  • Colour temperature: 2000-6500 K

Set Up / Settings

Adding the Philips Hue Play Gradient to the Hue system is exactly like all the other Hue devices. Once powered up, you just need to search for the light and select which room you want to add it to.

One thing worth noting, I had previously been using my Lightstrip Plus v4 using the same plug as the Philips Hue Play Bar (as it has 3xDC ports), but the Play Gradient Lightstrip appears to be incompatible with this as the light wouldn't power up. I, therefore, had to use the included power adapter, taking up an extra socket.

Installing the Play Gradient Lightstrip onto the back of the TV is very easy, but I still managed to mess it up. You have two corner mounts and two flat mounts. I placed the corner mounts a bit too close to the edge of my TV and the flat mounting a bit too low on the top of the TV. Just as well, it is all hidden behind the TV.

Philips Hue Gradient Lightstrip vs Lightstrip Plus v4

For a start, the Lightstrip Plus v4 isn't specifically designed for behind TVs, and it comes in a starting length of 2m which you can then expand with 1m extensions. It is mainly designed for accent lighting, such as under cabinets.

However, there is nothing stopping you from using behind your TV or monitor, and that's what I have done for the past couple of years.

The Lightstrip Plus v4 is a flat strip of LED which are visible and designed to be hidden behind things. The strip can be cut to fit where you want to install it, and you can extend it.

It is a flat strip with sticky tape on the rear for easy installation. With the flat design, it can be awkward to shape it around the back of the TV if you apply it directly to the TV.

With the lumen output at 4000K, the strip will produce 1,700 lm, or with the default setting of 2700K it will produce 1,140 lm.

The Gradient Lightstrip comes in three lengths for TVs. The 65″ model is 254 cm long, the 55″ is 216.5 cm, and the 75″ is 304 cm.

This strip is much larger with a think bendable tube with the LEDs covered, allowing the colours to diffuse into a smooth continuous light.

Due to the design of this light strip, it is neither cuttable nor extendable.

Philips Hue doesn't list the lumens on the product page, but it appears that it can achieve 1,800 lumens at 4,000 Kelvin. Based on my experience, that's quite surprising because the Gradient Lightstrip seems considerably brighter to me than the Lightstrip Plus v4.

In Use

My TV is not wall mounted at the moment, and it sits quite a bit away from the wall. This seemed sub-optimal for both the Lightstrip and Play Bars as the light reflection on the wall didn't seem as strong as it should. I was still happy with them as I bought them cheap, but the Play Gradient Lightstrip appears to provide significantly better illumination.

Brothel vibes – Red hues are easier on my eyes

Considering the lumens are not that much different, I suspect the main difference could be the design. The Play Gradient Lightstrip is a curved wedge design that fits against the TV perfectly. Light is then illuminated at a 90-degree angle towards the wall, whereas the Lightstrip Plus v4 is flat, so it points the light in one direction.

The light that the Play Gradient Lightstrip gives off is good enough that I probably don't need to bother with the Play Bars behind the TV and can repurpose them for a different location.

Just like all the other gradient products, the overall lighting effect is superior, with the colours infusing into each other.

Philips Hue Sync

With me using multiple Hue lights in my TV room, the logical thing to do was to sync up the lights with the content I was watching.

There are three options:

  • Hue Sync desktop app – This should provide the best overall experience and at no cost. Unfortunately, it also means you need to be playing content on a PC or Mac. Not a problem if you have an HTPC, but I use an Nvidia Shield.
  • Play HDMI Sync Box – This plugs in between your TV and media source and will use the HDMI signal to control your lighting. Because it is a few years old, this is equipped with HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 rather than HDMI 2.1, which limits the compatibility. However, it has recently been updated to support 4K 60Hz; 1080p & 1440p 120Hz; HDR10+ & Dolby Vision. It should be good for movies, but it doesn't support 4K 120Hz, which PS5 and Xbox owners will likely want. PC gamers can use the desktop app.
  • For Android users like myself, if you don't want to buy the Sync Box, then the best option is Hue Stream. This works by pairing up with your Hue system and then sampling the colours on your screen to control the lights in your entertainment area. I have had reasonably good results with this, but it doesn't work with apps like Netflix due to the DRM restrictions. I find that the overall experience isn't as seamless as I would like, but it is good to use if you have a movie on Plex that you want to be a bit more immersive.

I should be getting the Play HDMI Sync Box in the near future, and I will update this review when I have tested that.

Electricity Usage

If you are spending nearly £200 on this light, you probably are not too worried about how much electricity it uses. However, with the cost of living rising so fast, I have been more conscious about how much electricity everything uses. I have done a dedicated post on the running costs of Philips Hue bulbs and devices.

For this, my running costs are based on the Ofgem example rate of £0.34 per/kWh for the October £2500 price cap under the Energy Price Guarantee.

Electricity usage was monitored with the Energenie power monitoring plug, which probably isn't very accurate, so the below numbers are a rough guide.

  • Arctic Aurora @ 100% – 15W / 0.51 pence per hour
  • Arctic Aurora @ 50% – 3.5W / 0.12 pence per hour
  • Read  @ 100% – 21.2W / 0.72 pence per hour
  • [email protected] 50% – 5.9W / 0.20 pence per hour
  • Tropical Twilight @ 100% 14.5W / 0.49 pence per hour
  • Tropical Twilight @ 50% 3.5W / 0.12 pence per hour
  • Bright @ 100% 21.3W / 0.72 pence per hour

The running costs are, therefore, negligible unless you are running lots of lights at full brightness in with the Read or Bright scene. Even then, it's about the same cost as a normal LED bulb.  

Price and Alternative Options

The Philips Hue Gradient Lightstrip has an RRP of:

  • 55-inch: £169.99
  • 65-inch: £189.99
  • 75-inch: £209.99

All of the above are starter kits and come with a Hue bridge.

There is also the Gradient Lightstrip 2 metre which is £139.99, and this is extendable, but its flat design makes it awkward to shape around a TV.

The Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus v4 [2 m] is available on Amazon for under £70.

The Twinkly Flex is 2M long and is £107. It is not really a like-for-like product, but you could achieve a similar outcome with it.

Overall

The Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip is a lot better than I was expecting. I didn't think there would be that much difference with the comparatively affordable Lightstrip Plus v4, but this is a far superior product if you want lighting behind your TV.

I still think it is very expensive but this a premium product from a market leading brand. I would imagine that most people that are considering this lighting have already spent thousands on their AV set-up, so another £200 may not be that significant.

Looking at past prices on Amazon, it doesn't look like this has ever had a significant discount, even during Black Friday, but I'd definitely recommend keeping an eye out for any price drops in the coming sale season.

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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