Chaimtime Blog

Hue Go Portable Lights

The Future of Lighting

Introduction

Recently, I was contacted by Hue to review their Hue Go Light, a portable light that can be also controlled from an app.

Because I’m interested in IoT devices, I also have the Hub, and a few more lightbulbs. I’m reviewing the HueGo, but most of this review is can be also said about the Hue light bulbs.

In the box comes a Hue Go light, a salad bowl looking light, and a power plug. The light can be oriented any way you want, and it has a way to stand it on its side to get more directed light. It has a 3 hour battery for portability.

The Hue Go comes with 7 preset colors that can be cycled through the back button. The back button is the only user controlled input on the device itself. Anything else needs to be done through the app (more on that later) I found those 7 colors to be enough for a stand-alone device. If you double tap it (second time hold) it cycles through all the various colors. You can get any color you want that way.

  • dim warm
  • bright white (daylight)
  • Cozy Candle (orange)
  • Sunday Coffee (faint pink)
  • Meditation (sky blue)
  • Enchanted Forest (green)
  • Night Adventure (deep purple)

In fact the only presets I really liked were the dim warm, bright white and the cozy candle. Not that the others are bad, I’m not a color person.

The light is both wired and battery operated. The box says about 3 hours. I had it unplugged for about 2 hours, and it was still going. I wish the plug was in a different spot because it is right where the feet are, and it makes it difficult to stand up. To save battery, when unplugged, the light will only use 40% of its brightness, which in the dark is fine.

Where the light shines (no pun intended) is when connected it is to the hue bridge. The hue bridge is the mechanism that connects the lights to the app. That lets you control it from your smartphone, or in my case Alexa or any other ZigBee enabled hub like Smartthings, Wink, Homekit, or Google Home.

As a portable light $70 is pricey. I wish it was offered standalone, or $100 for the light and the hub. To have to spend another $59 for the hub, is getting too expensive for the feature set. My recommendation would be to get the starter set listed above. If you have the hub, then $70 is the average cost for a lightbulb that can change colors.

Is it necessary?

No, it is not necessary, but I can see the use. The use is in the smartphone app. The app lets you control it, from both inside your network and remotely. The app also lets you set up schedules that can be helpful. The first thing you need to do is connect the light. For the most part this is straight forward. It involves clicking “Add new light,” and let it search. I never had any problems adding the lights.

In the app is where you do everything.

Can see the light name, the type of light, the color, and the brightness. If you click on the icon for the light, it brings up the color wheel.

You can choose the color, the type of whites, or a “recipe.”

My personal take is that the colors are nice, but completely unnecessary. I don’t understand what need is there for the room to be green, or blue, or orange. If you want to just show your friends, or you have a specific need, then maybe. For me, the ability to choose the whites was fine. I would take a price drop for removing the colors.

The Achilles heel of smart bulbs is you can only use them when they have power. Turning off the device or using a mechanical light switch (in the case of the light bulbs) makes them dumb.

Schedules

The app will let you set a schedule by clicking on routines

What I found out is that you you should only rely on the “My Routines.” The rest I found to be completely unreliable. Actually, let me take that back. The location based ones are useless because my wife and kids are home when I leave, and I don’t need the lights to all turn on or off when I leave the house. Wake Up / Go To Sleep didn’t work. I tried over multiple days, but at the end of it, didn’t work.

Right now, I have a routine set to simulate the “Wake Up” routine. At 6:15am it gradually, over five minutes, turns on to the warm light. I had another routine that started the dimming process at 8:30pm for my son, but my life is very hectic right now that 8:30 was never goign to be an exact science. Again, I rather have a widget or IFTTT that would start when I invoked it. Start “Go to sleep” routine when I kiss my son goodnight.

Overall, I wish there was something that could trigger a scene easier than using your smartphone. I got an email recently that will let me use Alexa, but I haven’t found out how to do it. I’ve used the Hue skill, but it created a mess in my smart home list that I had to disable it. Not to mention that this light is called Night, and my lack of creative one word descriptors is limited.

Hue App

I was initially going to say some really nasty things about the app, but I eventually found what I was looking for. I couldn’t find a way to change the light color. All I could find was connecting to Hue partners, which I won’t do. I did find it; you touch the icon of the light, and it takes you there. In fact, it is pretty good.

Hue Partners are apps that use the Hue API. I am not sure if they are vetted, or the process to be considered a partner. Most of the apps had small download numbers and from names I haven’t heard from. I don’t generally give access to third party apps. These partners are not to be mistaken for companies like IFTTT, Nest, SmartThings, Alexa, and so forth.

My problem is that you don’t always have your phone on you to control the app. I don’t know if this problem is solvable, but there needs to be other mechanisms to control your smart lights other than the smart phone app. I almost want a website that can do it. It can’t be that hard to put a portal on the hue site.

Is it Simple to Use?

Yes! It is a light with an on/off switch. If you take away the smarts from it, it is still a light. It still needs power, and still has a 3 hour battery. Nothing changes when you remove the smarts.

The smarts is where you spend the money, so you do want it, but it is completely independent. You do not have to use any smart capability. The portable light is pretty good, but sometimes I think it is too bright.

Is it Secure?

For the most part it is. It is has to work with open standards, and a variety of devices to be useful. If ZigBee is compromised, so is the light bulb.

At BlackHat this year, they found a vulnerability. Phillips quickly patched it. Other than that, nothing has been found.

Can it be used by other members in the household?

Yes it can. My son already has learned to not touch switches, and to ask Alexa. This being portable with one button, means anyone can do it. The app can only be used on one account, but a recurring theme is to be sharing your household password.

My wife and son, both have used it without my prodding, which is a good sign.

Overall

I like the product. I think it is a great portable light. The app puts it over the top. The only problem is the cost. I would like to see a white spectrum only light.

I will say that I wish it could be powered by USB, instead of a proprietary plug. I’m sure there is a technical electrical engineering reason, but maybe the next generation could have USB-C, or something more powered. Instead of taking its own power brick, it could be used with something more standard.

Buy

Be ready to buy both the light and a hub.