Home News Hue dials it up with its newest smart switch

Hue dials it up with its newest smart switch

Hue dials it up with its newest smart switch

The $49.99 Philips Hue Faucet Dial switch is a smart lighting controller for the Hue superuser. It’s essentially the most highly effective and revolutionary Hue accent up to now, with 4 buttons and a bodily dial for dimming. Out of the field, the buttons and dial are tied to a zone or room, making it look like an overpowered Hue Smart Dimmer Switch. However why restrict your self to 1 room when this will management your Hue lights all through your own home?

The Faucet Dial is a wi-fi, battery-operated smart switch that may flip your Philips Hue lights on and off, brighten and dim them, and set lighting scenes. With a magnetic base, it will be hooked up to its included wall plate like a daily wall switch or positioned on any metallic or flat floor to be used as a distant management.

It’s a part of Hue’s smart lighting ecosystem, which works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google House, and Samsung SmartThings. Signify (homeowners of Hue) additionally confirmed to The Verge that the switch might be upgraded to work with the new smart dwelling normal Matter. Meaning at some point, it may have the ability to management much more than simply Hue lights.

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The Faucet Dial is hefty, weighing simply over two and a half ounces (an oz. heavier than the Apple TV distant). However that weight is to its benefit; you’ll be able to flip the dial whereas it’s sitting on the desk, and it received’t slide round. The dial itself has a very good stable really feel as you flip it, with good haptic suggestions. It’s quite a bit like rotating a Nest Studying Thermostat, and it’s solely a smidge smaller than that. It additionally labored rapidly and reliably, and the dimming motion was easy and responsive, with no noticeable lag.

Out of the field, it’s set up to dim whichever lights, room, or zone you pair it with within the Hue app. Buttons one by means of three modify the sunshine ranges, and the fourth cycles by means of 5 Hue scenes. The dial offers extra exact dimming, and an extended press on any button turns the lights off. (Hue scenes are totally different combos of brightness, colour temperature, or colour, relying on the sorts of bulbs you might have.)

However there’s no actual motive to purchase the Faucet Dial if you happen to’re simply going to manage a single room or zone. That’s what the Hue Dimmer Switch does effectively at about half the worth. The Faucet Dial shines as a multizone controller for individuals with a lot of Hue lights.

Flip the dial to the best to brighten your lights and to the left to dim. The quicker you flip it, the faster it brightens; the slower you flip it, the extra exactly you management the dimming degree.

I set up the Faucet Dial in my entry corridor, with every button programmed to manage a unique a part of my home. Button one turned on all of the Hue lights in the home, button two these within the entry corridor and lounge, button three the upstairs lights, and button 4 the downstairs lights. I additionally added some colourful scenes for subsequent button presses (you’ll be able to press every button up to 10 occasions to cycle by means of further scenes) however didn’t discover myself utilizing them typically.

I set the dial to manage all of the lights directly. One limitation of utilizing the Faucet Dial this manner is that the dial can solely management both all lights or a single room or zone. I’d like it to dim or brighten the lights for whichever button you simply pressed. The marginally clunky workaround right here is to make use of the second and third presses on every button to dim the lights that aren’t managed by the dial.

The default setup within the Hue app (left); the settings for the dial (which embody the choice to dim to minimal brightness and to off); and the choice to cycle by means of a number of scenes (up to 10) with subsequent presses.

The upside is I’ve a central lighting controller that provides me bodily entry to all of the lights in my home with out having to tug out a cellphone or use a voice command. That makes this gadget actually helpful. If my home have been totally outfitted with Hue lights, I might contemplate this a necessary buy. It isn’t, although, and till this will successfully management each smart mild in my dwelling, no matter model (which it could possibly do when Matter will get right here), this makes it extra of a nice-to-have than vital for me.

The opposite difficulty is that even with what I believed was an intuitive setup, it’s not simple to recollect which button does what, and I’d like the choice to label them with a bit of icon or emoji.

The Faucet Dial is weighty within the hand, and its sturdy magnet snaps simply again into the wall plate.

In case your entire house is kitted out with Hue bulbs and lighting fixtures, it is a useful bodily controller to handle all of them. When you have Hue outside lighting, it will be programmed to manage these, too. At $50, it’s an costly piece of package, plus it makes use of Zigbee, so you must have a Hue Bridge ($59.99), however there aren’t many good options for dimming smart bulbs.

Most smart dimmer switches solely work with normal bulbs, not smart ones. Your different choices for Hue bulbs, exterior of asking a voice assistant to set the lights to 70 p.c or hopping right into a smartphone app, embody urgent and holding a button on the Hue Dimmer Switch ($28) or twisting the rotating dial on the Lutron Aurora ($40), a retrofit possibility for toggle switches. I’ve tried all these, and the Faucet Dial is certainly the nicest to make use of.

The Faucet Dial switch can be utilized with or with out the wall mount, which is bigger than an ordinary wall plate.

The 4 buttons have raised dots so you’ll be able to know which you’re urgent even in the dead of night.

The switch makes use of a single CR2032 battery that ought to final two years. (The primary Faucet switch was powered kinetically).

Should you solely have a number of Hue bulbs, you’ll be higher off with the cheaper Hue Smart Dimmer, which might do all the things this system does, simply with much less particular person room management and with a clunkier interface for dimming.

The Smart Dimmer additionally has the choice of time-based lighting — the place the lights activate at a sure brightness based mostly on the time of day — an amazing characteristic that, oddly, will not be but provided on the Faucet Dial. Kelly Hrank, head of PR at Signify, instructed me the characteristic is coming quickly. The switch can also be not built-in into the Hue Labs characteristic of the Hue app, which helps you to set up extra highly effective lighting scenes, and Hrank says there aren’t any plans to take action.

Like the sooner now discontinued Hue Faucet, the Faucet Dial can be utilized as a HomeKit scene controller, however proper now, you shouldn’t hassle. The dial doesn’t work in HomeKit (which is a limitation of Apple’s, not Hue’s), and you’ll solely use a single press to set off Automations. That makes this $50 dial switch a much less helpful model of the Wemo Stage I simply reviewed, which is designed particularly for HomeKit and was faster at operating HomeKit Automations than the Faucet Dial in testing.

The Faucet Dial might be getting extra options shortly. The choice to “Configure in HomeKit” has been out there for Hue equipment for years, however the Hue app now comprises an choice to configure the Faucet Dial in one other app — the Faucet Dial is the primary Hue accent to help this. The choice doesn’t do something but, however Hrank instructed The Verge that Amazon Alexa might be among the many apps you’ll be able to set the Faucet Dial up in.

This ought to imply you’ll have the ability to use the Faucet Dial to manage any Alexa-compatible smart system (not simply Hue, and never simply lights), as is the case if you happen to use it in HomeKit. Plus, if the dial is uncovered to Alexa, this could be a really helpful lighting management for the huge Alexa ecosystem, particularly if you happen to might use the buttons to set off Routines. I’ll take a look at this as quickly as it is accessible and report again.

All this openness is probably going a part of the preparation for Matter, a novel characteristic of which is multi-admin management — the choice to set units up to be managed by any Matter-compatible ecosystem. With Matter-support, the Faucet Dial may very well be used to manage each mild in my home regardless of who made them — a a lot better proposition than being locked into Hue’s costly ecosystem.

However don’t purchase the Faucet Dial now for what it may have the ability to do later. When you have Hue lights all through your own home and wish to have the ability to management them from a single system (with a bodily dimmer!), the Faucet Dial is beneficial now. For anybody else, wait and see what’s coming.

Pictures by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge


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