Monday, December 11, 2023

Smart luminaires for your home? Philips connected lamps build on a slick Wiz app

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Smart lights are the logical first step as you begin building your smart home. If you are cobbling together a smart home. Lighting doesn’t just remain restricted to that step of the chain. Along the way, you’ll find the need to upgrade, change or add more luminaires to a room. All rooms, perhaps? If you do even a cursory browse on online shopping platforms, smart light options are aplenty. Popular brands, and some that aren’t. You may want to consider something that sits firmly in the former folder. For long term peace of mind, and a genuinely usable app, more than anything else.

Lighting brand Signify has added two new pieces to the Philips luminaire portfolio in India. The Philips Smart LED Squire and the Philips Smart LED Hero. Both smart lights, with slightly differing purposes and utility. Albeit, they insist both are bedside lights, but I feel the Squire is better suited on a mantlepiece or a corner table. The Hero has the conventionality for an easier fit on the bedside. The commonality? Lots of features in the companion app.

Also Read: You can prepare food just by voice command. Check this Philips cooking device

The Wiz app (this is available for Android and iOS) is simply called Wiz v2, a rather uninspiring name. You can set up different rooms and place corresponding lights within those. Makes monitoring and controls simpler. For each light, depending on what it has, there are controls – for instance, the Squire has an illuminated base, and you can control that intensity, while this option isn’t available for the Hero since it has an opaque base with no integrated lighting.

You’ll particularly appreciate the ability to set up schedules, integrations with smart assistants though the energy consumption data remains perplexingly missing (if there is a separate hub or accessory needed, that’s not clear). In our case, the schedules work well for the most part, which is powering on these lights at specific times during the day, and turning them off at a particular time too.

There are preconfigured and configurable scenes too (you can set these up for time of day as well), for different colour and light modes. Take your pick. The Philips Smart LED Squire and the Philips Smart LED Hero worked seamlessly with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant smart assistants. You’ll have more options too, to pick from – SmartThings and IFTTT, to name a few.

During our time testing the Philips Smart LED Squire and the Philips Smart LED Hero, we had to make the migration from the Wiz Connected app to the Wiz v2 app. The process was seamless, since these were set up using an online account. There is the option of a manual migration too, but I suspect that’ll be slightly more complex.

In my opinion, the Philips Smart LED Squire is a better fit for a table that is not a bedside table. I just have that combination of really nice dual light zones and the wall projection feature, which would feel under-utilised if not placed on a mantlepiece or a corner table in a larger room. Bookshelves too, are an option.

The LED is 9-watt, and there are 16-million colours it is capable of handling. The app gives you that flexibility. This dimmable luminaire can go really bright too, even with the warm white colours.

The Philips Smart LED Hero has more conventionality as a bedside lamp. The form factor and the light cover makes this less intense on the eyes, at full illumination level and the warm white colour selected, compared with the Squire. You must use the app to control most of its functionality, because the multifunction button sits on the rear curve of the lamp – it isn’t the easiest to reach and identify.

Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Bedside Lamp 2 has got this spot on, with touch controls on the front. The Hero has tap sensor control, but that never worked as it should have. I accidentally drop something on the same table the Hero is placed on, and it powered on automatically. That points to badly optimized sensors, more than anything else.

Mind you, both the Philips Smart LED Hero and Philips Smart LED Squire will connect with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks at home. That is to ensure the widest possible coverage range for these devices, particularly in scenarios where the router may be some distance (with a few walls in the way) away.

Power outages, as common as they are in this part of the world, continue to stump smart home devices. It is a surprise, to be honest. I noticed it time and again with both the Philips Smart LED Squire and the Philips Smart LED Hero luminaires that if there was a momentary power outage when both were switched off previously, one or both would power on upon the rediscovery of electricity. And in case these were switched on when the power went off, they sometimes wouldn’t switch back on again once the supply was resumed.

There is the power outage recovery option in the app, and we have left that enabled, but it hasn’t always worked as it should. This is the sort of unpredictability which we expected smart lighting products to have had ironed out by now. Yet, that hasn’t happened.

You’ll be paying about 5,500 for the Squire and around 5,999 for the Hero. It is an easy fit for the Hero, on your bedside table or even somewhere in the study room. It is as simple as it gets for smart lamps that simply know their role. But it is the Squire which you’ll need to think long and hard about, since under-utilising this rather brilliant luminaire will be unfortunate.

Apart from the few rough edges, you would appreciate the Philips Smart LED Squire and the Philips Smart LED Hero for what they primarily do – illuminate your room. If you want smart lights, we must reassert. The flicker free lighting is a boon (something you’ll not notice now, but miss it once you return to conventional LED lamps) and these can be really bright too. We can safely say, smart lighting continues to evolve.

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