Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip for PC review: Color sync for games, music and movies


Smart lighting is an underrated way to transform any space, but it’s especially suited to gaming PCs. The colored light sets the mood, and the dynamic accent lighting can add an extra layer of immersion for music, movies and games. The Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip for PC does just that. It attaches to the back of your monitor and works through the Hue app on your phone.

“Gradient” indicates its ability to display different colors simultaneously, and the light strip syncs with content through a desktop app. Philips Hue might be the go-to brand you think of when you think of smart lighting, but its products come at outrageously high prices, and the Play Gradient Lightstrip is no exception. There are three light strips for monitors: 24 to 27 inches ($170), 32 to 34 inch ($190), or a set for a trio of 24 to 27 inch monitors ($280) – the latter two are not yet available in some markets. You also need a Hue Bridge ($50).

Simplified setup

Photography: Phillips

I’ve had my eye on the Philips Hue Play system for my large TV for a long time, but this setup also requires a Sync Box ($250) you have to run the content (and it doesn’t work with Smart TV apps). Although still expensive, the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip for PC is a much more affordable and straightforward prospect.

The light strip is rubbery and flexible with a curved diffuser. You get plastic guides in the box that stick to the back of your monitor and hold the strip in place. The instructions are clear and even with my curved widescreen, attaching the band was quick and easy. The only hairy moment came when I tried to plug in the cord (be careful not to bend the pins).

Hardware in place, I prepared to tackle the software, but it was even easier to set up. I installed the Hue Sync desktop app, and since I already have a Hue Bridge, a press of the button on the front was enough to add the light strip. It immediately appeared in my Hue app and also in my Google Home app. If you have an RGB lighting setup on your desktop, you can also use Corsair’s iCue software to sync lighting effects with your PC’s components, keyboard, and mouse (the Hue app also offers Razer integration).

Most people will use the refreshingly simple Hue Sync desktop app. You can choose scenes, like other Hue lights, that are suitable for different activities or are just moody color mixes. But there are also synchronization modes with different types of content.

Color co-ordination

Screenshot: Philips via Simon Hill

Screenshot: Philips via Simon Hill

The real reason to snag the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip for PC is for light synchronization, and the desktop app has modes for games, music and video. In each mode you can select Subtle, Moderate, High or Extreme and press a button to start syncing. These options determine how often the light strip tries to match the action on the screen or the audio you’re playing.

You will want to experiment. I found a higher frequency worked well with action-packed movies, first-person shooters, and electronic dance music, for example, but I preferred a lower intensity for most content. . Extreme mode can be a bit jarring for music and distracting for movies, but transitions are generally smooth and the light strip does a great job of color matching.

The tape works particularly well with games. It was just a nice addition to Total War: Warhammer 3, but it got me deeper into Cyberpunk 2077 and really heightened the atmosphere of horror games like Alien Isolation.

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