Review: The Philips Hue Play Sync Box Matches Your Hue Lights to What’s Playing on Your Apple TV

Signify, the corporate in the back of the Philips Hue lighting, in September introduced a brand new Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, which brings an ability that many Hue customers have sought after for years now: the power to sync Hue lighting with content material that is taking part in at the TV for an immersive house leisure revel in.

There’s already a Hue Sync app that shall we Hue lighting be tuned to Macs and PCs, however it is restricted to computer systems. In the previous, there have additionally been restricted run mild syncing options for “12 Monkeys” and “Sharknado 2” that had been pre-programmed, however prior to the Hue Play Sync Box, there was once no easy answer for on-the-fly syncing of Hue lighting to content material on a TV set.


The Hue Play Sync Box is an easy black field that plugs right into a TV with an HDMI cable. It has an influence port (and an incorporated energy provide) together with four HDMI ports which might be designed to house HDMI gadgets like Apple TV, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and extra. It’s only a black field, and not anything particular to have a look at, as a result of it is supposed to be tucked away on an leisure unit.


Any console or set-top field will also be plugged into the Hue Play Sync Box, permitting it to research the colours and song them to a Hue mild setup, transferring colours and brightness to compare the content material at the TV display screen. The field is mainly passing video sign to the TV whilst additionally detecting the colours.



Setting up the Hue Sync was once so simple as plugging it into my TV, plugging my gadgets into the field, connecting it to my current Hue Bridge (on a 2.4GHz community) after which downloading and opening up the devoted Hue Sync app. Using the Hue Sync Box calls for a separate Hue Sync app, and it does not paintings with the usual Hue app.

In reality, when the Hue Sync is grew to become on (which will also be accomplished within the Hue Sync app) you might be no longer in a position to keep watch over your lighting with the usual Hue app. Though maximum Hue merchandise display up in HomeKit, the Hue Sync is not a ‌HomeKit‌ software, it is a standalone choice that is only for Hue-branded lighting.

Using the Hue Play Sync Box calls for an current Hue mild setup (and Hue Bridge) round a tv set, and it really works easiest with the Hue Play, the Hue Lightstrip, the Hue Go, and different Hue lighting bulbs which might be deeply saturated and be offering wealthy colours.


It technically works with any Hue lighting, however one of the older bulbs shouldn’t have blues and vegetables which might be specifically saturated, which is able to detract from the setup. Setting up the Hue Sync calls for designating an Entertainment Area, which is mainly deciding on the lighting that you wish to have to switch in song with the colours at the TV.

I had mine set with a Hue Lightstrip, a Hue Go, and a couple of usual Hue bulbs which might be situated as regards to the TV in my place of job, which labored smartly, regardless that I believe it might be even higher with a Lightstrip and a number of the Hue Play Light Bars.


There are three other sync modes for video, track, and video games, together with three depth ranges: Subtle, Moderate, High, and Extreme. Subtle and average are the smoothest with fewer transitions which might be in the long run much less distracting. In High and Extreme modes, the colours trade hastily and it may be a little bit distracting relying on what you might be observing.

In normal, I most well-liked to observe with the settings on Subtle for normal utilization for the reason that different settings had been simply an excessive amount of transferring between colours. For a couple of colourful motion pictures I did experiment with the High and Extreme modes and it may make a film extra a laugh, however those are not settings I’d need to use always.


I’m no longer solely positive what the variation is between the video, track, and sport modes, as a result of there aren’t any transparent explanations within the app, however deciding on those did tweak the colours slightly between modes. By the best way, the use of Sync mode calls for activation within the app, regardless that there’s an solution to do it at the field itself if that is nearer (mine’s in the back of the TV so the app is more uncomplicated). There’s no computerized activation mode.

There’s an solution to set a minimal most well-liked brightness degree and there may be a very powerful atmosphere within the “Advanced” phase for minimal brightness. To save you the lighting from going off solely when the display screen displays scenes which might be black, the minimal brightness atmosphere must be activated to stay a minimal mild degree. During my trying out, I discovered that there are a shocking choice of utterly black scenes that motive the lighting to move off, which is distracting.


There also are a large number of simply undeniable white/yellow colours in a large number of TV displays, so there are some eventualities the place the Hue lighting do not sing their own praises a large number of colour. It without a doubt works the most productive and appears the most productive with displays and films that experience a large number of other colourful scenes, however the delicate white lights adjustments too can make what you might be observing extra immersive.

I’ve been trying out the Hue Sync for a few weeks now, and I have not spotted a lot latency if any. My Hue lighting trade just about within the rapid that the colours trade at the TV display screen.


I essentially used it with my ‌Apple TV‌ 4K on a 4K Sony TV, and it labored nice. Everything was once easy and seamless, and the colours had been detected and shifted irrespective of the content material that I used to be observing.


On my Nintendo Switch, the Hue Sync labored smartly. I examined it with Link’s Awakening, and there have been some neat online game options like a flash of sunshine every time I attacked an enemy, together with colours that matched the sport atmosphere.


I additionally examined with my PS4 Pro and had no issues getting the syncing options to paintings correctly. With each my Nintendo Switch and my PS4 Pro, I noticed no lag problems with the colour adjustments. As discussed above, that is with six energetic lighting and a 4K TV (with out Dolby Vision).


There’s an automated switching characteristic (activated in settings) that swaps between other HDMI inputs when a console or ‌Apple TV‌ is activated, which labored smartly for me, however switching by the use of my faraway didn’t paintings (since the entirety is technically routed thru one of my TV’s HDMI ports) so any handbook switching between inputs had to be accomplished during the app.


Unfortunately there have been a couple of events the place the automated switching characteristic didn’t paintings as anticipated (most commonly with my PlayStation 4) and I had to make use of the app


Based on a couple of evaluations of the Hue Play Sync Box, some customers with gadgets routed thru sound bars and receivers have had problems (regardless that it is meant to paintings), so deeper investigation is also required prior to buying to be sure that it really works together with your explicit setup. It does no longer paintings with integrated good TV apps, so you are going to want an ‌Apple TV‌, Fire Stick, Roku, or an identical, which is one thing to pay attention to. Content will have to cross during the field to the TV for it to paintings.

The Hue Sync Play Box helps 4K at 60Hz and HDR 10, but it surely does no longer give a boost to HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, so if in case you have a TV that makes use of HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, this is probably not one thing that you wish to have to spend money on. It does give a boost to passthrough so you’ll nonetheless watch HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content material, but it surely can not come across them to create the lights results.

Bottom Line

The Hue Play Sync Box is pricey and there are some insects and problems that wish to be labored out, however I feel that individuals who have invested in Hue lighting for his or her leisure techniques will experience what the field has to supply.

It’s unlucky that it does no longer paintings with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ as a result of I think there’s a excellent quantity of overlap between individuals who have HDR10+/Dolby Vision succesful gadgets and those that have a Hue setup that may make the Hue Play Sync Box profitable, however for individuals who can paintings with the restrictions, it is a good way to make TV displays, motion pictures, video video games, and track extra immersive.



Setup was once easy for me, however I actually have a easy TV setup with no sound bar and different additions, so there might be extra complexity concerned, and that is the reason one thing to pay attention to prior to buying. On the entire, I feel lots of those that love Hue lighting can be happy to have this selection for content material syncing, and I’m hoping some trojan horse fixes and enhancements will make the Hue Play Sync Box a extra seamless revel in one day.

How to Buy

The Hue Play Sync Box will also be purchased from the Hue website or from Best Buy for $229.99.

Tag: Philips Hue

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