RGB lighting gets an upgrade as part of the Philips Hue line with the easy-to-install Philips Hue Play Gradient LightStrip. Paired with the Hue Bridge, you have complete control over gradient lighting to set a scene that matches your aesthetic if you don’t mind the price tag and yet another wire.
When it comes to RGB lighting, gamers are not without a lack of options. Razer, Logitech, Corsair, and a ton of other lesser-known brands offer some semblance of RGB lighting strips, bulbs, stands, or peripherals. Philips adds to the growing list of gaming lighting with the Play Gradient LightStrip for PC. The big, bulky white strip delivers a dynamic lighting experience that helps set the stage for content creators with a stagnant color gradient, singular hue, or reactive game and music sync lighting. Philips packs a lot in the 24- to 27-inch monitor light strip, which helps explain the high price.
If you can get past the total cost needed to use the strip to its fullest, you’ll be treated to vibrant lighting, rich colors, and a surprising amount of customization. However, expect a moment of frustration during installation if you have anything but a completely flat-backed monitor.
A Simple Installation…For the Right Monitor
- Input Voltage: 100V-120V
- Wattage: 15W
- Dimensions: 35.6 x 0.67 x 0.63in (90.4 x 1.7 x 1.6cm)
Setting up the strip is fairly easy and everything you need for installation comes right in the box. The light strip itself has no adhesive on it and instead is held in place by brackets that stick to the back of your monitor. I was weary that such a system would even work, but the brackets securely held onto the strip and adhered well to a clean surface.
To ensure you don’t overextend the strip or make it too bunched, Philips provides a measuring guide so the brackets are perfectly placed for both the 24- and 27-inch configurations. If that’s too short for your setup, there’s also a strip for 32- to 34-inch monitors and strips for 55- to 75-inch TVs.
The Philips Hue Gradient LightStrip is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
Unfortunately, for the PC line, it’s clear that Philips had a very specific monitor style in mind, and it certainly isn’t anything with a rounded back.
I used my HyperX Armada 25-inch monitor, which has a gradual sloping back. The corner and side brackets fit well enough, but the top bracket didn’t have enough space to sit flush. It seems like there’s enough adhesive against the monitor, and I haven’t had any issue with it popping off a little over a week into use, but I can’t speak to the longer-term outcome.
My biggest gripe with this configuration is that the light strip extends out over my power and menu controls. I offset the two sides as much as possible, where one side is almost hanging beyond the monitor’s edge, and the controls are still covered. Thankfully, the strip is just malleable enough that I can still reach them, but it is an annoyance.
With the strip in place, there’s an adhesive AC adapter that powers it all, so hopefully, you have a free outlet nearby. I would have loved a USB configuration with a cord I could run into my Satechi hub, but the lighting requires more than the typical 5-volts USB cables can handle.
A Broad Range of Deep Colors
- Color Temperature: 2000-6500 K
- Lumen Output: 700 lumens
I’ve owned a number of lower-grade RGB strips, and my complaints for all of them have been the same. The color range is typically very shallow and the vibrancy is always a disappointment; that’s far from the case with the Philips Hue Play Gradient strip. On the contrary, when I first plugged it in, I was not prepared for the radiant beam that illuminated my office space far better than my ceiling lighting does. Out of the box, the strip emits 700 lumens, or the minimum recommended brightness of an outdoor floodlight. The brightness can be pushed to 800 lumens, but I can’t imagine a scenario where it would be needed.
The standard cool white is nothing to scoff at. In fact, I’d argue that it’s a little too bright considering the strip’s placement and purpose. When I keep it on cool lighting, I turn the brightness down to half. However, I rarely leave it on a basic white light as that seems like a waste of the full color wheel available when synced with the Philips Hue app (available on iPhone and Android).
The strip produces a brilliant hue regardless of what color you land on. I’m quite partial to bright green, which finally gives my tan-colored walls some life. There’s a three-color gradient built into the strip, allowing you to display one, two, or three colors at a time. The left and right gradients serve more as accents to the center color, which takes up the bulk of the strip. With the right combination, you can splash your wall with a bright rainbow or keep things deeper and richer. Then again, if you have a hard time choosing, you can return to the Philips Hue app and take advantage of the impressive number of customization options.
Philips Hue App Offers Customization and Automation
Setting up the app to sync with the light strip couldn’t be easier. You do need a $60 peripheral called the Hue Bridge that connects directly to your router, but with that in place, everything else is a breeze. At first, it seems overkill to require an entirely separate unit to serve as the brain, but Philips Hue has an entire line of household lighting that the Bridge can control to create unique scenes. Even with just the monitor strip, though, I was able to tinker with the customization and automation features offered through the app.
The light strip is also compatible with Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit.
If you can’t decide on one color, the app features a gallery of scenes inspired by Mother Nature’s palette and holiday themes. I bounced between Halloween and Christmas themes to see if the difference was noticeable, and the shift from burnt orange and green to dim gold and red was impossible to miss. If you don’t like any of Philips’ scenes, you can upload a photo in the app to pull colors from.
For an added touch of immersion, you can also link the strip to your PC and have it react to the games you play. I booted up Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and low and behold, when Slimer hovered across my screen, a touch of green flowed through the gradient display, mimicking the in-game palette. When I threw my proton stream, the lighting grew frantic and pulsed through a series of colors.
The sync feature is maybe my favorite part of the lighting strip. It was an unexpected level of depth that I was sure Philips was going to overlook, as it’s not a necessary feature. Whether you’re gaming, watching a movie, or listening to music on Spotify, the strip responds accordingly if you have the sync feature turned on. No need for extra HDMI boxes or other devices; as long as you have the Hue Bridge and Philips Hue app, you have access to the sync feature.
Philips’ app also adds a touch of automation that turns the light on and off depending on the schedule you set. For monitor lighting, I don’t see much of a use for automation, but the option’s there if you want it.
Philips Hue Bridge
$45 $60 Save $15
Control all of your Philips Hue lighting solutions from a single hub.
A Luxury for Deep Pockets Only
I really wanted to find some major flaw in the Philips Hue Play Gradient LightStrip so I wouldn’t be inclined to buy one for every monitor I own. Despite a near-flawless execution, I did find one glaring issue, and that’s the price. Just the strip will run you $200, and that will only get you a 700-lumens cool white light. For any customization and automation, you’re stuck spending another $60 for the Bridge ($260 total).
It’s a tough sell for the average consumer, largely because, at the end of the day, it is just a light strip. You can get a GE Cync Full Color LED Strip for around $30, and that doesn’t require a hub. Granted, it’s not quite as versatile, and I’ve always had difficulty attaching adhesive light strips to anything with rounded corners. It’s hard to deny that the Philips Hue Play Gradient LightStrip is leagues more advanced, especially for PC use, but that price tag makes it a luxury item not everyone can enjoy.
GE CYNC Smart LED Light Strip
$23 $60 Save $37
Affordable RGB to add anywhere you please, including the back of your monitor or TV.
Should You Buy the Philips Hue Play Gradient LightStrip for PC?
If you want an advanced lighting experience for your video game setup, yes, the Philips Hue Play Gradient LightStrip is a must. I absolutely love the functionality and vibrance, and the ease of installation and setup are just added perks. I have been running my LightStrip around the clock trying to find a significant flaw in the illumination, but I’ve come up short. The strip doesn’t get hot, so there’s no concern for your monitor, and the colors remain rich, bold, and vivid regardless of how long you operate them.
The Philips Hue app and Hue Bridge are necessary to fully enjoy the light strip, and that does mean shelling out a decent amount of extra money. It stings, though I think the overall light and promise of a 25,000-hour lifespan can help justify spending so much. That’s just under 3 years if run constantly for 24 hours each day, so it’s safe to say this strip could last about a decade or so.
There are a few minor issues with the overall design, such as the strip’s thickness and the placement of the brackets that hold it in place, but they’re only problematic if your monitor is on the smaller side and has a rounded back. Configuring the strip for my 24-inch HyperX display took a few additional seconds and was hardly a headache.
Philips absolutely knew who it was catering to with this PC-specific lighting strip. The vibrancy rounds out a desk full of RGB lighting and the sync options add a level of immersion to an otherwise stationary display piece. You can have an entire room illuminated in Philips-run dynamic lighting, so long as you don’t mind a premium price tag for a higher-quality product.
Philips Hue Play Gradient LightStrip
- Colors are vibrant and vivid
- Set different scenes to match your aesthetic
- Syncs with PC/Mac for interactive lighting
- Brackets simplify installation
- One strip is very expensive
- Hue Bridge must remain connected to a router for color customization
- Configuration isn?t designed for every monitor
- Yet another wire to add to your desk