Philips Hue customizable LED light bulbs offer 16 million colors, starter kit costs $199

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Philips will begin selling its high-tech Hue LED light bulbs exclusively in Apple stores from tomorrow. Hue light bulbs are fully customizable, and offer up a choice of 16 million colors by combining three LEDs — one green, one red, and one blue — inside each bulb. They're being marketed as energy-efficient alternatives to regular light bulbs, with brightness on par with a traditional 50W bulb with a maximum power draw of just 8.5W. But energy efficiency is just one plus of the Hue system; the main selling-point is the extreme level of customization available. Buyers will be able to fine-tune their lighting through an iOS app or on their computer via Philips' website. An Android version of the companion app will be launching in December.

The system is sold as a $199 starter pack comprising 3 LED bulbs and a bridge that connects to your router. Once you're all set up, you'll be able to set the color of each bulb individually, or choose from one of four templates that Philips has chosen. These range from a self-explanatory "Reading" preset to "Energize" mode, which is supposed to keep you alert and wide awake. You can also set your own custom templates, as well as schedule times for the lights to switch on and off. Additional Hue bulbs can purchased for $59, and Philips says one bridge can support 50 bulbs. If you already have a custom-lighting system at home, Philips' new bulbs adhere to the ZigBee LightLink wireless standard, so as long as your setup is compliant they should work without a hitch. The Hue system goes on sale on October 30th in the US ($199), Europe (€199), and UK (£179).

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