Two of Philips Hue’s best products for creating an ambiance behind your TV and entertainment area are the Hue Play Bars and the Hue Play Gradient Strips. If you’re considering these but don’t know what the differences are, I’ll reveal everything in this article.
If you’re in a rush, here’s a quick rundown of the main differences between the Gradient Strip and Play Bars:
If you’re using lights behind your TV, the Gradient Strip is a better option because it’s easier to install, uses fewer cables, puts less strain on your Hue Bridge, and works out cheaper. However, you may want to use Play Bars along the bottom of the TV as the Gradient Strips are three-sided.
For anywhere else in your home, the Play Bars are smaller and more versatile so will generally be a better option. Keep reading for my full pros and cons of each option and some visual examples.
I reached out to the community for some photos of their Gradient Strip and Play Bar setups, I will share these at the end of the article.
Hue Play Bar vs Gradient Strip
What is a Hue Play Bar?
Hue Play Bars are short light bars that are designed to splash light up your walls or provide a backlight behind objects.
They can be placed horizontally, vertically, or mounted to objects. Each bar is 25.3cm wide (or tall depending upon which way you place them) and emits one colour at a time. However, you would usually have multiple Play Bars which can create beautiful colour combinations.
They can be synced to music or your TV via the Sync Box or can be used independently to create an ambiance in your home. It’s not unusual to have up to 10 Play Bars attached to the rear of a TV to create an Ambilight-style backlight.
What is a Hue Play Gradient Strip?
The Hue Play Gradient Strip is an advanced LED light strip that’s designed specifically for the rear of your TV. It can be synchronized with the lights coming from your TV via the Hue Sync Box.
It attaches to the back of your TV via mounts that are included with the strip. There are three different sizes which depend upon the size of your TV:
- 55 Inch – For TVs 55-65”
- 65 Inch – For TVs 65-70”
- 75 Inch – For TVs 75”+
The gradient strip is designed to fit around three sides of the TV. It has seven lighting areas which correspond to certain parts of the TV screen, three along the top and two down each side.
You should not try to buy a larger strip and fit it all the way around the TV as the lights will not sync with your screen correctly.
What’s the Same?
Before looking at the key differences, let’s start by considering what they have in common.
Both the Play Bars and Gradient Strip can be used behind your TV. With both products, you’ll need a Hue Bridge to use them and a Sync Box for synchronizing with your TV or music.
Once set up, both lights react to the images on your Tv or the sound in real-time with no lag. You can create 3D entertainment areas in the Hue app so it knows where your lights are in relation to the TV for optimum effect.
Benefits of Hue Play Bars Compared to Gradient Strips
Now, let’s look at the differences, beginning with the areas where the Hue Play Bars win:
Benefits of Gradient Strip Compared to Play Bars
Taking a look the other way, here are the benefits of the Hue Gradient Strip over the Play Bars:
Which Should I Get?
Based on all the pros and cons shared here, it’s quite clear that if you’ll be using your lights behind the TV, you should opt for the Gradient Strip rather than Play Bars.
However, if your TV is wall-mounted, you might want to compliment the strip with some Hue Play Bars along the bottom of the TV.
If you’ll be placing them elsewhere in the house, it makes sense to opt for the Play Bars as these are far more versatile. You could also consider the standard LED strip which doesn’t sync to your TV, this has more options in terms of setting the colours and is cheaper to buy.
Examples From The Community
I reached out to the community to find some real-life examples of setups using Hue Play Bars and Gradient Strips which I’ve shared below.
Feel free to send me your examples, my contact details are here.