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Philips Hue Play Bars are great for lighting up your entertainment area, especially if you set up a Hue Sync Box to synchronise them to your TV or PC.
However, they aren’t perfect and won’t be the best choice for everyone. They are expensive and require you to have a Hue Bridge and Hue Sync Box, plus some people are concerned about them not being bright enough so you need multiple bars within a setup.
I’ve been researching some of the best alternatives to Hue Play Bars and have shared my findings in this article.
Best Hue Play Bar Alternatives
These are the best Philips Hue Play Bar alternatives:
- Best Overall: Philips Hue Iris
- Best for Entertainment: Philips Hue Gradient Lightstrip
- Sync with Music: Sengled Light Sticks
- Budget Pick: AOSEE Light Bars
- Great for Gamers: Nanoleaf Light Panels
- Great Design: Philips Hue Signe
Below are my full reviews of each recommendation, along with the best use cases for each to help you decide.
Best Overall: Hue Iris
The benefit of a Hue Play Bar is that it floods your wall with colourful light to create an ambiance. But, they aren’t the only Philips Hue product that’s able to do this.
The Hue Iris works in a similar way using indirect light. It’s much smaller than a Hue Play Bar and only 210 lumens compared to the Play Bar’s 530 lumens of light. However, it’s also much more affordable.
Many of the other features are very similar to the Play Bar, for example, it can work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. But, keep in mind that you’ll still need a Hue Bridge in order to set it up and a Hue Sync Box if you plan to synchronise it with your TV.
However, if you are planning to use it with your TV, the colours are less accurate than other Hue lights such as the Play Bars and the Gradient Lightstrip (see next recommendation).
Best for Entertainment: Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip
One of the newer products announced by Philips Hue is the Gradient Lightstrip. This has been designed especially for the back of your TV and comes with mounting brackets to attach it.
It provides 1100 lumens which is brighter than Hue Play, this is equivalent to two bars so should give your walls a good wash with colour. These are designed for larger TVs and emit the light much more evenly than too.
There are three sizes to choose from which depend on the size of your TV, there are 55-60”, 65-70”, and 75”+. Again, you’ll need both the Hue Bridge and the Hue Sync Box in order to match it up with your TV.
If you want more information about how this compared to Play Bars, see my full side-by-side comparison with example photos.
Sync with Music: Sengled Light Sticks
So far, you might think that Philips Hue has a monopoly on the light bar market (and to some extent you’d be very right), but now I’d like to share another brand with you, Sengled, a German brand making inroads in the smart lighting area.
Their Light Sticks are the perfect alternative to the Hue Play Bar. In terms of size and brightness, they are roughly similar to the Play Bar. However, you do have to choose the colour settings yourself rather than syncing directly with your TV lights.
The benefit of these is that you don’t need to go out and invest in the Hue Bridge or the Sync Box which can add a significant amount to your setup. Instead, the lights have a microphone built-in so that they can react to the sounds.
Budget Pick: AOSEE Lights
If you’re just looking for some colour ambiance but aren’t too concerned about syncing the lights with your TV or music, then the budget smart light bar from AOSEE could be the right product for you.
At 30cm tall, they are just taller than the Hue Play Bar so make a great alternative option. Their functionality is very basic, you can use them as part of a lighting scene with access to 16 million different colours, however, you cannot sync them to the TV or music.
They can be used with Alexa and Google Home, or you can add them in the Smart Life app if you prefer to keep all of your smart devices to one app like me.
They are powered by USB so a sneaky tip from me is to plug them in to a powered USB port on your TV so that they come on automatically with the screen.
Great for Gamers: Nanoleaf Light Panels
If you’re a gamer and haven’t heard of Nanoleaf, where have you been? These light panels come in a variety of shapes that can be attached to the wall in creative ways.
They don’t work the same way as a Play Bar, instead of providing indirect light off the wall, they attach to the wall and provide direct light. However, they still provide a great ambiance and there’s a huge range of effects you can make use of.
Nanoleaf have a built-in microphone which means they can sync to your music, you can also sync them with your PC via the desktop app which makes them perfect for gamers. They are a popular pick with many YouTubers too.
Depending upon which Nanoleaf product you get, they may also have touch control which can be used to control the lights themselves, or synced to other smart home devices.
To find out more about the different Nanoleaf products available, see my full Nanoleaf comparison guide.
Great Design: Philips Hue Signe
There is no denying that Philips Hue makes some of the best smart lights, so I don’t feel guilty for including yet another recommendation from the brand. The Hue Singe is another great light bar from their arsenal, it is available as both a table and floor light depending upon your needs.
The Hue Singe works via Bluetooth, so you don’t need to have a Hue Bridge to use it. However, I’d still recommend that you do as this unlocks many more features such as voice control and is required if you plan to use it with a Hue Sync Box to match with your TV.
The Singe is very similar to the Hue Play Bar and also emits around 1,000 lumens which is equivalent to two Hue Play Bars. However, they don’t need to be hidden away and use purely as indirect light, they will blend in well with your décor no matter where you put them.