With the Play HDMI Sync Box Philips Hue users can finally sync all their lights to their TVs. One of the dreams of having smart lights is being able to sync those lights with whatever movie or TV show you’re watching to create a symphony of light and sound. However, for people with Philips Hue smart lights, the main avenue for doing this up until now has been the Hue Sync app, which only worked on PCs or Macs, which meant you often had to do awkward things like connect a laptop to your TV, or have a really long cord running to a nearby desktop to make things work.
But with the new Play HDMI Sync Box, Philips Hue is finally giving people a way to easily harmonise their smart lights with the content on their TV screens. The device itself is super simple, it’s just a small four-port HDMI pass-through hub that connects to all your media boxes like an Apple TV, cable box, Roku box, Nvidia Shield, game console, etc.
GIF: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
From there, the Play Sync Box analyses the visual data from whatever content your watching, so that it can simultaneously send that video out to your TV while controlling connected smart lights to match your content.
The Play Sync Box can automatically switch between any of the four HDMI inputs depending on which device is currently in use. It supports HDMI CEC so you can control those connected devices with a single remote or voice commands, and it supports HDMI 2.0 so you shouldn’t have any issue with 4K HDR content at 60fps or lower.
On the lighting side, the Play Sync Box can be paired with up to 10 different Philips Hue Color Ambiance lights, while the standalone Hue Sync Mobile app allows you to adjust settings like the brightness, speed, and intensity of your lights. This is a good thing, because even though I can’t believe I’m saying this, when I saw a demo of the Play Sync Box in action, I actually found the setup a tiny bit overwhelming when all the lights were set on full blast. It’s that intense.
To setup the Play Sync Box, just plug in your various media boxes in the back, and then connect the HDMI out to your TV. (Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo)
The Play Sync Box has four HDMI inputs and one HDMI out port. (Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo)
The Play Sync Box’s power brick has two extra outputs for powering two additional Hue lights. (Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo)
Also, a small bonus that makes setting up smart lights around your TV just a little easier, the Play Sync Box’s power adapter includes a brick with two extra Hue-compatible power outputs, so you can cut down on the number of outlets your lighting system is hogging.
The downsides to all this are that the Play Sync Box doesn't have a projected UK release date, and even if and when it does, it won't come cheap – at least judging by its US price tag of $230 (£185). That’s a decent chunk of change just so you can make your smart lights flash and change colour in tandem with what’s on your TV. But if you’ve been waiting all this time for Hue to bring colour syncing to the living room, the Play Sync Box is it.
The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box goes on sale in the US on 15 October.
Featured image: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)