The $49.99 Philips Hue Tap Dial switch is a smart lighting controller for the Hue superuser. It’s essentially the most highly effective and progressive Hue accent up to now, with 4 buttons and a bodily dial for dimming. Out of the field, the buttons and dial are tied to a zone or room, making it look like an overpowered Hue Smart Dimmer Switch. But why restrict your self to at least one room when this may management your Hue lights all through your home?
The Tap Dial is a wi-fi, battery-operated smart switch that may flip your Philips Hue lights on and off, brighten and dim them, and set lighting scenes. With a magnetic base, it will be connected to its included wall plate like an everyday wall switch or positioned on any metallic or flat floor to be used as a distant management.
It’s a part of Hue’s smart lighting ecosystem, which works with Apple HomePackage, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartIssues. Signify (homeowners of Hue) additionally confirmed to The Verge that the switch shall be upgraded to work with the new smart home standard Matter. That means in the future, it may have the ability to management much more than simply Hue lights.
The Tap Dial is hefty, weighing simply over two and a half ounces (an oz heavier than the Apple TV distant). But that weight is to its benefit; you’ll be able to flip the dial whereas it’s sitting on the desk, and it gained’t slide round. The dial itself has a very good stable really feel as you flip it, with good haptic suggestions. It’s loads like rotating a Nest Learning Thermostat, and it’s solely a smidge smaller than that. It additionally labored rapidly and reliably, and the dimming motion was easy and responsive, with no noticeable lag.
Out of the field, it’s set up to dim whichever lights, room, or zone you pair it with within the Hue app. Buttons one via three modify the sunshine ranges, and the fourth cycles via 5 Hue scenes. The dial offers extra exact dimming, and an extended press on any button turns the lights off. (Hue scenes are totally different combos of brightness, colour temperature, or colour, relying on the forms of bulbs you will have.)
But there’s no actual cause to purchase the Tap Dial when you’re simply going to regulate a single room or zone. That’s what the Hue Dimmer Switch does properly at about half the worth. The Tap Dial shines as a multizone controller for individuals with plenty of Hue lights.
I set up the Tap Dial in my entry corridor, with every button programmed to regulate a distinct a part of my home. Button one turned on all of the Hue lights in the home, button two these within the entry corridor and lounge, button three the upstairs lights, and button 4 the downstairs lights. I additionally added some colourful scenes for subsequent button presses (you’ll be able to press every button up to 10 occasions to cycle via extra scenes) however didn’t discover myself utilizing them typically.
I set the dial to regulate all of the lights directly. One limitation of utilizing the Tap Dial this manner is that the dial can solely management both all lights or a single room or zone. I’d like it to dim or brighten the lights for whichever button you simply pressed. The barely clunky workaround right here is to make use of the second and third presses on every button to dim the lights that aren’t managed by the dial.
The upside is I’ve a central lighting controller that provides me bodily entry to all of the lights in my home with out having to drag out a cellphone or use a voice command. That makes this gadget actually helpful. If my home have been absolutely outfitted with Hue lights, I might take into account this a necessary buy. It isn’t, although, and till this may successfully management each smart mild in my dwelling, no matter model (which it might be able to do when Matter will get right here), this makes it extra of a nice-to-have than a must have for me.
The different challenge is that even with what I believed was an intuitive setup, it’s not straightforward to recollect which button does what, and I’d like the choice to label them with a bit icon or emoji.
If your complete house is kitted out with Hue bulbs and lighting fixtures, it is a helpful bodily controller to handle all of them. If you will have Hue out of doors lighting, it will be programmed to regulate these, too. At $50, it’s an costly piece of package, plus it makes use of Zigbee, so it’s a must to have a Hue Bridge ($59.99), however there aren’t many good options for dimming smart bulbs.
Most smart dimmer switches solely work with customary bulbs, not smart ones. Your different choices for Hue bulbs, outdoors of asking a voice assistant to set the lights to 70 p.c or hopping right into a smartphone app, embrace urgent and holding a button on the Hue Dimmer Switch ($28) or twisting the rotating dial on the Lutron Aurora ($40), a retrofit choice for toggle switches. I’ve tried all these, and the Tap Dial is unquestionably the nicest to make use of.
If you solely have a couple of Hue bulbs, you’ll be higher off with the cheaper Hue Smart Dimmer, which might do all the things this gadget does, simply with much less particular person room management and with a clunkier interface for dimming.
The Smart Dimmer additionally has the choice of time-based lighting — the place the lights activate at a sure brightness based mostly on the time of day — an amazing characteristic that, oddly, isn’t but provided on the Tap Dial. Kelly Hrank, head of PR at Signify, informed me the characteristic is coming quickly. The switch can be not built-in into the Hue Labs characteristic of the Hue app, which helps you to set up extra highly effective lighting scenes, and Hrank says there are not any plans to take action.
Like the sooner now discontinued Hue Tap, the Tap Dial can be utilized as a HomePackage scene controller, however proper now, you shouldn’t trouble. The dial doesn’t work in HomePackage (which is a limitation of Apple’s, not Hue’s), and you may solely use a single press to set off Automations. That makes this $50 dial switch a much less helpful model of the Wemo Stage I just reviewed, which is designed particularly for HomePackage and was faster at working HomePackage Automations than the Tap Dial in testing.
The Tap Dial shall be getting extra options shortly. The choice to “Configure in HomeKit” has been obtainable for Hue equipment for years, however the Hue app now comprises an choice to configure the Tap Dial in one other app — the Tap Dial is the primary Hue accent to assist this. The choice doesn’t do something but, however Hrank informed The Verge that Amazon Alexa shall be among the many apps you’ll be able to set the Tap Dial up in.
This ought to imply you’ll have the ability to use the Tap Dial to regulate any Alexa-compatible smart gadget (not simply Hue, and never simply lights), as is the case when you use it in HomePackage. Plus, if the dial is uncovered to Alexa, this may be a really helpful lighting management for the huge Alexa ecosystem, particularly when you may use the buttons to set off Routines. I’ll take a look at this as quickly as it is offered and report again.
All this openness is probably going a part of the preparation for Matter, a singular characteristic of which is multi-admin management — the choice to set gadgets up to be managed by any Matter-compatible ecosystem. With Matter-support, the Tap Dial may very well be used to regulate each mild in my home regardless of who made them — a a lot better proposition than being locked into Hue’s costly ecosystem.
But don’t purchase the Tap Dial now for what it may have the ability to do later. If you will have Hue lights all through your own home and need to have the ability to management them from a single gadget (with a bodily dimmer!), the Tap Dial is helpful now. For anybody else, wait and see what’s coming.
Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge