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Philips Hue Calla review: The price of a vibe
The Hue Calla is a cute but pricey outdoor smart light.
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In my time testing the Philips Hue Calla, I've been asking myself one big question: how much is a vibe worth?
The Calla is part of the Philips Hue outdoor smart lighting range - a medium-sized pedestal length that you can skewer into your garden. It's a cute little product that's completely customisable, letting you pick from a spectrum of 16 million colours. It plays nicely with HomeKit, Google Nest, and Amazon Echo smart devices. It's also pretty damn expensive.
Your first Calla will set you back $239.95 (RRP) for a base unit. If you want more than one, each additional light will set you back a further $174.95. In both cases, that's a significant premium over a typical "dumb" outdoor pedestal lamp, which you can get for around $100. And you also need to factor in the cost of a Hue bridge if you're not already part of the ecosystem. That's a further $99. If you're to kit out your entire yard with Hue lights, it's not going to be an affordable endeavour.
The problem is outdoor smart lighting is really hard to find. Philips is the only major manufacturer of outdoor smart lights with products available in Australia, so there's no one forcing the brand to compete on price. If you want to pretty up your garden with colour-changing bulbs or even just add some smarts with lights that turn on automatically, the Hue range is your only choice.
And look, the Calla is a well-made product. It feels rugged and stable enough, it's rated IP65 for water resistance so rain isn't an issue, and you can daisy chain additional units to converse precious outdoor power points. Most importantly, connectivity has been flawless. Although in larger homes, you may need to reposition your Hue Bridge so that it reaches your yard.
The Calla also integrates with every major smart home platform, and the Philips Hue app is quite polished if you're not part of a broader ecosystem. In addition to setting colour and brightness on the Calla, the Hue app can also be used to create automations. You can have the Calla turn on automatically at sunset and off sunrise, for example. And naturally, the Calla also works well with other Hue ecosystem products like the Motion Sensor.
Other than an expensive price tag, my only issue with the Calla is that it's not the brightest of lights. It's only 590 lumens, so it's more so adding ambience rather than acting as a main source of outdoor lighting - at least as a signal pedestal.
How much does the Philips Hue Calla base unit cost in Australia?
How much does the Philips Hue Calla extension unit cost in Australia?
Is the Philips Hue Calla worth buying?
Ultimately, whether the Calla is right for you depends on how much you want outdoor smart lighting. I love that I can just have it set on a schedule. It's convenient to always have at least one light on if I'm coming home late, and I love the appearance of someone being home when I'm away for a couple of days.
In some ways, smart lighting feels better suited to outdoor use. At least, colourful smart lighting. My indoor smart bulbs are rarely anything other than a shade of white. Outdoors, I'm far more inclined to try and create a vibe with interesting colours. My Calla is pink right now, to go the lawn flamingos living in the hedge. It's super cute.
And look, part of me wants to buy two more Callas to build out the aesthetic. It wouldn't be the most rational purchase, but at the same time, it's not like there are more affordable options for achieving the same look. Whether the Philips Hue Calla is worth it really comes down to how much you care about your outdoor lighting. At the least, it's a well-made, reliable product.