For as long as we can remember, Philips Hue has been the biggest name in smart lights. For good reason, too: it's got a wide variety of smart bulbs and lighting fixtures, it works with every platform and it's accessible.
Its biggest competition has always been Lifx, a humble outfit that was born on Kickstarter. But Lifx has grown fast, and in 2018 it's finally surpassed Philips in our eyes for a number of reasons. The biggest is that, unlike Philips, you don't need a hub to operate it all. You just need to buy the bulbs.
It's also incredibly easy to set up. You simply plug them in and connect them to Wi-Fi in your app. If you're a HomeKit user, it's as easy as scanning the HomeKit code on the device or in the package. From there, your Lifx bulbs can pretty much do what every other bulb can do. Lifx's app is no slouch either.
There's even a feature that lets you sync your lights to the music you're listening to, which Lifx lets you do easily with just the app. There are all kinds of scenes and moods you can light your room to, and a lot of them are actually quite good. In the back end of the year, Lifx has also sought to diversify the type of lights it offers. There aren't just bulbs anymore, there's also the Tile and Beam lighting fixtures, which attach straight to your wall and can be put into creative patterns.
Finally, Lifx has plenty of integrations for you to play with. It's compatible with the big three - Google Assistant, Alexa and HomeKit - and can also tune into IFTTT. In 2019, we're looking forward to seeing whether Lifx can close the gap on Philips Hue in lighting options, and whether it'll start to offer more lighting fixtures.
Our Highly Commended in this category was Philips, which is still going strong. The Philips Hue platform has a sizable advantage in the amount of lighting options available, from fixtures to bulbs, indoors and out.