Wednesday 24 January 2018

Digital Life: Light up your home like a rainbow

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

What I'd really like is for my house to glow red like the inside of a brothel, said no-one, ever. Maybe you just fancy a cool blue hue to emulate the skies from your most recent holiday.

How about a warm sunset haze to ease your tired eyes?

Perhaps you'd just settle for a light you can switch off or on from anywhere in the house, or even from another continent?

The Philips Hue connected bulbs can do all of that and more. They're part of the hot new trend for home automation that hooks common household items to the internet.

The €200 starter pack nets you a small control box and three LED bulbs. Yes, you read that correctly: three bulbs for 200 yo-yos (additional ones are €60 extra, ouch). Never mind the yelps from your wallet, check out the bulbs' mad skills in the lighting department.

Once you've connected the control box to your internet and installed the bulbs, the fun starts. Via an iPhone/Android app or the Hue website, you gain tremendous individual control over the lights' colours – from vanilla white to soft yellow, and a rainbow in between.

Philips goes all new-age happy-clappy in its marketing, talking about the ability of light to complement your mood. You can even match the bulbs' colour to that from a photo on your phone.

But really the value here is the ability to remotely control the lighting of these energy-efficient bulbs.

Unfortunately, Hue is saddled with a few flaws beyond its high cost.

Philips supplies only screw-cap bulbs, not the bayonet style common in Irish houses (hardware stores have cheap adapters though). The control box must be connected to your internet router via Ethernet cable, instead of wifi, immediately ruling out many homes.

Finally, the on/off scheduling options – which would be a great burglar deterrent – are desperately limited.

My inner geek loves Hue but something tells me Philips has more work to do.


GAME OF THE WEEK: Ni No Kuno: Wrath of the White Witch * * * * *

You’re either in love with the glorious work of Japan's Studio Ghibli or your movie palate has been blunted by the bland ‘digimation' that passes for kids' entertainment these days.

If so, you need to acquaint yourself with joyful gems such as Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away.

You could do worse than starting with Ni No Kuni, a rare videogame collaboration that marries the gorgeous sensibility of the movies with a traditional Japanese RPG.

Crammed with whimsy and underpinned by Ghibli's unerring eye for a hearttugging story, Ni No Kuni skilfully weaves a compelling tale to captivate even older gamers.

Cannily localised voiceovers, such as the Welsh sidekick who accompanies the young hero on an admittedly clichéd quest to save his mother, add to the charm. And though the gameplay isn't up to the same lofty standard as the story and graphics, few will care

Assassin's Creed 3 * * * *
Wii U

One of last year's most enjoyable open-world games, AC3 gains very little in the transition to Nintendo's platform but loses quite a bit.

Technical flaws conspire to distract from what is still a sweeping epic set in the badlands of the American Revolution. It retains the lumbering opening but hits its stride a couple of hours in as chief protagonist Connor gets to explore Boston, New York and the wild frontier in familiar parkour fashion.

AC3's shortcomings may be annoying, but its sumptuously detailed world and grand scope exert a seductive pull.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge * * *
Wii U

Known as much for its punishing difficulty as its underlying greatness, the Ninja Gaiden series lost its way with the original release of NG3.

This Wii U version constitutes a rethink that somewhat addresses its failings but falls short of the franchise's high mark.

The unremitting gore and ponderous story compete with repetitive, mindless action to annoy players. Occasional tastes of the fluid combat that defines Ninja Gaiden may be enough to string some along.

But it's a thinly stretched recipe that fails to measure up to its predecessors.

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