Whenever you’re not quite sure about something, don’t forget there is always a teacher available 24/7, 365 days-Google. For me, it can’t be wrong. When I first learned this word “ambilight”, my first impression was what the hell was that. It seems has not been indexed into any major dictionary like Oxford, or Cambridge or Webster Merriam Dictionary. Luckily, you got Google search. And here it is:
So from the key words, I get a general idea that ambilight is a led strip kit that can be attached to the back of a monitor or tv. Or it can be a led strip that can be diy by open-source software like arduino or hyperion using a hardware like rasperry pi. Or it can be associated with Philips’ specific TV type, like 55pos9002 or LG similarities. However, since this is the introductory article about ambilight, we can’t be so casual, right? So let’s dig deeper.
What are ambilight lights, and what do they do
When asked what something is? We mean to get a definition, right? Yet, since the word is a coined word (ambience+light), or a trade mark registered by Philips.
Maybe we can try to give it my own definition. But before that, there is another word we can’t avoid, that is “bias lighting”, according to Wikipedia, “In home cinema and video editing technology, bias lighting is a weak light source on the backside of a screen or monitor that illuminates the wall or surface behind and just around the display. The purpose of bias lighting is to reduce the perceived brightness of the display as a result of the contrast with the slightly illuminated area around it. This reduces the eye strain and fatigue that occurs when viewing a bright display against a very dark background for an extended time, and increases the perceived blackness, perceived highlights and overall contrast of the display.” Looks so identical to ambilight, right? Not really, after a closer look at the Google search results pictures, you can see, the colors on the wall basically match the colors on screen.
Definition of ambilight
So, maybe we can call it basically is about an LED light strip around the backside of the TV or monitors, which reproduce colors onto the wall behind the TV or monitors.
Purpose of ambilight
And it’s designed to reduce the perceived brightness of the TV or monitors as a result of the contrast with the slightly illuminated area around it, thus reducing the eye strain and fatigue that occurs when viewing a bright TV or monitors against a very dark background for an extended time.
What’s the benefits of ambilight
It’s said that anything existential is reasonable, so is the ambilight. With the improvement of life quality, people are not satisfied with the boring bulbs or light strip as they can only be used to illumination, which is the basic function. To light up the mood, to spice up your room, or to get your party high, you gonna need more than that, such as the RGB lights that have different lighting modes, or smart light that can change colors or scenes according to your moods. The ambilight is the same, it got so many advantages over traditional lights.
Creates immersive gaming or TV watching experience.
Imagine, you are playing the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, what an achievement it will be seeing the bomb goes off and the enemy is blown up everywhere and the effects is enhanced by the ambilight.
And what an eye feast it will be when you’re watching the Star Wars light saber battling scene.
You won’t play a game or watch a movie without the ambilight on then.
Reduce eye fatigue and protect your eye.
According to dreamscreen kickstarter program: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/237916976/dreamscreen-hd-and-4k-led-backlighting-for-any-hdm, “if you spend more than 2 hours daily in front of digital screens, you have a 90% chance of developing Digital Eye Strain and nearly 70% of all American adults experience some form of Digital Eye Strain due to prolonged use of electronic devices.” However, if you have the ambilight installed at the back of your TV, when you turned it on, it will reduce the contract between your eye and the screen, thus reducing the digital dye strain.
Size up your TV and size down your cost
As seen from the above picture, when the ambilight is turned on, it will cast a halo on the wall behind your TV, so it looks like even you got a 65” TV, but due to the extending effects rendered by the ambilight, your TV looks much bigger, more like 75”. The bigger the more immersive, yet with less money spent on whether changing your TV or upgrading it to larger size.
Is the ambilight suitable for you?
Looks appealing the ambilight, right? Can’t help getting one and install it immediately? Wait a minute. Tough it’s a good thing, it doesn’t mean everyone should get it. Like even the shoes are best looking, but if they don’t fit your feet, then it’s not adoptable.
In my humble opinion, most people can give it a try if affordable for you. But some particular groups of people I won’t recommend.
- Those who demands high on either accuracy or responsiveness or fresh rates. Whether you are amateur or professional gamer, if you fall into this category, I won’t recommend. As due to the technology limit, whether the DIY ambilight or the Philips Hue Play Sync Box, or Govee Immersive Kit, or Lytmi Neo Sync Box, it has certain delay and misreproduction. And as for ambilight that either relies on HDMI sync box or camera to process the feed-in signal, it slows down the fresh rate a little bit.
- Those who rarely play games or watch TVs. As the ambilight is used mainly to enhance gaming or relaxing experience and reduce eye strain, it’s more like designed to those who use screen more frequently. Or it can be a waste of money if you just turn on the TV once in a month or something, after all, it’s a spice, not daily necessity like soft tissue.
- Those who have literally zero hands-on skills. A lots of my friends don’t even know how to install a regular light bulb. So it will be a little too much to ask them to install the light, calibrate the light, connect the app, or connect the bridge or something. Let alone, how to connect theAmazon Alexa, Google Home Assistant or Samsung SmartThings.
How to choose the ambilight?
If luckily, you are not the above mentioned three type of people, then congratulations, you may feel like to own a set of ambilight kit. And here are some major market players, except those DIY ambilight made by arduino or hyperion using a hardware like rasperry pi.
Philips Hue’s Play HDMI Sync Box can be the very first of its kind. Actually, the words, “sync box” or “ambilight” are usually referred to Philips’ ambilight kit, like when we are using iPad to generalize the tablet. So for those who cares time rather than money, Philips maybe a good choice. As its biggest advantage is its reputation or brand awareness. Anyway, here are the pros and cons.
- 4 HDMI inputs
- Accurate reproduction
- Responsive color changing
- Not money friendly
- Need Additional bridge
- Not work with built-in smart TV apps
Lytmi Neo Sync Box is basically the cheaper version of Philips sync box. As it also relies on HDMI sync box to process the data and then it sends signal to light strips which cast what on-screen, like colors and effects on to the wall behind the TV. Lytmi, which specializes in smart lighting like Philips does, aims to provide a more affordable smart lighting environment for everyone. So we can say, its greatest advantage is affordability. For more information, you can refer to the pros and cons below.
- Extremely affordable
- Relatively accurate reproduction
- Relatively responsive color changing
- 1 HDMI input
- Lytmi app sometimes fails
- Not work with built-in smart TV apps
Regarding Govee, it’s gaining momentum those days since it’s selling a lots of products even than Philips, it even sells meat thermometer. For its ambilight, which Govee itself prefers to call immersion light, it’s a little different than Philips and Lytmi as it uses the camera to capture the signal instead of HDMI sync box, as a result, it has the biggest advantage: it can process any external and internal signal and the biggest disadvantage: it has much more delay and far less accuracy. Here are some specifics pros and cons.
- Affordable camera-drove ambilight
- Works with built-in smart TV apps.
- Govee app has lots of preset scenes and modes
- Relative not accurate reproduction
- Noticeable delay in color changing
- Troublesome installation as camera and calibration required
If you're looking for the ambilight with the best accuracy and responsiveness, then Philips Hue maybe your first choice if money is not a problem for you. However, if you demand not so high on the accuracy and responsiveness, or use the ambilight for your daily gaming or TV watching experience, and at the same time have a shallow pocket, Lytmi maybe the best option for you, after all, with all the functions, it costs less than 1/3 of Philips Hue. And if you are watching TV mostly from the apps, then the HDMI sync box solution is not the thing for you, Govee’s camera immersion kit maybe your only choice as long as you have patience in installation and calibration and less demand on accuracy and responsiveness even than Lytmi. After all, it’s all your choices.