Best Ambilight Alternative for 2021

With these options, Ambilight can be retrofittedThe Ambilight effect: alternatives to retrofitting

With the smart Ambilight TVs, Philips offers an individual and unique extension of the color space beyond the limits of the television screen. Integrated LEDs on the back of the TV set expand the pictures during the cinema and gaming experience with corresponding lights and illuminate the background of the wall. Users who want to benefit from the light spectacle during the evening at the cinema even without a special Ambilight television can retrofit their television set under certain circumstances. We show different possibilities.

.With the Philips Hue Sync Box, users get a perfect interplay between lighting elements and the TV picture (Signify)

Retrofitting Ambilight – the most important points in brief

Popular Philips Ambilight TVs use a light effect in which the viewer has the feeling that the TV picture is extended over the wall behind, thanks to integrated LEDs on the back. This Ambilight effect can also be used with other TVs in various ways. Technically, there are two ways of forwarding the image information to the light strips.

  • An external image signal, for example from a connected  Fire TV Stick  or a gaming console, is analyzed and  forwarded synchronously to the TV and to subsequently installed  TV backlighting .
  • The television picture is captured by a camera , which converts the picture into colors and then forwards it to LEDs that are subsequently attached to the TV.

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The best ways to retrofit Ambilight – evaluation and recommendations

The Ambilight effect is created by lights on the back of the TV screen – this is currently only available to Philips models. The best way to retrofit conventional televisions is to use LED light strips that light up in different colors and thus expand the TV picture. Our recommendations are:

Govee TV backlighting – retrofit Ambilight for bargain hunters

The Govee TV backlight is a particularly inexpensive solution for retrofitting the Ambilight effect and is specially designed for this purpose. The synchronization between the subsequently attached LED strip and the TV images works via a camera. There is also a convenient control option via app.

Govee LED TV backlight

LED backlight for TV with Ambilight function. Compatible with Alexa and the Govee app.

Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip & Sync Box – Premium version for real Ambilight fans

The Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip needs a connection to the Philips Hue Sync Box and a Philips Hue Bridge : Signals fed in via a TV stick or console are sent to the light strip with little or no time delay. Signify thus offers the best option to date to retrofit Ambilight. However, the premium version also has its price and is therefore particularly suitable for people who have already installed a Philips Hue lighting system.

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Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LightStrip Plus & PC – Ambilight via detours

Users can also misuse a Philips Hue LightStrip Plus for Ambilight that was not specially designed for TV backlighting . Interested parties need a laptop with the Philips Hue Sync App ( Windows | Mac ) and a Philips Hue Bridge. However, the laptop and TV must always be switched on at the same time. In addition, the Philips Hue Lightstrip can shine in several colors, but not at the same time.

Philips Hue LightStrip + Basic Set (without Bridge)

ZigBee-compatible light strip, dimmable, multi-colored, flexible and highlight as indirect lighting

Ambilight Alternative Govee TV backlight – for bargain hunters

A cheap Ambilight alternative is the Govee TV backlight , which can even be operated via the Govee app ( Android | iOS ) if required. If Ambilight is not directly linked to the television screen, image information must always be forwarded to the corresponding LED strip by another component. In Govee’s case, this is done via a camera. This records the TV picture and forwards the information to the LED strip in auto mode. Here there is a minimal time delay in the color representation of the light strip, because the processing takes a little longer than the played image. An integrated microphone allows the Govee TV backlight to be synchronized with music.

We particularly recommend the Govee backlight to bargain hunters , with a purchase price of less than 70 euros, this solution is the cheapest option for users to upgrade their home cinema experience with Ambilight. Practical: There is also compatibility with Alexa or Google Assistant .

In the test by the editors of PlayerTech , the installation and the low price of Govee as an Ambilight alternative were rated positively. However, the testers described always seeing a camera on the television as not tempting (status: 11/2019). Customers on Amazon rated the Goovee LED backlighting on average with a good 4 out of a total of 5 stars (as of 11/2020).

Govee LED TV backlight

LED backlight for TV with Ambilight function. Compatible with Alexa and the Govee app.

Retrofit Philips Hue Play Gradient – Premium Philips Ambilight

The Philips Hue Gradient Lightstrip is specifically marketed as an Ambilight alternative. In addition to a Philips Hue Bridge, the Philips Hue Sync Box is also required in order to be able to watch films and series with an immersive color experience. The Hue Sync Box is to be understood as an HDMI bridge that forwards the image signal from connected HDMI devices to the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip attached to the back of the TV. That means a console, a TV stick or a receiver must be connected to the Sync Box in order to match the LEDs to the TV images. This solution cannot be used to retrofit an Ambilight for conventional TV programs. However, if you want to improve streaming content, for example using a Fire TV Stick with the Ambilight effect, the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip will do everything right. Manufacturer Signify offers interested parties the choice between three models for TV sizes of 55, 65 and 75 inches.

Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box

Extension of the Philips Hue lighting system, synchronizes LED lights through HDMI devices with scenes on the TV

Among the Ambilight alternatives we have shown, the Philips Hue Play Gradient is the best currently available . With the necessary components, such as Hue Bridge or Hue Play Syn Box, however, it is a premium version that costs several hundred euros in total. However, this can be worthwhile because the Hue light strip can display multiple colors at the same time with little latency. This distinguishes it from the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip, which only ever shows one color in alternation.

In the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip test by the editors at Clubic , the testers came to the conclusion that the lighting effect achieved was comparable to real Ambilight. In addition, the installation was described as easy (status: 10/2020). The testers from techtechandmoretech  described the Ambilight effect with the Gradient Lightstrip as awesome. However, the price for the required setup was rated as high. (As of: 10/2020)

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Philips LightStrip with Hue Sync – Ambilight via detours

Anyone who already owns a Philips Hue light system including Philips Hue Bridge and White and Color Ambiance components and finds the purchase costs for a Philips Hue Sync Box too expensive can achieve the Ambilight effect without any additional additions. Interested parties need a laptop with the Philips Hue Sync App ( Windows  |  Mac ), for example to use the Philips Hue LightStrip to match music, games and videos. Users can use the computer to create a specific entertainment area. Connected to a TV, this sends the image information to the Philips Hue LightStrip attached to the TV. The following applies here: In contrast to the built-in Ambilight, the television is not the device that transmits the image information. In this case, the information comes from the laptop.
This variant is best suited for users who already have a Philips Hue system. However, when using it on TV, it always requires a detour via the PC and is therefore a rather complicated option. A spontaneous movie night is always associated with turning on the laptop in front of the television.

Tip : The Philips Hue Lightstrip can also be used in conjunction with a Hue Play Sync Box. In contrast, it cannot display multiple colors at the same time. So if a picture is predominantly blue, the lightstrip is also blue.
The Ambilight effect with Hue Sync was tested by the testers from 01net  directly on the PC and impressed with games and videos (as of 05/2018). The editors of CNet tested Philips Hue Sync in connection with several Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance components. They rated the free software as practical, but the testers found the slight delays annoying. They made a clear recommendation for users who already own Hue – a targeted new acquisition for Ambilight is, however, too expensive. (Status: 06/2019)

Philips Hue LightStrip + Basic Set (without Bridge)
ZigBee-compatible light strip, dimmable, multi-colored, flexible and highlight as indirect lighting

The best options for retrofitting Ambilight – data at a glance

The comparison shows: The Govee TV backlight is the cheapest Ambilight alternative in our comparison. The light strip receives the image information via a camera. The options from the Philips Hue product portfolio are more expensive. With Hue Sync software on the PC or laptop there is a hobbyist solution. The Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip offers a specially designed solution and the best Ambilight alternative. However, this is also where the costs are highest, as a Philips Hue Bridge and a Philips Hue Sync Box are also required.
The Ambilight alternatives at a glance:

Govee TV backlight Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LightStrip
Necessary components for Ambilight All included Philips Hue Bridge and Philips Hue Play Sync Box also required Philips Hue Bridge also required
Control via app yes, Govee App ( Android | iOS ) yes, Philips Hue Sync App ( Android  |  iOS ) yes, Philips Hue Sync App ( Android  |  iOS )
Suitable TV size or length 55-80 inches Special versions for 55, 65 and 75 inches 2 meters, flexibly expandable
color range k. A. 16 million colors 16 million colors
Several colors of light at the same time Yes Yes No
Analysis of the picture information of the television TV picture via camera Philips Hue Sync Box (connected HDMI device such as console or TV stick provides information) Hue Sync software on PC

Ambilight for retrofitting – further options

We have already shown different variants with which users can retrofit the Ambilight effect. In the following we show two other popular options to turn a conventional evening in front of the TV into an immersive cinema experience.

DreamScreen – complete package for Ambilight alternative

Like the Govee TV backlight, Dreamscreen is ready to use. Especially since a required light strip for attaching to the back of the TV screen is included in the delivery. This includes all the components that interested parties need for an Ambilight replacement. Optional but not a condition is the use of the associated DreamScreen App ( Android | iOS ), which provides a higher range of functions.
The way the HDMI Bridge from DreamScreen works is identical to that of the Philips Hue Sync Box: only the signals and image information from a connected HDMI device are sent to the LEDs. The TV set itself is not an output device and therefore the lights cannot be coordinated with conventional TV programs even with the Ambilight alternative. When used with a connected console, there are no latencies due to the direct connection through the HDMI bridge. DreamScreen is a stand-alone solution that is not connected to a complete smart home system.

Price and availability of the DreamScreen Ambilight solution

Unfortunately, the complete DreamScreen package is currently not available in Germany. The American price is around $ 160. (Status: 11/2019)

Lightberry – DIY Ambilight for hobbyists

Lightberry offers hobbyists the opportunity to assemble their Ambilight themselves. The following components are contained in special kits: A Raspberry Pi, a memory card, a power connection including an adapter and an HDMI cable, as well as an HDMI converter and an LED strip.
Whereas alternatives for the perfect Ambilight effect such as Philips Hue Sync or DreamScreen are ready for immediate use, those interested in Lightberry should plan significantly more time and be very tech-savvy. Finally, using the Lightberry option requires the assembly of the components and also the installation of the small system. To do this, users must, for example, install the necessary software on the memory card and create a configuration file. Then the Ambilight also works with the help of an HDMI converter and connected devices deliver the image information to the light strip on the back of the TV set.
Lightberry is recommended for people who are tech-savvy and are not afraid of tinkering. For the impatient, the variants for direct use are not really suitable.

Price and availability of Lightberry

The acquisition costs for the Lightberry Ambilight alternative depend on the scope and interests of the users. The individual parts required can also be purchased individually in practical kits. A complete set is available for around 240 euros. (As of: (11/2019)

Retrofitting Ambilight – interested parties should know that

Users should be aware of the following factors in advance if they want to retrofit Ambilight:
Costs : Interested parties should consider how much money they want to retrofit Ambilight. The solution with a Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip can quickly become expensive because additional components have to be purchased. The question arises whether a Philips Ambilight TV is worthwhile due to the high investment costs. Govee, on the other hand, is immediately ready for use and at less than 70 euros (as of 11/2020) it is an inexpensive retrofit solution for conventional TVs.
Color variance: Real Ambilight extends the TV picture with several colors that are also displayed by the TV picture. A normal Philips Hue Lightstrip as a retrofit solution can display 16 million different colors, but not at the same time. As an Ambilight alternative, it therefore only shows the largest proportion of color. The Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip and Govee TV backlight, on the other hand, can display multiple colors at the same time, resulting in a more immersive color experience. If you want to achieve Ambilight with Philips Hue components such as light bulbs or lamps, you should make sure that they belong to the White and Color Ambiance series, as this is the indication that they can shine in several colors. With the Philips Hue Sync Box, up to 10 components can be matched to the TV picture.
TV size : An effective Ambilight alternative is based on a smart strip of light that is attached to the back of the TV. Users should check that their choice is long enough to cover at least the left, top, and right sides of the TV. Some users also want the Ambilight effect to extend over all four sides of the television. This is particularly attractive when the television is not on a table, but attached to the wall.

What does Ambilight do?

Philips TVs with Ambilight have LEDs on the back that expand the colors of the screen. The Philips TVs analyze the colors of the television picture and transmit this information synchronously to integrated LEDs on the back. This picture experience is called the Ambilight effect.

Can Ambilight be retrofitted?

Yes, we especially recommend these options with which users can upgrade Ambilight:

  • Govee TV backlight
  • Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip (Philips Hue Bridge and Philips Hue Play Sync Box required)
  • Philips Hue Lightstrip (Philips Hue Bridge and Hue Sync software required)

Which TVs have Ambilight?

So far, the already integrated Ambilight has only been reserved for special televisions from the manufacturer Philips. However, Ambilight can be retrofitted with our solutions regardless of the manufacturer.

Does Samsung have Ambilight?

Samsung is not yet one of the manufacturers who also offer TVs with Ambilight. So far, Philips has led the market in this category. However, Samsung televisions can also be retrofitted with Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip and the SynchBox.

Can you turn off Ambilight?

With Philips Ambilight TVs, you can turn off the Ambilight at the push of a button. With our Ambilight retrofit solutions, you can also set whether the light strips should light up or be switched off.

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