Philips Hue brings back ambient light to your TV

Years ago, Philips made TVs with a feature called “ambilight”. Ambilight was a series of LEDS on the back of the TV running around the edge. They turned on the LED color to match whatever picture was displayed on screen at the edges. This extended the hues of the picture onto the wall. Now, Philips have brought it back, using Hue lightbulbs and the new Hue Play HDMI Sync Box.

What is a Hue Box?

The old ambilight TV required that you, well, buy a TV. Not many people did. The new system requires you to buy expensive light bulbs, and lots more people have these.

To make this system work, you need the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. It’s got HDMI input, controls the lights to match the input picture, and output to the TV. The picture goes in, the light bulbs match the colors of the picture, and then the picture goes on the TV. Simple, right?

The big idea is that the putting the lights on the wall behind the TV makes the screen feel bigger, and puts you into more of a theater mode. And that would be great, but…

What could possibly go wrong?

It turns out, with fast motion, the lights could get dizzying. Fortunately, the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box has a few modes. The subtle mode might work better, especially if you have lots of action on the screen.

The Hue Play HDMI Sync Box supports 4K 60Hz and HDR10, but it doesn?t support HDR10+ or Dolby Vision. HDR10+ and Dolby Vision images will still play in full quality to your TV, but the Hue Play box won?t be capable of using that signal to show light effects.

The Hue Play box launches October 15th, for $229.99.

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