Smart lights are increasingly a must-have for anyone wanting to seriously deck out their home theater system. Your TV is more than just an audio and visual feast, after all – it's also part of your home, and you want it to look stylish as well as offer all the best features.
That's why Philips’ Ambilight TVs – which project onscreen colors onto the wall behind the television – are so appealing, allowing you to enjoy a dynamic light show that syncs up with what you're watching, adding an extra dimension to the coziness of your living room.
While there's no denying that Philips Ambilight TVs are fantastic for creating such an effect, there are also a few great Ambilight alternatives out there too. We've picked out four of our favorites that are available right now, including Nanoleaf Shapes, Philips Hue Play Gradient Light Strip, and some more inexpensive solutions from the likes of Govee and My Lamp.
Worried that the idea of dynamic lighting behind your TV sounds distracting? Don't be. All of these solutions allow you to adjust things accordingly so that the lights behind your setup can be as bright or as subtle as you like. In general use, they actually add to the atmosphere, especially when playing an immersive game or watching a spooky film. They'll also make the aesthetics of your living space look far nicer too.
Read on as we break down the best Ambilight alternatives currently out there and who they'll work best for.
Thanks to Nanoleaf's software, all its panels can mirror the colors on your TV screen, but we've focused on the Nanoleaf Shapes thanks to their extensive flexibility.
Nanoleaf Shapes look absolutely fantastic on your wall. You'll need to spend some time arranging them so that you can create your desired shape out of the hexagonal pieces. Once you do though, they'll look great either beyond or above your TV, mirroring what goes on during the movie or game and adding some much-needed atmosphere to your setup.
The beauty of Nanoleaf Shapes is that you don't have to buy a specific size for your TV – you can simply rearrange how they look to cover a smaller or larger area – meaning they'll adapt well to any future TV upgrades you may have in mind. If you change your mind about an Ambilight alternative, you can place them in a different room too and they'll still look great.
If you're on a budget though, a Nanoleaf Essentials Lightstrip will also do the job, if not with as much style.
Read our full Nanoleaf Shapes review
If you've already got a few Philips Hue bits and pieces in your smart home, then the Philips Hue Play Gradient Light Strip is a bit of a no-brainer option. That's because it works brilliantly alongside Hue bulbs, and it requires the use of the Philips HDMI Sync Box to work correctly with your TV content.
If you're new to Philips Hue then, the Philips Hue Play Gradient Light Strip is expensive – requiring a few additional purchases to create a working system – but it's undoubtedly the nearest you're going to get to a true Ambilight style experience for a non-Philips TV. It also only takes about 10 minutes to set up, works with all voice assistants, and did we mention it looks gorgeous?
You'll need to commit to a set size light strip that works for you and your TV – 55-inch, 65-inch, or 75-inch – so if you’re planning to upgrade soon, it's a wise idea to hold off till you know what size you're getting. Also, bear in mind you'll need to have a couple of apps installed – Hue and Hue Sync – to work the controls fully, but that's not a tremendous hardship when the results look this good.
Read our review of the Philips Hue Play Sync Box here
If you don't want to spend a fortune on your TV backlighting, such as if you haven't committed to the concept, then Govee offers some great options. The best all-around inexpensive choice is the Govee LED TV Backlight which takes moments to hook up and is 3 meters in length, therefore ideal for most TVs. The downside is that it reacts to the music and sounds of what you're watching rather than the screen itself, meaning it's not as effective as something like the Philips Hue alternative.
Still, when it's available so cheaply, it's certainly worth checking out, with colors changing according to how dramatic the music turns on whatever you're watching. Compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant is convenient too if you don't want to keep seeking out your phone to control anything.
US-based customers should favor the Govee WiFi TV Backlights with Camera, which uses a camera to detect what’s happening onscreen, providing a more effective change of color to suit the mood. There's also voice assistant support, and it takes just a few minutes to set up. Hopefully, it's just a matter of time until the gadget is released further afield than the US.
If you're on the tightest of budgets and simply want some pretty lights, the My Lamp Smart TV Backlight will do the job in a limited way. Like some of Govee's devices, this one will only sync with the music and sounds it hears, so there's no chance of it paying attention to the visuals popping up on the screen.
Still, it's remarkably cheap for what it offers, and its LED strip can be used anywhere – not just on your TV – so it's helpful if you're not entirely sold on ambient lighting around your TV while you watch your favorite shows. Its size also means it works for anything from a 40-inch screen to a 60-inch display, so there's plenty of room for future-proofing here.
While there's no voice assistant support, at least the presence of a remote means you're not tied to your smartphone at all times, and you can always pass the remote over to your kids without worrying about them tampering with your expensive iPhone.
- Best smart light bulbs, from Hue to Hive