Call that a colour TV? THIS is a colour TV…

Philips Ambilight OLED TV displaying colourful scene in darkened room
(Image credit: Philips)

At first sight, it is easy to be bemused by the Ambilight system on Philips TVs, with their LED lights projecting colours onto the wall behind the TV – colours that vary to match the main colours showing on the TV. Clever, you think. Curious. But a gimmick? 

Then you realise the overall effect it creates. It makes the TV seem like it is floating, somehow lifted in front of these background colours. When the TV is wall-mounted, this effect is doubly enhanced. 

But there’s more. With the Ambilights switched on, the on-screen blacks seem deeper than when they are off. The contrast between blacks and colours seems somehow enhanced. 

And it is indeed no gimmick; the Ambilight system genuinely improves the perceived quality of the on-screen image by delivering a backlight against which it is viewed. Over nearly two decades, Philips has developed Ambilight into a sophisticated and fully immersive experience, radiating the intelligent coloured light from two, three or four sides of the television, and extending the viewing experience far beyond the TV itself.

Father and child watching a cycling race on a Philips Ambilight TV

(Image credit: Philips)

Bigger sport; immersive gaming

New modes have also increased the versatility of Ambilight. The fundamental mode is to ‘follow video’, using colours that extend and complement the on-screen content, with even movements on the screen seeming to push outward with the intelligent Ambilight. It works with any media, and the effect can be varied with different modes, such as ‘Vivid’ for intense action movies, or ‘Comfort’ mode for more cerebral viewing.

The effect with sport can be particularly immersive, extending the playing field and the movement outward with the Ambilight glow, pulling you into the onscreen action. At the same time the room lighting delivered by Ambilight allows you to turn off other lights which might otherwise reflect across your TV screen and further reduce perceived image quality.

Philips Ambilight screens also have a dedicated gaming mode which extend the colours of skies, landscapes and game environments beyond the TV space itself, lighting up the surrounding wall and reflecting into the whole room for the ultimate immersive gaming experience.

Music and more

While for movies, sport and games the Ambilights will follow the on-screen colour palette, there are other ways to play with your Ambilight experience. 

A host of ‘follow audio’ modes will take their input from the audio spectrum of music playing via your Philips TV: settings like Lumina, Colora, Rhythm and Party get the lights rippling or pumping to serve your favourite tunes and create an entirely new listening experience. 

Or create a lighting mood of your own choice. A selection of ‘Follow colour’ modes offer rich palettes of reds, blues or greens, as well as more neutral cool or warm whites. You can take total control using the Philips app to select colours chosen from the apps rainbow of options.

Two additional modes will particularly delight those who have an Ambilight TV in the bedroom. As you settle in for some shut-eye, you can invoke ‘Ambisleep’, which turns off the screen itself, but leaves the Ambilights to simulate a fading sunset with your choice of duration, starting brightness and colour palette, accompanied by a choice of relaxing nature sounds.

The ‘Sunrise Alarm’ reverses the process, with the screen and Ambilights gradually ramping up an artificial sunrise at your chosen alarm time, with your selection of music and volume level, and finally a slow screen transition to the day’s weather forecast. Up to five separate alarms can be programmed.

And in a final expansion, Philips has an optional Ambilight+hue kit which links an Ambilight TV with the wider world of Philips’ ‘hue’ smart lighting. By linking hue globes and letting the television know their position in the room, the Ambilight effect can be extended throughout the entire room, even beyond.

Couple watching a Philips Ambilight TV in living room

(Image credit: Philips)

Top televisions

It’s not only the Ambilight which has advanced since those early years: Philips’ television technologies continue to lead the world, with its top models winning awards and gathering rave reviews from the experts. 

In addition to high performance LED-LCD models, Philips offers Ambilight behind the latest 4K OLED screens. Imagine the utter blacks and sizzling colours of OLED enhanced still further with the perceived contrast improvement of Ambilight, and with an integral audio system from Bowers & Wilkins as a sonic bonus. 

It’s true you need to see and experience Ambilight to truly appreciate it. Happily Philips’ Ambilight TVs are available in Harvey Norman, as well as through Amazon AU. Full details of the TVs themselves can be found on the Philips website.