Philips Hue now lets you turn any TV into an Ambilight TV

(Image credit: Philips)

You read that right. One of the biggest draws of Philips TVs over their competition – the Samsung TVs, LG TVs, and the like – is Philips' proprietary Ambilight technology, which projects onscreen hues and colors onto the wall around your TV. 

Now though, Philips Lighting – under its new company name of Signify – is letting you upgrade any LCD or OLED TV to get the same feature.

How? The Philips Hue Play gradient light strip is an LED strip you can mount to the back of your television, "creating a halo of reactive, dynamic light". Philips announced the new tech at IFA 2020, building on its catalogue of Philips Hue smart bulbs and lighting solutions. 

We're told it features five-channel LED elements, for a variety of colors and combinations, and is "optimized to be mounted to the back of a television for the entertainment experience [using] easy adhesive mounting brackets."

It comes in three distinct sizes for the most common TV measurements: 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch. (We expect you could loop it around a smaller set, but it might not look quite as intended.)

It is three-sided, rather that four-sided, which is apparently in order to keep it "foolproof to use" and prevent light reflecting oddly off a TV stand or soundbar.

The lights will project at a 45-degree angle from where it's mounted, in order to really throw the colors into the room. Using it in tandem with the Philips Hue app will ensure you can calibrate it alongside any other Hue products in your home – though you will need the Hue Bridge and Philips Hue Sync Box to get it working.

The Sync Box technically enabled some form of smart lighting that tied to media sources, but only the light strip will be able to accurately recreate the three-sided Ambilight found on the likes of the Philips OLED 805.

Pricing starts at £159 / $199 for the 55-60 inch size, going up to £179 / $219 for the 65-70 inch and £199 / $240 for the 75-85 inch respectively – and is available from October 6.

(Image credit: Philips)

For Hue the bell tolls

While the gradient strip seems like the biggest shakeup of the Hue range, Philips has also announced a number of new smart bulb models, which let you control color and brightness to enhance the atmosphere in your home.

There are two new Filament bulb designs, bringing the Edison-shaped bulb and globe-shaped bulb to their largest sizes ever – being approximately 50% bigger than their current iterations, and costing £34.99 and £29.99 respectively when they release on September 29. 

They join a brand new model, the Philips Hue White luster E14 bulb, which is the smallest Hue bulb yet and retails for £14.99 for a single unit, or £24.99 for a double pack (also from September 29).

There's also a new black iteration of the Philips Hue Ensis, a ceiling model that can direct light both upwards and downwards, for use above a dining room table or similar (£349, available from October 20).

IFA 2020 is Europe's biggest tech show (although much smaller this year due to global restrictions), and TechRadar will bring you all the breaking news and first impressions of new TVs, wearables and other devices as they're announced.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.