Backlighting for TVs and PCs is more popular than ever and today we have an exciting new option from Govee with the DreamColor WiFi TV backlight kit. It’s no simple LED strip: using a camera, it aims to match its lights to exactly what’s happening on your screen. At $69.99, it’s the cheapest option we’ve come across for screen-space backlighting - but does it work? Join us as we find out in our official review.
- Current Price: $69.99 (Amazon)
- Color? DreamColor
- Size: 8.5FT/120cm+70cm*2
- Control method?APP & Alexa
- Power Supply: Adapter
- Connect?Bluethooth & Wifi
- Min Input: 12V
- Lamp Beads: 68 leds
If you’ve been reading here for a while, you might recall that we’ve already reviewed a one DreamColor product from a company called Minger and were impressed at the price to performance they offered. So when the company, now undergoing rebranding as Govee, reached out for a kit that promised the same kind of functionality as the DreamScreen TV kit we reviewed in 2017 at far less cost, I was excited. Thank you to Govee for sending out the sample and for being so patient as we prepared this review.
If you’re new to the world of LED backlighting, it really comes in three forms. You have your standard, static backlights that usually come with a remote to change color. You have animating backlights, which typically offer some basic lighting effects like rainbow waves and color fades, but can be programmable with the best of kits and tread into our third category, reactive backlights. Often, these are based on sound, either with a mic or pulling directly from your computer’s sound card. More rarely and far more impressively, you have screenspace backlights.
Screenspace backlights are usually placed on the back of your monitor or TV. Either through software or a hardware interface, they capture exactly what’s happening at the edges of your screen and change the lighting just in those sections to match. This creates a widening effect for your screen as the colors fade into your peripheral vision and reduces eye strain to boot. As you might imagine, they’re usually expensive and have mixed results.
The Govee kit we have here today consists of three parts, the strip, a camera to mount on the top of your TV, and a control box that ties everything together. Unlike the DreamScreen, you don’t need to run an HDMI cable into the box, the camera does all the heavy lifting.
Installation is just as easy as you would expect. Each piece has a 3M strip pre-applied for easy application. The LED strip is split into three sections, two short and one long, so it’s impossible to mix up which which side goes where if you pay attention. The control box is clearly labels and only has three ports, one for the strip, one for the camera, and one for the AC adapter. After that, you stick your camera to the top of the TV, centered so it can see the whole screen, and you’re good to go.
From there, you’ll need to download the Govee app from the Google Play store (I’m unclear if there’s an iOS version but will update here when I hear back). Calibrating the screen is easy; you can ignore user reviews that talk about using color cards and things like that, the system has been updated to simply allow you to select your screen space right from inside the app, like this:
The image is a little bit wonky because it fish eyes from the center of the screen, but you can see that I’ve dragged the circles to the four corners of my screen and the fifth directly under the camera. It’s easy, but calibration does reveal that the camera doesn’t lean out far enough to get a clear picture of the bottom corners. I have a larger TV at 65-inches, so this may not be an issue with a smaller set, but given that it’s rated for 55-80” displays, it’s disconcerting. In practice, it does an okay job, so it must be getting enough, but it could be improved just by making it a little longer. I did wind up bending mine out a bit to get a better picture.
Once it’s set up, though, you really do get a cool effect. You have lots of options, both for static and animating effects on top of two options that react to what’s happening on your screen.
The first samples your whole screen and adjusts the strips as a whole. As you can see, it works pretty well!
The neater effect is when you set it to adjust each LED independently. It’s cool and adjusts the lighting with a lot of fluidity that’s genuinely neat. As you can tell from the picture above, though, consistency is a bit of an issue.
The kit handles many colors well - red, blue, blue, green, white - but others it struggles to display. The picture above is clearly orange in the middle-left. Instead, we get a mix of purple and pink. I believe this is likely because of the issue I mentioned above with the camera struggling to see the corners of the screen. Recalibrating the lighting kit does help as I believe those dots are likely sample points from which it draws its color information. If you’re a little off because you can’t see the corner well, your lighting will be a little off as well.
It also has to do with how it interprets color space. Light colors often present as white, brown as red, grey as blue. Have a look at me losing a match of Apex Legends to see what I mean. Notice that the pink of the bleed out filter comes through more as a reddish blue.
If you’d rather go with something non-reactive, there are lots of options there too which have been enhanced from the last time we looked at a set of strips from Minger/Govee. You have a series of static options, like the Romance preset which colors everything in rose-like hues, and another that reacts to music. More interestingly is the DIY option which didn’t exist before, allowing you to customize the colors and how they animate through the strips.
So with that in mind, would I still recommend this DreamColor kit? Actually yes. Here’s the thing, even if color inaccuracies do crop up, it pretty consistently looks great. It is reactive to what’s happening on the screen and, for the most part, is close enough to achieve the desired effect. It’s customizable, too, so you can adjust how bright or saturated it is, which does make a difference in those color presentations, and is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, so can tie seamlessly into your smart home.
And let’s be completely real here: it’s $69 and accomplish pretty close to kits that cost 3-4 times as much. You can expect the world at that kind of price but what you do get can definitely enhance your TV experience.
- Bright LEDs make an effective backlight
- Customizable with lighting presets, customizable zones, and whole-screen/partial-screen sampling
- Easy installation and customization through the smartphone app
- Camera struggles to see the whole screen
- Color presentation is inconsistent