4 ways to add backlight ambient lighting to TVs, PCs

Nights are always the best time to curl up on your couch for movie marathons or long gaming sessions. However, these sessions are also a marathon strain for your eyes, especially for those with smaller TVs. That's where ambient backlight comes in, which not only reduces eyestrain but also adds a supercool accent lighting to your setup. 

Why ambient lighting?

Why do people say watching in the dark is bad for your eyes? Well, keeping it simple, the pupil of your eye increases or decreases in size to let certain amounts of light in. When the light is bright, your pupils will narrow in about 5 seconds flat; however, to adjust to the dark, the pupils have to increase in size to let in more light, but it happens very slowly, taking about 5 minutes.

When you watch in the dark, you have one rectangle of bright LED lights, but the rest is dark. This causes eye-strain, as the pupil is adjusting at micro levels, while your head is moving in reaction to the movie you're watching. Having ambient light around your TV throws an even hue, allowing your eyes to remain focused without that strain. Here are four ways you can add ambient light to your life, for all types of budgets and all types of purposes.

Method 1: Budget

The simplest method is to go out to the hardware shop and get LED strips. They cost less than Rs 70 per metre, and a metre and a half would suffice for, let's say, a 40-inch TV to go all round. If you want a slightly lower light radius, you can just put one-metre strip in a line, somewhere at the centre of the TV. Whichever way you want it, just make sure you measure your TV first.

Here's a step by step guide.

1. Buy a LED strip. Usually it comes in singular colours, so you can get white light, warm white, yellow, red and other single colours. Warm white is the best bet.

Note: Double check that the strip has a 3M tape on the other side.

2. Once you get the wire, you have to purchase a 12V adapter with it. Usually the LED will be cut at the connector nodes, but you will need a soldering iron to stick the adapter on to it. This is done by the electric shop themselves. You can save some money if you have an adapter of your own and soldering skills.

3. Now that you have your LED strips and connector, you can connect the + and - wires to a plug, or map them to a switch if you want. However, if you are doing the latter, make sure not to interchange the poles when you connect the wires into the socket. It could damage your lights.

4. This step is fun. Remove the 3M tape and start sticking the LEDs in whatever way you want it to be around your TV. By putting it in a line, you get a dimmer light, but you get light distributed evenly around your TV.

5. When you've finally stuck the light, you can use regular black insulation tape to tape over the exposed contacts if you reach around your TV to plug in stuff often. You can also tape the adapter to the back, so you don't have any visible wires. If there's any overlap of LED, you can cover it up with the insulation tape too. Just make sure the tape is opaque.

Voila, you're done. You have your very own backlight to show off.

Method 2: Budget with changing colours

This is the same as above, but a bit more expensive. You will have to pick up good quality RGB LED strips. In addition to your adapter, you will also need to pick up a driver and a remote. The whole shebang would cost you about Rs 300 for a metre, including driver and adapter.

The procedure is the same as Method 1, except you will need to position the driver in such a way that the remote control works with it. Usually these things need direct infrared. If you have a slightly bigger budget, you can get better options with better remotes.

The best part about the system is that you control which colour your LEDs will show. Set the mood of your house, from warm oranges of a hearth to the cold blues and purples of a party night to romantic pink or yellow. You choose the glow.

Method 3: LightPack

If you don't want to get your hands dirty in connecting wires and going through reams of research. LightPack provides an out of the box solution to your dynamic backlight needs. Now, there's still a bit of DIY (do-it-yourself) element to Lightpack. The first is that you will have a setup on the back of your TV that looks like the spider like facehugger from the Aliens movies. Thankfully it's out of view.

The second is that LightPack does not work alone, you will need an Android device with USB, PC, Mac, Linux or Raspberry Pi connected to your TV. Though Android is the easiest, especially if you have an Android phone lying around unused, then install the Prismatic app and connect your phone to a USB dongle. Lightpack does the rest.

Unfortunately LightPack is only available online off its website, It costs a pretty penny ($100) with about $20 for shipping to India, which makes it an expensive proposition, especially to get it up and running. However, support for this device is growing, especially amongst the modder community. With enough research, you can get it to work with your PS4 and other consoles.

Method 4: AmbX, a plug and play option for gamers

Another alternative to LightPack is the refined AmbX from Mad Catz Cyborg, a company known for its excellent gaming peripherals. Ambx consists of two simple round RGB light pads on adjustable stands. The lights point to the wall, the connectors go into the USB. Compatible with a wide variety of games, the AmbX software is impressive and the light radius is softer and better looking that the sharper open LED strips.

AmbX is super easy to set up, but only works on PCs or HTPCs if you have one connected. Hopefully, console support will come in a few months. AmbX costs $100 on Amazon.com, not including standard shipping to India.

Well, there you have it. We've provided you with the options for every budget as well as a convenient excuse to make your setup look awesome with a superb ambient light of your choosing. Good luck and may the LED's always be in your favour.

Source : Times of India


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