If you’re looking to add a little atmosphere to your TV watching, then there are already a few Ambilight-style options out there – but few are as affordable as the new Nanoleaf 4D kit, which could be a new contender for the title of best smart lights.
Like the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync box and Govee Flow, Nanoleaf’s new lighting kit will match the colors of the film or TV show you’re watching to make the experience feel more immersive. But it works in a different way from its pricier Hue rival, which uses an HDMI passthrough box to connect your smart TV to your smart lights.
Instead, the Nanoleaf 4D uses a camera (below) to capture the colors on your screen and then sync them to an LED light strip behind. While we haven’t had the chance to try the system yet, this opens up the possibility of a slight delay – though one of the benefits is that you can also sync it with over 50 Nanoleaf RGB devices to create a room-filling light show with panels, bulbs, and bars all joining the party.
If you want something a bit more subtle, Nanoleaf says its kit will offer four levels of customizability (between 1D and 4D, hence the name). While the 1D setting will offer more of an ambient white glow for documentaries, the 4D one will apparently directly match your TV and lights for more of a true Ambilight-style experience.
The Nanoleaf 4D kit includes a Lightstrip, Camera, controller, camera mount and a magnetic privacy cover, for those who don’t like the idea of having a camera lens in their living room (even one pointed at their TV screen).
The price of the Nanoleaf 4D kit will depend on which Lightstrip length you go for. A 65-inch one will cost $99 / £89, while a longer 85-inch one will set you back $119 / £119 when pre-orders start on June 27. If you already have a Nanoleaf lightstrip, you’ll also be able to buy the bundled Screen Mirror Camera for $79 / £69 separately.
We’re still big fans of Philips’ Ambilight technology – while it might sound a bit gimmicky, it does add some extra drama and punch to movies and games. So it’s good to see the makers of some of the best smart lights, like Nanoleaf, give us some more Ambilight alternatives for other TVs.
The Nanoleaf 4D kit isn’t quite as elegant as the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync box, which works via HDMI rather than an external camera. But with that Hue box still costing $249 / £299 / AU$399, Nanoleaf’s version is also significantly cheaper – and the camera can also be bought separately if you have an existing light strip.
That said, if you need a new television and you’d rather have one with built-in Ambilight, we’ve also argued that Philips’ new OLED TVs might dethrone LG as the best gaming TVs. Not only do they offer Dolby Vision gaming in 4K 120Hz, the OLED908 includes the next-gen version of Philips Ambilight, which promises to better match the on-screen action.
Sadly, those sets won’t go on sale in the US, and only in Europe and Australia later this year. So if you need some TV-based mood lighting now, Nanoleaf’s new affordable kit could be a fine new option.