The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is a popular topic at the moment. I'm also working intensively on this matter and I'm really impressed by the box’ actual idea – even though the price is more or less outrageous. But one thing is clear: the end of the line hasn't been reached yet, Signify will provide the small box with numerous updates in the future.
In order to use the HDMI Sync Box, one or more entertainment areas must be set up, the configuration for this runs via the usual Hue app. Especially the placement and selection of the lamps depends on some details which I want to tell you in this article.
Which light sources are best suited for Hue Entertainment?
Basically, all colorful light sources are compatible with Hue Entertainment and the HDMI Sync Box. However, you should reach for newer models that already support the “Richer Colors” mode – these are the lamps with a purple packaging. This prevents false colour displays, for example when the light is green.
You should also make sure that the lamp itself is not directed at the eyes of the audience. Instead, you should position the light is directed against a wall, for example – this makes for a much more pleasant view. Especially the Hue Play Lightbar or the Hue Signe are perfect for this, great effects can also be achieved with a Hue Go or a reasonably installed LightStrip Plus.
How are the light colours calculated?
The technology behind Hue Entertainment and the Hue Sync Box is fundamentally different from the technology used in an Ambilight TV. With Philips TV sets, the TV picture is expanded and even small objects at the edge of the screen are displayed via the light.
With Hue Entertainment and the HDMI Sync Box, things look a little different. Although the screen is also divided into several areas here, it's more likely to be looking for dominant colors. In general, lamps placed directly next to each other can also shine in different colors here, but this effect is not the primary goal of the Sync Box.
For a few weeks now, it has also been possible to adjust the height of the lamps in entertainment areas: you can choose between floor, TV height or ceiling. Basically self-explanatory, but there are further interesting details. Take a soccer game for example, where a part of the grandstand is in the picture at the upper edge of the screen. In case of Ambilight-TVs or also in case of a LightStrip that is mounted at the upper edge of the TV and where the position “ceiling” is selected, here, practically only the grandstand is visualized. Here, it makes sense to create an entertainment area in which the LightStrip is configured at TV height – then it will also shine in a rich green to match the football pitch.
Another special feature are lamps that are placed outside the displayed field of vision to the left and right behind the sofa. They shine in less garish colours, are less bright and do not react as quickly. The light to the left and right, away from the actual field of vision, should not be disturbing but only support the lighting mood.
How does the game mode differ from the video mode?
Hue Entertainment also has interesting differences here. In game mode, the system doesn't analyze the outer screen areas – in games, fixed interface elements are often installed there that shouldn't influence colour reproduction. In Hue Sync via computer, audio content is also used to calculate the light output – if it's really loud in the game, the lamps can shine brighter. However, this feature is not yet active with the HDMI Sync Box.
Why you should create multiple entertainment areas
With the Hue Sync app for iOS and Android you can switch between different entertainment areas relatively easily. You should definitely make use of this option – for example, the settings for a football game or other sports event, where the focus is always on the middle of the screen, should be different from those for a blockbuster movie. Here you might want to include the lamps behind the sofa which should rather remain switched off for normal TV programmes.