Bias lighting is something we’ve all seen by now. It looks good and reduces the strain placed on your eyes when placed behind a TV. But what if we had intelligent bias lighting? That’s what the makers of the Dreamscreen kit hope to accomplish. Using RGB LEDs, the Dreamscreen kit will respond to the pixels on your screen at a full 60FPS. But does it live up to its promises of enhancing TV and video games? Read on to find out.
- HD Kit: $149.99 - 204.99
- 4K Kit: $249.99 - 304.99
I first discovered DreamScreen almost by accident. I was searching the internet for Kickstarter success stories when a reddit post pointed me toward Rakesh and Kate Reddy’s campaign. The DreamScreen hit Kickstarter in April of this year and blew past their fifty thousand dollar goal on their first day. Over the course of that month, they would rocket all the way up to just shy of three hundred thousand dollars from fans excited at their innovative new idea for TV backlighting.
So what exactly is the DreamScreen? In essence, by plugging your HDMI cable into the three-input control box, the hardware is able to interpret what’s being displayed on your screen up to 60Hz. Then, it uses that information to illuminate LED strips on the back of your screen exactly matching what’s being displayed (different kits are available for larger and smaller screen sizes). As things move and scenes change, your lighting shifts in real time. In a way, the glow makes it feel like your screen has expanded. Have a look:
For gaming, this is an especially neat effect. The game (or at least the game and its aura) takes up more of your field of vision. In other types of content, the effect is the same. I wouldn’t have anticipated it, but it really does draw you into the experience more. And it looks good. Usually, I wouldn’t post a manufacturer’s demo in a review, but in this case, it’s actually spot on for what you can expect.
There’s also the side benefit of reducing eye strain. I don’t often game in the dark because it’s so much harder on my eyes. With the DreamScreen, that intensity feels diffused because of the softer glow around the edges.
Having never used bias lighting before, and especially bias lighting that changes in real time, I did find that it took time to get used to the extra movement around my screen. Initially, I found myself paying more attention to the periphery of my TV than the TV itself. After a few days, however, that faded and I was able to really enjoy the backlighting. Likewise, I also found it best when my television was as close to my wall as possible and the area around it was clear of clutter - which can be a taller order with two, soon to be three, little ones in the house. After I moved it closer to the wall and moved my kids’ toys out of the way, the lighting was more contained and provided a much cleaner, enjoyable experience.
Everything is controlled with an easy, lightweight smartphone app on iOS and Android. Here you can select from three different modes for TV and video games, music, or even customizable static lighting. There’s also a handful of “scenes” Kate and Rakesh have built in, projecting holiday colors or animating like a fireplace to name two. You can also select your brightness, color intensity, the HDMI input you want the kit to work with, and a handful of other options.
As a PC gamer, I was eager to see how the DreamScreen would work for PC gaming. If you have a 1080p 60Hz screen, they work perfectly - though, do note kits are sold based on screen size, so moving the strips from a 65” television to a 27” monitor probably isn’t going to work. Attaching the right kit to a PC, though, gives you exactly the experience you would hope for and, in my opinion, better because of how much closer you sit.
That said, it’s also with PC gaming where the DreamScreen’s limitations come into play. Since the HD kit only supports HDMI connections at 1080p/60Hz, gamers with higher resolution or refresh rate monitors are going to have to downgrade their resolution and Hz to play nice with the kit. If you use a DisplayPort, you’re out of luck.
Those of you with UHD TVs will be happy to hear that a 4K kit is available for slightly more and also supports HDR. Since it also runs of HDMI, however, this is also best suited for use with televisions.
As the tagline “enhance your TV” might imply, at the moment, the DreamScreen is best suited for television use. As a PC gamer, I’m disappointed that I can’t simply swap it out to my monitor, but I’ll definitely be keeping it installed on my TV for the foreseeable future. In an email explaining the tech, Rakesh even mentioned the possibility of a PC kit in the future. If you’re at all interested in bias lighting, the DreamScreen HD and 4K kits are a great way to immerse even deeper into your favorite games and movies.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for purposes of review.