RGB lighting is one of the easiest and most eye-catching ways to enhance the look of your PC setup. Simple LED strips are plentiful and can be found quite cheaply, but if you want something more advanced, such as app control or RGB lamps, prices can go up quickly. Today, we’re looking at the Govee Flow Pro Light Bar set, a product directly challenging the Philips Hue Play Bars and — spoiler alert — pretty much render it obsolete.
Govee came onto the scene several years ago and has been on a tear ever since. We’ve reviewed a number of their products, including the DreamColor LED light strips and DreamColor Reactive TV Backlight. For the money, its products have always represented a good value, offering a degree of customizability through it’s Govee Home app most strips just don’t. That includes being able to individually address sections of the strips, mind you, not simple app color-setting like many others in its price range. As a PC gamer, that puts it much closer to the offerings of Corsair and NZXT in my mind, which is pretty impressive for an up-and-coming brand like this.
The Flow Pro Light Bar kit takes the same idea — bright, vibrant, customizable RGB LEDs — and focuses it into two 10-inch bars. They project in only one direction and are meant to act as miniature wash lights behind your PC or television screen. These lights are also able to produce true white, which means they can also work as normal room lighting. The important thing to know here is that by focusing the light into such a small area and increasing the brightness, these provide substantially better, more focused zones of light behind your monitor than a normal strip can provide.
To my eye, they take direct target at the Philips Hue Play Bars. I mean, just compare the boxes.
And, to be honest, that’s a pretty good thing. See, the Philips Hue Play Bars are great but they’re also $150 if you can get the bundle with the Bridge, which is required for them to work. If you’re stuck buying them separate, that jumps to $190. Yikes.
The Govee Flow Pro bars, on the other hand, are only $60 for a pair on Govee’s website right now and $70 on Amazon. The biggest difference between the two is that the Philips bars are about 20% brighter at 530 lumens versus Govee’s 400 lumens. Practically speaking, it doesn’t make a big difference. You’ll get a bit more distance and intensity on your wall from the Philips, but since they’re positioned so close, it’s not noticeable unless you have them both side by side.
The Govee Flow Pro kit includes two light bars, two sets of stands, a control box and power adapter, and a camera kit. The bars can either be mounted to stand on their own or adhered to the back of your monitor using the pre-attached 3M adhesive pads on the second set of stands. The Philips Hue Play bars only include stands to stand on their own, so this is a nice addition.
The camera, on the other hand, is used for dynamic lighting that matches what’s on your screen. It mounts to the top of your monitor and, using the app, you’re able to focus its tracking just on your screen space (the orange pads stick to the screen to help you precisely match the bounds of your screen). From there, it will adjust the lights to match the colors along each side of your screen similar to the television kit I previously reviewed. It’s not exact, but Govee has definitely made strides with color accuracy. There were still regular intervals where the colors wouldn’t match, but since they flow in real-time, it still creates a neat dynamic lighting effect.
Out of the box, the Philips kit cannot do this. It’s possible using Razer software or buying a different kit entirely, but there are still extra steps required. That said, I wish Govee would release an HDMI passthrough box instead of the camera solution. It needs to be mounted in the center of the screen, which means if you have a webcam, it will have to be mounted off-center.
The lighting is bright and vibrant. You can select from some basic color choices or a flowing color mode using two buttons on the control box, but the app is where you’ll really be able to control things. Govee has really stepped up its game here. You can choose from a dozen different “scenes” that animate the lights in different ways, such as candlelight, rainbow, snowflake, and aurora. You can also customize these animations with your own color palette. Again, this is one-upmanship from Govee.
In addition, it has a whole gallery of colors to match different themes, like national flags, artwork, emotions, and more. This, however, is a bit misleading. Looking through the gallery, you would almost think that it’s the palette that will be applied to your lights. Say, red and white for the Canadian flag. No — this is simply a tool to save that color to apply to your own theme. It is possible to share your creations with others through the app and download the lighting themes they’ve created also, though currently, the only profiles I could see were for the lighting strips.
There are some important caveats to the customizable lighting, though: as of this writing, you cannot individually address the LEDs for each bar unless it is part of an animation. You can assign static colors to each or select the palette it will animation through but you can’t design your own gradient, which is something I hope Govee addresses in a software update. Likewise, when assigning custom palettes, there doesn’t seem to be a way to make these seamless. The stock rainbow setting will consistently flow through colors. When setting my own, there was a small gap before the cycle would repeat. The palette also has clear stepping, so it isn’t a smooth flow.
Finally, these lights are also compatible with your Amazon and Google Smart Home setups. After setup, you can give voice commands to turn on the lights and change their color. I don’t use this functionality myself, but it’s nice to know it’s compatible.
For the money, the Govee Flow Pro Light Bars are fantastic. There is still room for some improvement with individually assigning LEDs and smoothing out the flow of transitions, but these are fairly small concerns overall. With these on the market, there just isn’t a reason to spend so much on the Philips Hue Play bars, and because of the dynamic backlight and customizability, some users may even find the Govees quite a bit better. If you’re looking for more direct, intense colored lighting behind your PC or TV than a standard LED strip, these are definitely a solid option.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.