Back in the day, RGB lighting for your PC was very much a DIY affair and ambient lighting wasn’t really a thing. Now it’s all the rage as movie and gaming enthusiasts, not to mention Twitch streamers, scramble to give their setups a splash of colour in the hopes of creating a truly immersive experience. But doing so can be a complicated and, for some, prohibitively expensive undertaking. There are some benefits to lighting the area directly behind a screen, other than simply looking cool, such as increased picture contrast and reduced eye strain. Admittedly, during the pandemic, my partner and I bought into the Philips’ Hue Ambilight bars for this very reason only to be hit with the added cost of a sync box just to use it properly.
So when the Govee Flow Pro Wi-Fi TV Light Bars promised a plug and play solution that was Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled, I was intrigued.Design and setup From opening the box to sitting back and watching it in action took about 30 minutes. There are two ways to install the Govee Flow Pro Wi-Fi TV Light Bars, by placing them on a flat surface facing a wall or using the included rear mounts to securely fasten them to the back of your TV/monitor.
I went with the former as I wanted to test the setup on both a TV and PC monitor to measure the difference. One of the major advantages about the Govee light bars in my opinion is that, unlike similar products on the market, they don’t need an HDMI cable or being restricted by streaming services. In fact, the whole thing is surprisingly simple: a small camera sits on top of your screen and picks out the colours being displayed, which are then relayed to two Toblerone shaped side lamps.
However, those with very thin screens or monitors with an angled bevel at the top might have trouble getting the camera to stick, even with strong 3M adhesive pads provided, as the camera is designed to sit on a flat edge. Adding to this nuisance, placing the camera is something you have to get right as it watches the edges of the display and then maps the colours back to each LED bar.
To set up and calibrate the camera, you'll need to use the Govee Home app and orange foam square stickers which are placed along the sides of the screen to align the camera’s sight. This process literally takes minutes to do and is fairly straightforward with the app guiding you through every step. Design-wise the Flow Pro is sleek and understated, which is great as no one wants to feel like they’ve just bought a digital lava lamp for their desk.
The light bars themselves feel sturdy and of good quality without being heavy or bulky. They even survived a drop test for toughness and durability, although I don’t recommend trying it at home. The cables are quite long which is perfect if you have a large TV or monitor but are rather messy for a small computer desk.
Performance There’s a certain charm in the illusion of colours bleeding outside the frame of the screen and onto the walls when playing a game but while the Flow Pro does achieve this, it seems this is where price may start to affect the quality.
Where the Philips’ Hue Ambilight bars display a dynamic gradient of colour which reflects the screen and subtly displays the colour changes with ease, from my testing, it seems the Govee Flow Pro picks the most prominent colour on the screen and uses that to accentuate the picture. When a prominent colour isn’t as apparent, the Flow Pro goes with a muted blue which adds contrast to the picture. Although I did find myself distracted sometimes trying to figure out the logic of some of the colour choices.
It appears, and this is simply at a guess, that sometimes the Govee Flow Pro will resort to displaying complementary colours behind the screen to boost contrast instead of the dominant colour. I’m not sure why. Additionally, when playing a game there appears to be a slight flicker which could be a delay between what’s being displayed on the screen and the lamps due to a quicker refresh rate or it could be a calibration issue. I never did find out.
Nevertheless, this does become distracting on the odd occasion it happens. Fortunately, if this becomes an issue you can always change to Movie mode which just displays a static colour of your choosing behind the screen. For the most part, I found the Flow Pro deferring to the most common or displaying a complementary colour on the screen worked really well. Not to mention, the Govee Home app makes switching between these modes via a phone or through a smart speaker pretty easy and gives you tons of tools to play around with.
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Verdict While it’s not perfect, there’s no hiding from the glaring issues with the underwhelming colour display in certain modes and the fact you’d have to live with a camera being visible on top of your TV or display (once you’ve managed to stick it on). But with the Govee Flow Pro Wi-Fi TV Light Bars currently coming in at £67.99, you’re getting a lighting system that is so incredibly simple and versatile, it’s hard to say no.
Govee Flow Pro Smart LED Light Bars, WiFi RGBIC Ambiance Backlight with Camera, Gaming Lamp Sync with Music, Work with Alexa & Google Assistant, Immersion Light Bar for 27-45 inch PC, TV, Room, 2 Pack - £79.99 on Amazon. Currently available for £67.99 on the Govee website using £12 discount