Finally, an affordable Ambilight kit that actually works well! You may encounter a few niggles with the app, however.
Priced at $70, the Govee LED TV backlight is a budget way to brighten up your living room with lighting that reacts to your TV image. But is it any good? Do you even need Alexa integration on a cheap Ambilight, and how good can the results be from such a cheap device? Here’s what we think, and don’t forget to enter our giveaway contest at the end of this review, where we’re giving away a brand new Govee LED TV backlight kit.
What’s New with the Govee TV Backlight?
Yusuf first reviewed the Govee (then Minger) TV backlight back in 2018, but a lot has changed since then. The biggest upgrade you’ll notice is the support for Alexa.
When you’re not watching the TV (or even when you are, if that’s what you’re in to) you can use your voice to control the lights through Alexa. There’s no support for Google Home or Siri yet, but the TV mounted LED strips are completely accessible to your Alexa devices.
As far as Alexa goes, the Govee TV backlight presents as a smart bulb, and you have complete control over the color, brightness, and even the split. Want the left half of your TV lights to be one color, and the right half a different color? That’s completely possible, and you can set them with your voice.
Features and Installation
The Govee backlight features:
- 8 feet of 5050 LEDs for TVs from 55-75 inches
- iOS or Android app
- Alexa support
The main brain of the Govee is a small plastic box roughly the size of a deck of cards. Into this, the camera and LEDs connect with a conventional USB port. The camera mounts on top of your TV, and the LEDs attach to the rear of your screen. While the LEDs and camera install with little trouble, this main control unit has a sticky pad on the back. This is great at anchoring it to your TV set, but it is difficult to remove and may leave a nasty residue.
To configure this unit, you must download the free Govee Home app (iOS/Android). This connects to the main control unit over Bluetooth, and here’s where our problems began. I ran the app on a Google Pixel 3 XL, and it’s not able to handle the giant notch at the top of my phone. This meant all text at the top of the screen is hard to see. This isn’t a dealbreaker, and I’m sure it will get updated in the future, but it’s not the best of first impressions.
Moving on to connection, and the Govee Home app refused to connect over Bluetooth. Even switching to an older Android phone proved unsuccessful. I eventually got things working by uninstalling and reinstalling the app, but it was an unwelcome inconvenience. Once finally connected, things started improving. Before you see the benefits of these lights, you need to calibrate the camera. On the previous generation models, calibration consisted of attaching plastic sheets to the four corners of your TV. Thankfully that’s gone.
Calibration is much easier now. The app displays a live feed from the camera, and you drag the corners of a square over the corners of your TV. It works very well and is a painless process. This also means you don’t have to be 100% accurate with your placement of the camera, as you can correct for any placement issues.
Once calibrated, the lights are ready to use, but there’s still some configuration to do. The control unit must connect to your Wi-Fi network for the Alexa integration to work. You can do this through the app, but once again, this wasn’t a simple process.
In theory, you only have to point the lights to your network and enter your password, but this refused to work first time for me. After an hour of frustrating troubleshooting, I managed to get the connection to work by moving the control unit closer to my router. This may not be possible for you. This wouldn’t be such a big issue if the app gave you clear feedback and troubleshooting steps. It alternated between “Wi-Fi connected” and “Could not connect” status messages, leaving you to guess what the problem is.
Problems aside, the installation process is mostly a smooth one, and the major issues may get fixed in a future code release.
Show All the Colors
If you’ve never used an Ambilight before, you’ll be very impressed. A splash of color synced to your on-screen content is surprisingly immersive. Every image is so much more immersive, even if you own a huge screen.
The Govee LEDs are able to show different colors across several sections of LEDs, so you’re not stuck with a “best-fit” average of all the on-screen colors. It’s incredibly immersive and works with any content your TV can display, thanks to the camera.
Alexa, Turn on the TV Lights
The biggest reason to buy this TV backlight over previous models is the Alexa integration. It works extremely well and is possibly a bigger selling point than the Ambilight side itself. Once configured through the Alexa app, the Govee is available to your Alexa devices just like any other smart device.
There’s a minor delay between asking Alexa to turn on the TV lights, and seeing the result, but it’s very insignificant, and only slightly longer than controlling other smart devices. Most of this delay is likely down to Alexa recognizing your voice, but there’s certainly a minor difference.
You can use Alexa to completely automate these lights. You can also use them as part of your Alexa routines or alarms, or you can include the lights as part of any other lighting scene.
The only limitation with Alexa integration is the colors. For anything other than basic colors, you’ll need to first build a scene in the Govee app, and then trigger this scene from Alexa. It’s not possible to set a range of colors through Alexa alone.
Should You Buy the Govee TV Backlight?
For $70, the Govee LED TV backlight represents excellent value for money. The colors are bright and vibrant, and the camera works very well and tracking changes on your TV set. Installation is simple, and you can use this on almost any TV.
Sure, there are issues with the app, but these are not deal breakers. The problems I encountered may not happen to you (depending on the size of your house, TV, and Wi-Fi signal strength), and the other issues may improve in any future software updates to the app. There are no glaring problems with the hardware itself.
We can highly recommend this budget-friendly Ambilight kit. It’s practically a bargain at $70!
If you’d like the chance to win one for yourself, enter our giveaway contest below. Don’t forget to read all the rules for ways you can gain some extra entries.