Bias Lighting, Best Blu-rays, Fixer-Upper

On The Bias
I recall some Philips TVs having a built-in ambient light—some type of glow from behind the TV. This was supposed to help with dark-room viewing. Since then, few if any manufacturers have followed suit, but I continue to see occasional articles that say this is a good idea because it helps make viewing less stressful on the eyes.

I have a Samsung UN55B6000, and I'm thinking about adding LED light strips behind the TV to achieve a similar effect. Is this really worthwhile to do? Does it really help with eye strain?

Phil Clark

Is the Philips Ambilight feature a good idea? Yes and no. The default mode causes it to change color and intensity according to the image content, which is very distracting and thus a bad idea in my view. However, setting the light to a specific fixed color and intensity can be a great way to relieve eye strain, especially in a dark room. Such a light is called a bias light; the proper color is technically known as D65 white, and the correct intensity is 10 percent of the TV's peak light level.

I know of no other manufacturers that offer such a feature—your Samsung does not have it—but you can get a bias light called Ideal-Lume from CinemaQuest for about $60 and simply place it behind any direct-view TV. Ideally, the wall behind the TV is a dark, neutral gray as in the photo above—otherwise, the color of the wall could distort your perception of the color on the screen.

Best Blu
What's the best Blu-ray to show off both video and audio in my home theater?

Jack Slater

There are many excellent Blu-ray titles that show off the video and audio capabilities of a home theater beautifully. We usually cite one or two a week on Ultimate AV in a blog called "Ultimate Demos." Go here to see the entire list; click on any title to see several specific examples of what to look and listen for in each title.

How Much is Too Much?
I hope you can give some advice on what to do with a rear-projection TV gone bad. I am torn between having it repaired or not. My wife says don't spend the money, but how much is too much? I know it's an older set, so do I save the money and invest in something newer or just pay the money and have it repaired?

Jim Smoot

It depends on how much it would cost to fix. How much is too much is a judgment call, different for me than for you or your wife. For me, if it's more than a couple hundred bucks, I'd probably junk it and put that money toward a new set. On the other hand, maybe it's something simple like a worn-out lamp that can be easily replaced. I've heard that prices for RPTV lamps is getting pretty low, so in that case, I'd probably replace the lamp. At least that would get you up and running until you could afford a new set.

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Winston Brown's picture

Phil Clark, I have the Philips Ambilight Plasma Tv. The reason I chose that tv was for the backlighting it provided. I have since moved that tv into our bedroom, which gives great light in our room. My LCD is downstairs in its place, and I've added the bias lighting to the rear of it. I purchased this set from Costco for 29.99. It comes with 6 seperate lights. 4@6', 2@12', multi-colors or solids, and very nice set up. e-mail later, I have more info at home.

Henry Hollander's picture

Regarding repair of projection set, if it is very large, e.g., 65 inches or larger, replacing it with a comparably sized "flat" screen might be cost prohibitive and repair the better option.

Mike Wazonek's picture

Phil: I also have a Philips 52" lcd with ambilight and find it does reduce eye strain when watching television in a dark room. There is a number of levels not only with the speed of the ambilight but also the intensity level. I find it best at the "relaxed" mode and at about 30-40% of the maximum intensity. With the ambilight off I find my eyes do get strained. I really enjoy the Philips picture quality along with the ambilight and would buy another one when this one is retired. However, since Philips has all but pulled out of North America when it is time to get another television I will definitely invest in bias lighting for my new television.Best RegardsMike

Branko Budisin's picture

I also use bias lighting, and would recommend it. There are reasons apart from eye strain. A bias light will also serve to (dimly) light a room by bouncing light off the back wall, so you are not watching in complete darkness. Both my wife and I greatly prefer it to complete darkness for watching movies. Also, it will subjectively deepen blacks on your TV, by providing contrast with the backlit wall.If your wall is TV mounted, buy Ideal-Lume, they're very good. If it's on a stand, get a 40W "daylight" (6500K) fluorescent bulb and put it behind the TV (no shade, of course). I have bought a transparent-glass Ikea lamp, so total cost of lamp+bulb is about $13. Works great.

Alan Brown's picture

Bias lighting of video monitors is decades-old 'best practice' among imaging professionals. Here is a link to a good survey of the whys and wherefores underlying the technique: .

8mile13's picture

rgb led strips on the back of your tv is a good idea.there are systems(bmx module-controler-receiver etc) that can help you to create many dimmable colours with your rgb also can imitate 7500K with CRI above90.its in the 400 dollar range