Govee AI Gaming Sync Box Review
Whether it’s in the living room or in an office space, no gaming setup is complete without a set of RGB lights. Govee is introducing its new AI Gaming Sync Box, an iterative upgrade from its Dreamview T1 TV Backlight kit. The AI Gaming Sync Box offers heightened immersion and envelopes a display’s surroundings with matching lights and colours.
I’ve been using the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box for a couple of years at this point. I’m a firm believer in its additive qualities to an entertainment setup. Whether it’s playing Call of Duty: Warzone or watching a blockbuster film like Blade Runner 2049, responsive lighting really heightens the content on display. I was ecstatic to learn that Govee was launching its own product, capable of colour matching with HDMI 2.0 support. Adding on to that, the company is utilizing CogniGlow, a specialized AI technology to power its responsive lighting.
While the colour matching may not be as accurate as competitors, Govee’s latest lighting kit is priced adequately to be a more budget-friendly option for those wanting to elevate their gaming space at $399.99, available now. It’s also one that is easily integrated into your smart home set up whether it’s through the Govee iOS and Android app, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa.
Out of the box
Govee’s AI Gaming Sync Box includes a unique array of already-established products from the company. Within the packaging, users will find two wired Gaming Light Bars as well as an LED Strip Light kit. Additionally, Govee includes the newly developed HDMI AI Sync Box in the packaging. All three products work in unison to read what’s displayed on TV or monitor and illuminate the surrounding area. On top of that, Govee includes two stands for the Gaming Light Bars, which screw in easily enough. A power supply can also be found in the packaging as well as two HDMI cords.
The Sync Box itself is a neat piece of kit. It meshes well with Govee’s existing design philosophy. Standing on its own, the front of the box features a small, yet effective RGB lighting around, surrounding the face of the box. On the back, you’ll find a port for the power supply, two USB-C inputs for the additional lights, 1 HDMI-Out port to connect to a TV or monitor and three HDMI-In ports.
Each HDMI input supports 2.0 at a maximum of 4K @ 60FPS, which is quite sufficient if you’re looking to connect an Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, or Nintendo Switch. However, you can scale the framerate support at a loss of video fidelity. For instance, 144Hz support is available at 2k resolution. Govee’s AI Gaming Sync Box does offer a maximum of 240Hz at 1080p. This is the highest refresh rate an HDMI sync box offers on the market. However, the likelihood you’ll need this option is slim, unless you’re using a 240Hz monitor.
An upgraded and unified experience
If you’re new to what an HDMI sync box can provide as far as a lighting experience is concerned, you’re in for a treat. For years, Govee has supported numerous smart lights and kits around the home. However, when it comes to reactive lighting, Govee’s bread and butter has been primarily within the realm of music.
Many of the company’s lights will sync and react to music playing and it is a neat visual experience. Govee has experimented with a backlight solution for TVs and monitors in the past, however. Though, based on personal experiences, products like the Dreamview T1 have never been able to compete with an actual HDMI solution.
The AI Gaming Sync Box is the substantial upgrade I’ve been hoping to see. Paired with a dedicated light strip and two Gaming Light Bars, Govee has elevated its backlighting to be more accurate than what the DreamView or Envisual lights have been able to provide. Previously, Govee used a workaround kit as an alternative to proper HDMI support.
Rather than an HDMI passthrough solution, Govee developed its Envisual camera to capture and colour-match what’s on the screen. However, I personally found the camera to be a mild distraction and detractor as it had to sit on either the top or bottom of the TV.
Now, all the information Govee’s lights require comes from the HDMI sync box, which is able to more accurately capture and colour match. If you’re playing a game, it’s as if the visuals are bleeding from the display and onto your walls. This makes for a more immersive and cinematic experience.
While racing through the wide open scapes of Mexico in Forza Horizon 5 or dropping into Al Mazrah in Call of Duty Warzone, the colours from the screen are now properly displayed across the lights. Cyberpunk 2077 is another standout for this technology as its neon pallet extends beyond the bezels of the display.
I was also impressed by the speed the Sync Box was able to keep up with when playing the Diablo 4 Open Beta. The available ecosystems across Sanctuary offer many different colour pallets. Each beamed off the screen with pops of colour as my character attacked the various enemies sent by Lilith.
At the core of Govee’s AI Gaming Sync Box is the newly developed CogniGlow algorithm. As the company explains, CogniGlow adapts and learns via over 100,000 lighting characteristics. This is then used to analyze the picture, colour, and other appropriate information of a game and its gameplay. CogniGlow now supports more than 30 customized lighting effects for gaming.
Within Govee’s Video mode, users can select to turn on ‘AI Identification’. Once the AI reactive function is active, the AI Gaming Sync Box is able to provide a deeper level of information at low latency speeds.
To make this clear, CogniGlow isn’t simply adjusting the light on the fly to represent what’s on the screen. The AI-powered lighting effects are generated by specific actions made in a handful of games. Currently, CogniGlow is in beta. Therefore, its support is rather lacking when it comes to the variety of games. However, it’s specifically tuned to competitive titles at the current moment. League of Legends and Apex Legends are currently supported. However, Govee has revealed Valorant and Overwatch 2 support will be available in “the next OTA update.”
An example of the supported lighting effects is one tuned when a player wins a match in Apex Legends. When becoming ‘Champion’, the lights begin to pulse and strobe red, orange, and purple in celebration. Another lighting effect kicks in when using a Med Kit, the lights will transition to green as the player heals. It’s an awesome effect that’s sadly limited. Once more games are supported over time, Govee’s technology will surely get users talking. The possibilities are endless when looking at upcoming AAA games.
Colour matching accuracy
Govee claims that its AI Gaming Sync Box is able to achieve 99 percent accurate HDMI colour-matching. After extensive tests, I’m delighted to say that this lighting kit is a step up from the DreamView and Envisual. In both previous cases, external light and other variables often impacted the accuracy. Regardless of whether I was playing a game or watching Netflix or playing on console, the lights were able to pick up colours that are primarily on screen.
However, I often noticed that the AI Gaming Sync Box was unable to provide the same array of tones that the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box and its lights are able to produce.
For instance, if I’m watching a movie and a character is on the left-hand side of the screen wearing a blue shirt, the left Gaming Light Bar will illuminate blue without any additional tones to support it. Whereas the Hue products linked to the Philips-owned Sync Box will integrate some softer colours from the background or edges of the screen and blend them with the colour of said shirt.
The same can be said for primary colours taking up the screen. If a colour pallet from a game is shown to be red, the AI Gaming Sync Box will render a red hue across its lights. However, I’ve found that it ignores whether that light extends to the framing of the screen. In this case, I’d expect the colours to be muted so as to not disrupt that “wall-breaking” immersion. It’s not to say that Govee’s product isn’t doing as advertised, it’s just doing so with a little less finesse than what’s available.
Of course, this all comes with the tradeoff of budget and consumer-friendly accessibility. Philips Hue and its products are high-end smart lights. To get a similar setup to what Govee’s AI Gaming Sync Box Kit provides, I spent around $579.99 CAD. Luckily, Govee’s solution has everything you need in one box and makes for a relatively easy plug-and-play lighting kit.
The Govee AI Gaming Sync Box is something I’ve been waiting to see from the company for many years. It’s great to see Govee upgrade and move away from previous backlighting solutions. Past iterations of its entertainment lighting set up paled when compared to other brands. Now, Govee is bridging that gap not only with an authentic HDMI passthrough device but is bringing its own AI algorithm to help it do so.
So far, the CogniGlow AI is still in its early phases. Its limited lighting effects that make the AI Gaming Sync Box a unique product on the market is fantastic when it’s utilized. However, if you’re not a serious League of Legends or Apex Legends player, you’re not going to be taking full advantage of it.
CogniGlow needs to evolve and support a wider library of games to really make an impact. While its colour matching isn’t a revolution in lighting, Govee’s more affordable price tag does make it an easy suggestion to anyone looking to integrate a solid set of lights in their entertainment set up.