A strangely illuminating experience

Unspoken derision just about sums it up, writes Andrew Everard. All I did was mention that I'd requested a set of the Illuminaire LED TV backlights to try at home.

The glance from the usually urbane Mr Clough suggested I'd just declared I was not only going to have a 6ft illuminated snowman on the roof of my house, I was going to leave it up there all year.

Telling others around the office didn't help much, either. The response was the sort of 'Yes, dear' you hear when an elderly relative suggests she might have a crack at the Cresta Run to celebrate her 100th birthday. Nice she's still got interests, but does this mean she's finally lost the plot?

Clearly my front room was going to turn into a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colours, blinking lights and dazzling flashes, leading the neighbours to think I was having the world's quietest party and sending my wife scurrying up to the loft to find her big silver suitcase ready to flee back to Japan.

Anyway, now I was clearly marked down as having succumbed to my inner chav, I was determined to go through with it. And so it was that a few days later an innocuous package, just over a couple of feet long by a few inches wide and deep, landed on my desk from UK distributor Ixos, to knowing glances from those around me.

The box sat at home for a couple of days before I found a morning to work at home, thus giving me the chance to set it up, and I opened the packaging with some trepidation to find not very much inside.

No big flashy light arrays, just a couple of innocuous black boxes, a few wires, and a bag of double-sided adhesive pads, small pieces of plastic and cable-ties.

Was this it?

Exploring the contents, I found the slim LED light tubes in what I'd taken to be a cardboard packing piece, read the instruction leaflet - well, there's a first time for everything - and started the assembly of the system.

Ten minutes later I was finished.

The sticky pads hold small plastic 'saddles' on the back of your TV, to which the LED light bars are attached using the cable ties. USB-style plugs connect the bars to a control box, able to drive up to four bars and fed by an offboard power supply.

In this PLX-318 package, there's also a slimline remote handset to change colours, access memory presets and start some of the system's trick modes. And that's it.

The two 23in light bars mounted vertically to the rear panel of our 50in plasma, one either side and a few inches in from the outside edge. And after rotating them a little to adjust the light spread, a final tug on the cable ties fixed them in place before I cut off the surplus 'tongue' of plastic to tidy things up.

The remote receiver for the control box fixes under the front edge of the screen using more double-sided sticky stuff, being the only visible element of the whole system - everything else is tucked away behind my centre speaker. Very neat.

And does it work? Well, I have a number of colour combinations programmed in to the presets, but for now we've settled on a very pale blue, just on the cool side of white, and a couple of steps down on the 'night' mode dimmer.

It makes the picture on the TV look more vibrant in a room with the lighting dimmed down, and yes, it does make viewing a more relaxing experience.

Not so sold on the colour-changing and 'breathe' effects - I could live without those. But I'm delighted to discover that the remote codes for the Illuminaire system are in the Logitech database, so I was able to upload them into my trusty Harmony 885 with no problems at all.

Now the Illuminaire kicks in when we turn the TV on, then dims down a couple of steps a moment later; it fades away when we turn the system off.

And you know what? I can't help smiling every time it does it.

Technorati Tags: Illuminaire, Ixos, LED lighting

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.