For a modern day gamer, visuals are everything. Granted, there may be the odd few who are happy to continue going down the retro route, taking in graphics and colours that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1980’s, but for the most part, it’s the eye-catchingly sharp 1080p, 60fps animations that draw us in.
So anything that can help enhance our gaming sessions further, by utilising the visuals on screen, is most definitely a god-send.
Something like DreamScreen then.
DreamScreen is a DIY backlight kit which first surfaced due to a phenomenal Kickstarter campaign. For a little over a hundred dollars, the kit attaches to the back of your TV and the super sticky LED strips included beam a wonderful light show onto your back wall. It is smart backlit lighting at its very best and whether you are watching TV, or playing games, it responds to, and picks up on, each and every colour brilliantly, ensuring your eyes don’t strain and creating a beautiful flowing river of light in the process. With an initial Kickstarter goal of $25,000, the world went mad for the idea, with the month long process finally raking in an eye-watering $380,000.
As someone who has backed many a project on numerous crowdfunding sites, I was instantly attracted to the idea. I just hoped and prayed that it wouldn’t be another great investment that would eventually find its way into my ‘Kickstarter Drawer of Shame’. Yes, that is a real thing, and yes, it is overflowing with rubbish. Light-up bracelet anyone?
I’m here to say that thankfully DreamScreen isn’t going to be making its way towards that drawer anytime soon as it is, quite frankly, nothing short of outstanding.
Installation is super simple and whilst you may initially become wary of the multitude of cables seen when you first open the box, it really is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, after checking out the well presented instructions (something which is pretty essential should you wish to have DreamScreen working correctly), then it’s only a matter of minutes before you’ll see the benefit. Starting in the bottom left hand corner, of the back of your TV, it’s simply a matter of removing the cover of the 3M tape on the back of each strip, and working your way round in a clockwise motion until all strips are attached. They go on easily, and if need be, can be removed with little fuss nor bother.
Attaching the included cables to the HDMI splitter and DreamScreen stick, before plugging the latter into your TV’s spare HDMI port is obviously just as simple to action and from there on in, you rarely need to bother with it again. The stick itself does come with a power button, the option to cycle through specific led sections or switch between the three various modes (more on that later), but DreamScreen happily switches off when your TV goes off, and back on again when you deem it time to relax, so you’ll very rarely need to press any buttons at all. As with anything technical these days, DreamScreen have developed a well equipped iOS and Android app too and, whilst it occasionally loses connection to the DreamScreen stick itself, this allows you to control everything from the comfort of your sofa.
DreamScreen then picks up on whatever is coming into it via the HDMI source, reacting to the pixels on screen and creating what could well be classed as a home theatre experience. It makes your TV bigger (well, not physically bigger, but you get me) and ensures that you become fully engrossed with whatever is on the screen. It’s good for TV shows and with it working away in the background whilst you watch the latest soap, things really come alive when you drop into boxset territory or sit back for a movie marathon, responding to the screen at 60 fps.
But as a gamer, especially one who is partial to a long gaming session throughout the cold winter nights that the UK brings, how does DreamScreen affect my sessions? Well, if truth be told I’m not really sure I could go back to gaming at night without it. You’re right when you say it can’t make me a better gamer (but then I’m not sure there is anything in this world that can), but it most certainly enhances my time spent on Xbox One and even on the dullest days, allows my console and TV to be there lighting up my life.
It obviously works best with games which utilise colour as one of the main gameplay mechanics and whilst the likes of DOOM ensure that each and every explosion and gore-filled moment is built upon, it is the grey-scale world of Hue which has really got me. Starting off in a black and white world, it is up to you to help a young boy, Hue, find his mother. A puzzler at heart, Hue slowly introduces colour into the equation with the gamer switching between greens, blues, reds and yellows at will. With each change of colour, DreamScreen would pick up and blast that hue into my living room, before changing again and again and again as the whole spectrum is cycled through. It’s a joy to play and DreamScreen really enhances the whole colour mechanic which holds it together, pushing the system to the limit. Thankfully, I’ve never seen it fail either.
But reacting to the various pixels on the TV isn’t all DreamScreen can do. Admittedly, for the most part you’ll keep DreamScreen in full on video mode, because that is where it excels, but if you so wish, you can switch to allow the system to light up in time with the audio instead of the visuals, or place it into ambient mode, replicating a fireside scene, the twinkling of the night skies or more. With a colour wheel included on the well designed Android app, the choice of backlight coming from your TV is completely yours. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back, glass of wine in hand with the TV switched off and letting DreamScreen do its thing. It’s even better when you team it up with something like LIFX or other colour changing lightbulbs too.
So it’s nothing but perfection so far for DreamScreen. But there must be something that is wrong? Something that it could do better?
Well, I’m going to have to be really, really picky here in order to find even a single negative, but if push came to the shove, then I’d love to see a slightly brighter glow emitting itself from around my TV. Whilst it’s unbelievably good when the TV is stuck right up against a wall, and the room you are in is nearly pitch black, there are times during the day when it fails to really excite, especially when the sun is shining bright. I also have my TV placed in one corner, away from the walls, and this doesn’t help matters entirely, so a deeper, brighter glow would be preferred.
I am also slightly concerned about my next port of call should I decide to upgrade my TV, and with 4K becoming a bigger and bigger thing, there will no doubt be a time when I decide to upgrade. Whilst DreamScreen is simple to remove, the screen sizes could well then create an issue. As the system comes in three sizes – Classic for 35-45” screens, Mega for those TV’s which come in the 45-65” range and then Xtreme (without that all-important E) for the 80 inch bad boys out there, moving up a size in screen will create problems. Currently running the Classic system, chances are my next screen will be larger the Classic DreamScreen system can cope with and I can see myself being disappointed one way of the other.
But then, with those two slight issues put to one side, it is quite a simple fact that DreamScreen is good for TV, it’s damn great with movies and it is bloody awesome with videogames and Xbox One in particular.
You see, that’s because in this current generation of consoles, visuals ARE everything. Now go and buy it and prepare to be astounded.
You can pre-order DreamScreen right now by heading over to www.dreamscreentv.com
Related: Videos showing DreamScreen hooked up to Xbox One.