So, if you’re a regular reader of TheXboxHub, you’ll already understand how much we love our DreamScreen stick – the DIY backlighting kit which wowed us and delivered a greater, more immersive gaming experience in the process. If you’re not, then well, I urge you to hit up our unboxing and review of the original product. You can even find a few videos over on YouTube which show exactly why we think of it so highly.
Initially making the most of crowdfunding via Kickstarter, the original DreamScreen stick smashed its initial $25,000 funding goal, rising day on day until things ended for the creators, Rakesh and Kate Reddy, with a cool $382,658 in the bank. Mass production went ahead and the Smart LED revolution was on track.
Well, that was then, and this is now, and DreamScreen are back with new products – The DreamScreen HD and 4K Hub, DreamScreen Flex, DreamScreen DIY and Sidekick. Yep, DreamScreen are going all out with 4K and HD!
We’ve been lucky enough – and to be honest, hugely privileged – to have been sent a pre-production, soft-launched unit of the DreamScreen HD Hub to have a little play with. Replacing the original single input HDMI stick that currently powers our DreamScreen lighting, the new Hub is a simple piece of kit that does some remarkable things.
Larger than the original stick that we have come to know and love, the Hub has had two more HDMI ports added, allowing for up to three devices to be attached, and giving multiple devices the chance to make the most of the glorious backlighting it brings. As Xbox One gamers, we run our console straight through with a TV cable box attached (Sky Q if you’re wondering), managing to get the best of both worlds – stunning lighting when we’re watching TV and bright beautiful visuals when gaming. It was however always a little disappointing to throw something from our phone to the likes of Chromecast and see the lights continue to react to whatever was going on in the Xbox world. Similarly, on the few occasions the Nintendo Switch gets powered up and enjoyed – yep, even with our Xbox heads on we can’t ignore Zelda either – those same LEDs would continue to light up accordingly to whatever was being played through a different source.
Worry no more though as with the Hub, and the addition of a brand new, utterly delightful Android and iOS App, TV source issues are no longer a worry.
That is because the DreamScreen Hub sorts all the magic.
Setup is simple. Plug one end of an HDMI cable into any HDMI port on your TV and the other end into the Hub. From there, connect up to three devices – so in our case Xbox One (with Sky Q), Chromecast and Nintendo Switch, attach the previously acquired LED strips (either in Classic, Mega or Xtreme form), plug in the extended power cable and off you go in a matter of minutes.
When all is in place, it’s then all about running through the new App setup, something that now takes place via WiFi instead of the previously utilised Bluetooth. Even though initial connection proved a little troublesome, a couple of attempts at finding the Hub via the phone was all that was required. Since then, well, it’s stayed solid, it’s worked brilliantly and it’s been a breeze to navigate.
The DreamScreen Hub doesn’t however only react to what is going on with your TV. Should you so wish, you can have it blasting out colour to either an inline jack attached to a music device, or see it happily dancing along to whatever music is coming straight through to it via the attached HDMIs. Additionally, a completely separate manual lighting mode allows you to mess around with colour, letting you light a wall for mood purposes, or even setting of a number of ‘themes’ – allowing us to feel the warmth of a glowing fire, the magic of some twinkling stars or the surreal feeling of being under the waves.
Of course, these are all tricks that you could do with the original DreamScreen stick, and if I’m completely honest, they are two modes which rarely get used. But then that’s down to the fact that all I really want is DreamScreen, and the new HD Hub, to replicate and enhance whatever gaming visuals are being thrust towards my eyes.
So it’s all good yeah? Well, pretty much perfect thank you very much. I have however seen a slight issue with the source button on the Hub itself, and it is in my opinion a little fiddly to use, but when you’ve got the App up and running, you never need touch the unit itself. Additionally, the Hub seems to lose power every now and then, refusing the TV from acknowledging it being plugged in. This is a fairly rare occurrence though, and only actually lasts for a couple of seconds, but needs to be pointed out. Remember though, this is a pre-production unit – and the very first one to be seen on European shores – and so the odd little issue like that is bound to be in place. Judging by the quality of the product range so far, it would be a huge surprise to see that same issue hitting the mass market and post-Kickstarter products.
Oh yes, that’s right, the Kickstarter. The reason we are here today. You’ll be able to find the latest Kickstarter funding page right here, and I strongly urge you to at least pay it a visit. If you’re a previous DreamScreen owner, then you can keep your old LED strips and just drop the new HD or 4K Hubs onto them. Failing that, you could always check out the DreamScreen Flex or DreamScreen DIY options. Pretty sure you won’t be disappointed by any choice you make.
Running alongside the usual DreamScreen lighting this time round is also the Sidekick a couple of super powerful lighting rigs which react to whatever is going on with DreamScreen. These can be placed away from your TV or monitor and are looking like stunning additions to the lineup.
So, with a longer power cable that has proved to be a godsend, the option to utilise DreamScreen with up to three devices, the freeing up of precious TV HDMI ports, a whole new, hugely improved DreamScreen App, a variety of lighting options to fit your needs AND the inclusion of Sidekick, the future is very, very bright.
In fact, it’s DreamScreen bright.