There are a ton of things to consider when lighting your setup, ranging from the size of your room to the color theme of your setup, but putting in the time to properly light your setup elevates it to the next level.
And Govee’s new AI Sync Box, which was just released, could be the single device to kickstart your lighting setup.
Despite the slight misnomer, this is essentially an HDMI-lighting sync box that provides a real-time lighting experience while gaming, watching movies, or listening to music.
They’ve sent me one to test; as always, my thoughts are entirely my own.
I’ll unbox it, test it, and see what this AI thing is all about and compare it to my Philips Hue Sync Box, which I’m -hint, hint- retiring.
So let’s start with the name – Govee “AI”.
The term AI or Artificial Intelligence, is everywhere now, especially with the rise of ChatGPT, and it is used as a buzzword in marketing everywhere.
So, where exactly is the AI in this AI Box?
Govee claims that this thing uses deep learning to improve the lighting and gaming experience by synchronizing smart lights to the action on screen in real-time for low-latency synchronization and a one-of-a-kind lighting experience.
Unboxing & Setup
Inside, we get the discreet box itself, and thankfully, the AI box comes with two sleek light bars and a full RGBIC light strip to get us started, so we don’t have to go out and buy more lights because, as we all know, the cost of smart lighting quickly escalates.
There are three HDMI ports and one e-ARC HDMI port for your soundbar or speakers. So you could connect many devices, such as your PC, PS5, and Nvidia Shield, and there’s only one HDMI out port. The two USB-C inputs are for the light bars that come with the device.
This box is aimed at a gaming-first setup, which explains all of the AI tech, specifically Govee’s “Cogniglow” tech, which is Govee’s specific AI algorithm that is fed audio and visual data live through HDMI to get all the lights synced up.
The live computation is powered by a fairly powerful processor inside the box, which is equivalent to the A14 chip found in the iPhone 12 and capable of performing over 14 trillion calculations per second. Is it a little much? Maybe.
It’s also worth noting that these are HDMI 2.0 ports, not HDMI 2.1 ports, so we’re limited to 4K 60Hz, 2K 144Hz, or 1080p 240Hz. However, HDR, Dolby Vision, and CEC are all supported.
Color projection is instantaneous and faster than anything I’ve tried, even from the wallpaper and alt-tabbing to other windows.
There is almost no synchronization delay, but it is less than 16 milliseconds in milliseconds, which feels instantaneous in person.
This is not the same as the T2 Envisual Lights that I use on my TV setup and love – that uses a dual-camera system, so there is a noticeable delay. In contrast, this AI box uses feedback via HDMI and the CogniGlow tech for immediate lighting changes, taking immersion to the next level.
So far, the AI Box only supports a few games: Apex, League of Legends, Valorant, and Overwatch 2. When I say supported, I mean you’ll get custom lighting effects that correspond to what’s going on in the game.
According to Govee, Fortnite, PUBG, CSGO, DOTA, Call of Duty, Battlefield V, and even Street Fighter 6 will be supported in the near future.
A word of caution based on my testing on an ultra-wide — lighting does not work well with black bars in a 21:9 ultra-wide ratio. You’ll be fine if you have a standard 16:9 setup.
So, in these games that I tested, we get immediate live lighting feedback for that out-of-monitor immersion effect, but on top of that – and this is where it gets really cool – there are custom bespoke lighting effects that change depending on what happens in the game.
In APEX, there’s a cool gradient glow effect changes when the game is matched right in the lobby. When skydiving, there’s an insanely immersive spot glowing as if you’re flying through the clouds. It’s static when turned off. Finally, if you win, there is a straight-up light celebration to get the endorphins pumping!
When you kill champions in League of Legends, the lights go crazy, let alone when you get multiple kills. The AI box also replicates healing and ability effects.
There are a lot of great bespoke lighting effects depending on what you do in these games that I won’t spoil here, so have fun and discover them for yourself.
However, in unsupported games such as Counter-Strike GO, the custom effects aren’t present, so you won’t see any dramatic effects on load screens or after wins.
But it still works: what’s on the screen is reflected on the walls in real-time. When I throw a flashbang directly at myself, the entire wall lights up pure white rather than just the screen, and when I throw a molotov, the walls become fiery. And notice how when I scope in, everything goes dark until I scope out. In-person, it’s a lot of fun!
The other cool thing about this AI box is that it’s constantly being fed data and “learning” how to react to games, so the list of supported games will grow in the future, which is probably where the ambiguous AI naming comes from.
Movies + Audio.
It’s also fun to watch Netflix, YouTube, or movies.
The avatar trailer in 4K ultrawide resolution is breathtaking. It highlights the lighting immersion we get from the lights, and the instantaneous transition makes a huge difference.
Even simple walk-by videos on YouTube, such as this one from Kyoto, Japan, look amazing.
However, as a pro tip, it’s worth honing the in-app settings to get the lights to your liking, which is critical when watching content.
Setting the sensitivity option to about 40%, for example, makes the color transitions much nicer, less abrupt and more distracting. However, 80-90% sensitivity works well when gaming with rapid colour changes.
When playing music, the AI Box detects the music genre in real-time and matches it to what it perceives to be appropriate lighting effects. The results aren’t bad, but it will come down to personal preference.
Philips Hue Box Comparison
The most interesting part is comparing the AI box to the Philips Hue Box I’ve been using with a couple of Hue Play Light Bars.
This setup was not cheap – it cost me more than $600.
Anyway, the Govee AI Box outperforms the Philips Sync Box in almost every way.
The Phillips Play Bars are nowhere near as bright as Govee’s RGBIC light, and this is true of most of Govee’s lights – they’re much brighter overall than Philips.
Sync timing appears to be quite similar to the naked eye, with Govee’s AI Box having a slight advantage due to its extra computing power under the hood.
Furthermore, Govee includes not only two light bars, but also a full RGBIC light strip, which Philips requires as a separate purchase.
There is also a lack of bespoke lighting for games with the Philips Sync Box, which currently distinguishes the Govee AI box.
Having said that, the Govee AI Box could be better.
The app’s usability and design still need to be improved to compete with Philips’ refined app, but to be fair, the Govee app’s customization options outshine Philips.
The AI Box’s biggest flaw is the lack of HDMI 2.1 passthrough or DisplayPort connectivity, which limits us to 4K 60Hz rather than 120Hz.
If Govee’s AI box had supported HDMI 2.1, it could have been the final nail in the coffin for the hefty Hue Sync Box.
It is worth noting that Govee’s AI Box supports 2K 144Hz and 1080p 240Hz refresh rates, whereas the Hue Sync Box only supports 120Hz refresh rates at 1080p or 1440p.
The Govee AI Box is a fantastic single-product addition to any gamer’s collection, especially if you’re not yet tied to an ecosystem. Govee’s ecosystem of affordable lights, great customization, and constantly improving technology is a great option right now.
I recommend the more affordable Envisual T2 for a TV console gaming setup and stick with the AI Box for PC gaming – especially since it’ll get better over time as more games are supported.