On the positive side, there are some non-gaming uses for amBX. The speakers work particularly well for more strident forms of music, and as the software works with Windows Media Player, you can use it to create your own little disco (or chill-out zone) in whichever room your desk happens to be. You can vary the lighting for different genres, and the effect is pretty cool – at least for a while. Movies, too, benefit from amBX much as they do with ambilight. Use the VLC Media Player and you can even enjoy the same dual source lighting effect as the TV system’s stereo variant.
Even bearing this in mind, however, it’s hard to come up with a final verdict on the system. There’s no doubt that amBX works brilliantly with games that have been designed to make full use of it, particularly if – like Quake 4 – the use is subtle and well orchestrated. Unfortunately, this only represents a minority of titles. With many other games the effects vary between basic and genuinely atmospheric, and as the wrist-pad and fans aren’t used so much it’s hard to justify the expense of the full £150 Premium kit.
If Philips can back up its technology with more (and more recent) killer apps, then amBX could have an interesting part to play in the future of PC gaming, but at the moment it’s more a product worth watching than one you should immediately rush out and buy.
The technology really does work to produce a more immersive gaming experience, but only a few games currently make the best use of it. Still, with better software support amBX could be an interesting addition to the PC gamer’s arsenal.
Score in detail