Antec recently launched the Bias Lighting kit which reportedly reduces eye fatigue while increasing perceived image clarity. This is essentially accomplished by splashing white backlight behind the PC monitor so that the imagery on the screen – whether it's a movie, office document or a website – isn't such a bright contrast against the surrounding backdrop. The company was nice enough to send over a sample kit for our evaluation, but the kit isn't expensive at all, costing a mere $12.95 USD and is super-simple to install.
Most eye doctors will tell you that improper lighting causes eye strain. Overhead lights should be turned off (or at least use bulbs and tubes of lower intensity), and outside windows blocked with shades or curtains – floor lighting is even suggested so that the ambient lighting is cut down by at least half the typical level. LCDs need to be adjusted to a comfortable refresh rate, and the brightness should be around the same level as your environment. The Bias Lighting kit seems to address ambient lighting when darker environments come into play including late night World of Warcraft raids or working in a dimly-lit office.
Antec's "kit" is merely a 14.6-inch strand of six white mini-LEDs connected to a 4.3-inch USB cable. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of throwing every peripheral known to man on my USB ports, whether it's the desktop or my primary laptop. That said, I already have a powered USB hub that feeds most of my devices – including the Bias Lighting strip – into my laptop, so the power drain is minimal. Most of what I do resides on an additional 21-inch monitor I have hooked through the secondary monitor output port, making it the ideal display for checking out the backlighting gadget.
Upon close inspection, the LED strand is encased in flexible protective plastic and lined with a sticky backing on one side – users merely need to peel away the paper protecting the sticky strip and slap the strand across the back of the monitor horizontally. The USB end is naturally plugged into a port on the desktop, laptop or powered USB hub. The result is a white wash of light splashing across a light-colored wall behind the monitor, creating a glowing halo effect. In a dimly-lit environment, this effect does help reduce eye fatigue, minimizing the glare of the LCD and allowing for the appearance of a sharper image.
That said, the Bias Lighting kit isn't all that effective when the LCD is parked in a corner, and it's especially not effective when you have more than one screen sitting on your desk. My typical setup consists of two monitors (one for my desktop, one for my laptop) and my laptop's LCD screen, so the contrast between the screens and my dark surroundings can be quite a headache when the sun starts to go down. To get the proper output, I applied the strip to an AIO desktop seated against a wall of another nearby office. Naturally this was the ideal application, creating an effective halo around the AIO's compact form factor. Still, the kit still offers a cool lighting effect even when all three of the displays lighting up my corner of the office are active and in use.
For the record, the only real issue I've had with the lighting kit is the adhesive itself – so far the strip has fallen off my main LCD twice. But this could be the result of several factors: unknowingly yanking on the USB connection and pulling it loose, not attaching the strip to the LCD backing correctly to begin with, or the heat from the LCD causing the strip's plastic casing to warp. This is really no big deal – a problem that can be fixed with a little additional adhesive – but seemed noteworthy nonetheless.
Ultimately, Antec's Bias Lighting LED strip would be ideal for PC modders who are building custom PCs using LED-lit fans or fluorescent-lit water cooling. The kit is also handy when the sun starts to go down and turning on overhead lights isn't practical. When placed against a flat wall, the LED strip does a fine job of balancing the environment with the images on the screen, but even when applied to a desktop scenario consisting of more than one monitor, the backlighting still works to some degree while also providing a really cool lighting effect for your desktop.