Since my interest in home cinema started many years ago I knew ambient lighting makes a difference in picture quality. But many factors prevent me to setup good ambient lighting so when I first heard about Ideal-Lume from CinemaQuest Inc. in the Christmas edition of Home Theater magazine, I was very interested.

After a Ideal-Lume lamp wasn’t delivered by Santa, I ordered one last week and it arrived today. The lamp is of high quality, higher than my expectation, and the installation (photos of the installation on Flickr) was very straightforward. The lamp comes with a rotating filter that let me set the amount of light output. After making sure the TV is calibrated as well as I can with Digital Video Essentials, I installed the lamp and used the DVE’s ambient light test pattern to setup the lamp.

Does the lamp make a difference in picture quality? Yes but not as much as some people make out to be. I definitely can feel less eye strain with the lamp on and the lower contrast between the background and the TV bring out more picture details. But unless you know what to look for, the difference is not big.

So for around $50 (including shipping) it is a fairly affordable way to improve the HDTV picture quality while at the same time making your living room look cool.

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