Philips Ambilight has always been the holy grail of ambient lighting for the home theater. Ambilight illuminates the back of your HDTV, producing an ambient glow to reduce eyestrain. Some of the Lamplight-compatible HDTV sets come with 250 LEDs, which will match the overall color and tone to further reduce visual strain while watching TV in dim or dark rooms. So why not duplicate the same idea for your computer monitor setup?
On top of reducing eye strain, Ambilight reduces backlight bleed, which can happen in the corners of your HDTV. It's typical of LCD screens. Philips claims that Ambilight creates a larger virtual screen, and therefore a more immersive experience. The main difference in the different versions of Ambilight is on how many independent light channels it operates.
Create Your Own Cheap Ambilight: While this process isn't expensive, you will need to put together your own board, which is pretty complicated for someone who has never done so before. If you're not well versed, you'll need the advice of an expert. The overall result is pretty amazing, and it works on computer screens. An Arduino controls the whole thing, and works through a USB port on your computer. You'll also need a small program called AtmoWin and VLC. To get the software running, you'll just need to follow the steps.
Using LED Strips to Get a Similar Effect: The other way to get something similar to an Ambilight functioning in your home office or home theater involves the placement of LED strips around your screen. The drawback of doing it this way is that the lighting won't switch according to what's being displayed. The benefit is that it is a lot simpler to do it because you won't be fiddling with electronic circuit boards and Arduinos. LED strips can be bought at hardware stores that stock lights, or IKEA. The LED light strips will give off an ambient glow, which will look like Ambilight if it's placed behind the screen. In order to do so, you can put them behind your home entertainment center, ensuring that the glare of the LEDs isn't seen head on.
Mad Catz AmBX Cyborg Gaming Lights: Instead of going for a lower tech version of Ambilight, check out the Cyborg lights by Mad Catz. They sell for $99.99 and will transform your computer screen. They were designed for video games, but are compatible with a variety of different media players so the result is akin to that of Ambilight.