Antec iLuminate LED Light Tubes

Date: June 20th, 2003


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Rating: Excellent!


When I was at the Antec office recently, they gave me these two packages of “Antec iLuminate Blue” (AiB) light effects (or effect lights?) to check out. I first cracked up when I saw them. While I’ve dabbled in case modding, it’s been only for shits and giggles, and it always entertains me to see how creative people get when it comes to rad computer mods.

At this point, most people are familiar with case modding, meaning making custom modifications to a computer case for the purpose of making it unique and interesting. This includes but is not limited to custom paint jobs, installing a window kit in the side panel of the case, and adding various forms of light effects inside the case. The AiB is taking the whole effect lighting thing a step further by bringing light effects outside the case to the desk.

The Aib consist of one foot-long or two two-inch light tubes that are connected to a control unit, which in return plugs into a USB port. There is no control software or drivers to install. The USB connection is simply where the AiB draws its power from. While the power consumption is minimal, it is advisable to plug it into a powered USB hub instead to avoid unnecessary power draw through the computer.

The control unit is pretty basic. It has a switch with three options:

  • “Off” – The unit is off – duh!
  • “MO” – Dunno what the MO stands for, but in this mode the light is sound activated, reacting to music or sound.
  • “On” – In this mode the light is permanently lit up.

The other control is a wheel that adjusts the sensitivity for the sound activation.

The AiB with the two small lights has special mounting brackets on each light with an adjustable ball bearing-type joint. The bracket can be mounted with self-adhesive tape to the sides of a monitor or speakers for example. The AiB with the one straight tube does not have any special mounting methods, it also mounts with self-adhesive tape to the top of a monitor or the underside of a shelf for example. Both packages included double-sided mounting tape.

So how does it work, what does it do? Simple. Either set the switch to “On” for a steady blue light, or set it to “MO” for sound activation. This works well when playing music because it pulsates nicely with the rhythm. The higher the sensitivity is set and the better the speaker system is, the better it works. The control unit is not exactly the most expensive piece of electronic equipment. There is a barely noticeable delay between the sound and the light, and while it picks up bass notes very well, mid- or high-frequency sound doesn’t register very well at all.

It works also very well when playing action games such as Half-life or Unreal. Having the lights go off every time a rocket hits or in sync with a burst of machine gun fire can be quite satisfying and contributing to the gaming experience.

I also have an electronic drum kit in my office. Since it is electronic, it is pretty quiet and the actual drum sound can only be heard through the headphones. There is a sound however when the sticks hit the heads or the beaters of the pedal hit the rubber stop. I discovered that the AiB picks up the “thud” of the bass drum pedals when I play, adding an unexpected effect. It’s especially cool when playing certain double-bass figures and sequences.

The lights are pretty bright and have a nice electric blue color as evident in this picture.


Do these lights make your computer any faster? Do they help you learn how to use your computer? Do they keep your computer safe? No, no, and no. They are completely unproductive and pointless, and can drive you nuts with their constant flashing.

Are they fun? If you’re into this sort of thing, they sure as hell are. It will certainly add some life to your computer desk, give it some unique style, and enhance the visual aspect of your computing experience.

What it comes down is you either love the AiB or you hate it, there is no middle ground. If you actually read this entire review and found it somewhat interesting, chances are you’ll like the AiB. If you didn’t bother to read it or lost interest after the first paragraph, then you will definitely hate them.

Submitted by: Alex “crazygerman” Byron

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