Tag Archives: lighting

Brightech – SKY LED Torchiere Floor Lamp




I never thought I would see the day I’d find myself excited by lightbulbs. The LED lighting revolution has come of age.

After recently replacing every remaining incandescent bulb in my house with LED bulbs that perfectly mimic their respective incandescent counterparts, I decided it was time to get rid of a potentially dangerous halogen-powered torchiere floor lamp, and replace it with an LED-capable version of the up-firing ceiling bounce light of the same floor lamp style. After looking at torchiere style lamps for sale in local stores and not being happy with how top-heavy they were, I ended up ordering a Brightech – SKY LED Torchiere Floor Lamp from Amazon.

The lamp is extremely easy to assemble by simply screwing the parts together and plugging a couple of wires together. The heaviest part of the lamp assembly is the base that sits on the floor, which does a great job of stabilizing the lamp even on thick carpeting. The LED light array on the up-firing top disc produces a claimed 3,000 lumens on the brightest setting, one of four light levels. The light is controlled by tapping a touch surface about two-thirds the way up from the floor in about the same place that the old rotary on/off switch was on the old halogen floor lamp it replaced.

The lamp sells on Amazon for $89.50. I don’t know why local stores don’t have lamps like these. I do think they would sell them if they bothered to have them in stock. I wish that brick and mortar stores could somehow grasp that there are some really excellent, innovative products that people want. Unfortunately for the brick and mortars these products seem to be available online only. I don’t expect local stores to stock everything, but it seems to me they could become a bit more savvy about stocking products that forces shoppers to go online.

The touch surface is properly positioned and performs well when repeatedly touched, cycling through the various brightness levels as well as off. The transformer that plugs into the wall outlet gets slightly warm to the touch, coming in at 83 degrees Fahrenheit with an infrared thermometer in a 72 degree room. The top of the lamp generates a bit more heat, coming in at 96 degrees Fahrenheit.


LIFX Color 1000 Smart Bulb Review



If you are looking for a last minute Fathers’ Day present then an LIFX smart bulb might be just the thing. Getting into smart lighting can be expensive as there’s often an additional wireless hub to control the lights but LIFX have taken a different approach with their lamps as each one connects via WiFi. There’s no Z-Wave or Zigbee here. The folks at LIFX kindly sent one of their smart bulbs for review, so let’s take a look.

LIFX offer four different bulbs, in a combination of two shapes and colour v white only. On review here is the Color 1000 in the A19 size (BR30 is the other size) in a UK variant with bayonet cap. A screw cap is also available and interestingly works across US and UK voltages.

LIFX Color 1000 in box LIFX Color 1000 in box

In the box, there’s the light plus instructions. In addition to the physical light, an app needs to be downloaded from the appropriate app store to your smartphone or tablet. Apps are available for Android, iOS and Windows.

The bulb itself is solid, weighing in at 243 g and measuring 117 mm tall and 63 mm wide. It’s no lightweight.

LIFX Color 1000 LIFX Color 1000

In common with most “IoT” Wi-Fi devices, there’s a two step setup process that the app takes you through. When first powered up, the light will create a small Wi-Fi network that your smartphone connects to. Using the app, you can then configure the bulb to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi, selecting the SSID and providing the passcode. Both the smartphone and bulb disconnect and reconnect as normal to the Wi-Fi network. With the configuration out of the way, you can now start to have fun.

During the setup, you need to create a username and password which you generally don’t need to use unless you are going to use the bulb with other smart home gear, such as Samsung’s SmartThings. More on this later.

As an aside, during my setup, the bulb needed a quick firmware update which all happened automatically and painlessly, though it did delay getting going by a few moments. Good to see that it’s easy to keep the bulbs up-to-date.

The LIFX app provides all the tools you might expect to manage bulbs in a smartly-lit house. Bulbs can be collected into names spaces, such as “bedroom” providing quick access to multiple bulbs based on location. Obviously in this example I only had one room.

Screenshot_20160609-001949 LIFX Colour Wheel LIFX White Wheel

The bulb can be switched between colour and white modes depending on you mood, with a straightforward wheel to choose the desired hue. The brightness can be controlled too using the control in the middle of the wheel.

LIFX White LIFX RedLIFX Greeen

LIFX say that the Color 1000 puts out a little over 1000 lumens which is equivalent to a 75 W incandescent bulb. It was definitely a bit brighter than my Philips Hue colour bulbs, though I did notice that the Color 1000 got fairly warm too and will consume 11 W at full brightness.

Fiddling around with the LIFX Color 1000 is tremendous fun and children will love co-ordinating with their favourite Disney colours. You can imagine the colours generated from Frozen…. There’s even a special effects mode which has selections like “Spooky”, “Flicker” and “Color Cycle”. Themes sets up preset colours for easy access and schedules can turn lights on and off automatically it’s all simple to use.

Contrary to my original review, the Color 1000 can be controlled from outside out of the premises. Using my mobile phone and 3G only, it worked as if I was at home, turning the light on and off, changing colours and so on. Great if you want to use the LIFX as a security light and turn it on when you are unexpectedly late coming home.(I’m not sure what went wrong the first time I tested and it didn’t work, but I can only assume it was a temporary connectivity problem from outside my home. It definitely does work – sorry LIFX.)

In addition to being able to control the bulb via the native app, LIFX have put some work into integration with connectivity from Nest, IFTTT, “Ok Google”, SmartThings, Echo and Logitech’s Harmony. I tried it with Samsung’s SmartThings and it was very easy and straightforwad. Select LIFX lights in SmartThings, stick in the username and password created during setup, and job done with the Color 1000 appearing in SmartThings for control.

In summary, the LIFX Color 1000 is a good choice if you want to get into smart lighting at a reasonable cost – the UK price of the bulb is £59.99. Admittedly that’s still not cheap and it is £10 dearer than the equivalent Philips Hue but you don’t have to buy the Hue Hub at £50 before you get going. LIFX have future-proofed the investment with their integrations, so if you get into smart lighting and then smart homes, the LIFX Color 1000 can still be used as part of the system. The Color 1000 is a big bulb so if there’s a particular lamp that you want to use with it, just check the bulb’s going to fit.

The LIFX is available from Amazon and other online retailers. Thanks to LIFX for the Color 1000 to review.


BeON Home Protection at CES



BeON Home LogoImproved home security is one of the benefits often cited by proponents of the smart home, but setting up everything can be technically daunting and require a little DIY. The team at BeON have taken a different approach, developing home protection that can easily be installed without any geek or DIY credentials. Jamie and Nick learn more about this original thinking from Alexei Erchak, CEO of BeON.

The BeON Home system is a set of smart LED lightbulbs (or lamps) that screw in to replace existing lights. How are the bulbs smart? To start with, they learn the lighting patterns in the house so that when the building is unoccupied, the lights mimic the normal activity. Next, they learn the sound of the doorbell, so that when the doorbell rings, the lights will come on as if the householder is answering the door. Similarly, the BeON Home bulbs learn the sounding of smoke detectors and will automatically turn the lights on if a fire is detected in the building. Finally, the bulbs come with a backup battery which keep the lamps on even if the power fails.

All-in-all, it looks a pretty neat solution providing a deterrent to intruders and enhanced safety for the home-owner and family. The BeON Home is available now and a starter kit costs US$199.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Nick DiMeo is video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Chatlight at CES 2016



logoChatlight is a rechargeable light for your smartphone, tablet, or laptop that illuminates all your video calls and selfies. Chatlight recognizes that it’s not the quality of your webcam that makes a good image, it’s the quality of your lighting that reaCHATLIGHT-inpost1lly makes a difference.

Chatlight is specifically designed for video chatting, no matter when or where you are. The small, unobtrusive light mounts onto your device and provides lighting with fully-adjustable brightness and direction for optimal image quality.

One of the things that makes Chatlight so Chatlight-02special is its long-lasting bulbs and rechargeable battery, something rarely found in other lighting attachments. Chatlight’s bulbs last for over 50,000 hours, and the battery lasts up to 90 minutes on a single charge.

Chatlight is compatible with almost any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop monitor less than 3/4″ thick. It’s sure to improve the image quality of almost any webcam since better lighting means the camera lens can focus more easily and capture a much clearer image.

Chatlight retails for $29.99 and is currently available for purchase on the Chatlight website.


Sengled Pulse Lamp and Speaker Review



redlogoThe Sengled Pulse is a pair of Bluetooth controlled LED lamps (or lights) with built-in stereo speakers. Who would have thought it? A single product bringing together two technological memes; functional convergence and the smart home. Let’s take a look and see what the Sengled Pulse offers on both these themes.

Sengled Pulse Box

Two things struck me as I opened the Sengled Pulse box. The first was the bright red colour of the lamp cases and the second was the size of them. These are big heavy bulbs and it’s going to restrict what fittings can be used with the lamps. The fitting options are further reduced by the direction of the light emitted from the lamps as there’s little sideways illumination. In short, a pendant fitting with a large shade is your basic option.

Sengled Pulse Lamps

The Sengled Pulse is installed just like any other lamp – screw it in! Both screw and bayonet bases are available, which will please UK readers, though in this instance, I was supplied with the screw base variant anyway. Once screwed in and turned on, the lamps are white and bright, and a little brighter than my current Philips Hue bulbs. The box says 600 lumens.

One lamp is designated as the Master and the other as the Satellite. To get them connected together, the easiest way is to power them up close to each other. Once they’ve paired, the Pulses can be moved apart. The other option is to use the Pulse app: more on this later.

Communication with a smartphone is via Bluetooth and the usual process applies for pairing the smartphone with the Sengled Pulse lamps. I was testing with a OnePlus 2 and had no problems.

Sengled Pulse Brightness Sengled Pulse Volume Sengled Pulse Adding

Once paired, the smartphone can control both the brightness of light and loudness of sound through the Pulse app, available from the Apple App Store and the Google Play. Music or other audio plays directly from apps via Bluetooth. The Pulse app is straightforward with two tabs, one for lights and one for sounds. The app handles device management too and a clever pairing feature uses the smartphone’s camera to scan QR codes on the sides of the Pulse lamps. Up to eight Pulse lamps can be joined together.Sengled Pulse QR Code

The app is a bit short on “smart home” features. For example, there’s no way to set the lights to come on at a pre-determined time or to automatically turn on when a Bluetooth connection is made. I was hoping for more.

The speakers in the Pulse lamps are “JBL by Harman” which means that they ought to sound half decent and they do. Music is clear with perhaps a little too much treble at times but given the size of the lamps, there’s never going to be much power behind them. Big powerful songs like Frozen’s Let It Go or Adele’s Skyfall lose their impact. Without damning with faint praise, the Pulse’s sound better than you’d expect speakers-in-lamps to sound and they’re fine for casual music and radio listening.

Ultimately, the Sengled Pulse is a neat solution which compromises the sound to fit everything into the lamp shell, but if convergence is your thing (or you want cool looking red LED lamps), the Pulse is available from Sengled’s online shop for €129 (which is about GB£100) or US$149. It’s available from other online and real-world stores too.

Thanks to Sengled for the review Pulse.


Philips Hue and FC Bayern Munich



Hue Personal Wireless LightingThis is going to be a challenging post for a large chunk of GNC’s audience. Not only is it about football with a round ball, it’s about German football too. Anyway….Philips have partnered with one of the biggest club’s in Europe, Fußball-Club Bayern München to promote Philips Hue LED lighting systemFC Bayern Munich logo (German / English)

With names familiar to soccer fans worldwide, the promotional video shows off the footwork of Xabi Alonso and Rafinha, the skills of Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng and the safe hands of Manuel Neuer. The video’s short lighting sequences illustrate the wide range of options and lamp colour changes, all controllable via an app available for both iOS and Android.

The eye-catching and visually impressive campaign with the FC Bayern stars underlines Philips Lighting’s leadership,” says Thomas Fine, Head of Brand, Communications and Philips Digital DACH. “It also shows how the future of lighting looks in your own home, and how light brings emotions into our everyday life.Light Magic is the 20 second, emotional spot that runs on all major private broadcasters in Germany from mid-December onwards. There’s a longer version of the advert here.

In the coming months, the Munich football stadium will also be equipped with comprehensive exterior LED lighting. Its 380,000 light spots will allow dynamic colour changes with a range of 16 million colours, just like Philips Hue bulbs. The partnership between Philips and FC Bayern Munich is long-term, designed to increase awareness of light as an emotional product and position Philips as the leading innovator in the field of LED lighting.

You can read GNC’s review of the Philips Hue lighting system from last year.


Anglepoise Type 75 Mini Desk Lamp



Anglepoise LogoThere are many products and brands that claim to be iconic but there aren’t that many with the design credentials to back up the claim. The British lighting design company Anglepoise easily falls into the iconic category with the smooth multi-angle balance mechanism from the 1930s embodied in the 1227. I’ve always wanted an Anglepoise lamp and when a Type 75 mini desk lamp appeared in Amazon’s Black Friday deals, I clicked on “Buy”. Here’s the unboxing.

Anglepoise Type 75 Box

Anglepoise Type 75 Top Box

Contrary to what the label says, there was a bulb in the box – it’s in the bubble wrap at the top right.

Type 75 Open Box

Type 75 Unassembled

Assembly is easy – pop the spigot into the base and secure with a grub screw, then hook the springs over the bars.

Type 75 Assembled

I guess these are the money shots – the balance mechanism.

Type 75 Mechanism

Anglepoise mechanism with base

Overall, I’m delighted and loving it on my desk at work. So much so, I’ve put a 1228 with a mid green shade on my wishlist but Santa will need to be especially generous this year.


Flowering Lamp



Science MuseumThe in-house inventor at London’s Science Museum, Mark Champkins, has created this fantastic lampshade that opens like a flower when the light is turned on. The lampshade is made of polypropylene petals and six bi-metallic strips which open up the flower when heated by the light bulb. The flower shade takes about 5 minutes to open up from closed. It’s an ingenious design which doesn’t rely on a complicated motorised mechanism to open the shade.

The photo below shows the lamp from closed to fully open. A cluster of these flower lamps would look great as the they open up.

White Flower Lamps

Manufactured in the UK by a precision sheet metal works, the lamp is exclusive to the Science Museum shop and costs GB£60. Pricey enough if you want four of them, but it would be pretty unique.


Remote Control Lighting



2-pack-gateway_LRGFor the past couple of years I have gotten interested in home remote access devices and methods. Initially I started with inexpensive remote-access IP cameras. I next moved on to getting the original Nest thermostat, which I still have and has been worth every penny. You can read about my experiences here.

Lately I’ve been wanting to be able to remotely turn lights on and off. Let’s say I come home after dark. It would be nice to be able to turn on a porch light from my smartphone. How to accomplish this?

My initial thought was a Belkin Wemo light switch. However, this presents some problems. The current Belkin Wemo light switch only seems to come in a single switch format, so it would be unusable in a 3 switch in one setup. Additionally, Belkin Wemo light switches and wall-mounted plugs only work with wiring schemes that have a so-called “neutral” wire as part of the wiring mix. I know nothing about home electrical wiring, preferring to leave that to the professionals, so I’m not sure it would work with my home wiring.

My next thought was the Phillips Hue lighting kit. The Phillips Hue would certainly work for what I was trying to accomplish, but it seemed to be rather expensive overkill. The Phillips Hue kit of 3 bulbs and the controller sells for $200, with additional Hue bulbs priced at $60 each. Sure, the Phillips Hue can display up to 16 million colors, as well as connect to really cool services such as If This, Then That, but that really seemed a waste for exterior deck lights.

I continued to look, and I ran across an even better solution on the Home Depot website. Home Depot currently sells the TCP Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit with (2) A19 LED Light Bulbs for $79.97 which is substantially cheaper than the Phillips Hue 3 bulb kit. They also sell the TCP Connected A19 bulbs sell for $16.97 each on their website. The TCP controller which must be plugged in to an Ethernet port on the home router can handle up to 50 bulbs each.

Initial setup of the TCP light kit is a breeze. I installed the TCP LED light bulbs into the external deck light fixtures. They are the same size and shape as a traditional incandescent bulb so there was no problem making them fit in the fixtures. They initially perform exactly the way you would expect a light bulb to perform, turning them on and off with the wall switch. Next, I simply plugged in the TCP controller bridge into an unused Ethernet port on my router with the supplied Ethernet cable, and plugged the controller bridge into power. Next, I downloaded the TCP Lighting app to my smartphone (there are both Android and iOS versions). Making sure my phone was connected to my home WiFi network, I ran the TCP Lighting app.

TCP Lighting AppThe first time the app is ran it will pop up with a login screen. You initially click past this screen leaving the fields blank. The app then quickly finds the TCP controller bridge and the TCP LED light bulbs.

Next, I was able to name the lights. During the individual light naming process with the bulbs turned on, they will automatically dim to let you easily identify which bulb is which.

The final step was creating an account on the TCP server, right from within the app. It asks for an email address and a password and quickly creates an account. This allows remote control of my TCP lights anywhere I have a data connection literally anywhere in the world.

I installed the TCP Lighting app on another mobile device, and all I had to do to get it to work was to enter my TCP account credentials into the initial app login screen.

The app also includes the ability to schedule the lights to automatically be turned on and off. The bulbs can also be dimmed from within the app.

The TCP A19 LED bulb produces a warm color temperature similar to conventional incandescent bulbs. They also put out about 800 lumens which is close to what a conventional 60 watt bulb produces. They are rated for 25,000 hours of use.

From an external network, the bulbs will respond to on and off and dimming commands with about a half a second delay which is more than acceptable.

Also of course, the wall light switch must be left in the “on” position in order for remote access to function.

So, problem solved at a more reasonable price than either the Phillips Hue kit or 2 Belkin Wemo WiFi wall switches which wouldn’t have worked anyway since I need a 3-in-1 wall switch version.

 


Switch Lighting LED Lamps



Switch Lighting Co.LED lamps are undoubtedly one of the most energy efficient ways of producing light, but even then the conversion from household AC to low voltage DC creates extra heat that needs to be dissipated. Switch Lighting Co have developed a technique that not only keeps the lamps cool but provides are more natural diffuse light. Todd and Don are illuminated by Gary Rosenfield from Switch Lighting.

Switch’s Infinia lamps are filled with a liquid silicone solution that distributes waste heat throughout the bulb, letting heat leave from a larger surface area. The warm white (2700 K) light is diffused over 300 degrees as well and the lamps can directly replace traditional 40W and 60W bulbs with equivalent Infinia bulbs of only 10W and 6W. The lamps are on-sale now with the 60W bulb available for around US$15 from good retailers nationwide.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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