Tag Archives: Light

GE BIAX CFL Light Bulb Long Term Test

Way back in the mid-noughties, my wife and I were preparing to have a family. Our small house suited us perfectly but to cope with little ones we needed a bit more space and so converted our roof space into bedrooms. During the conversion, our downstairs hallway was completely trashed installing the staircase but with a spot of redecoration, all was well. There were new light fittings and I needed eight 40W-equivalent bulbs.

Looking back at 2007, LED bulbs were rare and expensive, so the choice was incandescent or CFL. The lights in the hallway are probably the most used of all our lights, so with an eye for the running costs, I went with CFL and ended up with a pile of GE 9W “Extra Mini” bulbs, officially GE BIAX Electronic. That’s 72 W total instead of 320 W with old-style bulbs.

This evening, I think the very first one of these failed. That’s over 15 years of use and surprisingly when I got a spare out of the cupboard, that’s exactly what it says on the box!

To formally review these bulbs, they output 480 lumens in a warm white. The bulbs turn on instantly but take a few minutes to come to full brightness and whiteness. They won’t work with dimmers. The short stubby size means that the bulbs will fit in most light fittings but they’re not great to look at. Opaque shades only. And they last for 15 years. Buy.

I only have one spare bulb which is now in use, so as the others start to fail, I’ll have to switch over to LED bulbs. They’ll only consume about 5 W and cost about £3 each from a reputable manufacturer.

The price of light is amazingly cheap when you think about it.

Lume Cube Panel Mini Review

In addition to my writing for Geek News Central, I record the occasional product review video to accompany some of the articles. Over the years, I’ve been improving my equipment – tripod, boom arm, lavalier mic, cage  – and now it was time to improve my lighting. After some market research and a friend’s recommendation, I decide to buy a Lume Cube Panel Mini. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, so let’s take a look at the Panel Mini in more detail.

The Panel Mini is a pocket-sized LED lamp roughly the size of a credit card (90 mm x 55 mm) but quite a bit fatter at 10 mm and it weighs in at 85 g so it’s heavy for the size. The Mini’s case is made of metal in a gunmetal grey with softly rounded corners and it feels like a quality item. In the box with the Panel Mini is a rubbery white softening diffuser, a simple hot shoe mount and a USB C charging cable.

Looking over the Panel Mini, the array of 60 LEDs is visible on the front,  and on two sides there are 1/4″ threads for mounting the light in a preferred orientation. On the third side, there is on/off/select button, a rocker dial and a USB C charging port. Finally, round the back is a small monochrome OLED display showing battery life, brightness and white temperature.

The Panel Mini powers up with a long press on the small button on the top right. Once turned on, the same button toggles between brightness and colour temperature, and the rocker dial is used to control brightness and temp. The brightness goes up in 5% increments and is rated at 550 lux at 0.5 m on 100% brightness. The white colour temperature goes between 3200K and 5600K in 100K increments and allows matching colour temperature to the ambient light.

At maximum brightness, the display shows around 1.2 hours of use: that’s 1 hour 12 minutes. In one test, I got 1 hour 7 mins but as soon as the brightness comes down, the battery life goes way up. The spec says 1.8 hours for recharging and I wouldn’t quibble about that.

I have my Panel Mini mounted onto a SmallRig frame as shown in the picture on the right. In that shot, the light diffuser has been put on. Overall, the Panel Mini works really well both for pieces to camera and for doing product reviews on the bench.

Frankly, the only issue I have is the softening diffuser and there are two problems. First the hole in the rubber is 1/4″ size so when using the supplied hot shoe mount, the retaining wheel slightly crushes the diffuser. It would have been much better if the hole in the diffuser had been a bit bigger. Secondly, the black rubber washer on the top of the mount is discolouring the white rubber. Look closely at the area around the hole in the diffuser in the first photograph and the yellowish fading can be seen.

In terms of price, I paid GB£69 for it at Amazon.co.uk but it’s priced 51.95€ and US$59.95 on Lume Cube’s website so there was definitely a bit of premium added there. Watch out for that and see if you can get a better deal than I did elsewhere. Aim for between GB£50-£60.

There are a number of copycat lights out there with dubious names for half the price and although I haven’t any direct experience of these, my feeling is that you get what you pay for: the Panel Mini feels well made.

In summary, I bought the Panel Mini on the back of four promises: Lume Cube’s reputation, 1+ hour battery life, white colour temperature adjustment and USB C charging. I think it’s been a good call and I’m really expecting the Panel Mini to give my product reviews and presentations a lighting boost. Watch out for more videos coming soon.

OxyLED T35 LED Desk Lamp Review

The OxyLED T35 Desk Lamp is a small silver grey LED desk light powered by USB. It’s a neat idea given the availability of USB ports and reduces the need for mains power sockets, which are always in short supply. Let’s take look and see if the T35 can replace my Anglepoise.

The T35 has three main parts – a weighted base, an upright with microUSB power socket and a cross-piece with two rows of white LEDs at the end of the longer side. The cross-piece is hinged at the upright to raise or lower the light. and can fold parallel to the upright. The base is 13.5 cm across and with the cross-piece horizontal, the light is 24.5 cm tall. At full reach, the T35 is just under 45 cm. From a distance the silver grey finish does a fairly good impression of being metal, but it’s obviously plastic when you touch it.

In the box, there’s the lamp itself along with a 1.5 m USB cable. The cable is white, which might appeal to Apple lovers, but I would have preferred a colour matched cable in dark grey. Even black would have been better in my opinion. It’s also a pity that the microUSB port isn’t a bit lower down the the upright…or a right-angle microUSB plug would have been good too.

Some descriptions of the T35 refer to the lamp as being USB-charged but let’s be clear here: it’s USB-powered as there’s no battery. Pull out the cable and the light goes off. Obviously the T35 can be run from a USB battery pack if needed. The low voltage is good for children too – no-one’s going to get a shock off this.

On the plus side, the OxyLED lamp can adjust the LED brightness. Tap the on/off button once and the T35 comes on full power (160 lm), but now hold the button and the brightness will slowly fade to the desired level. Tap it again and the light will go completely off. I like this feature as I can get the light level just right. The LEDs put out a slightly yellow colour, which is much better than the harsh blue white of some LEDs.

The max power output of the T35 is 4W so clearly there are energy-saving benefits over a normal desk lamp that at worst, has a 60W incandescent bulb. The LEDs are expected to have a 20,000 hour lifespan. That’s over 2 years.

Where it goes wrong for the T35 is the price – it’s currently on Amazon.co.uk for a penny under GB£40 (though it’s a slightly more reasonable US$29.99 on Amazon.com). That’s too expensive for a plastic light without a battery no matter how stylish. I think somewhere around £15-£20 would be about right.

Thanks to OxyLED for providing the T35 for review. Unboxing video below.

Sengled Pulse Solo Review

Sengled LogoLast year I reviewed the Sengled Pulse, a pair of Bluetooth-controlled LED lights with built-in speakers. The Pulse pair sounded surprisingly good but were somewhat indiscreet, being big and bright red. For those wanting something a bit more subtle, Sengled have developed the Pulse Solo, a smaller single LED bulb in white and silver that still provides stereo sound. Let’s take a look and see if the new Solo still delivers big impact from a small space.

I was recently on holiday in Mallorca and used the trip to test out the Solo. Never one to pass up a few gratuitous body shots, here’s the Solo soaking up the sun by the pool.

Sengled Pulse Solo

Sengled Pulse Solo

With a standard E27 screw fitting (B22 bayonet available too), installation is simple and the smaller bulb size makes it much easier to find suitable lamps. The dimensions are 72 mm x 142 mm, weighing in at 340 g, which is hefty enough for a light bulb. In terms of lighting, the bulb is more of a spotlight than anything else, though it’s not tightly focussed. As a result the Solo casts good light if the lamp is high up or intended to be directional, but I wouldn’t use the Solo in a side or table lamp. The brightness is rated at a maximum of 550 lumens which is slightly less than the 600 of the original Pulse lamps but is comparable with other LED smart bulbs, such as Philips Hue.

The LED light is on the warm side of white at 2700K – that’s extra warm white according to some commentators. Here’s the Solo powered up in one of Ikea’s finest illustrating the light colour and distribution.

Sengled Pulse Solo in Lamp

Once screwed in and powered up, the Solo is available for Bluetooth pairing in the normal way. I paired successful with a couple of devices, including a OnePlus 2 smartphone and Nexus 9. Once paired, the Pulse Solo works as a Bluetooth speaker without any further intervention. For greater control of the volume and brightness, there’s the Sengled Pulse app available for both Apple and Android devices. The app appears to connect to the Solo via a second Bluetooth device but the app handles that pairing by itself.

Sengled Pulse Sengled Pulse Sengled Pulse

The app’s changed a little since the last time and it’s now possible to control both the brightness of the lamp and the volume of the speaker from the same screen. Overall, this is an improvement but there’s no visual feedback on the volume level. You do end up with two volume controls, though, one for the Solo through the app and one for the mobile device itself.

As with the bigger Pulse, the Solo’s speakers are “JBL by Harman” and Sengled have managed to squeeze a pair of 1″ 3W speakers into the Solo. Obviously these aren’t going to be hifi quality as the stereo separation is neglible, bass is limited and they struggle with the treble (“esses” suffer) at maximum volume. However, it’s easy to focus on the negatives when the Solo is actually very listenable and fills a small room at full blast. It’s also quite fun when people can’t work out where the music is coming from.

To summarise, the Sengled Pulse Solo is a smaller less obtrusive solution than the larger red Pulse, but the reduction in size is at the expense of audio quality. Aside from my foreign travels, I found the Solo was a tidy solution to desk clutter too, as I could put the Solo into my work lamp, providing both warm light and musical entertainment without cables everywhere

In the end, I think that people who like high quality sound for listening will find the Solo wanting and should perhaps considered the larger Pulse, but for many people who want a little casual backgound music, the Solo will work out fine. The Pulse Solo can be bought direct from Sengled for €59.90 though the bayonet version (B22) is available for only GB£27.93 on Amazon.co.uk.

Thanks to Sengled for the review Pulse Solo.

Luci: Lighting the World


Luci is an inflatable solar power light. It runs on lithium-ion batteries. Luci can be charged in 4–6 hours and will give you 6–12 hours of light. It will maintain a single charge for up to 3 months. You can even set Luci to two brightness levels to help maintain a charge. The enclosure is made of PVC and is waterproof. Luci weights only 4.5 ounces and is 5″ in diameter. It collapses down to the size of a small dinner plate. It is easy to store and carry, making it great for camping, hiking or emergency situations. Luci is also being developed to be used in the developing world, where over 3 billion people either live in areas where the grid is unavailable, unaffordable or unreliable. A simple light can aid in education, increase productivity and lower crime.

Luci is a product of M-Powered which is a benefit corporation. Luci is available thru the website and they hope to have it available in retail stores. They have a buy one give one program. When you buy a Luci for yourself another will go to someone in a developing country. Luci is currently an indiegogo project and they are looking for contributions.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

Support my CES 2020 Sponsor:
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Ebook Light and iPad Stand Reviews

Over the Memorial weekend, I purchased a couple of accessories for both my Kindle and my iPad. Neither are complicated enough for a full post, so I thought I would review both within a single post. The first is a eBook light from Belkin, the second is the Mini-Stand for the iPad from Targus.

I was looking for an e-book light that wouldn’t cost me an arm and leg but was fairly sturdy. I finally decided on the eBook light from Belkin. It works, but I am not sure it is going to be the last e-book light I purchase.

Ebook Light

I was a little annoyed when I realized that it required three AAA batteries and none were provided. This is a pet peeve of mine, if you sell a product that requires batteries, either provide the batteries or clearly state no batteries provided. According to the Target site the package should have included batteries, so I double checked the box and there were no batteries. So I spent 10 minutes try to find batteries to test the light. The second more long-term problem is that when you clip the light to the Kindle it is not tight at the bottom of the clip. Because of the arm it is a little top-heavy, so the bottom pulls away slightly, this is something I may or may not get use to. I do like that the arm is adjustable in all directions. The light is bright enough even at the lower level that reading on the Kindle even with the room light off is quite enjoyable.

Mini-stand for the iPad

The second accessory was a stand for my iPad. I was again looking for something simple, not too expensive and easy to carry. I found the Targus mini-stand at Walmart and so far I am very happy with it. It is a simple clear block of hard plastic. There are spaces at both end where you can place the iPad. The angle of the iPad will depend on which end you choose. You can place the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode in the stand. It does not work if you have a cover on the iPad. The stand is about as thick as two original iPads, but not too heavy. I like that it is really simple with no parts that can break and easy to carry. Also at less than $15.00 the price was right. If you are looking for something fairly inexpensive that works, the Mini-stand from Targus is a good choice. An added bonus is it works well with the iPhone too.

Giant Shift Key LED Lamp

If you are look for a cool geeky gift for the holiday season, then you might want to check out this Giant Shift Key LED lamp.  Yes, it’s exactly what it says.

Powered either via USB or three AA batteries, you simply press down on the key to turn it on and off.  (Actually, what would be exceptional cool is if it actually worked as a Shift key when plugged in by USB…but it doesn’t.)

At the moment you have to order them in quantities of 10 or more, but no doubt this will be hitting the likes of IWOOT, Firebox and ebay soon enough.  Wow! I just checked ebay and someone already is selling them at 10x markup.  Maybe I should order a batch….