Typically, I wouldn’t review a lamp. Once again, my wife was the guilty party – wanting something to craft with next to her chair.
Whenever my wife goes all Zen over something, I start learning things. Like artificial light is bad for cross stitching.
I will spare you the lecture on how similar colors are hard to discern in artificial light. Instead, let’s take a look at the TaoTronics Elune TT-DL01 LED Lamp.
So why LED anyway? What’s wrong with traditional lighting in general? Opinions vary, of course – and your mileage may vary. But let’s look at the big concepts.
More green. LED consumes considerably less energy – which will help you save the planet, even if you don’t notice much savings on your electric bill. Hey, I’m all for saving energy and doing my part – as long as the product serves the purpose I purchased it for.
LED lighting is supposed to be smoother; no flickering – to reduce eye strain. It has to be better than the florescent lights I work under eight hours a day.
A nice thing about LED is that it doesn’t generate a bunch of heat. In fact, it stays COOL to the touch even in the brightest mode.
Finally, LED lights can be manipulated by power to dim, alter and otherwise affect the light warmth.
What you REALLY need in a lamp
For most of us, what we really need from a lamp is … well, light. But light where we need it, when we need it and as bright as we need it. The traditional table lamp offers little to nothing in the way of light direction or movement unless you really want to move things around.
While we’re discussing this … sometimes you need a LOT of light. Sometimes you don’t. Some lamps come with a two or three way switcher/dimmer and if you can stand the buzzing, you can put a variable dimmer adjuster on a lamp.
Solving these problems is what this lamp does best.
The Elune lamp is basic, but pleasant looking. It’s mostly plastic (it’s very light – other than the weighted bottom that keeps the long neck standing up) but it feels sturdy enough.
The controls are on the front of the lower neck and consist of the light touch membrane type buttons you might find on a microwave. They don’t require any pressure – just a touch. There are eight buttons total; two for manual dimming, four presets (reading, study, relax and sleep), a power button and a timer button.
The unit uses what looks like a very standard AC adapter – a nice touch, as it isn’t hardwired into the lamp; you plug it in. That way if your new morkie puppy chews the crap out of the cable you can replace it pretty easily. The box on the other end of the plug is small, but you’re likely to lose a plug on a powerstrip due to the size.
The main body of the lamp is a two piece arm mechanism. The bottom arm (without the light) can bend about 65 degrees forward, letting you put the light right where you need it. The top arm also bends; about 120 degrees forward. This proves rather useless 90% of the time because it is really only effective when the top arm is at the top 45 degrees range. But it is still an option. You can also “close” the lamp’s top arm and lay it against the bottom arm when not in use which makes it less of a snagging hazard.
An odd thing – the bottom arm has a slit cut in it that lets the LED lamps shine through the back when closed. This lets you put a thin strip of light BEHIND the lamp if for some reason you need it. An interesting choice.
It’s a lamp, folks. You turn it on and off. You make it brighter and darker with the plus and minus buttons. The timer button will leave the light on for 60 minutes before powering it off (the power light blinks to let you know it’s activated). The swivel arms will get the light where you need it. The arm mechanism also swivels 180 degrees; all the way to the right and left.
How much more advanced can a lamp be?
What makes this lamp different and more useful are the four preset modes. At first, you might think these are just “levels of brightness” type presets, but they aren’t.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll see there are THREE strips of LEDs in the top arm. Two WHITE strips and one YELLOW strip (9 LEDs per strip). Using combinations of white, yellow and brightness each of the presets offer a different experience.
Reading. In this mode, all the lights are on with heavy emphasis on the white LEDs. This keeps your book pages looking soft, clean white. The yellow keeps it from being too bold. The most important thing? The white pages look white and colors are well preserved in this mode.
Study. Similar to reading mode, all LEDs are on but the yellows go down a notch and the whites go up a notch. This offers the most “natural” light of all four settings. The bold bright white will definitely keep you on task; it almost commands it.
Relax. As you may have guessed, the lamp kicks down the bright almost harsh white lights and cranks up the yellow – providing a nice soothing consistent light. This is the mode you use when you’re watching TV in the living room at night and you want SOME light on but you don’t want it bouncing all over your room, especially if you still have a glossy plasma TV.
Sleep. Kind of confusing here. A light on while you’re sleeping. My guess is that this is for children that can’t go to sleep in pure darkness and need a “night light”. Match this mode with the timer, and you can get the kiddies in bed – keeping the monsters in the closet for at least an hour. This mode shuts off the white LEDs completely and offers a subdued yellow LED experience.
Each of the four modes have five levels of brightness, controlled by the plus and minus buttons. The LED configurations remain the same – just the brightness level changes.
Finally, a single USB port exists on the right side of the bottom arm. This would be useful for possibly powering a USB speaker or fan – but since it is only 1A don’t expect it to power or charge your modern cell phone or table. Still, if you’re in a pinch, you might be able to use it to slow down the drain of your high drain devices.
The Dark Side
No product is perfect and the Elune is no exception.
While durable enough for basic use, I don’t see this surviving as a lamp in a young child’s room. It is still plastic after all and while the hinge mechanisms feel strong and tight, a rough 7 year old boy might take this sucker out if you leave him to his own devices. Unless you are 7 (or heavy hand your hardware) you should be fine.
The unit sent to me for review is black and the glossy plastic attracts fingerprints like crazy. The lamp comes with a microfiber cloth to “hose it down” with, but you might want to go with white to avoid the fingerprints.
The 1A USB plug is a downer. If this guy was 2.1A, we could put it to much more use. As it stands, many consumers are going to get this lamp, excited to have USB power so close at hand – only to be told by their phone or tablet that the device isn’t going to charge very fast.
The biggest problem with this lamp is the price. While this lamp does have more features than competitor lamps, LED lamps can be had for almost half the price of this lamp (at the time of writing). The sweet price for this lamp would be about $50, but it currently sells for over $60. I think a lot of people will consider a lesser alternate lamp over this ten bucks and they would be missing out on the cool modes this thing has.
You need a lamp? Need more natural light? LED sound like a good proposition? You can’t go wrong with the Elune. Yes, it costs a little more, but the variable modes can really make up the difference – IF you can use them.
This would be the greatest lamp for a college dorm room, a den desk or even the bedside.
Rated at 50,000 hours of operation, you won’t be changing a bulb or replacing this lamp any time soon – so the higher price tag may be totally justified.
If you’ve never had an LED lamp before, they may surprise you. If you’re on the fence; give it a try. It is miles better than florescent lights and easier on your eyes over extended time than traditional bulbs. I prefer them.