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Bright Ideas in LEDs Start to Appear
March 2010 By John R. Quain


HumanscaleThey've been touted as the energy-saving savior of the lighting industry: LEDs (light emitting diodes). They last forever (10 times longer than CFLs), use half of the electricity consumed by CFLs, and throw off just a fraction of the heat (thus reducing the cost of air-conditioning). LEDs are also very durable and don't contain any mercury (the toxin that gives CFLs a bad rap).

However, LEDs have faced several problems:

The light they emit is very focused, so it usually takes an array of LEDs to produce adequate reading light, which can also result in a strange multiple shadow effect.

Neutral white light can be difficult to produce in LEDs, which is why those inexpensive Christmas tree lights you picked up on sale look blue.

Lastly, household replacement LED bulbs are wicked expensive. A good LED equivalent to 65-watt incandescent can cost $50.

Nevertheless, there are a few products that have overcome these early limitations. One model is the Humanscale Element, a desk lamp (or more properly "task lamp") that uses a single LED to produce an eye-pleasing white light without all the weird shadows. Also available are the Klipsch LightSpeakers: they're LED lights and....wireless speakers. To learn more, watch the clip above

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