This preamble will make sense in just a moment. It’s time to give props to our Editor for having the foresight to hire people who are qualified to give an educated opinion regarding review items. Once upon a job, I worked at a lighting company and attained Certified Lighting Professional certification. Don’t you feel a bit better knowing the review of the Elune portable luminaire is in certified hands? All of me got certified, but the hands to the typing, so there you have it. Now, down to business.
On deck today is the Elune from Taotronics. This sleek looking desk lamp uses an array of LEDs in two different color temperatures to achieve four different working color temperatures. There are also controls to get five different levels of illumination with each color temperature.
Before I get into the review, I’m going to all lighting nerd on you for a bit just so you have some description of lighting terminology surrounding the pertinent details. First off, let’s define “color temperature.” Color temperature is a reference to the color of visible light emitted by a black body radiator when heated to a certain temperature. When you are looking at lighting stuff, you may notice numbers like 27K, 35K, 41K, etc. These are shorthand for 2,700 degrees Kelvin, 3,500 degrees Kelvin, 4,100 degrees Kelvin,, etc.. “So what’s a Kelvin? Is it like a Melvin?” No, it’s nothing like a Melvin (those are very uncomfortable – just ask Death). These Kelvins refer to the temperature scale created by Lord Kelvin, where 0 Kelvin is “absolute zero” (-273.15 C or -459.67 F – cold even by Minnesota standards). When the black body radiator reaches 2,700 K, it gives off a somewhat yellow light like a good ol’ fashioned incandescent lamp (aka “light bulb”). When you get up to 3,500 K, the light looks more plain white, a bit like halogen lamps. Further up the color temperature scale we hit 4,100 K which is the all too familiar institutional look of the 4 foot long linear fluorescent fixtures in the ceilings of offices, schools, etc. all over the place.
The other important factors are related to lumens and the color rendering index. Lumens are a measure of how much light is actually given off by a lamp. More lumens equals more light. Where the lighting industry gets creative is making lamps which use less energy and produce fewer lumens but still look like they are brighter than they really are. This is where the color temperature really comes into play. A higher (lighting lingo is “cooler”) color temperature looks to the human eye like it is brighter even though it isn’t. Sounds weird, but that’s how it works.
The color rendering index is a number sometimes expressed as a decimal or as a percentage or just a number (such as 0.70, or 80%, or 90), which indicates how close the light from the lamp comes to lighting things up to look like they would under sunlight (sunlight = 1.00 or 100% or 100). The way the number is presented is just a preference thing for the manufacturer. The higher the number, the closer objects come to looking like they do under natural light. This is especially important if you need to match colors, which is why the paint sections at the store have their own lighting in the paint chip displays.
I hope color temperature, lumens (Lm) and color rendering index (CRI) make some sense, because we’re going to put them to work. The Elune uses nine LEDs which give off light at about 2,500 K, which looks like almost like candle light; very yellow/”warm.” There are 18 additional LEDs which give off light at about 7,000 K; a bit blueish/”cool,” like being outside on a sunny day. The Elune has four color temperature settings: Sleep (about 2,500K), Relax (about 3,500K), Reading (about 5,000K), and Study (about 6,000 K). Each setting can be selected by pressing a touch sensitive icon near the base of the unit. Power is mixed to the two types of LEDs to get the right balance to get the desired color temperature effect. Just above the color temperature selectors is a pair of buttons for brightness.
There are five levels, which range from about 100 lumens to about 530 lumens. For perspective, a traditional 60W incandescent lamp gives off about 750 to 800 lumens. So the Elune gives off a good deal of light for a desk lamp, making it good for everything from night light to reading to examining something in detail. The Elune also touts a CRI of greater than 90 so when you have it on Study it things should look close what they do under natural light conditions.
An additional feature is a 60 minute timer. The button for the timer is opposite the power button at the bottom of the unit. When you tap the timer button to activate it, the power on/off icon will blink to let you know the timer is running. Put the unit in Sleep on the lowest light level and turn on the timer for a handy night light.
All of the controls are smooth surface, touch sensitive buttons. They work just fine, but they do not offer any tactile feedback and they are sensitive enough that any casual contact actuates the control. This can get a bit annoying when all you want to rearrange it a bit but you end up accidentally turning it off or changing settings. However, this is just a minor gripe.
Also in the box with the Elune are a power supply and a microfiber cloth to clean the unit. The power unit takes standard 110V household current and steps it down to deliver a 12V, 1,5A current to the lamp. This gives the LEDs just enough juice to operate. It also means the manufacturer could include a USB port on the side of the unit near the base. So, you can have your night light and plug in your iPhone (aka alarm clock) and be charged and ready to go in the morning.
The Elune has two hinges and pivots 180 degrees, so you have a decent range of flexibility to find just the right position to light up your stuff. While moving the unit through its range of motion, it feels a little on the fragile side, but this is probably because it is mostly plastic.
Now, we have covered functionality, let’s talk looks. The Elune comes in black or white. The parts of the unit are all rectangular with rounded corners. The body parts are slender and, while lacking any flair, offer simple and clean lines. It’s nothing fancy, but not bad.
Now for the bitter pill. The light given off is even and the color temperature options are useful. The five light levels provide good flexibility. The lamp can light up a desk nicely. The retail price of the Elune is $199.99, and the price I spotted on Amazon is $69.99. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite up to either price. If you do some searching you can find the same lamp under different names and at lower prices. The Elune does its job well enough but the hardware doesn’t justify the price. The parts are not expensive, even with 27 LEDs, a USB port and a touch pad. All of these elements have been around long enough that the Elune should come in around the $40 to $60 price point. I was especially disappointed in the flimsy feel of the hardware in relation to the asking price. If I’m going to spend $199.99 on a desk lamp, it had better be built like a tank and have more style than a folded yardstick.
My advice – this lamp works OK, but shop around, and definitely don’t pay anymore than $70.00. More than that, and you can drop our rating by 1 at each additional $25.00 spent.
Provides: Desktop illumination, sleep functionality and USB connectivity