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Computerized Investing > May 11, 2013
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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

$99.99 (Current Special Price from Satechi, regularly $149.99)

LED desk lamp with touch- control dimmable lighting, one-hour timer and USB charging port.

I like to tell my friends that I work out of one of three offices: my actual office on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, my local coffee shop and my home office in the basement of my condo. In my real office and at home, I rarely use the overhead lighting, as I find fluorescent lighting too harsh, especially when working on a computer. So, at work, I have a boom-type LED lamp that I can swivel around to direct the lighting where I need it on my work space. In my home office, I used to have a halogen lamp until the bulb blew out and in the process shorted out the entire lamp. Being too busy to find a replacement, I had been forced to use the overhead lights until I received a timely shipment from Satechi. If you are a regular reader of this column, you may remember that I have reviewed a couple of different Satechi products over the years, including a portable energy station and a Bluetooth speaker cube, which coincidentally recently stopped working after several months of faithful service. This time, Satechi has released an LED desk lamp. As I write this review from home, I am bathed in its soft glow.

Out of the Box & Features

The Smart LED Desk Lamp comes in two colors, black and white, and I received the white model from the company. The all-plastic body is surprisingly sturdy and I was impressed by the well-weighted base, an Achilles’ heel of many desk lamps I have used over the years. Overall, the lamp weighs just less than four and a half pounds.

The lamp comes fully assembled, so all you have to do is plug in the AC adapter to a wall outlet and then insert the detachable plug into the back of the base. Next to this plug there is also a USB port for charging various USB devices (more on this later).

The Smart LED Desk Lamp has a relatively small footprint, with the base measuring just under 7 inches by 7 inches. It is the perfect size for my cluttered desk at home. Its small size is also why the weighting is needed. While adjusting the lamp and rotating the boom arm, never once did the lamp get the urge to topple over.

The lamp swivels at the base, where the first length of the light attaches to the base with a joint that allows you to adjust the arm up and down. The first section extends roughly 15 inches to another joint that connects to the light “boom” itself. Here, there is another joint that allows you to adjust the light up and down. Ideally, this joint would also allow for side-to-side movement, as does the LED light I use at work. However, this is more of a “wish” item, and the lack of such movement really doesn’t detract from the overall utility of the light. What is more important is that the joints were sufficiently stiff enough to keep the lamp in the desired position. Overall, the Smart LED Desk Lamp has a reach of roughly 26 inches and a maximum height of nearly 18 inches.

The light “boom” is nearly 13 inches long and houses 27 LED lights (18 white and nine yellow). Satechi rates the lifespan of the lamp at over 40,000 hours (up to 22 years with five hours of daily use), so it is highly unlikely you’ll ever need to replace any of the bulbs. Furthermore, by using energy-efficient LED bulbs, the Smart Lamp uses only one-eighth the power of an incandescent lamp and less than half the power of a fluorescent lamp. It also has a low environmental impact because the lights don’t contain mercury or other environmentally harmful substances.

The touch controls for the lights are on the base itself. There are buttons for each of the four lighting modes as well as the on/off button, timer button and two buttons to adjust the brightness up or down.

Lighting Modes

The lamp has four lighting modes: reading, study, relaxation and bedtime. Study Mode is the brightest, using all of the lights, which means the light is mostly white with a color temperature of 6,000K to 7,000K (color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, with higher numbers closely resembling daylight and lower numbers representing the warmer, more yellow color of incandescent bulbs). Reading Mode is the next-brightest setting (4,300K to 5,300K) and has a noticeable yellow tint to it. Relaxation Mode has color temperature of 2,500K to 3,300K and adds even more yellow than Reading Mode. Lastly, Bedtime Mode has the same color temp as Relaxation Mode, but uses only the yellow lights, making it dimmer.

For each mode you can also select different brightness levels. Also, when you depress the timer button, the lamp will shut off after an hour.

Perhaps what impressed me the most about the lamp is its flicker-free operation. The halogen lamp I used to have in my home office would always flicker, a major distraction. After well over 100 hours of use, I have not noticed a single flicker.

USB Charger

A nice addition on the back of the base is a USB port for charging your various USB devices. However, Satechi came up a little short with its power output. The port emits five watts (0.7 amps) of electricity, which isn’t enough for some of today’s most power-hungry devices, namely the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone needs a full amp of current to charge efficiently while the iPad uses a 10 watt (2.1 amps) charger. If Satechi was going to take the time to add this functionality, it would have been better if they had thought about the power needs of today’s devices.

Overall

The Satechi Smart LED Desk Lamp has become a welcome addition to my home office. Its small footprint allows it to fit in cluttered or confined spaces and its flexible swivel arms lets you put the light exactly where you want it. The different lighting modes offer differing color temperatures depending on your needs. For those who are environmentally conscious, LED lights are more energy efficient and do not contain harmful materials. The USB charger seems to be more of an afterthought, given its lack of power output, but it will allow you to charge various USB devices. Currently, the lamp is selling for a “special” price of $99.99 at the Satechi website and other online retailers. I am not sure how long it will last, but at that price point I think it is a tremendous value. If you are looking for a desk lamp, especially if you are sending someone off to college this fall, the Satechi Smart LED Desk Lamp is well worth a look.

Pros

  • Minimal footprint
  • Sturdy design
  • Strong joints hold light in place
  • USB port for charging devices

Cons

  • USB port has relatively weak power output given the needs of today’s devices

Satechi Smart LED Desk Lamp with USB Charger

$99.99 (Current Special Price from Satechi and currently $99.99 from Amazon.com)

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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