In 1992, twelve shipping containers were washed off of a freighter enroute from Hong Kong to the United States. Among the containers washed off the ship was one packed with a delivery for The First Years, Inc. (formerly Kiddie Products, Inc.)—thousands of rubber ducks, frogs, turtles, and beaver bath toys.
Unlike most bath toys, the Friendly Floatees line of toys from The First Years had no drainage holes and were thus completely water tight—leaving them to float on indefinitely unless damaged. Two Seattle-based oceanographers—Curtis Ebbesmeyer, seen here, and James Ingraham—jumped on the odd event as the opportunity of a lifetime.
In normal oceanographic drift pattern studies, 500-1,000 drift bottles are released. The spill of bath toys represented an unprecedented opportunity to track ocean currents as a whopping 28,800 of them had spilled out of the damaged cargo container. Within ten months, the bath toys began washing up on the shores of islands off the coast of Alaska. Curious beach combers and school children have been recovering them around the world ever since.
The high recovery rate and the large distances the bath toys have traveled have played a critical role in both the refinement of theories surrounding ocean currents and movement as well as in raising awareness about environmental conditions and the interconnectivity of the world’s oceans.
Smart bulbs are great and all, but what if you just want a super-efficient LED bulb? It’s not too hard to pick out the perfect LED bulb—once you know what you’re looking for, that is.
What to Look for in an LED Bulb
Have you ever replaced a lightbulb only to find that your replacement is too bright, too dim, or just unreasonably ugly? That’s the thing about bulbs, they’re all slightly different, and you can’t make any guesses.
Luckily, there’s not too much to keep track of. You just need to consider where you’ll put the bulb, and what brightness or color temperature is appropriate for that space. You should also consider the fixture you’re using and whether or not you need a dimming bulb.
Brightness: We usually judge the brightness of LED lightbulbs in terms of “watt equivalence.” Most people consider 60-watt bulbs to be “normal,” while 45 watt bulbs are “soft.” If you’re buying a light for a dimming fixture, we suggest getting one that’s pretty bright (so you have a wider dimming or brightening range).
Color temperature: “Warm” lights give off a slightly orange glow, while “cool” and “daylight” bulbs look a bit blue. “Soft white” bulbs are usually considered “neutral.”
Fixture: All of the bulbs in this article have a standard E26 base (which works with the majority of residential lighting fixtures). You just need to consider what bulb shape is appropriate for your fixture. An Edison bulb may look great in an exposed or hanging fixture, but it won’t be bright or stout enough to fit in an enclosed fixture or a recessed ceiling fixture.
Dimming and non-dimming: You can use dimming bulbs with non-dimming fixtures, but you should avoid using non-dimming bulbs with dimming fixtures (it’s not a safety issue, but the bulb might flicker). Why buy non-dimming bulbs at all? Because they’re cheaper, silly!
Now that you have an idea of what to look for, let’s get into it. Here are the best LED bulbs that aren’t smart bulbs.
Best Overall: Great Eagle 60W Equivalent (4 Pack)
Great Eagle’s non-dimmable LED bulbs are cost-effective, comfortably bright (60W equivalent), and durable. They’re just great for any situation, and they come in a variety of color temperatures from warm to white to daylight. This is a great bulb for anyone who wants something that’ll just work well and look good.
Keep in mind these aren’t dimmable bulbs—we’ll get to those in a second.
Best Budget Option: Philips 60W Equivalent (16 Pack)
These non-dimmable Philips bulbs are super duper cheap. They’re 60-watt bulbs with a soft white temperature, so they’ll work perfectly in most environments (Philips also sells 40-watt versions). There’s not much else to say here—these are some of the cheapest LED bulbs you’ll find, and they come from a reputable brand.
Best Budget Option
Best Dimmable: LUXRITE 100W Equivalent (4 Pack)
As we mentioned earlier, it’s good to get bright bulbs for your dimmable fixtures. That way you have a large brightness range to choose from. These LUXRITE bulbs are 100-watt equivalent (pretty bright), and they come in soft white, cool white, and bright white color temperatures. They’re also reasonably priced, especially considering they’re rated for indoor and outdoor use.
Temperature Changing: Philips SceneSwitch 60W Equivalent (3 Pack)
The Philips SceneSwitch is a bit of an anomaly. It’s a 60W equivalent bulb that can change its color temperature with the flick of a switch. Really—it doesn’t require a dimmer or anything, you just flip your switch up and down and the lightbulb changes to a different color setting. (You can sync the bulbs by rapidly flipping the switch three times.)
Philips’ SceneSwitch bulbs are a relatively cheap (and easy) alternative to smart bulbs. They could work well in any setting, including lamps or multi-bulb fixtures. Just keep in mind they won’t play nice with most dimming fixtures.
For Recessed Ceiling Fixtures: Philips 65W Equivalent (6 Pack)
Recessed ceiling fixtures can technically work with any lightbulb, but they work best with long flat BR40 bulbs that can shine light evenly throughout the room. Philips’ dimmable BR40 bulbs are a great option for anyone looking to freshen up their ceiling fixtures. They’re relatively affordable, they put out a soft white glow, and their moderate brightness (65W equivalent) should work well in any kitchen, hallway, or living room.
These bulbs are dimmable, which means they can work with both dimmable and non-dimmable fixtures.
For Recessed Ceiling Fixtures
Best Edison: LUXON 40W Equivalent (6 Pack)
LED Edison bulbs work great in hanging or exposed fixtures, and they’re sometimes appropriate for ceiling fans or enclosed light fixtures. And hey, they’re way more efficient and long-lasting than real filament bulbs.
LUXON’s LED Edison bulbs are a great option for anyone who wants that vintage vibe. These 40W equivalent bulbs are the perfect brightness for most exposed or hanging fixtures, and they put off a pleasing warm color that feels like days gone by. They’re also pretty cheap, considering how expensive LED Edison bulbs were just a year or two ago.
We’ve reviewed a lot of smart light bulbs here at PCMag, and while we’ve yet to find one that does it all, the Yeelight Smart LED Bulb comes pretty darn close. It’s dimmable, offers 16 million colors, and connects to your home network wirelessly, without the need for a hub or bridge. It supports Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, and Alexa, Google, and Siri voice commands, and it’s relatively affordable at $25.99. It also offers a user-friendly app that lets you configure lighting effects and create lighting schedules. All this earns it our Editors’ Choice for affordable smart bulbs.
Design and Features
The Yeelight bulb is a dimmable bulb with a 16-million color palette, a 1700K to 6500K white color temperature range, and an 800-lumen brightness rating equivalent to a 60-watt bulb. It has an E26 base and will fit any standard lamp socket. The bulb is 4.6 inches in length and 2.2 inches wide, and has an expected lifespan of 22 years (based on three hours of use per day). Inside is a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio that is used to connect the bulb to your home network and mobile app.
The mobile app for Android and iOS is easy to use and offers some neat lighting effect features. It opens to a Device screen with tabs for all of your Yeelight bulbs that contain their name, status (online, offline), and an On/Off button. Tapping any tab takes you to a screen where you can customize the bulb by selecting a color from the color palette, choosing a white color temperature, setting the bulb’s brightness level, and selecting Flow Mode, which runs the color gamut between yellow and blue. Flow Mode settings let you control the flow speed for rapid or gradual shifts from color to color and adjust the brightness level while in this specific mode.
The app also offers preset color scenes such as Sunrise (reddish), Night Mode (dim and warm), Movie (blue), Romance (a gradual shift from dark blue to red), and Candle Flicker (mimics a candle), and there’s a Music Flow setting that changes colors based on music and other sounds using your phone’s microphone. Additional settings allow you to create lighting schedules and set timers to have the bulb automatically turn off after a set period of time.
Back at the Device page, there are three buttons at the bottom of the screen. Tap the Scene button to create a one-touch icon to have the bulb turn on or off and change color states. Tapping the Room button lets you create rooms and control multiple bulbs in a group, and the Device button takes you back to the Device screen.
The Yeelight works with Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant voice commands, and you can make it part of your HomeKit home automation system and include it in HomeKit Scenes. It isn’t quite as versatile as Philips Hue bulbs, which work with a variety of smart home platforms including Logitech, SmartThings, Vivint, Wink, and Xfinity Home. That said, you can create IFTTT applets to have the Yeelight integrate with other IFTTT-enable smart home devices such as cameras, doorbells, and plugs.
Installation and Performance
Setting up the Yeelight is easy. I downloaded the app, created an account, and verified it via email. I tapped the Device button at the bottom of the screen, tapped Add Device, and selected the LED Bulb (Color) from the list.
Following the app instructions, I screwed the bulb into a lamp socket, tapped Next Step, selected my Wi-Fi SSID, and entered my Wi-Fi password. I then went to my phone’s Wi-Fi settings, connected to the Yeelight SSID, waited around 12 seconds for the bulb to be added to the Device list, and the installation was complete.
The Yeelight delivered rich colors and a wide range of cool blue to warm yellow shades of white light in our tests. It responded quickly to app commands to turn on and off, change colors, and dim brightness levels, and the Flow Mode, Schedules, Timer, and Music Flow features worked perfectly.
The bulb had no trouble responding to Alexa and Siri commands to turn on and off or change colors, and HomeKit scenes worked without issue. I created an IFTTT applet to have the bulb turn red when an Arlo Pro 2 camera detected motion, and it worked every time.
If you’re looking to add colorful smart lighting to your home without having to connect a hub to your router, the Yeelight Smart LED Bulb is one of the smartest bulbs out there for the money. Granted, it doesn’t offer quite as much interoperability with other smart devices as Philip Hue bulbs do, but it’s more affordable and works with the three top voice control platforms and Apple’s HomeKit (unlike our previous Editors’ Choice, the Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED), and you can make it interact with other connected devices using IFTTT applets. That makes it our new Editors’ Choice for affordable smart bulbs.
Are you scared of the dark? Wait, don’t answer that—it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re going camping or just want to be prepared if the electricity goes out, you’re going to need a good lantern. We got you.
What’s Important to Look for in an LED Lantern?
Having a light source is incredibly important when going on an overnight trip; it is easy to get hurt while fumbling around in the dark, especially in the woods. Here are a few things you should consider to have a fun and safe trip.
Brightness: A lantern should be able to brightly light up a campsite and also let you comfortably read in your tent. The brightness of an LED lantern is measured in lumens—40-80 lumens is a comfortable low setting, and 250-400 is an illuminating high setting. You’ll only really need more than that if your campsite is exceptionally large and you only want to bring one lantern.
Battery Life: If you’re going on a camping trip, you don’t want to have to recharge your lantern or have to bring a bunch of extra batteries. A good lantern should last a couple of nights on one charge. Twenty hours on a high setting and 100 hours on a low setting is an excellent place to start. LED Lanterns usually come in either rechargeable or battery-powered options, but some come in both.
Durability: A good lantern needs to be able to take some falls; it is an outdoor piece of equipment, and the rough environment will inevitably lead to some accidents. Lanterns should be able to withstand a fall from a standard carry height and need to be water-resistant to protect from rain and accidental spills.
Weight: Many people carry lanterns around with them or tie them to their bags to use as a light while hiking. A heavy lantern is just one more thing to carry while you’re walking a trail or climbing up a mountain. It’s also worth noting that battery-powered lanterns do not list the weight with batteries included, so it’s important to account for that if you’re trying to pack light.
Features: Modern lanterns also have extra features like hooks, SOS flashing modes, dry storage, detachable flashlights, and more.
The Best for Most People: UST 30-Day Duro LED
If you’re going on a lengthy trip or are just building an emergency kit for rough times, the battery life of your lantern is an essential feature. The UST 30-Day has ridiculously long battery life; on one charge it can last 22 hours on high and a whopping 30 whole days of continuous use on its low setting. One set of batteries is all you’ll need to keep this thing shining all night long.
This lantern has high, medium, low, and SOS settings and can get up to 700 lumens, bright enough to light a large campsite. It is made of rubberized ABS plastic that can take a beating and survive rough weather conditions. The lantern globe is also removable for more direct light, and underneath is a hook to hang the lantern from your tent pole or a tree. This incredibly versatile lantern is perfect for any circumstance and is our best choice for most people.
The Best for Most People
The Best Budget Pick: Vont Collapsible Lanterns:
Maybe you’re on a budget and just need a light for your tent, or you’re looking for extra lanterns to give to your kids so you can keep track of them at night. These Vont collapsible lanterns are perfect for a variety of situations, are very cheap, and come in packs of 2 or 4. The lower price does sacrifice in both battery life and brightness though, as they only last for around 12 hours at 100 lumens; however, that’s still ample time for a couple of nights (assuming you don’t leave them running while you sleep). These lanterns are great to keep in case of emergencies because they can be used to light up multiple rooms or distributed, so everyone has their own. The LED bulbs collapse into the lantern, saving space and also acting as the on/off switch. If all you need is a light and don’t want to spend too much, the Vont collapsible lanterns are perfect for you.
The Best Budget Pick
The Premium Pick: Streamlight Super Siege
There’s more to modern lanterns than just a bright electric light—there are plenty of additional features that make for a much better experience. The Streamlight Super Siege has everything you could ask for in a lantern. It has 5 LEDs—one white and four red; the white LED provides an insane 1100 lumens of light, and it lasts for six hours on high and 36 hours on low (125 lumens.) The four red LEDs preserve night vision, so your eyes don’t need to adjust continually, and they last for over 140 hours on high and for over 300 on low.
The lantern has a lot more features than just being able to light up a campsite. The Super Seige has a 10,400 mAh rechargeable battery, so there’s no need to purchase any extra batteries, and its USB ports make it double as a portable charger. The lantern is waterproof, has a safe-dry compartment to protect your things from the weather, and if the removable lantern globe is closed tightly, it will even float on water. The Streamlight Super Siege is the premium choice if you’re going on a camping trip.
The Premium Pick
The Best Combination Lantern and Flashlight: LE 1000L
Lanterns have very wide beams that light up large areas well but aren’t a perfect alternative to a regular flashlight which is much better with precision lighting. So, there are combination lanterns that put both features in one product. The LE Camping Lantern 1000L has a white light (70-130 lumens) on the left side and a red light on the right for a combination of 5 different light modes. It uses a directional flashlight on the top as a spotlight (400-1000 lumens) that illuminates up to 1650ft. This lantern is rechargeable, doubles as a portable charger itself, and it is water-resistant; however, the focus on the incredibly bright spotlight comes with shorter battery life (5 hours main light, 6-12 hours left white side). The LE 1000L that is perfect for walking around at night or as a searchlight.
The Best Combination Lantern and Flashlight
The Best Lantern for Emergencies: LE 3300012-DW
Rechargeable lanterns are great, eliminating a lot of the hassle and extra money spent on battery-powered models.
On the other hand, after the battery pack dies if you are still out in the woods or suffering an emergency, you might not be able to plug into an outlet to recharge. Luckily, the LE 3300012-DW is a lantern that works with disposable batteries and also has an internal, rechargeable battery pack. This also makes it a great lantern to have on hand in case of emergencies.
This LE lantern has two detachable flashlights, a compass on top, and can get up to 600 lumens at its brightest setting. It’s water-resistant and comes with a car charger for a quick recharge away from an outlet. The overall battery life isn’t great at 4 hours, but with a fully charged internal battery and three D-cell batteries, it can last twice as long. The LE 3300012-DW is a fantastic lantern that allows for multiple power sources guaranteeing you’ll never be in the dark.
Acer’s new LED projector lets you conveniently view media from your smartphone in any angle, anywhere. We got a first-hand look at IFA 2019, the European consumer electronics trade show happening in Berlin, Germany right now.
At first glance, the C250i looks like a stylish sound blaster. It’s got the barrel shape and features grooves that lightly wind along the device from top to bottom.
While it does function as a Bluetooth speaker, Acer’s C250i primarily is a Full HD wireless projector with 360° multi-angles and the world’s first auto-portrait projection.
Acer imagines that you’ll use the C250i to view media from your smartphone together with friends and family. They also see you using the projector to relax at home or while traveling. Whether you want to project to the ceiling to watch a movie while lying in bed or to the side of your tent to review the day’s best shots, the C250i can comfortably accommodate any projection angle. The grooves and 4-corner keystone correction make it possible.
With the auto-portrait feature, you never have to worry about the orientation of your images or videos again. Whether you project horizontal or vertical media, the projector will detect the orientation and automatically adjust.
The C250i projector offers a 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution, 100% NTSC-compatible wide color gamut, 300 ANSI lumen brightness, a 5,000:1 contrast ratio, five hours of battery life, and a total lifespan of 30,000 hours. The integrated speaker features 5 Watts TrueHarmony sound.
In addition to a Bluetooth connection, you can hook up your computer via the C250i’s standard HDMI port. Want to project directly from a USB drive? Use the USB Type-A port to plug in and project your media. You can also employ the USB Type-C port to connect your phone or PC. Best of all, none of this requires software or drivers; it’s all plug-and-play for both iOS and Android devices.
Last but not least, should your phone run out of battery, you can use the C250i as a power bank and charge your phone.
Unfortunately, the demo available after the press conference wasn’t set up to project anything. The only thing we can confirm at this point is that it’s stylish and reasonably lightweight and portable.
What’s more, you won’t be able to purchase this gem for the holidays this year. It’s not going to be available until January 2020 for USD 489 in the US and EUR 539 in Europe.