Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CES 2012 Recap: LEDs Front and Center

Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured countless exciting new products, ranging from cool toys, to curious gadgets, to indispensible productivity enhancers. Mixed in with all of that was a surprisingly large contingent of lighting and illumination products and manufacturers – as well as a full panel discussion on developments in the industry. We mentioned that this was surprising – but only to non-regular readers of this blog. Our faithful followers know that this is one of the most exciting times in recent memory in lighting innovation.

In today’s blog, we’ll learn some more about two major unveilings at CES 2012 – one of which is more at the “cool new toys” end of the spectrum, and one at the “indispensible household product” end. As you may have guessed, each of them features the LED as its central technology.

Sony’s Crystal LEDHDTV : Past editions of this blog have explained the difference between LEDs, LCDs, OLEDs, and even more acronyms. Here’s why this TV is special: up until now, TVs called “LED” actually consisted of LCD displays, backlit by LED bulbs. This is a true LED display, made up of 6 million tiny LEDs that constantly shift color to produce the picture you see. This technology has been long-discussed, but not seen until now. At press time, pricing and retail availability had not been announced.

Switch Lighting’s LED Bulb ( Known as the Switch75 LED, this bulb is a lot more revolutionary than its name might indicate. Switch calls this bulb the only “true incandescent replacement.” The Switch75 certainly appears to be the full package: no mercury, unlike CFLs, no buzzing when dimmed, unlike incandescents, and all-weather and temperature performance. What makes it really special, though, is the liquid-filled bulb (as opposed to air or gas) – the liquid acts as a cooling agent for the LEDs, and also amplifies the illumination that they provide. Don’t expect to pick up a 4-pack of these for a few dollars, though. Prices currently hover around $35, with a drop to $20 promised by next year. Switch says that businesses can make up that price difference in energy cost savings within 6 months, while household users will break even in two years.

There you have it: the next few years of technology, before our very eyes. Watch our blog for further developments as they arise!

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