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Aerelight A1 OLED desk lamp review: Beautiful, but not as practical as it could be

Michael Brown | Jan. 27, 2016
OLEDs don’t need to be small, and they’re not just for TVs.

Aerelight OLED desk lamp

In yesterday’s OLED technology explainer, Jon L. Jacobi noted that organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) technology has applications beyond its use in high-end TVs. The Aerelight A1 desk lamp is a good example: It uses a single five-inch-square OLED to illuminate your desktop work surface. As an object, it’s very pretty. As a desk lamp, it’s not as practical as it could be.

The Aerelight A1 is fabricated from a single piece of brushed aluminum and is available in three anodized finishes: Red, black, or silver. The company says it’s open to the idea of producing additional colors if there’s enough demand. A square of American walnut inset in the base accentuates the lamp’s good looks and delivers a bonus feature I’ll get to in a moment.

This lamp boasts some very cool features: It can produce three levels of brightness, but it doesn’t have a physical on/off switch. To turn it on, you simply touch any part of its metal surface. One touch triggers its lowest brightness, one more brings it to medium, and a third touch cranks it up to maximum. Touching it a fourth time turns it off again. The top of the shade (the surface to which the OLED is mounted) is the most convenient place to tap, but this action causes the lamp to bounce up and down for about 9 or 10 seconds. Touch it again to make it stop and you’ll either increase the brightness or turn it off, depending on which level it’s at. That’s annoying, but it’s not a deal breaker.

Aerelight OLED desk lamp 
The beautifully designed Aerelight A1 is fabricated from a single piece of aluminum, with a slab of walnut inset in its base. Credit: Michael Brown

The hardwood insert in the Aerelight A1’s base hides a Qi electromagnetic induction charger. If you have a compatible phone (or put your phone inside a compatible case), you can charge it by simply placing it on the Aerelight A1’s base—there’s no need to plug in a cable. The company provided a sample case for an iPhone 5/5s that seemed no thicker than most ordinary cases, but I didn’t evaluate it.

At its dimmer levels, the Aerelight A1 barely sips power: My watt-meter measured it drawing just 1.0 watt at its dimmest setting and only 3.0 watts at its mid level. When I increased brightness to its maximum, however, it drew about 10 watts. That made it no more efficient than either a Cree 60-watt-equivalent LED bulb installed in a conventional lamp, or a Ledu L9062 full-spectrum fluorescent desk lamp. On the other hand, it was considerably more efficient than an “energy efficient,” 60-watt-equivalent GE soft-white halogen incandescent that drew 42 watts.


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