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DESIGN
Five LED Task Lights
by Brian Fichtner
on 27 August 2008
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In the spirit of the back-to-school season, this week we highlight a few products to help keep you organized and productive as you resume your routine.

It's no secret that LED technology is paving the way for a brighter, more energy efficient future for lighting. Within the past several years, designs for LED lamps have come a long way and prices (for the most part) have come down significantly. Below is our selection of the best task lamps currently on the market, each of which will make office overtime a little easier on the eyes.

Balmuda Highwire
The Japanese designed and manufactured Highwire (above right) by Balmuda Design is exactly the kind of lamp you'd expect from a country that prides itself on innovation. Created specifically for use in front of the computer, the Highwire packs more than 1,000 lux (the Japanese Industrial Standard is from 300-700) into a very slender package. In fact, with a case thickness of 1.3 cm and an armature diameter of 1 cm, you almost forget the lamp is there. By situating the light source at the optimal height for a conventional flat screen monitor, the Highwire aims to provide flawless illumination for computing. According to the manufacturer, the use of high power LED's provides an optimal "white" light viewing source which is more compatible with light emitted by computer monitors. Two models are available depending on the size of your computer display, selling at $630 or $660 respectively at Balmuda.

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Koncept Z-Bar High Power
The original Z-Bar task lamp, designed by Peter Ng, was selected "Best in Category" for I.D. Magazine's 2006 Annual Design Review and later chosen by TIME Magazine as "Best Invention of the Year" in its 2007 Tech Buyer's Guide. Pretty nice kudos for such a simple design. The follow up to the initial Z-Bar now utilizes high power LED's, promising greater energy efficiency and a longer product lifespan. Like the Highwire, the Z-Bar High Power is available with a daylight white LED array (5500k), or it can be purchased with a warm white LED array (3500k). We'd recommend purchasing the daylight white version for any extensive desktop computing. $170 direct from Koncept.

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Ingo Maurer EL.E.DEE
Recently the subject of a major career retrospective at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the German lighting designer Ingo Maurer has made a career out of challenging our conventional thinking of what a lamp can be or look like. He was among the first designers to utilize LED technologies and celebrated their industrial qualities in a poetic fashion. While the EL.E.DEE is by far the most expensive task lamp in our selection at a whopping $4,445 from Moss, it's also the most beautiful. A Touch Tronic DC electronic transformer-sensor-dimmer makes for a continuously variable light output, while the ball-and-socket joint in the base allows for a freely adjustable arm. We suggest leaving the locking pliers in place.

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Herman Miller Leaf
The Leaf Lamp, designed by Yves Behar in 2006, is hailed as a sensual piece of sculptural design that packs a green punch. Two variable controls on the base, similar to early generation iPods, allow users to adjust both light intensity and color. The lower blade rotates 180 degrees and pivots both 27.5 degrees forward and 23 degrees backward, while the upper blade pivots 210 degrees to extend for direct and indirect illumination. While Dieter Rams, the legendary design director of Braun, would likely scoff at the flamboyant twists of its armature, the Leaf does offer visual relief to an otherwise mundane office landscape. Available for $500 from Design Within Reach.

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Pablo Designs Brazo
A Gold winner in Business Week Magazine's 2008 IDEA Design Awards, the Brazo task lamp exudes a no-nonsense personality that's ideal for any Gattaca-themed work environment. The Brazo, which contains 18 high power LEDs housed in a pyrex tube, features a calibrated light focus and brightness control in a machined aluminum body. With 360-degree arm rotation, 90-degree head adjustability and a height adjustment between 14 and 21 inches, this light is all about efficiency. Available online for $400 from Design Public.

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