Showing posts with label LED. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LED. Show all posts

Jul 29, 2016

TV Types

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is now entering the market, traditional light emitting diode (LED) TVs are benefiting from the extra performance. If you watch movies with the lights off HDR is fine, but the best HDR-equipped full back lit LED TVs can also look good in a bright room.

Among LED TVs, there are two backlight types: Direct LED (full-array) where a large back-light shines through the whole screen, and edge-lit where lights emit from the edges.

Organic light emitting diode (OLED) TVs tend to shine, especially when the lights are off. This is because every pixel emits its own light. OLED is still the best, but if you want a TV above 65 inches you likely will be choosing an LED TV, unless you have a spare $30,000, which is the current cost of large OLED TVs.

Jul 2, 2016

LEDs Making us Fat?

Am thinking they are trying way too hard to get headlines. According to the American Medical Association, which represents about 15% of physicians, "Recent large surveys found that brighter residential nighttime lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning, and obesity." It says, "the effect of streetlight LEDs on drivers and passengers lingers even after we have locked our cars and headed indoors, especially if we have LEDs in our houses."

Incidentally, Doximity, a social network for doctors founded in 2011 now has more members than the AMA.

Apr 22, 2016

Summer Outdoor Lighting Tip

Bugs do not fly toward many LEDs, because bugs are attracted to ultraviolet light and most LEDs do not give off this type of light.

Apr 8, 2016

Buying Light Bulbs

We typically have been buying light bulbs based on how much energy they consume (Watts), regardless of light emitted (Lumens). All that began to change with the advent of different types of light bulbs, such as CFL, halogen, LED, etc., since they consume different amounts of energy to produce the same amount of light.

Lumens measure how much light you are getting from a bulb, regardless of type and regardless of energy consumed. This equalizes all bulbs and types for comparison. More lumens means brighter light.

Another measurement that is not well understood is Kelvin. It is a scale of measurement for the color a light produces. The higher the Kelvin (K) number, the cooler the light appears. Most bulbs will be in the 2,500K to 6,500K range, with 2,500 being the warmest and 6,500 the coolest. Kelvin is usually ignored except for specific lighting circumstances. The 2,700K to 3,000K range is warm and inviting, 3,500K casts a neutral light, 4,100K casts a cool and bright light, 5,500K to 6,500K range is closest to daylight.

To compare brightness of typical old style bulbs, here are a few examples:
Replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens,
Replace a 75W bulb with a bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens,
Replace a 60W bulb with a bulb that gives you about 800 lumens,
Replace a 40W bulb with a bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

Sixty watt bulbs used to be the standard as they offered the best compromise of minimum required light and cheaper cost. Now that energy cost has been so greatly reduced, 1100 lumen lights are becoming the standard minimum. Brighter lights make it easier to see and make everything look better, especially when trying to sell your house.

Jan 22, 2016

Screen Resolution Evolution

Now that the 2016 Consumer Electronic Show has ended, it seems appropriate to recap where we are with TVs and how we got here.

First, 3D TV is dead. Curved screens remain a hard sell. 4K TV is looking at a short life span as it is already being usurped by 8K TV. 8K may suffer the same fate unless TV and movie producers begin to crank out content capable of utilizing the new standards. In times past, we always waited for hardware to catch up to our needs, now we are waiting for content to catch up to hardware.

Sharp released its first 8K TV in 2015. The 85-inch LV-85001 costs $133,000. Samsung showed its 110-inch 8K TV in January, 2016. It also announced that a 11K TV is being developed for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. LG also showed off a 98-inch 8K TV in January, 2016. All of this advancement comes amid a current dearth of 4K content. These advances may still prove to be more resilient than the 3D revolution that never happened.

Advances in hardware and software continue to outrun battery capacity and bandwidth speed. Although bandwidth is less of an issue in Europe and other countries as the US continues to lag, mostly due to politics, not capability.

How we began the race comes from early television. For the first half-century of television, resolution was measured in lines per screen rather than pixels. TV resolution in the 1930s and 1940s had 240 to 819 lines per screen, improving upon previous resolutions. The new resolution used a display method known as progressive scanning, where each line of an image is displayed in sequence, in contrast to the traditional analog method where first odd and then even lines are drawn alternately.

In 1953, analog color TV had 525 lines, establishing the NTSC color standard. Europe followed up in the 1960s by introducing the 625-line standards. However, bandwidth barriers limited widespread adoption of analog HDTV.

In 1977, the Apple II introduced color CRT display to home computers by adapting the NTSC color signal. The Apple II achieved a resolution of 280 pixels horizontally by 192 pixels vertically. By the 1980s, home computer makers began using pixels (picture elements) as a unit of measure.

IBM introduced a VGA standard display of 640x480 in 1987. Since then, demand for digital videos and video games has driven resolution to greater and greater density. Desktop monitors are now a standard resolution of 2560x1600. Mobile devices range lower from 240x320 for the smallest devices.

During the 1990s, plasma TVs and LCD TVs moved toward thinner and lighter TVs. During 1996, digital was officially mandated by the US FCC as a new standard for future DTV/HDTV broadcasting. By 2006, LCDs became more popular due to better daytime viewing and lower prices. LCDs created colored images by selectively blocking and filtering a white LED backlight rather than directly producing light.

HDTV uses a resolution of 1920x1080p, equivalent to 2,073,600 pixels per frame, and known as 1080p. The 4K Ultra HDTV uses 3840x2160p, known as 2160p. This amounts to four times the amount of pixels and twice the resolution of HDTV, hence 4K. The newer 8K increases this eight times to 7680x4320.

OLED improved color by directly producing colored light, allowing for greater contrast. OLED TVs are also extremely thin, measuring in fractions of an inch.

When the iPhone 4 was released, Steve Jobs claimed that the human eye cannot detect smartphone resolution beyond 300 pixels per inch (Apple's limit at the time). However, many others have proven the eye can actually detect at least 900 or greater PPI.

Incidentally, it is the relationship of HD, 4K, 8K, etc., to screen size that makes the difference. Phone screens are small, so HD, 4K, etc., are a waste, as our eyes cannot perceive the difference. Distance between our eyes and the screen is also a factor, that is why many TV manufacturers show the optimal distance for viewing.

As TV sets grow, it takes more pixels to see the same clarity of picture that are needed on a smaller screen. The arguments of not being able to tell the difference between HD, 4K, and 8K are relative to size and distance from the screen. However, 8K is likely beyond the average household to notice any perceptible difference vs. 4K.

May 1, 2015

LED, Lumen, CFL, and CRI

We are now faced with many choices for light bulbs. Prices vary widely for not much difference in light. Here a few things to know about the choices.

First, lumens are the new watts. Watts are power and lumens are light. An old incandescent 60 watts is about 800 lumens of light. The wattage does not matter and most of the comparisons regarding electricity costs are measured over years, so not very consequential in a monthly or annual budget. A 60W incandescent lamp may push 800 lumens, while a CFL only needs 15W and an LED only needs 10W to produce the same lumens. (A 10W incandescent is a night light.) The thing to remember is how bright you want your light to be. Look at lumens below to get the correct amount of light from your new bulbs.

incandescent bulb
watts - lumens
60 - 800
75 - 1,100
100 - 1,600
150 - 2,600

Heat might not seem important, but with a number of lights burning, it adds up, especially during the summer. One heat test - halogen bulb, a type of incandescent bulb, measured 327 degrees. A Cree LED downlight was measured 107 degrees and a Philips Par38 CFL measured 167 degrees. LEDs produce 3.4 btu's/hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs.

Bugs don't fly toward many LEDs, because bugs are attracted to ultraviolet light and most LEDs do not give off this type of light.

LED are rated to last 50,000 hours, while CFLs are rated for 10,000 hours and incandescents are rated for about 1,000 hours.

LED bulbs turn on as quickly as incandescent bulbs and faster than CFLs. LEDs produce roughly the same amount of useful light, but much of that light is focused in one direction. LEDs typically shine up, rather than in all directions like incandescent bulbs. Newer LEDs can be omnidirectional, look for that word on the package.

Some LEDs do not dim well and tend to buzz or sputter when the dimming is at half. Check the package to make sure the bulb will work with a dimmer.

A new term to further confuse us is CRI, because of the number of different light types. It did not make any difference in the past as all lights were the same. CRI is color rendering index. The higher the CRI, the better the color rendering ability. Light sources with a CRI of 90 or higher are excellent at color rendering and should be used for tasks requiring the most accurate color discrimination. CRI is independent of color temperature, but I won't even go there. Too much information.

When considering lighting, I usually think of CFL as meaning 'crap for light'. They take longer to turn on (it typically takes 30 seconds to 3 minutes to complete), need more energy to turn on, contain mercury, may leak UV radiation, do not work well in cold conditions, produce artificial fluorescent color, and are less efficient than LEDs.

Although initial price is still much higher, the price of LEDs is coming down quickly. LEDs are down to $4.97 at Home Depot, a far cry from the old $20 they used to cost. Bottom Line, let your old bulbs burn out before you rush out to buy new "energy savers" the price will likely be cheaper when you are ready to replace. Also, higher lumens are brighter and higher CRI provides better color discrimination.

Jan 16, 2015


There are a number of confusing TV terms being thrown around these days to catch our attention and drive us to toss out our relatively new flat screen TVs. I decided to decode a few of the terms so we can make an informed decision - and then rush out to buy something to get the 'first on the block' medal.

4K has about eight million pixels which equates to about four times more than a current 1080p TV. Think of your TV like a grid, with rows and columns. A full HD 1080p image is 1080 rows high and 1920 columns wide. A 4K image almost doubles both those numbers, so you could fit every pixel from your 1080p set onto one quarter of a 4K screen. Recent 4K TVs are the same thickness as a smart phone, less than two tenths of an inch thick.

Since 4K contains four times the information of High Definition (HD or FHD), someone came up with the name Ultra High Definition (UHD). The bad news is the Internet providers have not opened up the pipes enough, so many 4K users see a lag time (that frustrating spinning circle) when watching 4K content. Netflix and Amazon currently charge more for delivering 4K content.

Currently, 1080 resolution comes from the image height, while 4K (3840 x 2160) is derived from image width. If it was described the same way as now, 4K would be 2160p. Seems that was not enough of a difference to command the increased price so they changed the definition to make it seem better to the uninitiated.

8K (7680  x 4320) basically doubles the pixel height and width of 4K to about 32 million pixels. The 8K standard is currently for exhibitions and movie theaters. Since 4K will not become the norm for a few more years, 8K is many years away from the home market.

LED comes from Light Emitting Diode. LED TVs are really LCD TVs, but the difference is how the screen is lit. Traditional LCD TVs use florescent backlights, LED TVs use smaller, more energy-efficient LEDs. LED screens produce great color, but the brightness of the lights can also wash out blacks on the screen.

OLED or Organic Light Emitting Diodes have been around for years, but producing big screens using this technology has proven to be prohibitively expensive until lately. The OLED elements generate their own light so the technology is stunning, with vibrant colors, deep blacks, and bright whites.

3D TV continues to die a slow death, even though some manufacturers are still trying to convince us we need it. Think of 3D as Three Times Dead.

Bottom line, OLED is better than LED, 4K is amazing when you can see 4K content, both 4K and 8K are Ultra High Definition (UHD), both cost twice as much or more than HD, both require faster internet to be useful. Since there is little 4K and no 8K content, people who buy theses TVs are stuck explaining the picture deficiency and Ultra High Cost to guests. When content arrives, these TVs will be awesome and, by then, the price will be much more affordable. Last thing, when it comes to TVs, bigger is better, OLED is much better, 4K is awesome, but too expensive, for now.

Nov 8, 2013

Laser Headlights are Coming

BMW is working on laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) headlights to be introduced on selected 2014 models. They promise to be much better than the relatively recent LED headlights. The laser lights will put out more light and use two-thirds the power of LEDs, which use one fourth the power of ordinary headlights. They are also much more efficient and brighter than the current Xenon headlights used on some cars. In addition, they are just 10 square micrometers and 1/10,000th the size of a 1-square-millimeter LED.

The inventor of the headlights says Laser lighting may even do away with household LED and CFL lighting before either takes off. These new Laser lights are also ideal for businesses, signage, and projectors used in movie theaters, as well as smartphone projectors. The Laser lights are different than you might think of a laser beam. These lights are diffused blue beams and reconstituted to a white specific width for use. There is no danger of an accident creating a beam that could be harmful to the naked eye.

Einstein came up with the theoretical foundation for lasers in 1917 and they were first demonstrated in 1947. They have been in use since then for various applications, but almost always as a concentrated beam.

It took from 1879, when the incandescent light began until a few years ago for radical change, now we have another whole new generation of lighting in about five years. In spite of the hype from manufacturers, it will likely be a few more years before we can buy one for our homes.

Mar 8, 2013

Enlightening Idea

A multicolored interactive night light that comes with removable glow balls. The Glo Nightlight's balls will glow for 30 minutes, fading out while changing color. If you place the balls back to its place, they will start glowing again. The base is designed to charge the balls and they will not get warm or break.

It has three stems each holding a glowing ball. The base charges the balls up so at night, you can remove them and place them anywhere a little light is needed. It is 8.2 x 8.5 x 9.8-inch, made of BPA-free, Phthalate-free, PVC-free and includes a 9v power adapter and the low energy LED base. Cost is about $80 on the web.

Jan 10, 2012

TV Types

LG just announced a new TV that has a 55 inch screen, is a bit less than one quarter inch thick (less than the width of a pencil) and weighs about 16 pounds. OLED means Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is the newest technology for TVs. It produces a picture far brighter than anything on the market. OLED emits light as opposed to LCD TVs which reflect light. This means that they are not good for outdoor viewing, but the picture is truly eye-popping good. Watch for much bigger screens with OLED displays in malls and other places.

At the Consumer electronics show (CES), beginning this week, Samsung introduced an LED TV, which is .3 inch thick. LED is newer than many of the current flat screen TVs and is brighter. Think of it as better than LCD, but not as good as OLED.

Am sure there will be many more goodies at the show and I will let you know if there is any wizbang technology ready to hit the street. In the meantime, do not buy a new tablet, like the iPad until the new models come out, because it always drives the price of the old ones down. That is not always true for TVs, because dealers are already marking down last year's models to make room for the new ones. TVs are not susceptible to new features every few months like other technology and we usually keep them longer than a few years.

Last year I got rid of a 30-year-old TV and it cost me ten dollars to have it recycled. None of the new TVs will last a third of that time, but each new one will be more exciting to watch. Already in the labs is the next generation AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) which claims to be viewable in direct sunlight.

3D TV is still a technology in search of an audience. It will not be ready for prime time until the producers make 3D content, we do not need to wear dorky glasses, and the quality gets better. Watch for sports to be among the first to adopt the technology. I am still waiting for glasses to replace the screen. They are almost ready for prime time and I hope to be first on my block to own a pair.


Had to add this last one about the PC TV from this weeks Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Google's Android operating system version 4.0, better known by as "Ice Cream Sandwich" (an alternative to Microsoft Windows), is used in a smart television, a 55-inch 3-D (240Hz refresh rate) LED.

The TV lets you switch among video on demand, Internet apps, and regular TV. You can share music, videos, pictures, etc., from tablets and phones and computers. It has a dual core processor, 1 gig of RAM, a hard drive and 2GB SD card. There is also a built-in 5 megapixel camera for video chats. The remote control features a touchpad, 5-way keys and a motion sensor. It can also respond to voice commands.

Nov 22, 2011

Buying Technology

As we approach the buying season, here are a few tips to remember when buying technology. Memory (RAM) is more important than speed. Most do not use the full capacity of their computer, so getting more memory actually translates to more speed than chip speed.

Texting is more expensive than voice time, so watch your contract for cost of messages.

Buy the best components, and the cheapest cables, because all those claims about gold cables, ultra cables are almost meaningless.

When looking at cable plans, buy speed, not channels, because hundreds of those channels have nothing worth watching. Plus if cable internet is fast enough, you can watch more TV and videos on your PC for free. You can do like my brother and hook up your laptop to TV for Netflix movies. Wouldn't you like a 50 inch monitor to surf the net?

When it comes to TVs, remember that size really does matter. A larger screen is more enjoyable to watch than paying for faster refresh rate. Technology has come a long way and refresh rate is way less important than it used to be. Also, LED LCD is much better than LCD alone.

3D TV is an immature technology waiting for an audience, which will not likely happen until at least the next one or two generations. Save your money and wait.

Camera lenses are more important than the camera and most lenses can be re-used on next year's wizbang camera model.

Jul 29, 2011


Interesting that the United States Space Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was authorized by Congress this day in 1958 and we now witness the end of the NASA Space Program. NASA is cutting its workforce for the program from 6,700 to 1,000, who will prep the shuttles for shipment to museums. Many inventions and discoveries that touch us everyday came as byproducts from that program. NASA holds 6,300 patents.

A few of the things from NASA that you may know, such as invisible braces, scratch-resistant lenses. memory foam (like tempurpedic beds), infrared ear thermometer, athletic shoe cool insoles, long distance communications via satellite, adjustable smoke detector, lightweight cordless tools (with Black & Decker), water filters, thermal gloves and boots, LED lights, heart pump, artificial limbs, aircraft anti-icing system, enriched baby food (in over 90%), freeze drying. There are hundreds more.

Sep 17, 2010

Lights Out

 The last major GE factory making incandescent light bulbs in the United States is turning out the lights, literally. It is closing this month, marking an exit for a product that began in the 1870s.

It is the result of a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescent bulbs beginning in 2012. Other countries are doing the same. Some stores have announced phasing out incandescents as early as the end of 2010.

Much controversy remains as to whether the high cost of replacement bulbs is really offset by the savings in electricity. Of course, the US does not produce the replacement bulbs, they all come from overseas, so US jobs are leaving with the bulbs. My bet is that LEDs will emerge as the winner over all the others. If you love your ordinary bulbs, stock up, because they will cost more as they become less available.

Jul 30, 2010

Vibrating Battery

No, not battery vibrator. Brother Industries Ltd developed small vibration-powered generators that can replace AA and AAA batteries.

Think of a flashlight that can be shaken to generate power to keep the light on. Reminds me of those wind up flashlights.

The new generator will semi-permanently eliminate the need to replace batteries and contribute to reducing the amount of wastes," Brother Industries said.
The generator can be used for a device that does not always consume electricity and has small power consumption, such as a TV remote, or LED flashlight.

Apr 9, 2010

LED Umbrella

Here is a cool idea, an umbrella with an LED handle. Think of dark and rainy nights and this offers some light as well as protection from the elements.

They are only $24.99 at and come in red and blue, with 3 AAA batteries included.