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I’ve been meaning to try a new light source for a while. I thought I’d give the Ott-Lite Task Lamp a go. At £32 (plus £6 shipping) it wasn’t going to break the bank even if it wasn’t suitable. Full review after the jump.

So Ott-Lite have a unique selling point. They claim that their ‘508 technology’ is better than anything else on the market. In their own words:

‘When it comes to lighting, brighter isn’t always better. The brighter the bulb, the greater the glare. If you tone down the brightness and bring up the contrast you’ll squint less, but you’ll lose color vibrancy and accuracy. What you need is an ideal balance of brightness and contrast. In order to achieve that, you need to harness the exact light wavelengths of the sun. Incandescent bulbs are made from things like hot filament wire and inert gases, but OttLite 508 Illumination bulbs are made from something better—the DNA of the sun! Okay, not really. But, OttLite CFL lightingis expertly engineered with 508 technology to bring the quality of natural sunlight indoors. It’s like having a tiny sun in your light bulb, except a whole lot cooler. No really—our bulbs produce less heat and use less energy.’

The question is, does it do what they claim? I recently showed you the set up I’ve been using, which is a cheap Argos desk lamp, and it’s a set up I’ve been using for years:

So why change? Well for starters I like trying out Gucci kit. Every now and then I change something just for the sake of it. I’d be interested to know if I’m the only one out there who does this – comment if you’re as hopeless as I am!!

Secondly is that you’ll be aware from my set up that space is a premium. Anything that creates a bit more work area is a winner. The base of the Argos lamp is big and heavy. Lifting it in and out is a pain and you can’t fit much else in where it sits in my cabinet.

You can see from the comparison pics below that the Ott-Lite gives me a bit more storage option:

Thirdly, the Argos lamp was starting to hum obnoxiously, and when you spend a lot of time with your face 1″ away (you’re not allowed closer according to my rulebooks) from the thing then it gets quite annoying. The Ott-Lite isn’t 100% silent, but it’s an improvement.

So what do you get for your money? I bought this off the eBay for £31.99 + £5.95 postage, from a very well to-do seeming ‘bead’ company. I got lots of nice leaflets with it encouraging me to try beading. Get your laughs over with now, my wife certainly found it amusing. I’m not sure I even know what beading is, but you can’t argue with a 3 day turnaround (though for £6 you better believe I’d have whined with anything less).

It’s pretty much plug and play from the box. You get a 2 pin adapter with it, which is of no use to me but if you’re reading this from a country where they forgot to add the 3rd hole on your plug sockets it might be a handy nugget. It comes wired with the three pin plug. The bulb comes boxed separately, but again it’s plug in and off you go – easy. I didn’t open the instruction book: I’m a bloke (and what is there to instruct?! light comes on, light goes off, rinse, repeat. Though actually I wouldn’t rinse, as you’ll most likely get a shock. Unless you’re in a country where they forgot the 3rd hole in the sockets, and you’ll most likely be used to shocks.)

There are two design features I like. First is the handle. It’s a small thing, but for my purposes it’s ideal. Second is the on/off feature. There’s no switch, when you open it up it comes on, when you close it it goes off. I hope the switch is robust as there’s no means to change it – only time will tell. An added plus is that I managed to convince my 4 year old it was a magic lamp. Bonus.

So what about in practice. Well I’ll be honest it’s notthat different. I’ve only used it for two sessions, so I might get back to you with some feedback after a month or so (see if headaches or eye strain develop?!)

I like it’s size. I can get the mini closer to the light source without bashing my brush on the light hood. I can use the angle of the hood to change the direction of the light slightly for close work or messy work.

In terms of illuminating a mini for painting I think it might even be a tiny bit less bright than the cheap lamp, but then that’s part of the claim – balancing brightness & contrast…

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‘Our scientists like to talk about OttLite’s visual efficiency optimizing bothphotopic (brightness) andscotopic (contrast)lumen output to allow the eye to better perceive light.’

Only time will tell. In the mean time it’s certainly no worse. I’m only £35 down and it’s a nifty bit of kit which saves me space, so I’m happy.

I’d be very interested to know if any of you have tried a dedicated hobby light source similar to this. I’m presuming most of us use cheapo set ups, but if you’ve tried something Gucci I’d like to hear about it.

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