This isn't the LED lightbulb that's going to put incandescents and halogens out of business, but the LED Party Bulb from Philips ($4.99 each, available later this month) is an unassuming harbinger. It fits in standard fixtures, is cool to the touch during operation and lasts for up to 50,000 hours. However, it doesn't emit much light. And that light, unfortunately, is either blue, green, red or amber. LED makers are still plagued with difficulties inherent to generating that nice white (with a spritz of yellow) frequency that incandescent and halogen bulbs emit—the closest any cost-effective LED can get is a harsh white with blue undertones. Philips has successfully used bluish-white LEDs in municipal lighting, such as in , and in their new Aurelle Decklight (also available later this month, for $99.99). But for lighting the inside of a home, a bulb that gives you a corpse-like pallor isn't likely to sell.
The party bulb probably won't sell either. The green bulb they sent us makes for a great nightlight or conversation piece for parties, since it never gets hot, is soft enough to use without a lampshade, and uses less than a watt of power. Still, it's green. Another version of the bulb cycles through seven colors, making it sillier, but a better proof-of-concept for what wonders LED technology holds. We're not being facetious—LEDs are superior in nearly every way to the bulbs we use today, and employed en masse might be a crucial step towards mending our power-binging ways. And while no company comes close to Philips in this field, they aren't alone; some of the greatest minds in the world are working towards that single, noble goal, of banishing the color blue.—Erik Sofge
Mood Lighting: Philips' new LED powered party bulb.