27 January 2016

Anker Lumos A1: Flexible desk lamp, comfortable light, twitchy controls

The Anker Lumos A1 LED Desk Lamp ships fully assembled (well, minus the power cord) but folded flat. Once extracted from the friendly packaging the lamp can be positioned to place its illumination exactly where you need it. In addition to the 90- and 180-degree joints at the top of bottom of the vertical arm, the horizontal arm up top also rotates side-to-side 180 degrees and 270 degrees longitudinally to let you case light directly up or to either side. The build is lightweight without feeling cheap, and I love being able to fold it flat for transport or storage.

The small AC adapter "wall wart" was just a teeny bit too wide to fit between two existing plugs on my power strip, but it fit comfortably once relocated to either end. The usual round DC adapter fit snugly into the receptacle on the lamp's base; I was quite pleased to see that it won't come unplugged accidentally.

You operate the lamp via touch-sensitive controls in the base. They seem pretty cool at first, but after living with them for a few days I would honestly prefer physical buttons. Having to hold my finger in place for a second or two to turn it off or on just seems unnecessary - a real button would provide instant results. A physical button also wouldn't get confused if a bit of metal (spiral-bound notebook, nice pen, paperclip, etc - all things commonly found on a desk) wound up on top of it. I thought my lamp had given up the ghost when it started turning on and off seemingly on its own; my notebook was touching the contact and controlling the lamp on my behalf.

The same goes for sliding your finger across the small silver dots that serve as the brightness controls: without any real physical feedback they just seem way too touchy, which makes actually selecting the desired brightness a little bit of a crapshoot. There are also ten dots for the varying brightness settings but only four brightness levels, which confused me a bit at first. Again, it makes it harder than it should be to quickly choose an intensity. On that note, the difference between the dimmest and second-dimmest settings is a much larger gap than between the other options. It feels like there's another notch missing in there.

Once you do get the lamp positioned, turned on, and the brightness adjusted, though, the light is a very comfortable one. It's a steady illumination without any flickering (unlike the horrid fluorescent tubes in my cubicle) and the white diffuser ensures the light is distributed evenly and without any hot spots. On its dimmest brightness level, it works great as a night light; the brightest level (and those in-between) offers fantastic eye-friendly illumination for getting things done.

The lamp does a great job of casting plenty of light while not taking up much space. If you can get past the finicky touch-sensitive controls I'm sure it would find a welcome spot on your desk.

+ Small footprint
+ Fully adjustable to put light where you need it most
+ Comfortable, easy-on-the-eyes illumination without any discernible hot spots
+ Folds flat for transport or storage

- Touch controls are quite, well, touchy.
- Seems to be missing a brightness level

***Disclosure: Anker sent me a steeply discounted unit to test in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

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