Although my home-office has a huge window, the room itself is sheltered by other buildings in the area and therefore doesn't get much natural light. The result is that it can be quite a gloomy place in which to work, especially in the winter months when it gets dark by around 3pm. To solve the problem, I decided to buy a full-spectrum natural desk light, which replicates the effects of outdoor light, and is supposed to have a beneficial effect on all that bask in its glory! These natural light products are suitable for people with SAD (Seasonal Affectation Disorder), and if you decide to purchase the product as a treatment device, you should use it for 20 - 45 minutes each day, preferably in the morning.
The price of sunlight...
Many of these natural lamps are really expensive - some costing hundreds and hundreds of pounds. I personally didn't want to spend too much, so I opted for the budget 'Lifemax Light Pod' which can be purchased for around £50 from Amazon. It is also available from a range of other retailers including eBay - but when I had a look at the prices this morning, they were in the region of £70 which is far too much to pay.
The Pod is a free standing device which can sit on your desk and illuminate your work area with some gloom-busting light. The product is technically classed as a 'light box' rather than a lamp, and therefore is more ambient and subtle in its output than a high powered lightbulb. The unit has an adjustable plastic stand at its rear which can be used to change the angle of the beam - I personally have it at its 'tallest' setting, meaning the flow of light is directed at the desk itself (and the mass of strewn papers which are currently on it!). This way my working area is illuminated, and it complements the ceiling light nicely.
Measuring around twenty centimeters across by twelve centimeters in height, the Light Pod is made out of plastic, but feels well constructed and quite solid. It weighs hardly anything, so it would be really easy to transport, and you could take it with you from room to room with little or no effort if you desired.
The Pod uses two internal fluorescent tubes (if you look into the front you can see them as two wavy lines) which produce a relaxing light with a slight bluish tint. Tubes are used rather than LED's, as LED's can cause 'spotting' in the eyes if looked at for an extended amount of time. The light accurately transmits all the colours of the spectrum including a small amount of UV, and for drawing and painting it's great, as I can see colours as they would naturally appear if I were painting outdoors.
Wake me up!
In terms of its benefits, the Light Pod had an almost instantaneous effect on me - after the first week or so of use in the mornings, I felt less tired in the afternoons, and also managed to sleep better at night. Of course, you shouldn't use these natural light products in the evening, as they may have the opposite effect and prevent you from sleeping - it's all about getting the balance right.
Even after it has been switched on for quite some time, the front of the unit remains fairly cool, and it's unlikely to be a device with which you could burn your hand. In terms of its controls, the front of the Pod has a switch which can be changed between three settings labeled as 'L', 'LR', and 'R'. Choosing the 'L' setting results in light only coming from the left hand side of the device, whilst selecting 'R' will only turn the right hand side light on. The centre 'LR' setting is for full left and right light, and this is what I generally leave it set on for most of the time. The back of the device features an on / off rocker switch which is in an easily accessible location, and also the input for the 12v DC adapter which is supplied.
Looks aren't everything... or are they?
Considering its budget price, the LightPod is fairly nice looking - although the area where the light comes out from is surrounded by a lavender coloured plastic border, which isn't a colour I would necessarily have chosen. That said, it somehow looks quite tasteful when viewed as a whole and I would describe the general look as 'minimal and clinical'. To be honest, it's appearance is neat and tidy, and due to it's small size (see dooyoo's picture where it is shown next to a pen), it looks a bit space age.
So, who would I recommend The Lifemax Light Pod to? Well, if like me you've got a slightly dingy working area it's perfect, and will give the light levels a much needed yet subtle boost. For SAD sufferers it will be effective too - although the treatment times are a little longer with this product than with the larger and more expensive natural light sources on the market. One thing that must be pointed out is the fact that if you purchase this light as something to brighten up your office, it needs to be used in collaboration with a ceiling light, as it will be too dim to work by on its own - think of it a natural daylight top-up for when the sun has gone in and you won't be disappointed.
In terms of the downsides, they are few and far between - as I mentioned earlier I would perhaps have preferred a surround which was all white, or all black in colour - but this is a minor niggle, and overall I'm entirely happy with my purchase.
- - - - - - - - -
12W output and 14,000 lux at 2.5 cm, or 5,500 lux at 7.5 cm on full power.