Exclusively online for now, in stores March 1st, 2014Innovation is alive and well in the LED lightbulb industry. SWITCH, for example, is making LED bulbs that are filled with liquid to help dissipate heat (instead of a metal heat-sink), and Philips found a way to drop the heat-sink altogether by flattening the bulb in such a way that there's a large surface area and the individual LEDs are spaced out enough to keep cool.
I wrote more extensively about it when it was first announced, but the short version is: It produces 800 lumens using 10.5W, making it a 60W equivalent model with a 76 lumens-per-watt efficiency. It is rated for 25,000 hours of life, is dimmable, and projects light in an omnidirectional pattern despite the strange shape. CRI rating is 80 and color temp is 2700K.
I had the chance to get my hands on some SlimStyle LEDs, and I was impressed. At first I thought maybe the light quality was a bit lower than my other Philips 60W-equivalent LEDs, but I think that might just have been psychological. They are both rated with a CRI of 80, and the SlimStyles are in fact more efficient (76 lumens-per-watt versus 64 lumens-per-watt for the 12.5-watt Philips LEDs).
What threw me off at first is that the SlimStyles are so much lighter, and our brains tend to have a rule-of-thumb for quality that goes something like "heavy, metal things are better than light, plasticy things". But in a blind test, the light quality is quite similar and, in my opinion, more than good enough for every day use. One downside is that the Slimstyle is only available in a 60W-equivalent, 800 lumens model, while the other Philips have 75W and 100W replacement models, but I wouldn't be surprised if brighter models were released over time.
I have to note that I have hands on experience with 3 SlimStyle bulbs, and I was unlucky with one of them. It made a buzzing sound much louder than it should (a lot of bulbs can be heard if you are up close, but this one could be heard clearly from 10 feet away). Manufacturing defects are a fact of life for all companies, so it's not a big deal. If that happens to you, just exchange it for another one. My other 2 SlimStyles are quiet.
Above you can see how the fact that it's flat doesn't really change anything when it's on. Light goes in all directions evenly as far as I can tell.
But here you see where the LEDs are located inside the bulb, forming an arc around the outside. That's clever engineering because by losing the metal heat-sink, you use fewer resources to make them, you can drop prices, and they are lighter to ship (using less fuel).
If you want to get some Philips SlimStyle LED bulbs, you can order them from HomeDepot.com for now, and get them in stores after March 1st.
Update: Here's another cool LED technology by Philips: This looks like a fluorescent tube, but it's actually a 41% more efficient LED lamp
Via Philips, Home Depot