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LED bulbs get their own spotlight at CES

RCA, following Samsung and Vizio, is the latest gadget maker to get into LED lighting. That shift could make LEDs cheaper and speed home automation.

Samsung's LED lineup. Along with Vizio, Panasonic, Toshiba and now RCA, the company is getting into LED lighting. Screen capture by Martin LaMonica/CNET

Consumer electronics companies are muscling into lighting with LEDs.

RCA said today at CES that it will manufacture LED bulbs as part of a larger home theater announcement. The company said that it developed a "chip on a board" that uses a single efficient LED light source, rather than several smaller ones. That design optimizes the energy efficiency of the bulb, said Bob Hatefi of RCA licensee BDC in a statement.

As energy-efficient lighting standards take hold in the U.S. and around the world, expect more electronics companies moving deeper into consumer LED lighting. Late last year, for instance, Samsung introduced a line of LED spotlights and a snowcone-shape A19 bulb for sale in the U.S.

TV maker Vizio, meanwhile, is also working on its line of LED bulbs for the U.S. which the company says will have a "Vizio price." Panasonic already manufacture LEDs for Japan and Toshiba started selling its A19 LED through BestBuy's Web site last month.

Dedicated lighting companies are also going to be at CES. Switch Lighting will be showing off its line of LED bulbs, expected to be generally available later this year, with the brightest able to give off as much light as a 100-watt incandescent.

Like the TV and thermostat, LED bulbs are starting to become network-ready. Marvell today introduced a wireless chip set designed to make commercial LED fixtures controlled from a single point.

Being able to control multiple lights from a tablet or smart phone is a neat feature for smart-home enthusiasts. But the added expense of wireless networking in LED bulbs, which already cost between $15 and $40, means it may be a while before we see low-cost networked LED bulbs.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. PT with availability of Toshiba bulbs in U.S.