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Comparing Cree's 100W replacement LED with the competition (pictures)

Cree and Philips are battling it out to brighten up your living room, and we're taking a closer look at light output, color temperature, and color rendering.

Ry Crist
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Ry Crist
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Cree 100W replacement LED

With 1,600 lumens from just 18W of electricity, this highly efficient LED is Cree's brightest bulb yet. How does it compare with other bulbs that promise lots of light? Click through to see for yourself.

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The nearest competitor

Cree's 100W replacement LED has a lot in common with the Philips 100W replacement LED (left). Both glow at color temperatures of 2,700 K, although the Philips LED is slightly brighter with an extra 80 lumens.

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An ideal reading light

The Cree bulb's brightness and omnidirectionality make it an ideal reading light.

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Compare to Philips

Here's the same shot with the Philips bulb swapped in. It's almost impossible to distinguish one bulb from the other.

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What about CFLs?

Here's a 100W replacement CFL, with a take on 2,700 K that's far more yellow than the "soft white" glow that Cree offers.

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Other end of the spectrum

This 100W replacement CFL glows at the opposite end of the spectrum, with a very blue color temperature of 6,000 K. Again, the Cree bulb is a much much more neutral tone by comparison.

Will we ever see LEDs as bright as this?
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Will we ever see LEDs as bright as this?

1,600 lumens is plenty bright for almost all household purposes, but it's nothing compared to this blindingly bright, 200W incandescent (left). In spite of the rising efficiency standards, you can still find existing stocks of these sorts of ultra-bright bulbs at most major hardware stores.

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Cree's line-up

From left to right, we have Cree's 60W75W, and the noticeably larger 100W replacement LEDs, with lumen outputs of 800, 1,100, and 1,600, respectively. The extra brightness is why the 100W Cree looks less yellow than the other two, despite the fact that all three share the same color temperature.

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Cree 100-watt color quality

Cree's 100W replacement LED has a decent, yet unspectacular color rendering score of 80 out of 100.

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A color comparison with Philips

Philips' 100W replacement also has a CRI score of 80. Not surprisingly, colors look just about the same, aside from the slight uptick in brightness.

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Cree's 60W color quality

Cree's 100W replacement casts a slightly more neutral light than its yellowy 60W predecessor, shown here.

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If color is key...

Cree also offers a TW Series 60W replacement that uses spectral notching to filter out light that distorts colors. This gives it an impressive CRI score of 93, but also makes it a bit dimmer than the standard 60W replacement (and, of course, much dimmer than the 100W replacement). If the colors in this picture look noticeably better to you, then it might be a bulb worth checking out.

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