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Think outside the bulb

Home lighting tech continues to evolve, including the arrival of new OLED fixtures that look like something straight out of "Star Wars." Design-centric builds are nothing new, though. Look to the world of LEDs, and you'll find dozens of bulbs that rethink the way a light should look. Click through for some notable examples.

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Photo by: Colin West McDonald/CNET

Philips SlimStyle LED

One of the first big name LEDs to sport a high-concept build was the Philips SlimStyle, which flattens things out and distributes the diodes along the horseshoe-shaped perimeter of the bulb. This helps with thermal management, eliminating the need for bulky heat sinks and making the bulb cheaper to manufacture.

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Photo by: Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Philips 100W Equivalent LED

From our tests, that slimmed-down approach has proven to be a more effective means of heat management than that of the uniquely segmented Philips 100W Equivalent LED.

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Editors' Rating

MSRP: $24.97

Visit manufacturer site for details.

Cree 4Flow LED

Cree's 4Flow LED also puts a design emphasis on thermal management. It isn't flat like the SlimStyle, but it still manages to eliminate the heat sinks thanks to a clever convection-based design. It's also built to look as much like an old-school incandescent as possible, especially when turned on.

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Photo by: Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Osram 40W/60W LED

That last bit isn't uncommon with today's LEDs offerings. More and more look like regular, old light bulbs -- and that's exactly the point. Osram's 40W and 60W replacement LEDs do a particularly good job, with simple, seamless designs that don't stick out.

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Photo by: Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Philips Clear LED

Other bulbs take a flashier approach on recapturing incandescent appeal. The Philips Clear LED sports a shapely, crownlike plastic filament in the center of the bulb. The diodes shine up through it, creating a sparkling effect that's ideal for exposed bulb aesthetics.

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Photo by: Colin West McDonald/CNET

Feit Electric 40W Replacement LED

Feit tries a similar tactic with this 40W replacement LED. The design creates a patterned, gemlike light output.

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Photo by: Ry Crist/CNET

Ikea Ledare LED

Ikea's low-cost Ledare LED is another bulb with a clear-globed, fake-filament aesthetic. It also boasts a surprisingly high color-rendering score, which can help the tones in your home pop a little more.

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Photo by: Colin West McDonald/CNET

Buster + Punch LED Buster Bulb

For something significantly fancier than that $5 Ikea bulb, you could take a look at the Buster Bulb from British design label Buster + Punch. With tinted glass surrounding a "resin light pipe," it's about as design-minded as light bulbs come.

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Photo by: Buster + Punch

Dandelight

Here's another European spin on the modern LED -- an LED dandelion powered by a 9V battery. And yup, those are real dandelion seeds hand-glued onto the tip.

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Photo by: Studio Drift

GE Reveal BR30 LED

For an LED that puts more of an emphasis on making your home look good, check out the GE Reveal BR30 LED floodlight, which won our Editors' Choice Award distinction by cranking up the color-rendering score.

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Photo by: Colin West McDonald/CNET

Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED

Speaking of BR30 LED floodlights, Philips recently expanded its SlimStyle lineup to include a rather uncommon-looking one.

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Photo by: Colin West McDonald/CNET

Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED

The SlimStyle found a new competitor in the Cloud LED, a futuristic-looking floodlight from Green Creative. The Cloud LED sports an innovative, hollowed-out build that "floats" the diodes above the base of the bulb. This makes it incredibly light for a BR30 LED, and also safe to use in enclosed fixtures, where heat tends to build up.

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Philips Hue Go

For an LED that's more of a standalone fixture, there's the cereal-bowl-shaped Philips Hue Go. Not only does it change colors on demand using the Philips Hue app, but it also boasts a built-in battery, letting you unplug it and take it wherever you like for hours at a time.

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Nanoleaf Bloom

For a bulb that cranks the unique factor all the way up, check out the Nanoleaf Bloom, a crowdfunding success story that puts the diodes on the outside of its 3D-printed, jigsaw assembly.

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