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Finally Light Bulb review: Hard to see value in this induction light bulb

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Graph out its light output across the visible light spectrum, and the Finally Light Bulb most closely resembles a CFL. Ry Crist/CNET

The strangest graph of the three is the fluorescent graph. No smooth slopes here -- instead, you get jagged spikes, each one representing a specific gas that's interacting with the electric current in the bulb to produce light at a specific part of the spectrum. They also tend to peak at yellow, though you'll often see a lot of green, too. Without a continuous slope, you'll often also lose out on brightness.

The Finally Light Bulb most closely resembles the fluorescent graph, which isn't at all surprising given that it's essentially doing the same thing. Again, all of those jagged spikes represent the different gasses interacting with electricity and producing light at different parts of the spectrum. Finally's engineers told me that the induction approach gives them more flexibility with how they use these gasses, and the graph backs that up -- there's a greater variety of spikes at play.

The Finally Light Bulb compared

Finally Light Bulb GE 60W Replacement CFL Philips 60W Replacement LED GE Bright Stik LED Cree 4Flow LED
Lumens (measured / stated) 589 / 800 565 / 800 821 / 800 786 / 760 835 / 815
Watts 14.5 15 8.5 10 11
Efficiency in lumens per watt (measured / stated) 41 / 55 38 / 53 97 / 94 79 / 76 76 / 74
Yearly energy cost (3 hr. per day @ .11 kWh) $1.74 $1.80 $1.02 $1.20 $1.32
Color temperature (measured / stated) 2,582 K / 2,700 K 2,529 K / 2,700 K 2,701 K / 2,700 K 2,830 K / 2,850 K 2,617 K / 2,700 K
Other color temperatures (price difference) None None 5,000 K (+$0) 5,000 (+$1) 5,000 K (+$1)
Color rendering index 78 70 80 81 80
Dimmable range Non-dimmable Non-dimmable Non-dimmable Non-dimmable 5.6 - 100%
Dimmer switch flicker/buzz N/A N/A N/A N/A None
Lifespan 15,000 hours (13.7 years) 8,000 hours (7.3 years) 11,000 hours (10 years) 15,000 hours (13.7 years) 25,000 hours (22.8 years)
Weight 3.65 oz. 2.65 oz. 1.80 oz. 1.60 oz. 1.90 oz.
Energy Star certification No No No No Yes
Warranty 10 years 3 years 3 years 5 years 3 years
Price $10 $5 $5 $10 (3-pack) $8

If you haven't figured it out, what I'm getting at is that the Finally Light Bulb is, for all intents and purposes, a CFL. It's a compact bulb that uses fluorescent gas to produce light. It has mercury in it, meaning that you'll need to be careful cleaning up after a broken one. Once it burns out, you'll need to take it to a recycling center (or drop it off at a retailer with a bulb recycling program).

And, like many CFLs, it isn't as bright as claimed. The surgical spikes in that graph come at a cost, as the gap in between each one represents a gap in light output. Sure enough, the Finally bulb clocked in at 589 lumens when we tested it out in our integrating sphere, well beneath the claimed 800 lumens.

Overall, the Finally Light Bulb offers below average color rendering capabilities. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Its color rendering index score (CRI) leaves a lot to be desired, too. The CRI is sort of like a grade point average for colors. The higher the score, the better the bulb is at making colors look vivid and true.

Finally claims a CRI score of 83, but we measured it a little lower, at 78. That's better than most CFLs, which commonly score around 70, but not as good as most LEDs, which usually score at least 80. Some, like the GE Reveal LED, the Cree TW Series LED and the Ikea Ledare LED -- which costs just $5 -- manage to do even better.

Those M&M pictures up above paint a pretty clear picture of what I'm talking about. Of the four bulbs shown, the Finally bulb looks the worst to me, and the farthest from what you'll get under a 60W incandescent. For a closer look, including similar pictures for a number of other bulbs, check out our full gallery of CRI comparison pics.

Like an incandescent, the Finally Light Bulb offers light quality that's complementary to skin tones of all shades. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

What it gets right

There are still a few redeeming qualities at play with this bulb. As said earlier, it excels in directionality, with even light distribution from all angles. It's also not susceptible to heat buildup in the same way that a lot of LEDs are, which means it'd likely work well in an enclosed fixture, where heat can't escape.

There's also some redemption on the color quality front, specifically with regard to skin. Whereas the Finally bulb finished dead last in our M&M test, it was actually one of the frontrunners when we conducted a similar test using our hands as points of comparison. Only the incandescent bulb and the GE Reveal LED looked better, and only very slightly so.

If you take another look at that graph of the Finally bulb's light output, you'll see that one of the tallest spikes sits on the left, right above the purple part of the spectrum. I suspect that spike is at play with skin tones -- as CNET Appliances producer Tyler Lizenby smartly pointed out, photographers will often use magenta-tinted filters in order to help complement skin tones both light and dark in their photographs.

I'm also a fan of this bulb's 15,000-hour lifespan. Though not as good as the 25,000 hours you'll get from some LEDs, it's still almost twice as long as you'll see from the average CFL. The fact that Finally offers a 10-year warranty with the bulb -- 73 percent of its total lifespan -- is another strong point, and good reassurance for a bulb that doesn't have Energy Star double-checking the longevity claims.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

In essence, the Finally Light Bulb is a long-lasting CFL with a good-looking design -- but with overstated brightness and color quality, it isn't a bulb I'd recommend. There are just too many shortcomings. It isn't dimmable. It isn't as bright as it should be. The light doesn't instantly reach full brightness when you turn it on. It didn't pass our color-quality tests, or the eye test. It isn't as efficient as lower-priced LEDs. At $10 (plus shipping), it just doesn't add up.

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