GE Bright Stik LED review: Edison be damned: GE's cheap new LED bulb isn't a bulb at all

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MSRP: $9.99

The Good GE's innovative-looking Bright Stik LED casts a warm, omnidirectional glow that works well for basic household lighting. The 5-year warranty is one of the best you'll find at this price point.

The Bad The Bright Stik LED isn't quite as bright or as efficient as its main competitor, the $5 Philips 60W Replacement LED.

The Bottom Line At $10 for a three-pack, the Bright Stik LED is a compelling value pick in the lighting aisle.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Value 9
  • Performance 7

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It's been a busy year in the lighting aisle, with the debut of new, low-cost LED light bulbs that promise to cut your home's power draw without breaking the bank. The newest, from GE, is the Bright Stik LED, which bucks the bulb altogether in favor of a push-pop-shaped build. The cost: $10 for a three-pack (a GE representative tells me that they don't plan on selling the bulbs individually just yet).

Like the other major player on the cheap end of the spectrum, the Philips 60W Replacement LED , the Bright Stik offers a pretty compelling value proposition. While a 60W incandescent will add about $7 per year to your power bill, the 10W Bright Stik will add just $1.20. Spend $10 on that three-pack and use them for a year, and your total cost is $13.60. Spend a buck on three incandescents, and you'll end up spending another $21 over the course of the year -- and then you'll need to replace them, since that's about as long as they last. The Bright Stiks will last well over a decade.

There are a few trade-offs, though. The Bright Stik isn't quite as bright or as efficient as other LEDs and, like the Philips bulb, it isn't an option that'll work with dimmer switches. Still, it's a very solid fit for basic lighting setups, and at a cost of about $3 per bulb (or, um,"Stik"), it's a very solid value, too. If I just needed to replace one light, I'd probably stick with Philips, but if I'm replacing my bulbs in bulk, I'm going to give the Bright Stik some serious consideration.

A strange design (that doesn't matter)

The GE Bright Stik isn't the first big brand LED that wants you to think outside the bulb. For over a year now, the flattened-down Philips SlimStyle LED has been selling on Home Depot shelves, and its success might serve as proof of concept for the odd-looking Bright Stik LED. You'll soon see the two selling side-by-side in the Home Depot lighting aisle.

Still, the SlimStyle LED at least attempts to approximate the overall silhouette of a light bulb (from certain angles, anyway). With the Bright Stik LED, you're all in on newfangled design, no incandescent nostalgia necessary. Whether or not that's a good thing is entirely up to you.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We're probably missing the point, though. Bulb or no bulb, the Bright Stik is still, well, a light bulb. In most cases, you're not going to see the thing after you screw it in and lower the lampshade. The form factor really doesn't matter much in and of itself.

What does matter is how that form factor impacts the quality of light, which is where my concerns lied as I prepared to test the Bright Stik out. None of that cylindrical plastic is angled downward, the way the bottom half of a spherical bulb is. I wondered if that might keep the Bright Stik from casting the sort of downward light people typically prefer to read under.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case. With the LED hidden under a lampshade, I couldn't distinguish the quality of the Bright Stik's light from any other standard, omnidirectional bulb.

On the left, the GE Bright Stik LED. On the right, the Philips 60W Replacement LED. Both cast plenty of downward light. Ry Crist/CNET

That applies to the look and feel of the light, too. At 2,850 K, it's as warm and yellowy as you'd expect from a standard, household light (a 5,000 K "daylight" version is available, too, for an extra buck). The 760-lumen light output -- while a bit short of the ideal 800 lumen benchmark for a 60W replacement -- is plenty bright for most basic needs.

Really, the only difference this design makes is on GE's end -- the slimmed down figure makes it a breeze to package the Bright Stik, and easier for GE to ship them in bulk (especially when packaged three at a time). All of that helps shave cents off the upfront cost, and there's nothing to not like about that.

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