Philips SlimStyle LED review: A tempting LED, thanks to the slimmed-down price point

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The Good The oddly-shaped Philips SlimStyle is a value-priced LED that serves as a respectable incandescent replacement. The flat design helps it manage heat better than other LEDs.

The Bad The SlimStyle gives off an annoying buzz if you use it with a dimmer switch. Also, the three-year warranty isn't as good as the 10 years you get from the Cree LED, which costs just a dollar more.

The Bottom Line For such a flat bulb, the SlimStyle is surprisingly well-rounded, making for a decent value at its price point.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Value 9
  • Performance 7

The lighting aisle's LED section is getting more and more crowded with legitimate values, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that manufacturers are looking for new ways to stand out. Enter the Philips SlimStyle, a low-cost LED that sets itself apart with an unusual, flattened design.

This two-dimensional spin on modern, high efficiency lighting promises to replace the best aspects of a traditional incandescent while saving money on your monthly power bill. It also costs just $9, which converts roughly to AU$10, or £5 in the UK (Philips says it has no plans to expand the SlimStyle beyond North America at this time, but won't rule it out, either).

That price point is a dollar less than you'll spend for the well-reviewed Cree 60W Replacement LED , and significantly less than Philips' own standard 60W equivalent . Though it isn't a flawless light, or quite as cheap as the bargain LEDs that you'll find at Ikea , the accessible SlimStyle nonetheless offers excellent value, making it a good go-to bulb for common household lighting needs.

The decision to make a flat LED wasn't an arbitrary one. With a flat design, Philips was able to distribute the diodes around the bulb's perimeter, away from the heat at its base. This eliminates the need for aluminum heat sinks, which makes the bulb a lot lighter, and more importantly, a lot cheaper to produce.

The question is whether or not the flat design compromises the SlimStyle's ability to light like a typical light bulb. For the most part, the answer is no. With a light output of 800 lumens and a very accurate color temperature just under 2,700 K, it's a perfectly worthy replacement for a 60W incandescent. As for efficiency, the 25,000-hour lifespan and the 10.5W power draw put it right on par with other solid LED options. The color rendering score of 80 is in line with what you'd expect from most other LEDs, too.

Philips SlimStyle LED Cree 60W Replacement LED Philips 60W Equivalent LED Ikea Ledare LED GE Energy Smart 60W Replacement LED
Lumens 800 800 830 600 800
Watts 10.5 9.5 11 10 11
Efficiency (lumens/watt) 76.19 84.21 75.45 60 72.72
Color temperature 2,653 K 2,669 K 2,584 K 2,632 K (frosted) 2,507 K (clear) 2,562 K
Lifespan 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 15,000 hours
Color rendering index 80 80 81 87 80
Weight 2.20 ounces 3.70 ounces 4.55 ounces 4.10 ounces 4.25 ounces
Warranty 3 years 10 years 5 years none 5 years
Price $9 $10 $15 $5 $10

The flat design does introduce a small problem with directionality, though. Like many of the LEDs available today, the SlimStyle promises omnidirectional light output, which means it claims to produce light evenly in all directions. This is mostly true -- except for the left and right sides of the bulb's profile, where you'll find dim spots. These get especially noticeable if you're using the SlimStyle under a lampshade.

Whether or not this is a deal breaker is up to you. Personally, I can't say that the dim spots would bother me all that much, as they don't ultimately affect how much light the SlimStyle puts out. I'd certainly notice them, though -- and that alone might be enough to get me to spend the extra buck on a Cree LED.

Compared to the Cree 60W Replacement LED (left), the Philips SlimStyle has noticeable dim spots on each side of the bulb. Colin West McDonald/CNET

More likely to motivate my buying decision would be the difference in warranty between the two bulbs. The SlimStyle is covered for three years, compared to 10 years from Cree. That's a pretty substantial difference for such a small price increase, and probably well worth it for anyone who might doubt LED longevity claims.

Something else worth considering before settling on a bulb is whether or not you'll be using it with a dimmer switch. Most of the current LED offerings from major manufacturers claim dimmer compatibility and the SlimStyle is no exception, but as we learned in our recent round of tests, not all dimmable bulbs are created equal.

In those tests, the SlimStyle showed the poorest performance. While it was compatible with every switch that we tested (even an older one designed for incandescents only), it also buzzed noticeably when used with each one, a result of electromagnetic interference in the bulb from the switch's dimming mechanism. The SlimStyle also showed a moderate amount of flicker, another common problem with dimmable lights.

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