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Buster and Punch LED Buster Bulb review: Light styles of the rich and famous with this $65 light bulb

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Typical Price: £39.99
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The Good The Buster and Punch Buster Bulb is one of the best-looking LEDs we've ever tested, successfully combining modern aesthetics with a vintage approach to design.

The Bad Brightness and color temperature will vary depending on which style you choose. The dimmable version of the Buster Bulb flickered when used with older dimmer switches. At $50 for a nondimmable bulb and $65 for one that dims, the markup on these bulbs is excessive to say the least.

The Bottom Line Unless it's essential that your light bulbs look like this, burn your money elsewhere.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.1 Overall
  • Design 9.5
  • Value 3
  • Performance 6

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Some expensive things are worth the cash, but I have a tough time making the case for the Buster Bulb from London-based design company Buster & Punch. Yes, it's a gorgeous, ooh-and-aah-worthy LED light bulb, but at $50 for a nondimmable model and $65 for one that dims (that's about £38 nondimmable, £49 dimmable), the markup seems particularly excessive. And yes, I realize that you probably didn't need a CNET review to tell you that.

But here's what else I can tell you: These bulbs come with a couple of compromises. To be specific, the dimmable version flickered noticeably when I tested it out with an old rotary switch, and I was also disappointed to see that the bulbs offer a color rendering score of only 80 out of 100, a below-average number that keeps them from making the colors in your home pop quite as well as other LEDs that cost less.

Neither issue would amount to much more than a nitpick if the bulb weren't so expensive, but at this price, and with the Buster & Punch emphasis on design, both are noteworthy missteps. Unless the Buster Bulb's unique aesthetic is a must-have in your home, I'd suggest splurging on something else -- or saving your money and going with a design-minded bulb from Feit or GE that costs much, much less.

The tube in the center of each Buster Bulb refracts the light from the diodes into eye-catching patterns.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Available in multiple colors, the Buster Bulb's eye-catching design is actually pretty simple. It's just an elongated bulb with a ribbed, rigatoni-shaped tube running down the center (at one point, Buster & Punch called it a "resin light pipe"). Whatever you want to call it, that semitranslucent tube catches the light from the light-emitting diodes down below it and scatters it out into your home.

The effect is patterned, textured light that's pretty striking to look at, and a good fit for modern, high-concept in-home decor. That said, if you're just looking for a nice-looking bulb that'll cast  evenly dispersed light you can read beneath, look elsewhere, because the Buster Bulb is really more decoration than practical light source.

To the credit of Buster & Punch, each Buster Bulb I tested clocked in remarkably close to the specs stated on the box. With lots of lighting manufacturers still choosing to play fast and loose with things like lumen count and wattage equivalencies (especially with design-oriented bulbs like these), that honest approach was much appreciated by this lighting geek.

As for the numbers themselves, the gold-tinted, nondimmable version of the Buster Bulb claims a light output of 100 lumens and clocked in at 108 lumens when I tested it using our lighting lab's spectrometer and integrating sphere. Meanwhile, the smoked glass, dimmable version claims to be 160 lumens bright -- I measured it at a spot-on 163 lumens. If you want a brighter bulb than that, go with the clear glass, "Crystal" version of the Buster Bulb. I didn't test it, but Buster & Punch claims a light output of 320 lumens.

All of those numbers are relatively low as far as brightness is concerned (for comparison, a 40W accent light will typically put out around 450 lumens). That's typical of bulbs like these that are designed to be looked at -- too much brightness, and it isn't pleasant to look at them at all. All of that is fine so long as you're using the bulbs as artsy accent lights, but if you intend to use them as a primary light source, you might require more than one, especially if you're going with one of the tinted models.

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