Editor’s note: I’m… not entirely sure how this happened. We gave Len a lamp and asked him to write A Short Something about it, couple hundred words at most. This is what we got from him: a full review (with a score and everything), and something about his eyesight. Either Len is AWFUL at following instructions, or he’s gone full Brick Tamland and genuinely loves lamp. Either way, here’s a review. Of a lamp. And something about the miraculous benefits of good lighting, as proven by Len’s super-serious, super-controlled, “scientific” testing of various lighting scenarios. Make of it what you will.

When the boss plonked the Astrum NL050 on my desk, I figured it would be a quick, easy thing to do [Yeah? You and me both, dude. – Ed.]. Let’s face it: what could I possibly say about a reading lamp that would require more than two sentences? [THAT’S WHAT I SAID. – Ed.] There’s not much to it, other than it being an adjustable LED reading light – and it’s portable, thanks to the rechargeable battery. Boy, was I wrong. [But were you wrong, though? WERE YOU, LEN? – Ed.]

Technical specifications

Dimensions: 562x65x21mm

Weight: 385g

Input: DC 5V/1A

Charging time: up to 3 hours

Battery: 2,000mAh lithium polymer

Colour temperatures: warm white (3100K), neutral white (4200K), cool white (5400K)

Usage time on full charge: up to 30 hours

Benchmark scores and general performance
Price and supplier information
Supplier: Astrum
Website: www.astrumworld.com
RRP: R749

The first thing you’ll notice during unboxing is that the packaging doubles as an optometer, complete with a hanging strap. “It’s strange that Astrum would include this sales gimmick,” I thought as I unboxed the thing – but I discovered later that this is a very clever inclusion. [I don’t know hey. Having chips with your burger, now THAT’S a clever inclusion. This, though? I’m sceptical. – Ed.]

The lamp itself is sleek and velvety, with a rubbery white base and an aluminium top. The body is bendable, from 25° to 90° angles, or it can be at 180° flat – but it’s not twistable. A full charge takes three hours, according to Astrum. A full charge should yield around 30 hours of use, depending on the intensity of the LED. I’ve been using the lamp every night (and occasionally during the day), and it’s probably already been over a week since I did the last charge.

You may have noticed the words “Eye Protecting” in the lamp’s name, which brings me back to the optometer I mentioned earlier. According to Astrum, the NL050 supposedly combats or prevents myopia (i.e. near-sightedness) – so what better way to take one for the NAG team than to go through a variety of tests with the lamp, to see if I could make my eyes bleed. [We’d prefer if you took one for the team by buying us all lunch every once in a while. But, like, sure, I guess. – Ed.]

To that end, I borrowed (or maybe stole – thanks Lauren!) a novel from my boss’s book cabinet: Assassins Creed: Heresy, a truly delicious-looking novel, and set out to complete the following self-imposed challenges in an attempt to permanently ruin my eyesight. [You know there are easier ways to do that, right? Like, say, running eyes-first into a stack of freshly sharpened pencils? – Ed.]

First, I tested the status of my eyes [I can’t believe that’s a thing I just read. – Ed.] using the enclosed optometer in the morning when my eyes weren’t pooped from a day playing Overwatch with my NAG colleagues. I saw it as a pre-blindness benchmark of sorts, which showed I could read up to the third-last line with my right eye, and the fourth-last with my left, from three metres away. My wife sleeps on the left-hand side of the bed, but perhaps there’s no correlation. I don’t know, I’m just sharing information. [I wouldn’t worry about it dude – I think after your wife finds out you’ve got such intense feelings for a lamp, you’ll have the bed to yourself for a while. – Ed.]


I read from the stolen book each night for an hour or so, using only the light from the Astrum NL050 Eye Protecting LED Lamp (at various brightness levels). A few days later, I switched to my own bedside lamp, and eventually moved on to the main bedroom light. Each night, I conducted the optometer test – and the results were interesting to say the least. [But is that the least you could say, though? IS IT, LEN? – Ed.]

When doing the tests at night, I couldn’t match the base results achieved during my initial morning test, no matter what light I used. That said, it was easier to do the test on nights when I’d used the NL050 light. The difference was marginal, but there was definitely a difference. To be fair, not every day was the same – I’d either been in front of my PC all day, or out on the road, and this surely would’ve had an impact on the tiredness of my eyes. [As would all the hallucinogens it would seem you’ve been doing. 😛 – Ed.]

My testing may seem inconclusive [Weeell… – Ed.] due to the number of external factors that would’ve directly impacted on the nightly results. To me, however, my eyes seemed far more capable after using the Astrum LED light than anything else. They felt more comfortable. Most importantly, when doing the tests the next morning, I was always able to match the results of my original test – so I guess my eyes are still okay? [See, that depends. Did you or did you not do the thing with the pencils? Because if your eyesight was still fine after doing that, THAT would be impressive. – Ed.]

Before starting this journey with Astrum […and presumably peyote. – Ed.], I used a standard low-wattage light at my bedside, and often spent time reading news on my phone before giving the wife that suggestive wink with my weak eye. [Gross. – Ed.] I guess this shows how little value I’ve placed in my eyes until now, and have since put in place measures to help protect my eyes – which includes switching to LED lights, and resting my eyes periodically.

[Oh, okay. – Ed.]

7.5The Astrum NL050 Eye Protecting LED Lamp not only looks cool, but it also helped me find a stray dog pellet hidden underneath the dishwasher. [If I were you, I’d spend less time praising the light for that, and more time worrying about why your dogs and dishwasher are clearly conspiring to overthrow your rule. – Ed.] It’s also taught me (and hopefully you as well, after reading this) the importance of using correct lighting.

More stuff like this: