Philips Lumiblade OLED lighting panels hands on review

Philips released their first OLED panels (or Lumiblades, as they call them) back in April 2009, and in May they sent us a few panels for a review. Since then Philips released new panels, and last week they sent us a new "experience kit" with two OLEDs: a white dot and a white tall rectangle.

What's in the box

The first Lumiblade panels we got back in 2009 were one of the first panels to leave Philips - and the package was very basic. Two and a half years later, we can see that Philips is now taking this much more seriously - the package is professional and looks good, although these are still engineering prototypes and samples and not real products (more on this later).

What I got is an Experience Kit which includes two OLED panels (a white dot and a white tall rectangle), a driver box that can power the two panels in the same time, and A/C adapter and a small manual.

Interestingly, on the back of the manual it is stated the Lumiblade panels are engineering samples only - and are not intended to be used as components in lighting products. In fact - Philips say that using these panels in commercial products is prohibited!

The OLED panels

Like I said, I got two panels. The dot (or circle) has a diameter of 69.9 mm, while the tall rectangle is sized 129.4 x 54.7 mm. Both emit white light (Philips also offers green, red and blue OLEDs, but only in smaller sizes) and are mirror-like when turned off (which is really nice). If you want to buy those panels, the dot panel costs €146 while the rectangle costs €269. Philips also offers a special 2of3 kit which includes a driver and a choice of two OLEDs for just €180.

The technical specification of these panels, as written on their back:

  • I: 420 mA
  • U: 5.3 V
  • Color X: 0.39, Y: 0.39
  • Brightness: 1500 cd/m2

The "regular" Lumiblades offer around 12 lm/W efficiency - which is quite low compares to what can be achieved with OLEDs. The Lumiblade Plus panels (developed by Konica Minolta) offer 45 lm/W, but you need to order at least a 100 (at €120 each).

Hands on

Using the kit is of course very easy - you just connect everything, and turn it on. There are dimmer switches (which do not go all the way, to turn off the OLEDs you have to use the on/off switch). The OLEDs, as expected, emit nice soft white light. When viewed from an angle, the light starts to look more yellow (or even orange like).

Philips' Lumiblades seem somewhat flimsy - you get the thin glass panel and two thin cords extending from it (which connect to the Driver). This seems very fragile, but on the other hand it really lets you appreciate how thin and light these panels are.

OLED lighting panel comparison

Philips isn't the only company that ships OLED lighting panels samples. We already got samples from OSRAM, Lumiotec and Blackbody, and here's a video showing all these panels together

So how does the new Lumiblades compare? It depends, as usual. If you want the most impressive panel, I still think Lumiotec's panels is the winner - if only because it's larger (it's more than double the size of the larger Lumiblade. Blackbody's panels are also very large - but aren't really offered as samples, only inside lamp products. On the other hand, the Philips one is thinner and you can more easily imagine using it inside light fixtures and new designs. The big advantage of Philips' offering is the range of sizes and colors. OSRAM's Orbeos is also thin and light, but its driver kit design means you have to place it inside a case to use it.

In the left photo above, top row (left to right): Lumiotec's square, Osram Orbeos circle, Philips Lumiblades. On the bottom row: Blackbody's rectangular panel.

Check out our previous OLED lighting panel reviews:

Wrap up

Philips' new Lumiblades continue the design theme of the previous Lumiblade's we got - thin glass panels with a very basic development kit - which allows great freedom to play with the panels (my daughter played around with the rectangular one, saying it looks like a camera, she had a lot of fun). Philips still offers the cheapest way to experience OLEDs (you can buy a driver and a small OLED panel together for €154).

Posted: Nov 27,2011 by Ron Mertens