GE Relax, Refresh, and Reveal LED light bulb reviews: Two of these dumb bulbs are terrific

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GE has appropriated the phrase “high definition” from the TV industry and applied it to a new line of dumb LED bulbs. The word “dumb” isn’t meant to be derogatory here, it’s just that these bulbs don’t have the electronic components that would enable them to be directly controlled by a smart home hub or a smart phone. Pair them with a smart switch and you’ll be in business.

So how can high definition be applied to light? GE explains that its Relax, Refresh, and Reveal bulbs “have a higher CRI, or Color Rendering Index, than standard LED bulbs. Which means they deliver greater color contrast and boldness than an average light bulb.” The key, GE says, lies in the use of the rare-earth element neodymium in the bulb glass.

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The GE Relax HD

Color Rendering Index is a real thing, and it’s defined by a measurement that describes the spread of the spectrum of the light source. This is a separate measurement from color temperature, which most bulb shoppers understand well. You can think of color temperature as a goal, and CRI as a measure of how closely the light comes to meeting that goal. High-CRI lights minimize spikes outside of the wavelength of light they’re supposed to be emitting, while low-CRI lights emit more light all across the spectrum.

CRI is rarely denoted in consumer lighting products, though sometimes it is described in spec boxes by the term “color accuracy,” which is a consumer-friendly name for a CRI measurement that maxes out at 100. Incandescent and halogen bulbs have great CRI, in the high 90s–which is why rooms look so nice under their light. Typical LED bulbs, on the other hand, tend to have CRI around 80, which is why they often look so unimpressive.

So: GE’s HD bulbs have a higher CRI. How much higher? The bulbs don’t say on the packages, but a GE rep says the bulbs score “high 80s to 90.” It’s ultimately up to your eye to decide just how HD these HD bulbs are.

Three shades of HD lighting

GE’s HD bulbs come in three flavors, each of which is a 60-watt equivalent.

Relax is a warm bulb tuned to 2700K and emitting 800 lumens. It is designed for bedrooms, dining-, and living-room situations where you want those soft, orange-hued tones.

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The GE Refresh HD emits a much cooler light.

Refresh is the cool bulb. Tuned to 5000K, it also emits 800 lumens. As expected, it is geared toward laundry rooms, the garage, and the home office; places where you want bright and “energizing” light that approximates daylight.

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