I’m constantly spending money on nerdy and/or wanky crap, and then reviewing it on this site. I even do it constantly without any payment or free things from the manufacturers, can you believe it!
This time, I’m gushing about my latest Kickstarter arrival. For those of you who haven’t switched a computer on in a while, Kickstarter is one of the largest crowd funding sites out there. The Lumio was funded on March 15, 2013, and I received mine in the mail on Friday 14, 2014. I think, for a project of such ambition, that is more than reasonable. I waited longer than that (I think) for my Pebble.
Fair warning: this review is mostly awesome* photos.
TL;DR: If you have $160-$200 to spare (depending on postage) and you like books and portable lights and functional art, don’t bother reading this and go buy one here now.
*I am not a photographer.
Packaging and Unboxing
The Lumio arrives in a very professional package, which turns out to be partly for permanent storage of the Lumio itself. There is no indicator that this isn’t the kind of high-end product you’d buy at an Apple store, and ‘merely’ a crowdsourced product.
The spine has a thin sheet of your chosen wood finish, with the corresponding number (1, 2 or 3) cut into it.
Once you slide the plastic sleeve thingy off, the cap falls off, revealing all your accessories neatly packed inside. On the other side is your shiny wooden Lumio and a little booklet.
The Lumio feels solid and smells deliciously of wood. My finish was ‘cherry’ (I’ve redacted a photo of my nose pressed to its wooden surface and sniffing deeply, because seriously, who the fuck wants to see that?)
The Lumio comes with a leather strap, nicely woven-cord micro-USB charger, and two round wooden pieces which contain rare-earth magnets. A small wooden peg keeps these two circles apart. In practice (as you will see later) these can be used to create a carry strap or assist in holding the light up. If you have a wall you feel comfortable drilling some screws into, these can also provide mounting points to hang your Lumio on corners of the house. I don’t have this luxury so you’ll have to see this at the Lumio site itself.
The micro-USB cable (the one pictured is a spare one I had lying around, and not the nice orange cable that comes in the box) plugs into your regular iPhone or equivalent 2A and higher charger. The included pamphlet warns that charging from computer USB port might take 24hrs instead of the 6 or so from a regular 2A charger.
NOTE: no actual charger comes with the Lumio, only the cable. If this is a deal-breaker for you on such an expensive high-end product then may the gods have mercy on your soul.
The Lumio folds open just like any other wooden-covered book held shut by neodymium magnets (joke). Having the magnets inside the cover allows you to clip it magnetically to the wooden disks (see in the accessories section).
It’s possible to create this kind of hanging lantern configuration by attaching the magnetic wooden clips between the covers of the unfolded book, with the leather strap hanging between them. It’s more than strong enough to prevent any accidental falling.
You can also put the light on its side, so it’s a bookish light column. I didn’t take any pictures of that, though, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I’m only dinging it half a star for versatility because the nice wooden cover means you really shouldn’t just plonk it down on a wet or dirty surface.
The Lumio lights up out of the box, but the included pamphlet says to charge it for at least 8 hours before using it regularly. The internal battery lasts 8 hours, but I’ve not been able to confirm this. Even if it’s only a 6 hour charge I wouldn’t be too worried though. It’s rare that I need awesome art lighting for more than a few hours.
The light comes from what look to be four internal LEDs, two for each cover. They are cleverly placed on each cover, about halfway down the spine if you look very closely when the book is open. At a cursory glance the spine is completely clear and the light just appears by magic. Because awesome!
The build quality is, overall, excellent. The only flaws I’ve discovered are some minor edge distortions on the outermost folds of the internal fake pages. I believe this is due to the hidden placement of the LEDs, which warps the fold a little.
Summary and Thoughts
Oh, it’s so awesome. The only drawback is that it’s expensive.
I am so looking forward to taking this with me as a portable light to literary events. It can fit in a messenger bag alongside my other writing crap without too much fuss, and is both very handy and an instant talking point. I’d love to get another one… Hm. Perhaps I have a problem with lighting. I do, after all, adore my Hue system.
Note well that I haven’t rated the price. What would be the point? Do I rate it 3 stars because I didn’t want to pay so much money? Well, obviously I’d like it for free. Should I rate its price according to how good the value-for-money is? I watched Max Gunawan as he scoured China looking for factories to invent never-before-seen manufacturing techniques. I doubt he’s making much money at all on this. Also, I bought the Kickstarter edition, offsetting my risk a bit by buying it for $110 USD (including shipping). That would be a 5 star price rating, considering the quality of the final product. Would I pay closer to $200 AUD (including postage) for one? Hm, I’d think twice, sight unseen.
Hence my overall score ignores price, and so for the Lumio, out of 5 stars, in the category of ‘functional art portable lighting’ I give you: