Sunbeam Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp Review

Sunbeam Technology are a relatively new competitor to the cold cathode lighting kit business starting manufacturing in 1998. The Taiwanese company sent us in a couple of their new lighting kits for testing. Does this new competitor have what it takes to compete with lighting products from the likes of PCMods and PC Case Gear? Read on as Cameron "Mr.Tweak" Wilmot gives us an answer regarding the CCFL kits from Taiwan based Sunbeam Technology!
Cameron Wilmot
Published Sat, Jul 20 2002 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Sunbeam Technology

Sunbeam Cold Cathode - Introduction

When the folks from Sunbeam Technology asked me if I would be interested in doing a review of one of their cold cathode fluorescent light kits, I jumped at the opportunity - for two reasons.The first reason being I love neon lights and the style they add to computer cases with customized side windows. I've tested quite a few light kits from various companies before today, so I was keen to see what the relatively new Taiwan based competitor had to offer in terms of quality in light output and workmanship, for the case modder in all of us. Previous lighting products I had tested I was delighted with, while others...well, let's just say they were more suitable for the Thursday morning rubbish collection.The second reason, quite simply, I was in need of some extra light kits for our systems - indeed timely, these happened to fulfill the requirement quite nicely. At the same time I thought why not try these new light kits from Sunbeam and see how they compare to the high quality kits that I had reviewed in the past from companies like PCMods (USA) and PC Case Gear (Australia) which were both rewarded our Editor's Choice award respectively. I was quite optimistic about the kits coming in from the Taiwanese company. For one, it was a welcome change to see the inverters have support for dual lights - saving cable clutter inside your case, but more on that later in the review.Do the Sunbeam cold cathode light kits have what it takes to compete with the long lasting champions from the likes of PCMods and PC Case Gear? Read on as I endeavor to give you that answer today from both the blue and red light kits we received from Taiwan for testing!

Sunbeam Cold Cathode - Features

Features- Light Output ComparisonThe first thing you notice when powering on these lights is how vibrant the colours produced from them are. The cold cathode tube produces bright output of light which is easily comparable in quality to the light kits from PCMods and PC Case Gear.Interestingly, the tubes feature many thin color strips running from top to bottom with an equal space between each. I was unable to tell if this improves the quality of light output or if they are just there as a means of telling which tube is what colour without the fuss of having to power them up just to find out - I'd say the latter is more probable, but that's just my guess. I come to this conclusion since the package we received had no retail packaging to identify which light is which. I would imagine many companies in the US would be selling these kits relabeled with their own name and packaging, as I had never heard of the Sunbeam company before they contacted us. To give you an idea of the quality of these light kits I've taken a photo of the blue Sunbeam light next to the PCMods blue light, with camera flash off and on - The Sunbeam light is furthest to the top while the PCMods light is furthest to the bottom in both photos.
As you can see there isn't a great deal of difference between each light in terms of total light output goes - It was difficult to find a clear cut winner out of the two. Although, it was easy to see that the Sunbeam light does produce a much more vibrant and defined shade of blue which I consider superior to pervious lights I have tested, then again - that's just my opinion.In case you were wondering, the heat output of the Sunbeam lights is nothing to be concerned about - Your case temperatures aren't going to increase. After having the lights on for roughly 4 hours they did not heat up anymore then any of the previous lights I've used.In the attempt to give you a better idea of the difference between both, I set both lights up in my case in the exact same position and took photos with camera flash off. The first shot is of the Sunbeam light while the second shot is of the PCMods light.
Ignore the innards of the case; it's quite messy I know...:)

Sunbeam Cold Cathode - Features Continued

Features Continued- WorkmanshipThe workmanship of the light kits from Sunbeam are quite good and again comparable to the kits from the bigger US manufacturers aforementioned. The tubes are notably thicker than any I have ever used in the past. Construction is solid and has a strong feel to them from the thick acrylic shielding to the cubic protected ends of each - the observation of no annoying rattling sounds was also a bonus.The inclusion of two sets of precut (to the right size) velcro tape to mount the lights to various locations in your side is also a welcome addition - the same tape is also included for the inverter to be mounted inside your case.
The product has been well thought out with extra long power cases so those with full tower cases aren't going to be cursing at a lack of cable length and having to solder extra cable as an extension to make the required length - Additionally, all of the cabling is neat and tidy.
The only problem I have with the manufacturing process is the fact that the inverter is only covered by what Sunbeam like to call "black magic tape" which is just a fancy name for velcro. While the inverter does look pretty tidy with the magical tape, it does let down an overall excellent product, since there is the chance of electrical shocks - albeit a very remote chance. It should be noted that Keven from Sunbeam did let us know that future revisions of their lighting kits will come with a boxed inverter before much longer - Hooray!The Inverter - Dual Neon CapableThat's right. As I said in the introduction, the inverter included support for two light kits, something we've never seen before now. This saves unnecessary cable clutter inside your case if you wish to install two light kits. Aside from this, the inverter is fairly basic and looks to be designed quite well with a simple PCB layout.
In case you were wondering, the inverter is simply a device which acts as the central power source (it uses standard 12 volts) for the light kits and the switch to turn the lights on or off without having to pull our power cables left, right and center inside of your case.As you can see from the picture below, the two pin power connector on the right hand side of the inverter is for the power source. And then it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that the two connectors on the left are for the two light kits.
Once all the cables have been connected to the inverter as shown in the picture above, the black magic tape curls around the inverter as shown in the picture below.
From there attached off the power cord is a round switch which can be mounted to front of your case, usually attached to one of the 3½" drive bay covers. The switch is fairly standard; nevertheless, I've included a picture of it below - If you choose to do this, a washer included to assist in the modification.
Give us the boxed inverter Sunbeam, and we'd have a near perfect product on our hands.

Sunbeam Cold Cathode - Conclusion

ConclusionI was suitably impressed with the total package I received from the folks at Sunbeam, with only one fault in the unboxed inverter which is going to be remedied in future revisions, anyway. Everything from the light output quality to the overall workmanship is something the Taiwanese company should be proud of. It's certainly a product I have no hassles recommending. It will be finding its own permanent place in my personal system before much longer. Unfortunately there was no price listed anyway on the Sunbeam website for the light kits, but just simply an order page with phone number and e-mail address for those interested in buying a kit - I'd imagine it would be for bulk orders only though. There is an "Under Construction" notice on the website, so maybe they are building their own section where you can buy direct.If you're on the market for a new (and I'd imagine fairly cheap) cold cathode fluorescent lamp solution, a Sunbeam product is definitely one you should consider - If you can manage to find one for sale anywhere.Pros- Solid All-round Workmanship- Vibrant Colours - High Light Output- Color Strips for Identification (we presume)Cons- Unboxed Inverter- Retail Packaging would have been niceRating - 9/10

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Cameron founded TweakTown in 1999 after it originally started off as his personal homepage. Cameron was once, many years ago, the only person at TweakTown producing content, but nowadays, he spends his time ensuring TweakTown operates at its best in his senior management role.

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