2006 Volkswagen GX3 concept was a Tron trike for the streets – Roadshow

Designed in VW's California design studio, the GX3 weighed under 1,300 pounds and was pegged to cost under $17,000 to start -- around $4,000 less than a base Mazda MX-5 Miata at the time.

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2007 Dodge Demon concept was a thrilling little roadster – Roadshow

The Demon arrived just ahead of the failure of the DaimlerChrysler merger, not to mention the implosion of the US economic system, the latter which killed off all non-essential new-vehicle projects, as Chrysler had to take bailout money from the federal government.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode 7 recap: Imprisoned Ahsoka gets Forceful – CNET


Trapped trio -- Trace, Rafa and Ahsoka are imprisoned by the Pyke Syndicate.


Episode seven of Star Wars: The Clone Wars' seventh and final season, Dangerous Debt, hit Disney Plus Friday, and picks up with Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and sisters Trace and Rafa Martez (Brigitte Kali and Elizabeth Rodriguez) in a precarious situation. After trying to pull a fast one on the rather nasty Pyke Syndicate, the trio is imprisoned on the planet Obadia.

They face regular Metal Gear Solid-style torture sessions by a super creepy 8D-series droid -- like the one seen in Return of the Jedi -- as Pyke boss Marg Krim (Stephen Stanton) grills them for information on the spice shipment Trace foolishly dumped. Beware of SPOILERS from here on out.


Fortune cookie

"Who you were does not have to define who you are." Ahsoka realizes how much her sense of morality differs from the aloof Jedi, while Rafa starts to regret the danger her criminal life choices put her and Trace in.

Jedi collateral damage

Ahsoka learns that Trace and Rafa's parents were killed when Ziro the Hutt escaped prison on Coruscant (in season 2 episode Hostage Crisis) and bounty hunter Cad Bane caused a speeder crash. A Jedi diverted it from a crowded landing pad, but the elder Martez family members died as a result.


Time for a breakout.


"I had to make a choice," a Jedi told them in the aftermath. "But not to worry, the Force will be with you."

It's unclear which Jedi this was -- the light green skin and dark robes description matches Luminara Unduli, a Mirialan. It also sounds like something she'd say.

This apparent indifference made the Martez sisters understandably cynical about the Order -- they had to fend for themselves from then on -- and highlights the distance between the Jedi and ordinary citizens. This is the same division Palpatine will use to turn public sentiment completely against the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith (which takes place shortly after these events).


Ahsoka is using the Force more and more.


Increasingly Forceful

Even though Ahsoka has been trying to avoid using her Force powers so the sisters won't know about her Jedi past, desperation pushes her to do so. She subtly uses her abilities to open their cell door, and later gives Trace a little help to jump a gap before leaps high above the sisters to make it over herself.

"I'm more athletic than I look," says Ahsoka.

Just admit you're a superhero Ahsoka, jeez. This is clearly building to her past being revealed in the next episode.


Trace proves to be pretty capable when she escapes.


Do it like Han

Even though Han Solo doesn't exist yet at this point in the timeline, some of Trace's actions mirror his. In addition to the spice-dropping stunt in the previous episode, she runs down the hallways of the Pyke prison, screaming and blasting, like Han will on the Death Star in A New Hope

It'd be cool if these two characters crossed paths sometime, since Trace is likely to survive this arc.

Looming Mandalorians

As the trio tries to escape, they're spotted by someone in a cool Mandalorian helmet -- Ursa Wren (Sharmila Devar), the mother of future Rebels badass Sabine Wren. She reports her Jedi sighting to fellow Mando Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), who recalls their encounter on Carlac (in (in season 4 episode A Friend in Need)

"Don't forget we have a common enemy," says Bo-Katan. "Let's keep track of her, she could be of use to us."

Now playing: Watch this: What's new to stream for April 2020


The "common enemy" is Darth Maul, who's taken over Mandalore with members of radical splinter group Death Watch (which Bo-Katan was once a member of). Presumably they'll rescue the recaptured Ahsoka, Trace and Rafa -- it's a bit frustrating that those three end up in pretty much the same situation they were in at the start of the episode.

All will be clear when the next episode comes to Disney Plus on April 10, I'll have recap up that day too.

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‘iPhone SE’ launching with 256GB, 4.7-in screen, and red, white and black colors, says report – CNET


The 2020 iPhone SE is widely speculated to be modeled after the iPhone 8 (pictured right), but with upgraded internals.

Patrick Holland/CNET

After the commercial success of the original iPhone SE, Apple is expected to start accepting orders for its much-awaited successor as early as Friday, according to 9to5Mac citing a "highly-trusted" reader. The report comes amid online rumours speculating the entry-level phone will be announced on Friday, after the purported phone was spotted on Apple's website alongside its name -- the iPhone SE. It all but dispels earlier rumours suggesting the new budget-friendly phone will be called either the iPhone SE 2 or the iPhone 9. 

Based on new information 9to5Mac has learned, the 2020 iPhone SE will come in three storage variants, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. It'll also come in white, black and red color options, along with five different official cases including black silicone, white silicone and red leather.

Previously reported iPhone SE rumours  suggest that the new iPhone SE is expected to be designed after the iPhone 8 right down to its 4.7-inch screen size, thick bezels and physical home button.  But it will feature upgraded internals including Apple's newest chipset, the A13 processor, which is the same one found in the iPhone 11 series. It's also reported to cost $399 ( £399 or AU$699). If the rumors are true, this would signal Apple's renewed commitment to low-cost phones as global smartphone sales continue to decline and as evidence mounts that the global economy is headed for a recession.

Announced in 2016, the original iPhone SE launched at $399. It was a 4-inch model featuring the body of the iPhone 5S paired with the camera and processor of the iPhone 6S (Apple's flagship at the time), before it was discontinued. 

There's been talk about a sequel to the original iPhone SE circulating for months now, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has added an extra layer of uncertainty as to whether a launch would still happen, as speculated, in the spring. Apple -- along with the broader smartphone and consumer electronics industry --  have been grappling with widespread supply-chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus, which has already forced Apple to lower its quarterly revenue guidance and shutdown stores in the US and China. 

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Apple to start taking orders for new iPhone SE as early as Friday, says report – CNET


The 2020 iPhone SE is widely speculated to be modeled after the iPhone 8 (pictured right), but with upgraded internals.

Patrick Holland/CNET

After the commercial success of the original iPhone SE, Apple is expected to take orders for its much-awaited successor as early as Friday, according to 9to5Mac citing a "highly-trusted" reader.

The report comes amid online rumours speculating the phone will be announced on Friday, after it was spotted on Apple's website alongside its name -- the iPhone SE. It all but dispels earlier rumours suggesting the new budget-friendly phone will be called either the iPhone SE 2 or the iPhone 9. 

Based on new information 9to5Mac has learned, the 2020 iPhone SE will come in three storage variants, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. It'll also come in white, black and red color options, along with five different official cases including black silicone, white silicone and red leather.

Previously reported iPhone SE rumours  suggest that the new iPhone SE is expected to be modeled after the iPhone 8 right down to its 4.7-inch screen size, thick bezels and physical home button.  But it will feature upgraded internals including Apple's newest chipset, the A13 processor, which is the same one found in the iPhone 11 series. If the rumors are true, this would signal Apple's renewed commitment to low-cost phones as global smartphone sales continue to decline.

Announced in 2016, the original iPhone SE launched at $399. It was a 4-inch model featuring the body of the iPhone 5S and the camera and processor of the iPhone 6s, before it was discontinued. 

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

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The US box office made just $5K over the last week in March – CNET


Movie theaters have shut down due to the coronavirus.

Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The outlook is grim for the movie industry at the moment, with cinema closures and postponed movie releases causing seismic shifts in the movie calendar. Now we know the box office impact of those measures to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

From March 20 to 26, the US box office made just $5K, according to Box Office Mojo (via Reddit user u/TheDankestMofo). The same time last year, that number was over $200 million.

The low figures make sense. By March 19, virtually all cinemas had shuttered in North America.

For the first quarter of 2020, the US box office dropped by 25% compared to last year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That's a drop of $600 million.

James Bond, Mission Impossible 7 and Wonder Woman are among the movies whose releases or productions have been delayed due to the coronavirus. The setbacks have also seen many theaters struggle to stay afloat.

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How to catch Tuesday’s big, bright ‘pink moon,’ the biggest supermoon of 2020 – CNET

It could be literally the biggest object in the night sky all year and all you have to do to see it is step outside after sunset tomorrow.

The moon will at least appear to be larger than normal Tuesday evening into the early morning hours of Wednesday. That's when the celestial phenomenon colloquially known as a supermoon will return, and this one should be the biggest and brightest of 2020. Because it's the first full moon of the northern spring, it's also traditionally known as the "pink moon." 

Unfortunately, the name has nothing to do with the color of the moon itself, rather it comes from phlox subulata, a pink flower that blooms in spring in the east of North America, according to the Farmer's Almanac.

A quick supermoon refresher: What we call a supermoon is actually the moon at perigee-syzygy, which is a funky rhyme that really just means the moon is near its closest point to us in its slightly elliptical path around Earth.

On Tuesday, the moon will be at its closest point to us all year, making it appear up to 30% larger than it looks when it's at its furthest point from our planet. But it still probably won't be pink. If it's especially hazy where you are, you might get a nice orange hue, but that could be a sign of wildfire smoke nearby and no one wants that, especially during a global pandemic

To get the best view of the supermoon, head outside around sunset wherever you are on Tuesday to say goodnight to your friendly neighborhood star and then turn around to await the emergence of the full moon over the horizon. Full moons always rise around sunset as a matter of geometry, and thanks to an optical illusion, they also appear at their biggest when they are nearest the horizon. 

As always, be sure to share your best photos of the supermoon with me on Twitter @ericcmack.

If you miss it, or the weather doesn't cooperate for you, the Virtual Telescope Project is also planning to livestream its own observations from Rome, as is the Lowell Observatory in Arizona (that feed is embedded at the top of this story). Failing that, you don't have to wait too long for the next supermoon on May 7.

Now playing: Watch this: Our future on the moon: What will the moon look like...


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Google Doodle offers tips for fighting coronavirus by staying at home – CNET

Read a book, work out or sing about love. Just stay home to do it.

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage populations around the world, the prevailing medical thought is that everyone can help slow the spread of the disease by washing your hands frequently, social distancing when out in public, but most of all, by sheltering in place.

With 1 million coronavirus cases reported worldwide, governments around the globe have ordered residents to self-quarantine at home, closed nonessential businesses and restricted what individuals can do. Across the world, hundreds of millions residents are mandated to stay at home in a global effort to check the spread of the novel coronavirus -- from Spain to India to the UK.

While Google knows that only leaving the house for essential activities, such as going to doctor's appointments and the grocery store, may seem a bit restrictive, it also knows the value of sheltering in place at this challenging time. But there are also some pluses to staying home.

Google published a Doodle on Friday to highlight some of the beneficial activities one can engage in without leaving your shelter. The letters in Google's Doodle, all safely confined in their homes, shows the Big G relaxing with a book, while others sing and exercise. And don't think that all human interaction is necessarily discarded as two of the Doodle's letters make the love connection over the phone.

The Doodle also links to useful information about the disease and its symptoms, social safety practices and latest developments.

For almost as long as Google has been around, it's livened up its barebones search page with artwork that draws attention to notable people, events, holidays and anniversaries. Google often turns its spotlight on heroes of the medical community, including Dr. Virginia Apgar, who developed a quick method for evaluating the health of newborns, and Dr. Rene Favalor, a heart surgeon who pioneered coronary artery bypass surgery. With much recent attention on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, Google last month honored hand-washing pioneer Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis.

Don't let Google's message go unheeded -- the stakes are too high. Stay at home as much as possible. Pull out a musical instrument, board game or fire up your favorite streaming service.

Do it for the people most important in your life so they stay in your life and you stay in theirs.

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The best LED floodlights you can buy in 2020 – CNET

Whether you need outdoor flood lights for security purposes, landscape lighting, a motion sensor setup for deterring pesky wildlife, or extra illumination when you leave the house before sunrise, finding the best LED flood light with the right brightness, color temperature and  energy saving capabilities can be an uphill battle -- especially considering the wealth of energy-saving options out there for your fixtures. 

Overhead BR30 (or bulging reflector) floodlights in recessed-lighting setups keep plenty of homes lit. If you're looking to upgrade wide beam light bulbs like those, you'll almost certainly want to go with an LED over incandescent bulbs or a fluorescent model. You'll find plenty of picks in your local lighting aisle that are bright, dimmable, efficient, durable and as affordable as ever. And with the most promising lifespan that lasts years or even decades, it'll be a long while before you have to break out the ladder again. And don't worry about whether not these things offer easy installation -- all you have to do is screw them into your existing light fixtures.

So which of these new options is the right one for you? Glad you asked because I've got plenty of suggestions for the best LED flood light.

Read more: Best cheap smart LED bulbs of 2020: Does it matter which bulb you buy? 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

After countless hours spent testing floodlights in CNET's lighting lab, the Cree 65W Replacement Floodlight LED emerged as our Editors' Choice for the best LED floodlight. It's brighter than advertised (and super bright compared with most of the competition), it's energy efficient enough to pay for itself in energy savings within a year and it'll work with your dimmer switches without flickering or buzzing. Best of all, Cree's LED bulb comes with a category-leading 10-year warranty to backup the 22.8-year life span.

All that energy efficient power from a $10 two-pack -- just $5 per floodlight. Read CNET's Cree 65W Replacement Floodlight LED review.

Read more: Our favorite outdoor security cameras of 2020 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The BR30 floodlight LEDs from Philips match Cree's outstanding and durable 10-year warranty. They're also super bright, a bit more efficient and a bit better at heat dissipation than Cree. They don't flicker or buzz on dimmer switches and they get warmer and more candle-like in tone as you dim them down, which some will appreciate. On top of all that, they're less expensive than Cree at about $4.50 per bulb.

So why don't they get the top spot? It's honestly neck and neck, but to my eye, Cree offers a slight uptick in color quality (my Twitter followers agreed when I put it to a vote). And if you want the full 10-year warranty, you'll have to register your bulbs -- otherwise, you only get five years of coverage. In addition, the Philips bulb's lumen output topped out at a too-low average of 92% of its actual brightness on the dimmer switches I tested it with. That undercuts the brightness and efficiency selling points to a small extent. But make no mistake, this bright light is still a terrific choice for almost everyone Read CNET's Philips BR30 Floodlight LED review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

If you need to replace a bunch of floodlights and you want to keep the cost as low as possible, then put the GE Basic floodlight LED at the top of your list. Available in a six- or 12-pack at Lowe's for around $4 per bulb, it's one of the lighting aisle's best values. And don't let the Basic branding fool you -- these bulbs are energy efficient, fully dimmable, durable and they manage heat surprisingly well. 

Their light output isn't quite as bright as Cree and they won't last as long, but those tradeoffs are fair at this price -- especially given that each energy-efficient GE Basic LED will pay for itself in energy savings in less than six months if you're upgrading your outdoor security lights or indoor LED floodlights from incandescent bulbs. Read CNET's GE Basic 65W Floodlight LED review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

It's a relatively pricey illumination option at $9 each, but the Philips SceneSwitch Floodlight LED is actually three bulbs in one: A yellowy, soft white bulb, a bright white, daylight bulb and a dimmed-down nightlight. Want to change between the three? Just switch the bulb off and then back on again within a few seconds. Leave it off longer than that, and it'll turn back on to the setting you left it at when you return.

That's a great pitch for anyone who doesn't have dimmer switches but still wants to be able to dim the lights for movie night or illumination for late-night trips to the bathroom. The bulb also aced pretty much every one of our tests, and with a power draw of just 8 watts (or a lot less if you're running it on the nightlight setting), it'll still save you money over the long run despite the higher-than-average entry cost. Read CNET's Philips SceneSwitch Floodlight LED review.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Some light bulbs are better than others at making colors look accurate and vivid -- but few of today's LEDs do as good a job with color quality as the GE Reveal line of light bulbs, which make color quality the main point of focus.

I've tested several GE Reveal bulbs over the years, and they always deliver on their promise of better-looking colors. The latest BR30-shaped bright light wide beam floodlight versions, now available in a two-pack at stores such as Lowe's and Target, are no exception. Unlike previous-gen GE Reveal bulbs, which filtered out excess yellow light, these new versions achieve better-looking colors by boosting the product's ability to render reds, a longtime LED sticking point. It works -- and it also means that the bulbs are both super bright and more efficient than before, making them ideal outdoor flood lights if you're looking for better outdoor security. Read CNET's GE Reveal BR30 Floodlight LED review.

OK, start at the beginning: What's a BR30?

A BR30 bulb is a specific type of floodlight, and one of the most common. The "BR" bit stands for bulging reflector, which means the light source inside of the bulb sits over a metallic, reflective bowl that bounces all the downcast light back up and straight out the top. Like the name also suggests, that top of the bulb typically bulges outward, which helps put out a fairly wide pool of illumination -- perfect for security flood lights or indoor flood lights. It's the same trick your car's headlights use to light up the road in front of you as you drive at night.

The "30" part refers to the diameter of the bulb in eighths of an inch. At 30 eighths of an inch, a typical BR30 bulb will be just shy of 4 inches wide.


Typically used in overhead, recessed lighting setups, BR30 floodlights are designed to cast a wide pool of bright illumination in a single direction.

Chris Monroe/CNET

How much should I spend on one?

LED prices have fallen steadily over the past five years or so, with most dimmable LED floodlights settling in the $5 to $8 price range and some available for even less. That's great, since swapping in an LED for a 65-watt incandescent floodlight will knock an average of about $7 per year off your power bill. That means it won't take long at all for any of these LEDs to pay for themselves in energy savings.

Given how many durable options you have for $7 or less, I don't think you should spend any more than that per bulb without good reason. And keep an eye out for multipacks: Manufacturers use them to help bring down the cost per bulb, so they can make for an especially good deal if you need a bunch of bulbs anyway.

New Dimmable 65W Replacement Floodlight LEDs in 2020

AmazonBasics BR30 Floodlight LED Cree BR30 Floodlight LED GE Basic BR30 Floodlight LED GE Reveal BR30 Floodlight LED Philips BR30 Floodlight LED
Brightness (lumen output) 792 732 659 799 749
Power draw (watts) 9.5 8.5 8.5 9 9
Efficiency (lumens/watt) 83.4 86.1 77.5 88.8 83.2
Yearly energy cost ($0.11 per kWh, 3 hrs of use per day) $1.14 $1.02 $1.02 $1.08 $1.08
Color temperature (degrees Kelvin) 2,972 K 2,646 K 2,659 K 2,838 K 2,716 K
Average dimmable range 12.0 to 92.8% 9.5 to 96.6% 1.7 to 99.8% 11.0 to 94.0% 4.7 to 92.4%
Flicker and buzz-free dimming? No (persistent buzz) Yes Yes No (faint buzz, flicker on older rotary dials) Yes
Brightness lost to heat 14.6% 6.3% 7.1% 8.3% 4.6%
Lifespan 13.7 years 22.8 years 6.8 years 13.7 years 22.8 years
Warranty 3 years 10 years 2 years 5 years 10 years
Retail price $11.99 (two-pack) $9.97 (two-pack) $16.98 (six-pack) $16.99 (two-pack) $13.45 (three-pack)
Price per bulb $5.99 $4.99 $2.83 $8.50 $4.48
Payback period (if replacing a matching incandescent) 0.9 years 0.74 years 0.42 years 1.26 years 0.67 years
CNET Overall Score 6.1 8.8 8.4 7.3 8.7

What are my options?

I've tested several LED floodlights over the years, including brand-name options from the likes of Cree, GE, Sylvania and Philips, as well as store-brand bulbs from Walmart, Target and Amazon. I honed in on dimmable, soft white-toned, 65W replacement LEDs since those are the most popular option, but if you want something nondimmable or daylight-tinted for your outdoor light fixtures, you'll find bulbs like those in the lighting aisle too.

In other words, you've got more options than ever these days. Many of them are excellent and most don't cost much.

No matter what you pick, you'll want to look for a durable bulb that puts out at least 650 lumens of brightness from a power draw of 10 watts or less. I'd also advise sticking with a product that offers an average lifespan of at least 10 years and a warranty of at least five years if possible.

Need to buy a bunch? Start with one, keep the receipt and make sure you like the quality of light and the way it dims in your home before going all in. Most major retailers are pretty accommodating with light bulb returns, so it's fine and sensible to try one or two out before committing to the next decade or more of in-home lighting.

Remember, you're going to live with these super bright LED lights every day for a long time. So it's worth getting a bulb type that you like and avoiding the ones that'll annoy you.

Now playing: Watch this: Philips Hue vs. Lifx: A color-changing smart home showdown


What about smart lighting?

I think it's definitely worth considering!

The majority of smart bulbs are the common A-shaped bulb type, but you've got a growing number of floodlight options, too. Lifx and Philips Hue are probably the two most notable names here. Each offers smart floodlights that change colors and work with all of the major voice platforms (Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant), but both are expensive. Want something cheaper? Look for white-light floodlight options from names such as Sylvania and Sengled that cost $15 per bulb or less.

Five, affordable new smart switches will join the C by GE smart lighting lineup this year.

Ry Crist/CNET

Just keep in mind that, except for Lifx bulbs, which communicate using Wi-Fi, all of these smart lights require a Zigbee hub that can translate the bulb's signals into something your router can understand. Hue bulbs require the Philips Hue Bridge, an Amazon Echo Plus or a second-gen Echo Show. Those three can all control Sengled and Sylvania bulbs, too, as can other Zigbee controllers like the SmartThings Hub.

Smart bulbs are a great choice if you're picky about dimming. With bulb-specific dimming hardware built right in, most smart bulbs will dim with flawless, flicker- and buzz-free precision via their app or through some other integration like an Amazon Alexa voice command. You won't need to use dimmer switches associated with those light fixtures at all. You might need to teach your kids to leave the switch up so your automations will work as planned, but there are new solutions for that age-old problem coming out this year, too.

Beyond that, you could always smarten up any of the dumb bulbs recommended in this post by pairing them with a smart switch that's wired into your wall. If you've got a bank of multiple flood light bulbs overhead that are all wired to one switch, smartening up one switch instead of several bulbs might be the better way to go, anyway. The best I've tested is still the Lutron Caseta line of smart switches, but keep an eye out this year for new, relatively low-cost smart switches from GE.

So how do you test light bulbs, anyway?

Good question!

First, a little about me: I'm not a lighting engineer but I've tested and reviewed light bulbs for CNET for over five years now. That includes hundreds of hours in our homemade lighting lab -- a climate-controlled room equipped with a spectrometer and an integrating sphere that lets us run the most scientific and accurate light bulb tests we can possibly run. I've also visited and written features about major North American lighting manufacturers such as Cree and GE to get a better understanding of their methods and standards. This is one of numerous LED buying guides and roundups that I try to update as often as possible.


A peek inside our integrating sphere.

Ry Crist/CNET

We load each bulb we test into the center of our integrating sphere -- a big, hollow ball with special, reflective paint coating the inside. Our spectrometer peeks in through a tiny hole in the side of the sphere, with a "baffle" that blocks it from looking directly at the light bulb. Instead, the bulb's light bounces around inside, which lets our spectrometer take reliable, calibrated measurements for things like brightness and color temperature.

We log those brightness measurements every 10 minutes for 90 minutes, then take a final reading at the end. At that point, I plug the sphere's power cord into a variety of dimmer switches, then measure for the average maximum and minimum settings across all of them while also keeping a close lookout for flicker or buzz.

Once a bulb we're testing is done in the lab, we take a close look at things like light spread, tone and color quality. Our photo and video team (Tyler Lizenby, Chris Monroe and Vanessa Salas here in Louisville) are a huge help at this point, with standardized photography that lets us take a really close look at those metrics. They're also just really damned good at taking pictures of light bulbs.

All of that said, the most important thing isn't what I think when I'm taking readings in our lighting lab -- it's what you and your family think after screwing the bulbs in and turning them on in your living room or other area. Like I said, LEDs like these are designed to be durable and waterproof and last years, so it's well worth buying ones that you'll actually like living with. You've got a lot of good options these days, so there's really no need to compromise. I'm just here to help you find those "just right" bulbs a bit faster -- or more efficiently, you might say.


This new floodlight LED from Sylvania isn't available outside of California yet, but it's efficient, putting out 93.7 lumens per watt. It'll be one of the next bulbs I review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Anything else I should know?

I think that about covers it, but if you want to know more about the bulbs I tested for this roundup, here they all are:

I'll keep this post updated with links to any other bulbs I test. 

As for my tests themselves, feast your eyes on my data. Up first, the results of that heat dissipation test I mentioned a few times earlier. This isn't ranking the brightness of each product, but rather the percentage of initial brightness each bulb lost during the test as they heated up. The higher each bulb finishes, the stronger the result.

Ry Crist/CNET

Next, my color quality and brightness comparison shots:

Chris Monroe/CNET
Ry Crist/CNET

Want more light bulb buying advice? Our handy buying guide is here to help.

Check out our rundown of the best smart lights that work with Alexa.

Need advice about outdoor security, solar lights and outdoor lighting? Read about how to convert your yard lighting to outdoor LED lighting or an outdoor floodlight. 

Originally published earlier and updated periodically as we review new products.

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Coronavirus ventilators: Why one machine is pivotal in the battle against COVID-19 – CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

If it wasn't so macabre it would be almost poetic: An illness that aggressively attacks the lungs, caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, has spread so rapidly and completely that we've barely had time to stop and catch our breath.

The coronavirus responsible -- SARS-CoV-2 -- hijacks the cells of the throat and the lungs, causing the illness now dubbed COVID-19. Some people develop a fever and dry cough, others find themselves unable to breathe. Doctors can only manage the symptoms of infection. For mild cases, that requires rest and increased fluid intake, or perhaps painkillers for those feeling worse for wear.

But in the most severe cases, one biomedical device becomes indispensable: the ventilator. 

"The ventilator is the difference between life or death for people with severe COVID-19," says Brian Oliver, a respiratory disease researcher at University of Technology Sydney in Australia.

In critical COVID-19 infections, a patient's lungs become so damaged they can no longer breathe. To remedy this, doctors pass a tube down the windpipe, connecting it to an instrument that resembles a standing desk with tentacles. The machine, replete with knobs, switches, buttons and a digital screen, takes control of breathing. It mixes oxygen with air, warming the gas and pushing it into the lungs. Its static, mechanical thrums count out each breath. 

With confirmed cases of COVID-19 approaching 1 million, the enormous scale of the crisis has cast the device as the most necessary armament in the fight against a new, insidious foe. "Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II," New York governor Andrew Cuomo said at a recent press conference. 

Global estimates suggest that around 5% of COVID-19 patients will require intensive care involving a ventilator. That might seem like a small figure, but physicians and doctors around the world have been warning of health care systems overrun with patients. Ventilator shortages in the worst-hit nations, such as Italy, have already forced health care workers to choose who gets to live. 

As the coronavirus continues its grim march across the global battlefield, nations are quickly finding out they don't have enough missiles. And so the pandemic is inspiring a wave of innovation and rapid development of new and improved ventilation devices that could be key to keeping the coronavirus in check until a vaccine or effective, standardized treatment comes along.

A handful of newly designed, cutting-edge ventilators may be on the way from the likes of tech giant Dyson, General Motors, MIT and a British consortium led by Airbus. But significant regulatory hurdles and engineering problems may keep them from getting to the hospitals that need them most quickly enough to stem the deluge. 

The ventilator has become a symbol of both the hopes and fears of health care workers across the globe as they struggle to get the pandemic under control. Indefatigable in its mission to keep lungs filling and emptying, the device has been a constant, silent force inside hospitals for over 60 years. 

Now it's being called on for its toughest mission yet.

Just breathe

Around 2 billion years ago, an evolutionary hiccup changed life on Earth: Ancient bacteria evolved the ability to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, slowly changing the planet's atmosphere. The microorganisms that took advantage of this new air spurred an evolutionary cascade eventually resulting in the two spongy sacks in your chest: lungs.

Human lungs are full of branching passages that end in clusters of hollowed sacs known as alveoli, like a bunch of blueberries hanging from a bush. And there are millions of them. "Everyone has around 300 million of these alveoli," says Elena Schneider, a lung health expert at the University of Melbourne, Australia, "and each one is surrounded by really tiny blood vessels." The blood vessels are where gases are exchanged.

When you breathe in air, the alveoli fill up "like a balloon," says Schneider. The oxygen passes into the blood vessels and is carried throughout the body, while carbon dioxide present in the blood flows into the sacs before being exhaled.

For all this to occur, the body has to create a difference in pressure. When you breathe in, muscles in your chest and abdomen contract, decreasing the pressure inside, and allowing the lungs to expand and fill. The opposite occurs when you breathe out. Muscles relax, pressure increases and the lungs are squeezed, pushing carbon dioxide out.

In COVID-19, this process is disrupted. The virus infects and injures the alveoli, causing the body to ask for help from the immune system. Sometimes, that process can go into overdrive. "The immune response is sometimes so strong it can also damage the tissue," explains Oliver. 

Damaged tissue leads to a leakage of fluid and cells, which fill up the alveoli like so many water balloons, decreasing the amount of oxygen they can carry. This is the condition we call pneumonia, and it can be fatal. 

"When a person has pneumonia, fluid and pus in their lungs is what makes it difficult to breathe," says Oliver. In the most critical cases of COVID-19, patients experience acute respiratory distress syndrome, a severe inflammation of the lungs. A ventilator becomes the only way to move oxygen into parts of the lung that aren't badly damaged by the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic has placed a spotlight on the devices as a last line of defense, a final effort to keep patients breathing. But the story of the ventilator begins much earlier -- around a century ago -- when another virus plagued the planet. 

Heavy lungs

In the early 20th century, polio outbreaks haunted cities around the world, coming in waves and forcing sporadic shutdowns. Polio, like COVID-19, is caused by a virus. Shaped like a 20-sided-die, the virus sneaks into the nervous system and wreaks havoc. Damaged nerves result in paralysis, freezing up the muscles necessary to breathe. Patients with polio have healthy lungs -- but they can't draw a breath.

The virus, in the late 1920s, inspired the invention of the iron lung -- giant, cylindrical tanks with enough room for patients to lie flat on their back. At one end, the patient's head protrudes through a small opening. The iron lung was a "negative pressure ventilation" device that worked by altering the pressure inside the tank. This pressure difference helped the lungs fill and empty.

But when polio ripped through Copenhagen in the 1950s, a more efficient ventilation method was required. An anesthesiologist named Bjorn Ibsen instated a new protocol at his overcrowded hospital: Around 1,500 medical students ventilated polio patients with an inflatable bag, standing by each bedside, hand pumping air into their lungs.


The iron lung was first developed in the 1920s. Only a handful are still in use today.

CDC/GHO/Mary Hilpertshauser

"Mortality from paralytic polio was about 80%," says Arthur Slutsky, a mechanical ventilation expert and clinician at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. "Once mechanical ventilation was started, it went down to 40% overnight."

This form of ventilation -- "positive pressure ventilation" -- changed assisted breathing forever. Before the end of the 1950s, Forrest Bird, an eccentric American inventor, created the first reliable, mass-manufactured ventilator using the same principles. The semi-transparent, green ventilator was about the size of a shoebox, small enough to fit by a hospital bed. "His contribution was tremendous," Slutsky notes. Bird's invention has saved millions of lives. 

The ventilators fighting the COVID-19 pandemic aren't all that different from the green, transparent box Bird first tinkered with in the early 1950s: They pump air in and out of the lungs. Their core mission is the same. 

"What you're doing with a ventilator, in general, is to try and buy time so the body can heal itself," says Slutsky. 

That mission is made easier because today's devices have benefited from significant technological upgrades. A city of wires, electronic sensors and circuits sprawls out from the units seen in hospitals and theaters. Schneider says they can be individualized to make the process "much more tolerable and comfortable." And built-in alarms alert health care workers to the slightest breathing abnormalities. 

"It's like comparing a mobile phone from the 1980s to the latest phones," Oliver says.

Plugging the gap

Under normal circumstances, health care services would have a healthy supply of ventilators on hand. The coronavirus pandemic is anything but normal. 

Genetic mutations in the virus' genome have allowed it to spread faster and farther than any coronavirus before it. Although the lowest estimates suggest that only 5% of patients with a critical COVID-19 infection will need mechanical ventilation, the expansive reach of the coronavirus means we simply don't have enough devices to keep that percentage of people breathing

In Italy, where COVID-19 has killed over 10,000 people and overwhelmed the health care system, doctors have had to ration ventilators. The weight of choosing who receives life-saving ventilation and who, by default, will likely die, has left health care workers weeping in hospital hallways

Sparked by the urgent need for more, some of the world's biggest manufacturers have turned their attention from vehicles and vacuums to ventilators. 

Elon Musk, CEO of electric vehicle giant Tesla, shipped over 1,000 devices to California in late March and has committed to converting Tesla's New York facility into a ventilator production line. General Motors has partnered with ventilator company Ventec Life Systems to ramp up production in Indiana. British tech giant Dyson, a company mostly known for its vacuums and hand dryers, has an order with the UK's National Health Service for 10,000 of its newly designed "CoVent" systems. A team at MIT has prototyped an inexpensive ventilation device out of a small bag and mechanical paddles.

Health agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration, Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration and the UK's Department of Health and Social Care, have all signaled their intent to look at alternative ventilator strategies that could plug any gaps

The ventilator is not an overly complicated device to build. The number of manufacturers putting their hand up to remedy the expected shortfall in North America might even suggest creating such a device is easy. But there are engineering problems to overcome.

"There are some subtleties in making a ventilator," Slutsky says. He's been working with engineers, physicists and even a Nobel Laureate over the last few weeks, answering "simple" questions about design, how valves work and how to build a machine lung. "They're actually a little more complicated than people think." 

One big issue is distribution. Even if a company were to design and scale up production exponentially, as GM and Ventec are trying to do, how do they get ventilators from the factory to the hospitals where they're most needed? Slutsky sees inexpensive designs, which can be downloaded and manufactured by local engineering firms, as a way to quickly scale up production. 

"The idea here is to have a ventilator [but] keep it open-source so anybody can build it," he says.


Over 1,500 medical students hand-pumped air into the lungs of polio patients in the early 1950s.

Taechit Taechamanodom/Getty

Unintended long-term effects

The difference between medicine and poison is in the dose.  

"The ventilator, like any therapy we have, saves lives," says Slutsky. "It can also cause injury."

Severe COVID-19 infections and patients experiencing respiratory distress will require intubation -- the process of physically passing a tube down the windpipe. 

"An invasive intubation is something that you would only want if you really need it," says Schneider. Intubation can be prone to bacterial infection and may harm parts of the windpipe. 

More recent advances in ventilator research have focused on how machines themselves may damage the lungs. No matter how well you do it, positive pressure ventilation is intrinsically harmful because it exposes lungs to higher-than-normal pressure. If airflow is not carefully managed, lungs can overinflate. Slutsky has studied this problem for decades and compares it to blowing up a balloon. "If you blow it up too big, it's gonna pop," he says. 

Overinflation can cause a cascade of negative effects as lung cells stretch and withdraw. During the process, they release molecules that find their way into the bloodstream and travel to other organs, causing further complications. Patients with COVID-19 in critical care units may have to confront the reality of these unintended long-term effects somewhere down the line -- but in many cases, mechanical ventilation is the only option.

Slutsky suggests some patients may have long-term side effects, but there will also be "plenty" of people whose lung function returns to normal.

"I don't want the message to be, 'if you get on a ventilator, for sure your lungs are gonna be shredded,'" he says.


If necessity is the mother of invention, the coronavirus pandemic should inspire a ventilator renaissance. 

The parallels with the polio epidemics of the 20th century are unavoidable: Those crises stimulated the invention of the iron lung and the emergence of positive pressure ventilation. Ventilators formed the last line of defense against death. They saved lives. They bought time for patients to heal and for doctors to develop new methods of treatment. 

Such a parallel inspires hope and fear. 

Ventilator shortages are widespread. In the US, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act -- a relic of the Korean War that enables and encourages widespread production of critical medical equipment -- to compel General Motors to speed up ventilator manufacturing. But new machines could still be a month away, and health authorities are pleading for them right now.

The situation has become so dire we're able to watch ingenuity and innovation take place in real time. 

In the UK, Formula One teams have collaborated on improving another type of breathing aid that might keep COVID-19 patients off ventilators altogether. Across the Atlantic in New York, doctors have taken to jury-rigging one ventilator to two patients to keep them breathing. One group suggests resources could be stretched even further, using a single ventilator for seven patients. And though medical associations have cautioned against such arrangements, soon there may be no other choice.

As the last line of defense, there are no guarantees mechanical ventilation will keep a patient alive. They're not a cure. But they form a critical component in COVID-19 health care. They buy time.

The ultimate goal is the same as it was during the polio epidemics: building a reliable, safe vaccine. "It was nice to have a ventilator that saved some people's lives," Slutsky says, "but the real thing that saved us was the polio vaccine." Vaccine development has progressed at great speed and dozens of potential candidates have been identified, but experts caution it's unlikely we'll see one until at least mid-2021. 

Until then, frontline health care workers will turn to a machine they've been using for over 60 years, holding out until the pandemic ends and we can, finally, breathe easily again. 

Originally published March 2, 5 a.m. PT

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