Reviews

Here's the deal with that viral sunset lamp on Instagram

We’re not saying this Instagram projector lamp will catch fire, but we’re not, not saying that either.

I’m incredibly picky about lighting. In my apartment, overhead lights are a criminal offense punishable by hard time in ambience jail. Under prolonged exposure to fluorescents (I’m talking the skin-disintegrating kind you find at a dentist’s office) my will to live plummets faster than Bitcoin after the Tesla man tweets.

Given that adversity to all lighting not explicitly soft and warm, viral products like this sunset projector lamp, which have been dominating ads across Instagram and Facebook, easily bypassed my bullshit detector and shone through to my innermost targeted ad mark. There was only one way this could go...

I absolutely had to try it.

I needed to test this projector lamp out — and not just because I require the glow of a yellow/orange light bulb to survive — but because this thing is seriously everywhere, which means other lighting sticklers, home improvers, or anyone incidentally sponging up Instagram ads in the past six months might be considering buying one.

No seriously these lamps are inescapable.

So, I did what any blogger with half a budget would do and pulled open Instagram, threw some money at one of the many purveyors of ambiguously branded sunset projector lamps and waited 5-10 business days. The lamp successfully completed its first trial: it arrived.

So, here’s the deal...

It’s a lamp

Before I start critiquing this thing, let's lay out exactly what I (and I think most other people) want out of the viral sunset projector lamp:

1) To look at least somewhat like a sunset.

2) The lamp itself should look aesthetically serviceable.

3) You absolutely do not want it to burn your house down.

With those criteria laid out...

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Let's talk about looks

Without a strong orange/yellow gradient (kind of like a sunset) this is just another lamp, so having that element present is pretty important.

Here’s what the lamp looks like in the Instagram ad I saw.

Here’s what it looks like on my wall.

Here’s what the sunset projector looks like in someone’s fancy pants apartment.

Here’s what it looks like penetrating the inner-depths of my cats soul.

Is it shocking that the pictures in the Instagram ads I was served don’t exactly match reality? Not really. Is it slightly disappointing? I think my rhetorical question setup here says it all, though I will say that coupled with a color-changing smart bulb I have screwed into a lamp in my living room, I was able to get some pretty cool shadows on one of my fake plants, which is great if that’s something you’re really itching to do.

$45

What I paid for the lamp.

$15

What I should have paid for it.

Which brings us to...

The design

As far as lamps go, this is pretty much the minimal design standard to meet the description of “lamp.” Most of its parts, aside from the metal hinge that tilts the bulb up and down (mine came slightly bent), are made of fairly basic plastic, and the base is a mysteriously hollow chamber obscured with a thin piece of foam.

Watch me press this thing with my finger.

Keep reading to find out what’s underneath.

To power the lamp on and off there’s a clicky button spliced into the power cord, which is a 3.75-foot cable with a USB plug on the end. The lamp does not come with a power adapter to plug the USB cable into, so make sure you have, say, an extra phone charger set aside.

🔊: sound on for some clicking

Design-wise, this lamp is a cheaply made piece of plastic with a bulb in it, which should be fine if you’re just looking for something adjacent to an indoor spotlight to brighten your room. However...

It also gets incredibly hot

I’d be negligent not to mention how freakin’ hot this thing gets, and I’m not just talking about the bulb. After 10 minutes of projection, the plastic case housing the bulb itself almost becomes too hot to touch. I’m not going to flat-out call this lamp a fire hazard, but I’m also not entirely comfortable saying it’s not a fire hazard.

This lamp might be closer to the sun in kelvin than appearance.

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Another thing worth noting is that most of the projector lamps advertised on Instagram are ambiguously branded. I did some research and got lost trying to track down this product’s origin. I even used Google Translate to parse the product sticker slapped on the bottom, but...

Cool.

Should you ride off into the sunset with this lamp?

There’s a lot of plastic junk out there in the world, and if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering whether the viral sunset projector lamp belongs with the rest of the rejects you regret buying in an Amazon-induced fugue state. And to that question, I can only give you but one tiny kernel of truth to guide you and your wallet...

The answer lies within.

🔊SOUND ON 🔊