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Sauce Lightwand



''Sauce'' Lightwand, a unique color-changing party light
Color Kinetics, 'Sauce' consumer products, $15 at REI

Last Updated: 10-23-01



Color-changing Light

The lightstick. What do you see? That's right, you're probably thinking of one of those transluscent plastic tubes that you bend until you hear a snap, and then shake up to get a greenish light. These have been around in some form or other since at least the 1970s, and everybody knows them.

Then came the 'electronic lightstick'. Krill is one such model; you twist the bottom and they come on. Both of these are very popular at raves, parties, and concerts, but all they do is sit there and glow.

Now let's bring in the Sauce LightWand.
This little guy will change the way you view lightsticks forever.
Made by Color Kinetics, the LightWand is barely larger than a conventional chemical lightstick, and it can do things no other chemical or battery powered light (of any kind!) can do.

The Sauce LightWand comes with a long lanyard and is powered by a single "AA" battery, already installed. This sample arrived at my doorstep in an attractive (and colorful) box, see the picture a little farther down the page.

Size reference



The LightWand comes in a beautifully colored but difficult to open retail blister pack. Remove the wand & the lanyard from the laser-sealed pack in any way you see fit (I used a box knife around one edge to preserve the instruction card) and start having fun with it, as is it ready to go right away.

The LightWand has five different modes (four actually do something) and several effects you can apply to each mode. To access these modes, just push the button.
  • Color wash - smoothly cycles through the rainbow.
  • Random color - flashes the wand with random colors.
  • Fixed color - the wand stays a single color of your choosing.
  • Strobe - emits intense flashes of greenish white light
  • Off - Turns the unit off.

There are also two "secret" holiday-themed modes in this light, but I won't spoil the surprise by revealing their locations to you.
One is for this time of the year, and the other is for a certain day around the summer solstice.

Press the button once for color wash, twice for random, three times for fixed color, four times for strobe, and the fifth press turns it off.
Once you have a mode you want, pushing and holding down the button changes the effect on that mode. The changing of an effect is announced by the light very briefly winking off, this lets you know to be ready to let the button go when you reach an effect you like, or continue holding until your desired effect does come up.

The single button to control everything also means the wand can be fully controlled with a single hand - a single finger actually. No need to grasp it with both hands or fiddle with multiple switches or worse.

The LightWand will turn off automatically after ten minutes of disuse, preserving battery life. This feature might be helpful for doped up ravers who might forget and leave it on frequently. :)



Color-changing Light


1xAA cell
This cool light keeps its small size because it only needs a single "AA" cell battery.
To change the battery, you will need a small - and I mean small Phillips screwdriver. The ones found in eyeglasses repair kits should work well for this.
Remove the screw holding the battery door on, and remove the door (you might need to gently pull it up by putting the screwdriver in the hole and lifting).
The "AA" cell goes in button-side facing the tailpiece (where the keyring goes) and just slips right in. Replace the door & the screw, and you're good to go.
The fine-threaded screw goes into a brass fitting, so it is less likely to strip or break something than if it simply screwed into a hole in the plastic. Nice touch there.

Battery life isn't stated, but will be measured and results posted here when available.



The Sauce LightWand appears to be solidly built, but like any fine electronic instrument, you should try your level best to not drop it or whack it against any hard surface.
By its very design, ravers will want to swing it around on the lanyard - it seems to take this well, but don't let it hit anything or you will probably break it.

The wand is also not water resistant, so care should be taken to not use it in the rain or in wet locations (such as near a pool where it might accidentally fall in). A 90-day warranty will cover failures due to factory-induced faults, but like most warranties, it will not protect against accidents or abuse. Ravers, you're on your own here.

The LightWand comes with a bright red lanyard, which allows you to hang the light around your neck or swing it around (carefully!). It can also be hung on bicycles, scooters, wheelchairs, or other similar forms of transport.



The only real fault I've found is that the auto-shutoff feature can be annoying under some circumstances. 20 minutes or half an hour would have been a more realistic time frame to choose, not ten minutes. Although it is intended to be a good feature, designed to preserve the battery life, I wish there were a way to bypass this or increase the "on" time, even if it took a carefully timed sequence of pushing the button in order to do so.
But I'll learn to live with it soon enough. This light is just too cool to really bash over one rather minor annoyance.


TEST NOTES:

The included sheet states they come in four body colors: transluscent purple, transluscent orange, transluscent red, and a sleek matte black finish.

Any updates related to this review will be posted as they happen.

UPDATE 02-22-01:
The programmers at Color Kinetics have added a feature to defeat the auto turn-off in all Sauce products, including the LightWand.
This has eliminated a BIG fault - one of the only I have found - in this product line. Auto-off is still available, they did not remove it but simply added a way to bypass it.

They have also added a number of new products to the site, including a keychain sized LightWand, and several versions of decor/accent lighting products. Some of them plug in, some use batteries for portability. Check the website for yourself to see what's coming up.

UPDATE 06-30-01:
This device is now available at REI stores for approximately $15 US.
This link will take you to the online portion of their store where the Sauce Lightwand is sold.

UPDATE 10-23-01:
All Sauce products are now available at amazon.com. (Link opens new window)

Lightwands are now available at:
ToysRUs.com, (which is amazon.com with a different label)
RadioShack Stores under the brand name "MetaMorph"
Discovery Channel stores.



PROS:
UNIQUE
Bright enough to see in most lighting conditions (even outdoors)
Seems solid and durable
Good looking case
Easy to learn & use
Lanyard is just large enough to go around most people's heads.

CONS:
The "auto turn off" function can become annoying. Some way should have been made to bypass this or at least lengthen the "on-time" before it goes out. (See update - they've taken my suggestion seriously and have implemented such a feature!)
Tiny screw secures battery door; you'll need a tiny screwdriver. If screw is lost, you'll want to secure the cover with a small piece of tape or just ask them for a new screw. No big deal, really.
Not water resistant; so be careful at the toilet or urinator.


          MANUFACTURER: Color Kinetics
          PRODUCT TYPE: Glowing lightwand for party use
          LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm. One each red, green, and blue
          No. OF LAMPS: 3
          BEAM TYPE: Diffuse, 360
          SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton, digitally handled
          BEZEL: Transluscent diffusing cone
          BATTERY: 1 AA cell
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown
          WATER RESISTANT: No
          SUBMERSIBLE: No
          ACCESSORIES: Battery, split ring, long cloth lanyard
          WARRANTY: 90 days




                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: 6
                BRIGHTNESS: 8
                USEABILITY: 8
                BATTERY LIFE: 9
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 10

                OVERALL SCORE: 41



Sauce LightWand * WWW.CKSAUCE.COM







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