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Rewiring the New Year's ball with LEDs is a highly visible way to showcase Philips Electronics' commitment to solid-state lighting.

Though Philips' lighting division accounts for about $6 billion of the $40 billion dollar company, it has invested more than $1 billion in solid-state lighting research and development. "Solid-state lighting is going to become the mainstream of lighting.

They are illuminated solely by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material, and they last just as long as a standard transistor." Just how long is this? Try anywhere from 50,000 - 100,000 hours. That's 25 to 50 times the life of a standard light bulb. Other LED advantages include lower power consumption (up to 80 times less) and dramatic heat reduction.

So what are the disadvantages? Well nothing is perfect. LED's are more expensive than standard light bulbs, and they can't produce "true" white light. So what's true, white light? According to Edgar Chan, Operations Manager at Koncept Technologies, "True white light is full spectrum light, or light that simply "looks" white LEDs type of white light is currently comparable to fluorescent lights in their earlier years, that is it's a cooler white light that may have a slight blue tinge. While some people find the warmer yellow incandescent lights more psychologically pleasing, the color of white LED lighting at this stage is still suitable for many tasks. LED technology continues to develop rapidly in increased brightness and quality of light. While it is not as mature as the most recent fluorescents which use more expensive rare-earth phosphors to create a more balanced and natural looking light than the first commercial fluorescents, the fast pace of development suggests that LEDs will mature more quickly than it took for fluorescents. For now, LEDs find uses in applications where their long lifespan, low heat, low maintenance and high efficiency are more important than bulb price and complete color accuracy."