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What is a USB LED Light?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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A USB light-emitting diode (LED) light is a small, portable lamp that plugs into the USB port, used to illuminate a laptop keyboard in dimly lit conditions. The LED headlamp is attached to a long, flexible gooseneck, allowing it to be positioned to suit the user's needs. A USB LED light receives the power it requires from the USB port, and functions as long as the computer is powered up.

Mobile computers have provided consumers with the convenience to work and play in a variety of settings and lighting conditions that are often less than optimal for seeing the keyboard. External lighting isn’t always available, and when it is, it might bother other people, such as a spouse or sibling. Some people simply prefer to work, game, or watch movies with the warm glow of the computer screen as the only light source. Working in the dark might also be a necessity, such as when giving a work presentation. In all of these situations a USB LED light will provide light where it’s needed without disturbing those nearby or the surrounding ambiance.

USB lights come in a variety of models. Lamps with a single LED light might not provide enough illumination for some people. Those looking for a brighter solution can consider models that incorporate up to eight or more individual LEDs packed into rows on the headlamp. A USB LED light with several LEDs might also feature a brightness switch, with low, medium and high settings corresponding to the number of LEDs in use.

There can be a tradeoff, however, in choosing a USB LED light with a large headlamp. Some people find it difficult to position the head so that it illuminates the keyboard without getting in the way of the screen. Choosing a lamp with a longer gooseneck can minimize this problem by providing a greater range of positioning options.

USB LED lights work with any operating system and any USB port that delivers 5-volts of power. This includes desktops and netbooks as well as laptops. If a light is left plugged into a USB port and the machine is turned off, the light will also turn off. Lamps are extremely lightweight and can be easily stowed in a computer case.

Depending on the model, USB LED lights are available in a range of prices. Many online retailers include customer reviews which can be very helpful in choosing a good model. The most popular lamps provide sufficient brightness with longer necks that are flexible enough to be positioned accurately while holding the position well. USB lights are available wherever computer products are sold.

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Discussion Comments

By Melonlity — On Feb 12, 2015

@Markerrag -- Those are actually pretty darned useful. While lighted keyboards are becoming increasingly popular, those do add a bit to the price of a laptop. In those cases, a good USB LED light can be great for when light isn't optimal.

Heck, those can be good for desktop computers, too. Working on the desktop computer in your bedroom at night and don't want to turn on the lights and risk waking up your spouse? No problem if you have one of those LED lights.

By Markerrag — On Feb 11, 2015

So, this is kind of a holdover from the days when companies made all sorts of things that ran off a USB port. Some of those gadgets were handy, some were awful but they were all based on the gimmicky notion that using a USB port as a power source was dandy and cool.

You don't see that so much anymore, but you do see a lot of truly useful things that are powered by USB ports. I don't know f USB LED lights fall into that category or if those are just a holdover.

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