During one of my first work-from-home meetings on Zoom, I peeked at my own image on the screen and … couldn’t see anything. I was backlit beyond recognition. I had recently gotten a new desk that I’d haphazardly squeezed into a corner of my room — the only place it would fit. With my back to the window, the MacBook’s camera turned me into nothing but a shadowy silhouette. Then, mid-Zoom, I had a, well, lightbulb moment. I reached for my TaoTronics lamp, tilting it 140° upwards so the light pointed directly at my face (instead of at my desk), creating an instant makeshift ring light. I turned the brightness down a few notches to avoid blinding myself and changed the light color to a softer setting. In a few moments, my Zoom background resembled an actual room, and my colleagues could see that I was in fact attending the meeting.
The lamp had been an impulse buy — a replacement for one that relentlessly flickered like something you might see in an old noir film. When I later noticed Nehemiah Blackburn, a product manager who also works from home, had recommended it to us for a story on the best WFH equipment, I knew I’d made the right decision.
The TaoTronics isn’t just a great makeshift ring light; the seven brightness settings and five color modes seem to solve pretty much every lighting problem you might have. If I’m feeling a bit sluggish, I can bump up the brightness and feel like I just downed a cup of coffee. During cloudy winter days — which we’ve had many of of lately — I can tap the touch-sensitive controls and illuminate my space instantly. I’ve even used my lamp as a construction light when I was installing my monitor, tilting and swiveling the head of the lamp so I could actually see all the plugs and cables. The thing couldn’t be easier to adjust. The head handily tilts up 135 degrees and swivels 90 degrees, while the base tilts down to 150 degrees and swivels 45 degrees, making it highly customizable. To change the brightness, you touch the power button and slide your finger along the scale that ends on a symbol that looks like a sun, indicating that it’s the brightest setting. By tapping a symbol at the base of the lamp, you can choose the color mode, which ranges from a bright-white hue befitting a hospital surgery room to a relaxed candlelike glow that makes me feel like I’m meeting with a mafioso in The Godfather.
Beyond its superior lighting abilities, the TaoTronics has a relatively small footprint and takes up very little real estate on my desk. I’m still able to fit my laptop, monitor, keyboard, and mouse on my desk along with it. There’s a USB-A plug, which I use to connect my wireless charging stand for my phone. When I’m done with work for the day, I just grab my phone from the stand, tap the power button on the TaoTronics, and I’m good to go — even though, these days, I’m not really going anywhere.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.