Auxiliary lighting hasn’t really caught on with the mobile world — just saying “auxiliary” seems to turn people off. But with video chat and selfies proliferating even as the become ubiquitous, there’s definitely a need for ways to bring more light to what is being photographed/video’d. And not just in order to make the person look good, but to enable that person’s expressions and personality shine through. Solving this dilemma without adding more complications to an already complicated world is the modus operandi of the Chatlight
Designed as a small “auxiliary” light source (it calls itself a “video chat light/selfie light”), the Chatlight has a number of innovative processes working in it favor. To begin with, there’s no app — you can use this without having to be tapping at a touch screen. Also it’s small enough to fit in an oversized pocket, although it’s plastic construction would benefit from a semi-rigid case coming with it. The light source is an LED laid out in a horizontal tube. This tube rotates vertically, allowing the light flowing out to be aimed. Rechargeable via USB,, Chatlight has an estimated 50,000 hours of use, but all that’s really important is that the light can go for about 2 hours before giving up and then will take a break for about an hour to return to a full charge.
Chatlight is well suited for use as a fill-in light for the rear-facing camera (with a realistic lighting reach of a couple of feet in normal ilumination) or front-facing cameras (where its closer proximity to the person’s face allows it to fully illuminate what it’s being aimed at). The two settings (High/Low) affect operational time but more importantly provide different levels of illumination, for which one setting is more suitable than the other (example: Low as a fill for taking a selfie closeup up or High when stretching one’s arm all the way out). Of course the amount of surface light (i.e., ambient) will affect how potent/effective Chatlight will be.
All of the above would be valueless if Chatlight didn’t have a non-invasive method of attaching to phones and tablets. A clamp system allows it to be clamped onto the top/rim/side of the desired device, which then holds on by spring-loaded friction. The clamp can stretch out quite a distance, which means it can be used on cameras inside of hard cases or on the top of monitors (flat LED models) or even some TVs which have built-in videocams. The point is that the clamp system is flexible enough to be usable in a variety of situations, and so this makes its use far greater than were it restricted to being placed on mobile devices alone. As an example, clamped to chair or free-standing, the rotating LED can light up an area for taking a macro shot with a DSLR or a point and shoot. Other uses exist as well.
Chatlight comes in an unassuming box that also holds a USB cable and has the little instructions needed printed on the back (go green, no need for a manual). There’s also a choice of 3 colors (silver, white or black). The retail cost of $29.95 is more than fair for what it does, especially if one thinks”outside the box” when it comes to how it can be used.