Somewhere, in school or on the job, every engineer learns about tradeoffs — that there is no free lunch, and that, once a design is at all reasonable, gains in one dimension come at the cost of compromises in others.

The shorthand statement of this is the pithy evergreen in design classes: “Good, fast, and cheap. Pick two!”

There’s a new bulb out: a 13-watt LED array bulb with an integral diffuser, so you don’t see the annoying space-craft look of little tiny rows of LEDs like the first-generation LED lamps offer. It has no mercury, a boon, and lasts about five times longer than its 13-watt compact-florescent competitors, while being much faster-acting and producing a warmer light.

It costs a boatload, at least now ($90). But I still have my first compact florescent bulbs from 1989: huge, heavy ballasts, barely “compact” at all. I’ll buy one of these whenever I need a new bulb and gradually switch over all the hard-to-reach spots.

An interesting video comparison with 100-watt incandescent bulbs and 13-watt compact florescent bulbs is available at the link.