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How bright is your screen? (Lumens, Nits and Watts)

Watts, Lumens or Lux?

Quantifying light is never easy. Back in the day, everyone knew that a 100-watt light bulb was bright, a 60 watt so-so, and 40 watt was best used where you needed some but not a lot of light.

But that was before the short-lived era of spiral fluorescent light “bulbs” that were “100 watt-equivalent,” and before the current era of LED lights that are also still sold by how many watts equivalent to an old incandescent bulb they generate. The brightness of LED bulbs is also stated in lumens and sometimes lux.

light bulb
Descbring the strength of light can be a bit complex and confusing.

Figuring out what lumens (“the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source”) and lux (“a unit of measurement for illuminance”) mean is too complicated to be useful in real life. And so for as long as people remember how bright a “real” 100-watt light bulb was, newer technology light bulbs will probably be sold as so and so many watts “equivalent.”

What does all of that have to do with backlights? Not that much. Only that describing the strength of a backlight is just as complex and confusing as it is with light bulbs. So how is it handled?

Conrad H. Blickenstorfer
Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, Ph.D., co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Pen Computing Magazine, has extensive experience in all aspects of rugged computing from his many years at the helm of the Pen Computing industry journal, Digital Camera Magazine, Handheld Computing Magazine, and his years of service as Director of Information Systems and Chief Information Officer with the New York State Dormitory and project manager for the New York State Urban Development Corporation. He has also written for numerous technology journals and wrote the mobile technology section in Fortune Magazine's semi-annual technology buyers guide for years. Blickenstorfer has visited numerous rugged manufacturing operations in the US, Japan, and Taiwan.