Lightboxes like the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box are a useful utility for many types of creatives. The most obvious use, of course is for the headline one; tracing, but a good LED lightbox can be of valuable use in sewing, crafting, and photography for artists and creative people to see their projects in detail.
What all the best lightboxes have in common, though, is that they all help make creative work easier. The LitEnergy Light Box, with its attractive price tag, aims to hit a broad part of that market, from kids honing their creative skills, to students and professionals using a lightbox for work, and hobbyists who like a doodle or a craft activity and need to be able to trace. So how did we get on with it?
LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box: Design and build
The LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box is a simple rectangle with a framelike design and one-button control. The black frame on our sample device (there are several colour options available) surrounds an LED light screen that is big enough for an A4-sized paper, with ruler markers on two sides. The whole thing is very light but reassuringly firm to hold, and the backing has four felt pads to lift the box off any surface it sits on.
It plugs in using an included USB 2.0 connecting to a Micro-B port on the lightbox side. The cable is long enough to sit comfortably on a table even if you're powering it in from a wall socket at the bottom of the wall next to it, without making you feel constricted.
The glossy sides smudge easily as you touch them and lean your hand or fingers on them, so for the more OCD among us, I recommend having a scratch-free cloth at hand.
LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box: LED screen and tracing experience
The screen on this lightbox is impressively bright. It provides over 4,000 lux (with a stated colour temperature of 9,000-12,000K), which makes tracing very easy. We traced through different types of paper, and as lightboxes are often used by children to hone their drawing skills, I recruited my six-year-old son to help me test it out. We used both A4 paper, tracing onto another regular piece of paper (not thin tracing paper), and everything was nice and clear through. We even managed to use it for thicker paper in books to trace desired images from there with relative ease.
If you don't need all those lumens, the brightness can wear on your eyes, so having the facility to adjust the brightness by simply holding the power button comes in very handy.
It comes with a simple memory feature too, where if you are working at less-than-full brightness and tap the power button to turn it off, once you turn it on again it comes on at the brightness it was on.
This is also useful as the lightbox can get quite hot with extended use, encouraging the user to take regular pauses and breaks, so returning to work at the same brightness you were using is a definite benefit.
The maker states that the lightbox has a lifetime of around 50,000 hours, which we've obviously not been able to verify, but as it uses tried and tested LED technology, we can feel reassured that it's at least going to last long enough to handily justify its neat and low price point.
LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box: Price
The LitEnergy lightbox is very affordable, usually priced at around £36 (currently just under £29 for the silver option), which is a good price for a unit that can reach these levels of brightness. Some makers charge over £200 for similar brightness specs, although a mitigating factor is that this one does admittedly feel cheap and plasticky in comparison to high-end models. If you're not fussed about that, though, it's definitely a fair deal.
Should you buy the LitEnergy A4 Tracing Light Box?
Like I've stated, this LitEnergy model doesn't have the high-end feel of more expensive lightboxes, but if you don't mind the external finish, the impressive brightness and easy portability and lightness make a strong case for budget-conscious creative hobbyists and professionals, as well as parents who want to harness and help hone their children's creative streak.