Often times when a product comes across our review bench we take great pains to highlight what said device or additive is particularly good at, while gently addressing the flaws and identifying what kind of aquarist would be best served by it. It’s quite a different story when it comes to the Satellite and Satellite + series of LED striplights from Current USA.
Of all the LED lights we have ever reviewed, the Satellite LEDs are the most practical, versatile and nimble lighting products the aquarium hobby has ever seen. If the first mass-market LED striplights to really reach a widespread successful status were the Marineland Double Bright and Reef Capable series, then Current USA’s Satellite and Satellite + striplights firmly deserve that new honor by pushing the envelope and delivering a new level of what all aquarists should come to expect from a mid to entry-level LED aquarium light.
To begin, before you even plug in and turn on the Satellite LEDs their simple pragmatic construction is easy on the eyes, with a sleek anodized finish which is oh-so modern these days. The build quality of the Satellite in its regular and Plus form is equally impressive when examining the seams where the light is assembled, even the cords and splash guard come together with a precision that we don’t come to expect from a mass produced LED aquarium light.
Current USA’s Satellite strip is about two inches wide and less than a half inch thick while the Satellite Plus and it’s two rows of LEDs command an extra inch of width – both are much narrower and a little slimmer than the Marineland Double Bright and Reef Capable. So in addition to an impressive appearance, Current USA’s Satellites are slimmer, sleeker and generally distract from the aquarium less than anything before it.
If that’s all there was to the Satellite LEDs, we’d be giving this line a big thumbs up but Current USA is upping the ante by making both the entry level Satellite and higher end Satellite + color controllable. The humble Satellite LED gets two channels of control, one for whites and one for supplemental blues, both controlled by a small wired remote with a few different settings.
Meanwhile the Satellite Plus has a wired infrared sensor which receives commands for a wide range of modes and settings. There’s plenty of LED lights out now with some form of wireless remote and we would be generous to call the majority of them “Janky”. Not so with the Satellite Plus remote which allows the user to adjust colors, intensity and programmings at the touch of a single button, with most of the icons being so intuitive that we never even cracked the user manual to figure them out.
The look of the striplight, the build quality and the roster of features don’t mean jack if a light doesn’t do the job of lighting up your aquarium. We were chagrinned to receive a 36″ Satellite + to review on a 48″, three foot deep freshwater tank with severe reservations about how well it would illuminate this 150 gallon display. To our sincere surprise we are pleased to report that somehow this three foot light gives the most natural light spread and color rendition in the Amazon biotope and we wouldn’t even consider upgrading to a 48″ Satellite plus unless we were growing plants.
The Satellite and Satellite + excel at lighting up freshwater tanks, so what? Well if you’ve been paying attention you’d know that Current USA just announced a marine version of the Satellite + called the Orbit Marine LED and if it’s anything like its predecessor this light is going to be a lot of people’s favorite LED, a lot of people’s first LED, and a lot of people’s first-favorite LED light. When it comes to striplights in 2013, the Satellite and Satellite + LEDs are the best available for a wide range of applications, they are affordable and feature rich and we can’t wait to get our hands on the Orbit Marine LED to see how much mileage we can get from it on marine and reef tanks.
A plethora of additional information on the Satellite LED striplights is available on the Current USA website.
FTC regulations require that we inform you that we were given this product for review, but our opinion of a product is never affected by how we acquire them