Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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A Little Travel Light for Needlework – Product Review


Amazon Books

Lighting is one of those subjects that should be near and dear to every embroiderer’s heart.

And eyes.

I needed a little light – something I could use inside the house in the evenings that wouldn’t bother the rest of the family, something I could use in the car, and something that would work well in hotel rooms, without having to tote a larger light around with me. (Have you ever noticed that hotel room light is never adequate for needlework?!)

Enter a little light that’s bright, bright, bright – the Beam N Read light. It makes a great little traveling companion for the needleworker. If you want a portable light that’s usable in the car, that’s easy to take to needlework classes, that doesn’t take up room in your living room, and that’s affordable, you might take a look at this one.

Here’s my review of the Beam N Read light as used while embroidering, with pros and cons.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

The Beam N Read is an LED light. The light hangs around the neck and shines down on your needlework, so you aren’t faced with your eyes being irritated by very bright LEDs.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

Here’s the light, right out of the box. It comes with a neck strap and it comes with a magnifier, but more on the latter, later.

The light runs on batteries (4 AA batteries), which are not included.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

When you flip the head of the light into its upward, working position, it turns on automatically. There’s a switch to choose between using all six LEDs for maximum brightness, or just three, for a slightly dimmer light.

When all six LEDs are on, the battery life is listed as 50 hours. When only three are in use, the battery life is listed as 100 hours.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

Here, you can see the light shining in a semi-dark room (only window light), with all six LEDs lit.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

The light also comes with two plastic, snap-on filters, a red one and an orange one. When in place, these change the color of the light, which may be useful for different tasks.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

For example, if you’re doing needlework, you probably won’t want a filter – you’ll want the lights to be as bright as possible. But if you’re reading in a dark room, the orange filter sheds a yellowish light that’s apparently a bit more relaxing and easy on the eyes for reading.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

I haven’t really tested the filters myself for any extended period of time. I’ve used the light just for stitching. But you can see that the light is definitely a different color when the filter is attached.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

There’s a little flip-up section on the light that’s meant to hold the enclosed magnifier.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

The magnifier is a plastic rectangle that’s kept in a sleeve enclosed with the light.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

On the box, they do make it clear that the magnifier is not intended as a low vision aid.

And indeed, it’s not a low vision aid.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

The magnifier slips into the flip-up holder, and is situated just above the light.

I find the magnifier superfluous. It does not really magnify, and in fact, I think it impedes vision.

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

If nothing else, it has these little swirl lines in it that are distracting and that make whatever you’re looking at fuzzy.

But – it’s not about the magnifier, in my opinion…

Beam N Read light for Needlework Review

It’s about the light itself. It rests easily on your front, it doesn’t get in the way, it’s light enough not to be bothersome (though admittedly, it isn’t super light, because of the batteries), and it shines a Very Bright Light, perfect for needlework.

I think the Beam N Read is an excellent little portable light, perfect for those situations when you don’t want a larger overhead light on that will bother others, perfect for travel, for classroom use, and for myriad other uses that I’m sure you can come up with, too!


It provides a good, bright light for needlework.

It’s convenient to tote around and easily portable.

Compared to other portable lights, it’s affordable.


The magnifier is pretty pointless.

Some folks might find the illuminated area small and restricting. Since I don’t move around a lot when embroidering, I thought the lighted area was fine.

The neck strap requires adjusting for anyone who is average height. It’s too long. It adjusts easily, but I found that a clip or a safety pin in the strap held it in place a little more securely.

Where to Find the Bean N Read

In case you’re looking for an affordable, portable light – it would make a great little gift for Christmas! – you can find it here through Amazon.*

*That’s an affiliate link, which means I get a small kickback that helps support Needle ‘n Thread.


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(28) Comments

    1. Hi, Susanna – I’ve tried the clip on LED lights that have the adjustable neck, that are mostly used as book lights. The Beam N Read puts off much better light in a larger space. I’ve also used the portable battery operated OTT light, and the plug in one, which is the same size as the battery operated, only it plugs in. The OTT lights sit on a table – they aren’t really “car travel portable”. The OTT lights light a larger area, but the light is not as bright or intense. So far, as far as real portability goes, I like the Beam N Read best. -MC

  1. My mother got me one of these for Christmas last year, but I haven’t used it because I had plenty of light. However, at my new home, the light is abismal. I think I will try it!

  2. Dear Mary,
    Thanks for the review. I always wondered if it was any good. Herrschners has it, too. They also sell an AC adapter for it, which is good when using it where there is a plug available to save on batteries.
    As always, grateful for all you do to teach us new things and make our lives easier.
    Doris H

  3. Is hotel lighting ever good for much beyond not tripping over the corner of the bed?

    This light sounds interesting, especially since it’s between the work and eyes. Any more, I have trouble tolerating reflections off the back of my glasses.

    1. Yes, that’s exactly one reason why I like it too, Gail. You don’t get any annoying reflection on glasses or anything, because the light is actually below you.

  4. I won one of these as a door prize at the recent SAGA convention in Frisco, Texas. I agree with you about the magnifier, and I do like how portable it is for classes. I’m not used to the weight around my neck, but it does get light where I need it. Thanks for the review.

  5. Mary, the red filter is so you do not affect night vision. Use it to look at a map or chart and you can still see to drive, hunt, look at the stars. (from the wife of a sailing stargazer)

  6. I have one of these and I love it. I got it for needlework and reading when traveling, but found it was also great for camping. A lantern on the table tends to blind you with the way it throws light, but I was able to make dinner after dark with no frustration with this light. My husband thought it was so great that I ordered one for him as well when we got home.

  7. Hotel lighting is the worst! What I like about this light is that it is LED. The battery life is astounding. We are trying to switch our whole house over to LED bulbs. My husband found some great ceiling flood lights that are LED but have the soft frosted glass we are used to. They look like any other indoor floodlight but should last years and years. He also found regular looking light bulbs that are also LED. No funky shapes like their counterpart fluorescents.

  8. Dear Mary

    This looks like a useful portable travel light small and light enough to carry when travelling and the LED lights seem quite bright and it’s reasonable priced, the only thing I would like is a clear magnifier to go with it. Thanks for the photos and the review really appreciate your efforts to inform us of various needlework accessories.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  9. Thanks Mary. I count on your reviews because they are so honest. Now retired, we need to watch our pennies. I hope you and your family have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

  10. You didn’t mention (or I missed) whether the light direction is adjustable. I tend to hold my work closer to me than down in my lap. It would be nice if I could bend the light up a bit higher. I don’t have the bustline to rest it on and direct it differently. Perhaps just strapping it closer to my throat would be high enough without shining into my eyes.

    1. The head is slightly adjustable – you can tilt it pretty high up, and if you shorten the strap, that helps. I don’t stitch with stuff in my lap, usually, either – so when I’m sitting with at a piece with a higher frame, I have to make the straps pretty short. – MC

  11. Nice review. I have an earlier version, which has only the three LEDs and no filter, but works great for what I need (needlework). It came with 3 separate magnifying lenses (2x, 3x, 4x). I love using it and find the magnifiers handy…it’s a matter of adjusting the neck strap to get the magnifier to the correct distance, then those little lines “disappear” as you look through it. The AC adapter is definitely worth the investment if you travel, since it cuts down on the weight and the cost of the batteries.

  12. Just wondering if you’re still using the Craftoptics you reviewed earlier. Clearly portable & have a light as well. Price makes them not directly comparable, but seems like a good travel solution, unless you’ve (over time) had a changing view of them.

    Have you?

    1. Hi Lisa – I still use them! But only for small, detailed work. I love them! But I’d say they’re a little more cost prohibitive than this portable light. CraftOptics are wonderful – I’d use them more often, but most of the stuff I’m stitching on these days is on the larger side. -MC

  13. Thanks for reviewing this product, Mary. I just ordered two for Christmas gifts based on your comments. You always provide such helpful information. Thank you so much!

  14. The Beam N Read light looks interesting.

    I am very happy with my lighting solution for both low lighting areas in the home and while riding as a passenger.

    I use a “head lamp.” It has bright white light as well as red light. I keep this small, helpful gadget in my purse where I can retrieve it at a moment’s notice. I flip the light focused on my work or book, and it has no spill over lighting for anyone else. While I may not look socially correct, it does not affect my “coiffure.” It works for me!

  15. Dear Mary,
    Thank you for the wonderful information you generously share each day. Very sadly, I’ve not received your last few newsletters. I’ve checked that I’m still subscribed. I hope I am not off the list. If there has been a meltdown because of all the red hot information coming my way, I will understand! Thank you Mary!

  16. Mary,
    I’ve two good adjustable lights at home… one on either side of my big chair, so no shadows, but I’ve used this light for a couple of years now when we travel and it works pretty well. I do get annoyed at the weight of it, but you have to put up with that if you want to have some good direct light. I’ve taken it to my SIL’s when we visit, to embroider there. She doesn’t sew or embroider or even read, so her lighting in any room is pretty abysmal. Most windows you can’t get to (too much furniture and/or plants) and the ones you can get to face north with all sorts of trees blocking any light. I haven’t used it in the car for looking at maps… yet, but I think it’s a good idea. We’re a bit elderly, so don’t do much driving at night… especially to places where we’d need a map, but I’ll definitely try that red filter, if/when we do. I agree… the magnifying thing is pretty useless. If I need magnification, I use the swing down magnifier on my Ott lamp… or the big Bausch and Lomb that hangs around my neck, but not with the light also around my neck at the same time….yet, at least.

  17. Mary, would you mind commenting soon on you Needlework System 4? I am reading your older blogs since I am a newcomer to your site. I have two or three frames but nothing is totally satisfactory but the System 4 sounds great. Do you still use it?

    Thanks, Charlotte

  18. I have an older version. It’s green and has a little round light bulb. I had forgotten all about it. I have an Ott light sitting over my left shoulder by my sewing chair, but it would be good to use when traveling. I also bought my mother one, so I should have another one around here somewhere. Hers may have had 2 magnifying glasses, or I may be thinking of something else with the interchangeable magnifying glasses.

    1. I would love to win this light. I have tried
      several lights. but none dose the job.
      Mary have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
      Thanks for all your help.
      Margaret G.

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