Review of the Valkee 2
The Valkee 2 is an earlight seasonal affective disorder treatment device. And boy are they controversial! Just have a read of the comments from our previous blog post on the device to see a conversation between the CEO of Valkee and the editor of a site dedicated to disproving the product. Why so controversial? Well, the science behind the device is disputed. Valkee claim that the human brain responds to light when it’s administered directly through the ear canal and that the device can alleviate the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Others say this is simply not true. To test this, we asked a friend with SAD to test out the device. This actually took place over the Christmas period, so the review is late coming, however we wanted to try the device for at least 2 months to really see if there was any improvement. Read our review below for more.
This is the main area to take not of. Did the Valkee 2 earlights actually work? Well, they were used for a period of two months, used in the morning for a period of 10 minutes or so. Our experimenter reported in the first weeks of use that there was no affect at all, however this is where we chose to extend the review period for a longer period, since we as outsiders did notice a slight change – perhaps the experimenter was unable to notice this themselves, but we saw a slight difference. After the full two months it was clear that the change was only very slight. Our experimenter did claim there was a slight improvement in mood over time, but they were rather hesitant to put it down to the device – there were many other factors in play and attaching the improvement to the device could simply be placebo.
While the affect of the device was slight, and rather uncertain of whether the device was responsible or not, we were certain that the user experience was any area where the device is lacking. The beauty of the Valkee 2 is that it can be used whilst on the go, at your desk at work and anywhere public, since it looks like an MP3 player, and no one knows you are treating your SAD. However, one major flaw is the length of the earlights – they are not long enough to reach your ears from your pocket – so you do have to be sat down and can’t really move about as you would have expected to. Also, there is a slight burning feeling when using the earlights. This goes after a couple of weeks of use, but to begin with it can be off putting. It is not painful, but the sensation is rather tingling and may put some people off. Battery life too is a disappointment, as the device really needed to be charged every day. However, if you suffer from SAD, then charging a device every day is well worth it, if it works for you.
A Valkee 2 device will set you back £170, much more than a traditional lightbox, which is most commonly used for treating SAD. That being said, the Valkee 2 is much more portable, but with the user experience issues we found, it may not be as portable as you would have first liked. However, the cost is well worth it if the device works for you. From the performance we saw though, it isn’t. The improvements was very slight, and we were uncertain whether it could be attributed to the device or some other factors at play.
The device is very controversial, but if you suffer from SAD and have the disposable cash to pay for the device, we recommend giving it a go. Our experimenter did see a slight improvement – albeit uncertain whether because of the device or not – and it can affect different people in different ways. Valkee have a 14 day return policy, which means if it doesn’t work for you, you can get your money back. So yes, it is controversial and expensive, but for anyone suffering from SAD, it is worth a go. Try it for a little over a week and if it doesn’t work, then return it. If it does work, awesome – and please do let us know too in the comments below (where we are sure a fiery debate will soon take place).