Home Depot is selling a 60W-equivalent, 3-way bulb under the EcoSmart label. It is dead on arrival. Here's why.
The Home Depot EcoSmart-branded bulb is available for $19.97. This bulb appears to be made by TCP, but it doesn't really matter, since we can be sure it's from one of the usual-suspect shops in China.
You will see a number of "Buyer" reviews on the Home Depot website. Many of them are laughable commercial postings with a couple of statements probably written by a marketing intern.
Just as a chain is only as good as its weakest link, so are a large company's product decisions only as good as the street-smarts or sophistication of the one or two individuals driving the project. In bygone days, product decisions at Texas Instruments, GE, IBM , 3M, etc. would be run through a conference-room wringer and tough questions asked. This happens even today in enlightened companies. Apparently, in the first-to-market frenzy of LED lamps, doing one's homework is not viewed as necessary.
3-way bulbs in use
There are estimated to be over 450 million table lamps in use in the US that have 3-way switches in them. Today, an overwhelming majority of "quality" table lamps selling for over $60-75 have a 3-way switch. Such lamps have been in use for 70 years, during which time hundreds of millions of 3-way bulbs have been sold at retail prices at least 5 times those a single-filament lamp.
Over 90% of 3-way bulbs sold in US are rated at 100 watts and up, such as 30/70/100 and 50/100/150. The remainder are nominal 100/200/300 and 50/200/250 types. Sales of 60W-and-below incandescent 3-way types are essentially zero. I have never seen one.
In my opinion all 3-way bulbs have been a bit of a scam, exhibiting very little difference between "medium" and "high." In practice they are more like 2-way -- a deficiency of the cost-driven decision 70 years ago at GE to use the dual-filament method. It seems to me this is simply cost-driven, design laziness.
Another big rap against 3-way incandescents has always been that when either of the two filaments burns out, it turns the bulb back into an expensive "one way" bulb. This is exasperating for those who really like 3-way functioanality.
Almost all table lamps have shades, and any bulb screwed into such a lamp will exhibit a reduction of 30% or more in the delivered lumens reaching outside surfaces.
Furthermore, the highest level of 3-way bulbs is invariably desired for reading. The top setting of a 100W 3-way in a shade lamp is perhaps marginal unless somehow the lamp filament is line-of-sight to whatever one is reading. I recognize that all the under-30 folks can see things perfectly 20 mile away at dusk. Not so many more, er, "seasoned" people over 50. A 60W 3-way is a non-starter. The EcoSmart folks seem oblivious to fact that 3-way bulbs are only used in table lamps with shades.
The 3-way bulb market is not just another variant of the single-filament equivalent market -- in fact it's apples and oranges. While the EcoSmart pricing is admirable, the usefulness of these bulbs is next to zero. A 100W version would buy them a ticket into the market, but a 150W (or at least 120W) equivalent is needed to have full market impact.
EcoSmart did accomplish heightened awareness, and no doubt this product is causing fear in the hearts of those attempting to market 3-way 60W-equivalent bulbs for $60.
I hate to break it to Home Depot, but their 60W 3-way is next to dead on arrival.
CFLs not dead yet
GE and Sylvania have recently introduced 3-way CFLs (being sold online) rated at 16/25/32 Watts (600/1600/2250 lumens) at $18 and $13 respectively, and those prices will surely be lower in big-box stores at some point. Sylvania's is even in A21 form factor, quite a mini breakthrough for this wattage and type. It is clear that CFL guys have not thrown in the towel by any means.
These CFL bulbs exhibit the same unsatisfactory difference between the medium and high settings. But I suspect few buyers are savvy enough to pick up on this until they buy and screw it in, and then most won't be agitated enough to package it all up for return.
Three-way LED lamps are probably in a state of marketability comparable to 40 lm/W A19 regular bulbs around 2005. Until a 3-way can exhibit over 250 lm/W and over 1500 lumens at highest setting, at a price under $15, it brings little to the party in residential table lamp applications.