Aukey USB-C Charger Review (18W PD)

Intro

USB-C products are in full swing so far in 2019. Today I have the Aukey USB-C PD charger  capable of 18W from this very small cube. Thanks to Aukey for sending it to me to take a closer look at.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/5g0ZhkU

YouTube version of this Review:

Specs

  • Ports: USB-C x1
  • USB-C Output: 5V @ 3A, 9V @ 2A, 12V @ 1.5A
  • Power Input: 100V–240V, 50/60Hz
  • Size:  1.42 x 1.42 x 1.26 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 oz

Packaging

Packaging was very minimal on this charger. It’s a cardboard box with the name and a picture printed on it and it’s literally just protection for the charger, as it’s very small. Inside there isn’t any documentation or anything like that, it’s a charger you don’t need one. One thing worth mentioning is there isn’t a cable included with this charger at all.

 

Construction

The charger is made from hard gloss plastic. My example here is in black but there is a white model as well. Front edges are 90 degrees but the sides are rounded over. One nice thing to see here are the folding prongs. Not all chargers in this small category feature that. It makes travel easier.

Power

Use Chargerlabs Z-Meter software to show screenshot of power stability and it was pretty good. It varied a little bit at the top end but all within about 0.010 volts. I was able to pull a little over on amperage for short times, but the charger was happiest sticking in the ranges it was designed for. I charged my Aukey powerbank which supports PD and with the killowatt measure 20W easily. My USB-C testing equipment here I am getting figured out, a lot of the manuals and interface are all in Chinese yet so it’s hard to operate. In all this worked out pretty well for charging PD devices under 20W.

Conclusion

While the Aukey USB-C PD 18W charger for me performed well, it’s not the latest and greatest technology on the market or the highest output for it’s size. I would have like to see Aukey use Gallium Nitride technology to increase the power and efficiency on this while reducing the size. Don’t get me wrong this is plenty small and 18W out of this small size is pretty good, especially for the price. This would be a good charger to get if your were looking to replace the stock charger that came with your smartphone or tablet but not expecting a large upgrade, or wanting a more budget friendly pick. You will probably need a higher wattage charger to charge your laptop but if it can trickle charge (Some apple products can) then this will do that too, just expect it to take overnight. In my opinion it would make a good second charger, or office/desk charger to use with most devices.

I have reservations about recommending it for a travel charger because it does only have 1 port, and most people have more than one device when traveling, but it does have folding prongs which some other chargers of this size don’t. So what you gain with folding prongs you lose with overall power.

That said this is a good charger and I think it’s worth considering especially if there happens to be a sale on it at the time. It should work well for phones, Nintendo Switch, iPad, and most powerbanks.

Aukey 18W USB-C Charger pick it up on Amazon https://amzn.to/2F76OGB 

AUKEY 10000mAh USB-C PD Power Bank Review (18W USB-C Quick Charge 3.0)

Today I have a new powerbank to look at by Aukey, if you have been frustrated with the lack of ports or options in what your current powerbank has, this one fixes that by supporting nearly everything you would want in one small 10,000mAh powerbank. It supports USB-C PD for upto 18W charge, Qualcomm Quickcharge 3.0, and good old MicroUSB if you want too. Thanks to Aukey for sending this to me to take a look at.

Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/DTHgZCV

Youtube:

Specs

Model: PB-Y13

Capacity: 10,000mAh (37Wh)

Micro-USB in: 5V 2A

USB-C In: (18W PD), 5V 1.5A, 5V 2A

USB-C Out: (18W PD), 5V 3A,  9V 2A, 12V 1.5A

USB Out 1: (Quick Charge 3.0) 5V-6V 3A, 6V-9V 2A, 9V-12V 1.5A

USB Out 2: 5V 2.4A

 

Packaging

Packaging is simple on this powerbank, and not too big. It’s a simple brown cardboard box with the name and an outline drawing of the powerbank along with a few of the things it supports. On the inside the powerbank came in the semi transparent plastic bag, and you got a USB-A to C cable included as well for recharging or charging your supported device.

Construction

Predictably the powerbank is made of black plastic. The top and bottom cover are a lightly textured mat plastic. The ring around the edges are a glossy black plastic. Both seem to scratch fairly easily. Length came in at 146mm, width at 74mm, and width at 14mm. I weighed it at 193.9 grams. The powerbank is rigid and didn’t crack or creek. On the top edge you have a button to turn the powerbank on, and check battery power level from it’s 4 white LED’s. On the top you have the Quick Charge 3.0 port with orange internals, the USB-C port in the middle, the standard USB-A port on the other edge, then around the corner you have the microUSB for charging if you wish.

Protocol support

As I mentioned in my opening, this Powerbank supports all the standards you hope for in a modern powerbank to charge a wide variety of devices as fast as your device allows. First and most important to me on a modern powerbank is the support for USB-C Power Delivery. In this case it’s good for 18W. That is a good amount of power to charge your phones, gaming systems, etc fast, but it would  take considerable time to charge your laptop assuming your laptop can trickle charge at 18W. This also works for recharging the powerbank itself if you have a compatible charger. It also supports Qualcomm Quickcharge 3.0 on a USB-A port for supported devices. You can recharge the powerbank via USB-C or via microUSB on it’s side at 2A speed.

For my runtime info I used my EB Tester, and put a load on the battery at 3A at 5V (15W load) and the powerbank did this at a steady state for 112 minutes, I then reduced load, to be 1A at 5V (5W) where it ran for another 20 minutes. Total measured capacity was 6086mAh or 30.57Wh, the stated total capacity was 10,000mAhh or 37Wh. So my measured efficiency was just about 83% which isn’t too bad with the losses due to voltage changes.

 

The charger is capable of charging multiple devices as well. I can pull at 2A load on the USB-A port while fast charging my Note 8 via USB-C. 18W however isn’t enough power for my Dell XPS 13 9350 to begin charging via USB-C.

 

Conclusion

For me this is my new medium capacity lightweight powerbank for traveling. I like the thin size, as it makes it easy to slip in a pocket with my Note 8 or other large screen phone. It also has the protocol support I am looking for with devices that don’t support USB-C PD and the flexibility to recharge via USB-C PD or MicroUSB for legacy support. These things along with a fair price add up to be a great little powerbank across a large spread of devices. Aukey has a pretty good reputation for customer service and product quality, if there is a problem they will take care of you, so I have an expectation this will be a reliable powerbank for many years to come.

 

Pickup the Aukey USB-C PD Power Bank at https://amzn.to/2XMrZX5

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Review

Smartphones the past few years from some manufactures have been dropping the support for the wired headphone jack making wireless headphones a necessity. I have looked a a few pairs from Anker and they all had wires connecting the two earbuds together and a little remote on the cable. Today I have the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air to take a look at. These are truly wireless, and have no wire. They are similar to the Apple Soundpods but at a fraction of the price.

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/qitF7n0

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

The packaging on this is a little larger than I expected but still the high quality that the Anker family of companies has been known for. Inside the magnetic flap it shows the headphones in a nice retail like display. Included accessories include the headphones themselves inside the charger case, a large tray of different ear tip sizes, a large manual and a micro usb charging cable to charge the case.

Construction

The earbuds are made from a hard glossy black plastic. They are solid and the molding is well done. On the outside they have a tiny LED in the top that serves as a indicator. When in the case it glows. This is also where one of the mic’s is. They are indicated L & R at the bottom of the stock.

The case is made from a soft touch plastic. On the outside there are 3 LED on the front that show the charge status of the case itself. The microUSB port on the bottom is used for recharging the case and doesn’t have any type of cover for the port. The lid hinges open 90 degrees

 

Fit  + Controls

Fit is really important for sound quality with these. Lucky they come with several different sizes of tip. For me I had to play around to get the right fit. I found them fairly comfortable to wear and didnt’ have major issues with them falling out or anything.

The headphones do have control on the right and left flat surfaces. Various taps and presses allow you to do everything from play/pause your audio, skip track, answer a call and even bring up your Google or Siri voice assistant. I will put in a diagram of this rather then explain it all. I found myself sometimes pausing my audio when adjusting the headphones in my ears which was a little unfortunate. I rarely use on headphone controls anyways.

Pairing

Pairing was really simple, I just removed the Air’s from their recharging case, and held them near my phone, with my phone in discovery mode, the phone found the headphones and joined instantly. This was the same on my ipad, as long as I had my phone pairing turned off.

After the initial pairing to use the headphones just take them out of the case and they will pair with your device automatically. I have found you need to take both out of the case not just one for this to work.

Sound Quality

How is the sound quality on these you might be asking. Fit is really important on an in ear headphone like this, so make sure you experiment around to get the best possible seal for your ear. During my testing I listened to a variety of sources of audio. Spoken word from audiobooks and podcasts were very good, honestly this is what I listen to most with headphones it seems these days so I don’t disturb others. For music I listened to the Alice in Wonderland podcast which is a mix of music, with a lot of electronic and EDM. You can tell the sound signature has the bottom end bass rolled off a little early, I assume to keep the headphones from bottoming out early, and to preserve power. These don’t have teeth rattling bass, but are not terrible either. I would put bass response at average or maybe slightly under performing for the price but not bad for something this small and wireless. I was happy with mid’s and highs, they were clear, not muted and a fairly neutral mix with the rest of the sound.

Lag

I did notice some lag in  these Liberty Air’s which was unexpected. I noticed it most when I had the headphones paired with my current generation iPad and listening to Youtube. The audio seemed to be at most maybe a 1/8 second behind the video. I would only notice it when someone was talking directly to the camera and you were looking at the screen. On my Note 8 I didn’t have a problem. Audio was in sync on youtube videos.

Battery Life & Recharging

One of the areas I was a little worried about was with these earbuds being so small I was worried about how the battery life would be. Anker rates the buds at 5 hours of playback time between recharges but in my experience I got over double that. During my 6 hours of use I was listening to mostly podcasts and YouTube content and was within about 2-3ft of my device. My volume levels were under 50% and I think that is partially why I got better then advertised battery life. If you are listening to more active content or fast music at higher volumes you may get closer to that 5 hours of playback.

I did like both on my iPad and my Samsung Note 8 I could see a little battery gauge showing the approximate level of charge the Liberty Air’s had left on them. This is the first wireless headphones that have shown this to me.

Recharging is simple, you just pop them into their case and the case charges them. The case is good for 20 hours of playback according to anker, so 4 complete charges. Recharging the case is simple with the microUSB connector on the bottom of the case. The case has 3 LED’s built in that are there to show battery capacity on the case and these shut off after the first few minutes of charging.

Conclusion

I have been a fan of the Anker wireless headphones in the past, that have the wire between earphones but not connected to your device. I find myself grabbing them more and more when I am being active, or not wanting a wire to deal with. The Soundcore Liberty Air takes wireless earbuds to a new level by pretty much eliminating all wires completely. The battery life impressed me on these, the sound quality is decent but not fantastic for music. Fit will be an individual personal thing. For me they felt good in my ears and stayed in place well, but I didn’t go running in them or anything like that extreme. If you were wanting something to try that are like apple earpods but much less expensive and work on both apple and android while having better battery life and good sound quality, I can recommend the Anker Soundcore LIberty Air’s.

Haikelite Q30 Review (12,000 lumens?)

Today I have the Haikelite Q30 triple LED Quad battery soda can style flood light to take a look at. This light has some interesting things about it that I will talk about here today. Thanks for Banggood for sending this to me to take a look at.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/WuBQgVV

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

The light comes in a pretty generic cardboard box that folds out from the top. It has a simple Haikelite sticker on the top and nothing else. Inside the light came in bubble wrap. You get a sheet of paper product descriptions and then on the other side you get the UI instructions. Accessories include 2 spare large red o’rings, a large green lanyard with a quick disconnect and a threaded loop insert as a place to attach the lanyard. One note about the lanyard is the part that actually attaches to the light is pretty thin material, I would recommend just using paracord instead the loop is large enough.

 

Construction

Th Q30 is made from aluminum and then hard anodized black. The tail cap is one piece with a flat bottom for excellent tail standing capabilities, it is removable which exposes the rear circuit board which has 2 springs and 2 brass disks that are surrounded by a rubber cap. The rubber donut is done for safety to prevent the use of flat top batteries, you can remove them if you with and the light will work with flat tops it’s just not recommended. The mid section has fairly shallow knurling that doesn’t provide a ton of grip. Threads on both ends are finely cut square threads. The body tube with end cap are their own unit. It mates to the head of the light by screwing on. Inside the head there is a single large diameter spring that makes contact with the body assembly creating one light.

 

The head steps up in diameter and features lots of mill work in the sides for appearance and cooling reasons. In the center there is a large brightly anodized blue button and ring. The button sits on a translucent silicone dome with small indicator LED’s under. The button is a little mushy and can be moved left or right. It reminds me of a joystick. At the front you have a polished stainless steel reflector in front of a piece of anti reflective coated glass. The reflector has a satin orange peel and is split into 3 section for each of the LED.

 

Size/Weight

I measured overall length at 134mm, maximum diameter at 66mm, and minimum diameter at 50mm.

Weight with 3 Samsung 30Q batteries is 670g.

 

Below are some images comparing it to the Sofirn Q8

 

LED/Runtime/Beamshots

The LED’s on this light are a bit of an unknown officially. On the product description they are only listed as a “7070” LED. On the inside of the tail cap of the light the circuit board says XHP 70, and they do look pretty similar to images of those that I see online. The LED has a large dome and you can see the 4 individual emitters under each. The beam is mostly a flood, with a slight hot center. You can also see 3 lines coming off of the beam as reflections of the beam dividers.  The light has the following mode spacings. 10 lumens, 500 lumens, 2500 lumens, 5000 lumens, and 12,000 lumens.

 

Runtime

For runtime this light ran on turbo for just about 2 minutes before stepping down significantly due to heat. The bulk of the total 150 minutes of runtime on the Samsung 30Q batteries I used was at about 25% relative output. While that seems like not very much, keep in mind this light is claimed to produce 12,000 lumens. This runtime ran for 135 minutes in a linear decline. At the end the light will kick up for the final 10 minutes and quickly ramp down before low voltage protection kicks in and the light shuts off. It would be nice to see a bit of flashing out of the main emitter to know you were at the end.

UI

The light has a hidden moon light mode that can be accessed by long pressing the button when in off. Normal modes once the light are on, can be accessed with a long press and the light will begin to cycle and you can stop in the one you want, and you have 4 normal brightness levels. Tubo is not a part of these normal modes, to access turbo double click from anywhere when on. Double click again when in turbo to access strobe. Both Turbo and strobe are able to be memorized but the instructions are not clear how this this is done.

 

The light has electronic lockout but with most of these lights I prefer mechanically locking out the light by just giving the body tube a slight turn to break connection. I find it to be easier and more reliable.

 

The switch does act as a battery indicator, however the manual states it’s a green LED but on mine it’s a blue LED under the switch. Above 50% power the LED is on constant under the switch. Between 50% and 9% it starts to blink every 2 seconds, and below 9% the light will step down to moonlight to conserve energy.

 

Pro

  • Seems to be made well without any machining problems.
  • It’s big and heavy but that’s what you expect in this type of light
  • Minimal branding
  • Tripod mount!

 

Con

  • Unknown LED’s but they seem to be cooler neutral white.
  • While the eye is not a good measurement of lumens, to me it doesn’t look like 12,000 lumens
  • Beam has some artifacts.
  • Quite heavy with batteries

 

Conclusion

This light is a little bit of a mystery. Haikelite doesn’t list it officially on their website, and there isn’t a ton of existing information out on it. I have seen some suggest that it’s not a true Haikelite, however all the circuit boards do have the Haikelite name on them and the box is consistent with other Haikelite flashlights I have had. Maybe it’s a Banggood exclusive? I don’t have the equipment to verify the total number of lumens yet but since we don’t know for sure what LED it’s using I am somewhat suspect if it can hit the claimed 12,000 lumens.

There are a handful of good high quality soda can floodlights on the market, and with this one being somewhat and using undocumented LED’s possibly, it’s hard for me to say this is the one to buy. I have not had any problems with mine, the UI is decent and it’s got a pretty neutral tint and its been working without issue. The timed stepdowns are a bit disappointing, I would prefer thermal regulated ones instead so you can get maximum lumens for the most amount of time.

 

If you are interested I will have links and any discount codes I might have in the description below. If you have a Haikelite Q30, let me know what you think of it in the comments below. As always thanks for subscribing and I will catch you on the next video!

 

If you are interested in picking up the Haikelite Q30 you can get it for $58.99 at https://goo.gl/8zwbjG (Affiliate Link) using coupon code: BGMMY

Astrolux FT01 Review (Cree XHP 50.2, 2215 Lumens, 21700mAh battery)

Astrolux has a new larger light the FT01 with a Cree XHP 50.2 that takes up to a 21700 lithium ion battery and has onboard microUSB charging. Thanks to Banggood for sending this to me to take a look at.

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/yoGueKe

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

Packaging on this light is a white cardboard lift off box. It has silver embossed image of the light but no real technical detail except for the sticker on the end denoting the model and color. Inside the light is well protected foam cut to fit the light. It comes with a lanyard, orings, a spare button and the manual. It also comes with a conversion tube that shipped in the light to hold an 18650 battery in the light.  

 

Construction

Starting at the tail cap it has a 3 lobe design that means it tail stands pretty well. You can attach a lanyard to any of the wings. The rubber button is easy to access the mechanical button underneath, and requires a decent amount of force to lock, but momentary comes on sooner. There is no knurling on the tail cap but instead smoothed over flutes, it’s not a lot of grip. Inside there are double springs in the tail cap. There are quite a few fine threads at both ends of the light, the tail section being anodized. The walls of the body tube of the light are quite thick.

 

The body tube has 3 panels of a flat diamond pattern milled into it. These would be fine on an EDC light but are not as grippe as I would like on a tactical light. The head of the light contains just a little area milled for heat dissipation  and aesthetics. The front button feels pretty tactile and has an audible click. The LED under it is used as an indicator when charging. The microUSB port opposite the button for recharging. The cover is very well done, it’s out of the way, and the tab doesn’t catch your finger. The bezel on this light is a a screw on aluminum piece. On mine it’s not round, with one side hanging over the body of the light a little, while the opposite side is a flush fit like I would expect, it has crenelations. The lens is glass and isn’t antireflective from what I can see. The reflector is deep and has an orange peel.  

 

This is a big light in all dimensions for what it is.I measured it at a length of 143mm, 37mm head diameter, and 29mm minimum body diameter. The weight came in with a Sanyo 20700 in it, at 250 grams.

 

I compared the light with a Lumintop ODF30 which uses a 26650 battery and the Lumintop is considerably shorter due to not having a tail switch and recharging but it just shows how big the Astrolux is for what it is.

 

LED/Beamshot

This light has a Cree XHP50.2 in a fairly cool white. My example suffered from pretty bad cree rainbow, the center was the cooler white, but then you got a pronounced green ring, before fading into the cooler white again, not my cup of tea. The reflector is deep, and has an orange peel.

 

Runtime

For my runtime tests I did so with 2 different battery sizes for this light. I used a LG HG2 (3000mAh) for the 18650, and then a Sanyo NCR20700 (4250mAh). Surprisingly both lights had relatively similar total runtimes, about 150 min and 170 min respectively. However the main difference you saw was that runtime after initial step down from turbo. Tubo lasted 2-3 minutes. Then with the 18650 you saw about 45 minutes of high before stepping down due to voltage. With the larger capacity 20700 I saw that high mode last for 65 minutes which is a nice real improvement.

 

UI

This light uses an easy interface. The tail switch is the on/off button and that’s all it does. The front button controls the modes. You have 5 modes in normal operation. Double click to access the shortcut to turbo. From any mode if you press and hold for about 1 second you get strobe. There isn’t memory on this light and it starts on low always.

 

For being marketed as a tactical light I don’t feel like the UI is very tactical. I would prefer a little quicker access to strobe for a tactical light. Having to press on at the tail and then long press on the front switch either takes 2 hands or changing your grip, neigher are ideal.

 

Recharging

Fastest I saw for the built in MicroUSB recharging was 0.72A, which means it took right at 4 and a half hours to charge the a 3000mAh 18650 battery. This is fairly slow by modern standards, I would like to see at least an amp. The side button acts as a power indicator, going red when charging. I will say the charging port cover is well designed, it sits flush and the tab doesn’t catch your hand at all.

 

Pro’s

  • I like that this works with a 21700, 20700, and an 18650 batteries with the included spacer.
  • Minimal branding and the light is available in a sand/gold color as gray and black

 

Con’s

  • It’s big, and heavy for what it is.
  • It’s expensive without a coupon, for not coming with a battery
  • Pretty bad Cree color shift rainbow.

 

Conclusion

It won’t be a big surprise but this isn’t a light I personally enjoy. It’s too big, heavy and the UI is more general purpose then tactical. I like that it comes in colors and you can use the newer larger generation of 21700 batteries. However for tactical useage you won’t find it on my belt or bag.

 

I do think this would be an ok light for someone wanting to get something basic for an older person in their life. It’s larger, and USB rechargeable. You could give it to them, and tell them to just use the tail on/off switch. Low is fairly high powered, and is probably brighter than many alkaline incandescent lights they had previously. The modes are easy to cycle through if they wanted and turning it off and on again resets it. Other then that I generally think there are better options on the market for most applications with this one.

 

Get the Astrolux FT01 for $55 with coupon code: BGDLH at https://goo.gl/ZhjsaA (Affiliate Link)

RavPower 20100mAh Power Bank with QC 3.0 & USB-C Review

Ravpower has a new large capacity 20100mAh powerbank that’s QuickCharge 3.0 capable, and has USB-C. Thanks to them for sending it to me to take a closer look at. If you are interested I have links to their new online direct store in the video description below.

Packaging

RavPower has done a nice job with the packaging of this power bank. Everything comes in a decorated cardboard box, inside the cables and bag are in one small box, and the powerbank is in another. You get the manual and Happy/Not Happy card as well as warranty info. Accessories include a mesh bag, a short USB-A to MicroUSB cable, as well as a longer one and a micro to USB-C adapter. A native USB-C cable would have been a nice touch here.

 

Construction

The powerbank is built from black plastic, with some mild texture on it. With the size of this powerbank I don’t think it has 18650’s inside, instead I think it’s a large Lithium pouch or series of pouches. If only I had an xray machine to see in side.

 

Size

Very closer to the size of my Note 8 with a case on it in terms of foot print. It’s a bit thicker. I measured it at 80mm in width, 172mm long, and 22mm thick. Weight comes in at 374.7 grams.

 

The Qualcomm Quickcharge 3.0 format was adopted in 2016 and is able to charge up to 18W (9V @ 2A), it’s big selling point is charging a large percentage of the battery in a short amount of time. QC 3 speeds this up a bit over older versions but also adds a lot of smaller steps. To be work both the charger and device your charging need to be QC 3 compliant. While QC 3 is a proprietary format, several manufacture specific charging specs seem to be unofficially supported.

 

Discharge

Depending on which port you use the battery is capable of quite a few output modes. Using the iSmart Output port it’s capable of 5V at 2.4A, using the QC3 output it’s capable of 5-6.5V @ 3A, 6.5-9V @ 2A, or 9V-12V at 1.5A. I was able to test the regular USB ports and replicate these numbers

 

So for my runtime test I ran a test a 5V @ 3A until it stopped then moved to .25A till it stopped and I got a total  capacity of 12.25Ah, for a total energy of 60.95Wh. This is decent efficiency from the labeled 74.3Wh after considering voltage step up. Voltage was very stable during this test with average voltage being 4.97V which is good. This was all over 4.71 hours.

 

Recharging

Recharging of this powerbank can be done more than one way. You have the USB-C port which does work to charge it but not particularly fast at only 7W or so in my test despite it saying it can accept 3A at 5V. It’s not USB-C PD compliant for the input. It also offers MicroUSB input that supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and this is the fastest way to charge the powerbank. It’s capable of  5V-12v at 2A. In my testing I used an Anker PowerPort+ charger with QC3. Charge rate for most of the charge was 21.14 total watts or (2.899A at 7.295V) this still took quite a while to charge up 20100mAh, about 6 hours. While not the fastest charging powerbank of this size I have, it’s pretty respectable for such a large capacity without having USB-C PD charging.

 

The manual isn’t great on this powerbank and doesn’t have a full list of specs, but specs are listed on the powerbank itself.  

 

Pro’s

  • Good value for the money on this capacity with USB-C and QC3 support
  • Simple but I like that this has all the output modes and input modes supported on the back. Not all power banks do this.
  • QC 3.0 really makes a difference when charging or discharging. If you don’t have one I definitely recommend picking one up from Ravpower, Anker, or Aukey, or another reliable brand.

 

Con’s

  • Not USB-C PD compliant for recharging. So it only charges at 7W.
  • No USB-C Cable included

 

Conclusion

The RavPower 20100mAh QC3.0 powerbank is a good powerbank from a brand with a good reputation for quality. It offers huge capacity in not a huge footprint. While I would like to see USB-C PD compliant power bank for faster charging/recharging you do have to upgrade to a different model to get that. Charging and recharging with QC 3.0 means it’s pretty quick assuming you have a compliant charger (Not all will be).

https://www.ravpower.com/p/ravpower-turbo-20100mah-power-bank-with-usb-c-and-qc-3.0.html

Sofirn SP36 (6000 Lumens, USB-C Charging)

Sofirn has a new light on the market called the SP36. It’s basically a smaller, lighter version of the BLF/Sofrin Q8 that has charging over USB-C. Instead of 4 18650 batteries, it’s using 3, but retains 4 LED’s. Thanks to Sofrin for sending this to me to take a look at. Remember to checkout the coupons at the end of this post if you are interested in this light.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/Tfteaor
YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging
Packaging is pretty minimalistic. The light arrived in an unlabeled brown cardboard box with a bit of foam in the bottom. The light was in a thin sheet of bubble wrap. It arrived with a Happy/Not Happy card, a manual that while small print does a solid job of explaining things and does warn about using button top protected cells. It also includes a USB-A to USB-C cable which is nice given how USB-C is still an up and coming spec.

Construction
Construction of the SP36 is comparable to other Sofirn lights, and is good for the price range. The light is made from aluminum and anodized a semi gloss black. All edges are nicely machined. Threads are square cut but mostly dry. The tail cap is removable, and flat, it tailstands very well. Inside you can see 3 phillips screw holding the rear circuit board in place, these were very tight, but removable with the right driver and pressure. The board itself has 3 fairly heavy duty dual springs inside. The body tube has 3 bands of continuous heavy knurling on the outside, it’s a basic design but it’s effective. The inside has a seperator for the 3 batteries and when everything is screwed in I didn’t get any rattle.





The head is very reminiscent of the Q8, which this light is roughly based off of. Unfortunately the circuit board is glued in place, I tried removing it with a pair of snap ring pliers and ended up damaging the circuit board slightly. Reading on BLF the board is removable but it takes heat and a lot of work. The exterior of the head features milling on the sides for heat dissipation. On the front you have the only label on the light, it’s name. Below that is the button. It’s recessed into a milled area. Under the electronic button you have 2 green LED’s. Opposite the button on the other side of the light you have the USB-C charging port. It’s at normal depth and I didn’t have trouble with different cables I tried. The cover is tight fitting and stands proud a little bit. It’s rounded and comfortable in the hand. The bezel is smooth and flat, it’s all one piece so it’s not removable. The lens is glass and has some anti reflective coating. The optic is a deep quad with thin walls.




Unfortunately the head lacks a threaded insert for connecting the light to a tripod or for a solid attachment point for a lanyard. This is disappointing to me as I really like that on these larger lights, I think it helps for use with area lighting and lanyard attachment. I will have to look up some paracord work to use an attachment instead.

Size
The SP36 feels good in my hand. If the Q8 is just a little too fat, the SP36 should be about right. I measured total length at 125.25mm, maximum diameter at 49mm, minimum diameter at 45mm and weight with 3x Samsung 30Q at 436g.

Compared to the Q8 you really notice the difference in diameter in the head. There is a difference in size in the body tubes but it’s less than you would think. Only about 5mm of difference in diameter. The difference in weight with 30Q’s is 157g. While that’s significant both lights are heavy enough it’s hard to tell much of a difference when in use.


LED/Runtime/Heat
This light uses the Cree XP-L2 LED’s in the 5300-5700k range. Mine seems to be on the cooler side of this, I guess I will call it neutral white, better than cool white. Beamshot is more of a flood then the Q8, but with the 6000 lumens its enough power to throw ok too. Good general purpose beam. There are not any real artifacts i notice at 10+ feet. At shorter distance there are definitely petals in the beam due to the deeper quad reflectors.The head can be powered directly off USB-C but it won’t get anywhere near full brightness.

The light does have LVP (Kicks in at 2.8V) but Sofrin recommends using button top protected batteries. I didn’t have any of those I wanted to use with this light so I used button top Samsung 30Q’s for my runtime tests which worked well. Turbo (6000 lumens) ran on this light for 2 minutes before stepping down to a relative output putting it around 1200 lumens where the light ran and declined out to the 145 minute mark where it stepped down significantly over several steps over the next 30 minutes. At about 180 minutes the light effectively was at 0% relative output but still powered on out to 400 minutes.

The SP36 6000 lumens and smaller diameter means it gets warm, pretty quickly. At the brightest I measured the light at 1 minute at 104F, at 5 minutes at 107F, and at 10 minutes at 116F. This is quite warm, and the light gets even warmer, after about 20-25 minutes (I did a brief turn off, then turn on and run again) it was at 139F which is too hot to hold and is in burn you territory.

UI
NarsilM 1.2 Firmware with good ramping support. It has lots of options but it’s also easy to use. I love the ramping, it’s easy and intuitive and you can pick the exact amount of output you want. On this light there is no complaining when it comes to mode spacing. I plan on leaving my light at the default settings but if you do want to change things please consult the UI section of the manual. You need to read it more than once before attempting to make any setting changes. Things that are configurable are vast. You can disable ramping and go with 12 different mode spacing options, you can configure moonlight levels, thermal controls (Several), blink modes, mode ordering, LED locator feature, battery level indicators etc.

In stock mode the light also has memory mode, direct access to turbo with a double click. Triple click shows the battery level. 4 clicks to lock or unlock. When in max output mode double click to get to the different strobe modes.

Recharging
The SP36 features USB-C for recharging which is great. Unfortunately it only accepted a charge while using a USB-A to USB-C cable, not a C-C cable. It doesn’t support USB-C PD for faster charging meaning it took me 4 hours and 25 minutes to charge 3x Samsung 30Q batteries that were depleted. The peak charge rate I saw was 1.86A. With the ability for USB-C to draw more wattage from a compatible charger, and that this light has 3x batteries it would be nice to see this utilized but for the price here, I am just happy it has USB-C.

Pro’s

  • Proven Design & well built (Except for the glued in board)
  • USB-C recharging
  • Good NarsilM 1.2 firmware
  • Good pretty comprehensive manual, with some funny translation easter eggs. Very small print though.

Con’s

  • No Tripod mounting hold or place for a Lanyard. Kind of disappointing as this is a larger heavier light and I tend to use a lanyard with them.
  • XP-L2 LED’s in a cooler neutral white.I would love to see some different LED’s (warmer, High CRI, etc). offered here as would many on BLF. I would love to see something like a LH351D used on this light.
  • Heat – It gets really hot, fairly quickly and can get dangerously hot.

Conclusion
The Sofirn SP36 what you get when you take a BLF Q8 and reduce it by ¼ in most ways. It has one less battery, the body is narrower, and it’s lighter, but the spirit of the Q8 and SP36 are same. It gains USB-C charging which is great to see over MicroUSB, but it’s not gaining a big speed increase USB-C is capable of, so with 3 18650 batteries it still takes a while to charge. The built in charger does seem to add some cost over a Q8 which is to be expected. The SP36 is a good light, I think the decision between it and a Q8 variant comes down to how much you want built in USB-C charging and how much of a tint/LED snob you are. Both are great lights and I don’t see getting rid of either anytime soon.

 

Deals

Sofirn SP36 Light Only https://amzn.to/2WpSIrA
Sofirn SP36 Kit Version https://amzn.to/2WmgaGl

Save 20% on either light with the coupon code “B5LGDT2Y”

 

Astrolux S43 (Quad Nichia LED, 18650/18350, USB Recharging, Hand Warmer Feature)

Astrolux has a small quad LED light, the S43. This builds on the the similar S41 and S42 line of lights. The S43 is a revised design, let’s see what’s good and bad about it. Thanks to Banggood for sending this to me to take a look at today.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/7w2r7Ym

YouTube Version of this Review: https://youtu.be/dq8lWspqUSY

Packaging

Packaging is pretty similar to other Astrolux lights of this size. It’s a brown paper box, with a bowtie cut in the middle almost. On the side is a sticker with the model and LED option on it. Inside the light is protected in foam. The S43 comes with lots of accessories that were once addon items in previous version. It now comes with a deep carry pocket clip, 18350 tube, lanyard, and glass breaker/skull cracker spike. It does come with a manual but it’s not quite accurate, it seems to be largely recycled from the S42.

Construction

The head of the light has a non removable crenelated bezel that’s moderately aggressive. Underneath it has a small quad optic, similar to the S41. Below that the light has it’s button that glows green (Can be configured to turn off), surrounding the button is a copper/bronze colored bezel. The sides of the driver are a larger piece of milled aluminum with small heatsinks on the sides. Opposite the side button is the Micro USB charger port and cover. The port is fairly deeply recessed but I didn’t have a problem accessing it with a standard cable. The charger cover does have a tab that I seem to catch with my finger when the light is in use. It’s more annoying than functionally wrong.

The body tube is fairly smooth with no knurling ot texture for grip which is unfortunate.. There are indents at either side for the clip. The tubes are not reversible. It looks very similar to the battery tube on my Emissar D4. The S43 also comes with a 18350 tube which is nice that it’s not an additional purchase. The shorter tube is the same just shorter. It also has areas for the clip to connect. Threads are acme cut, and there is no spring in the head. This causes a bit of a problem if the light is jolted as it loses connection and doesn’t come back on by default.

Glass Breaker/Skull Cracker Spike. The tailcap of the light has as an optional (included) steel spike that can be screwed onto back of the light. For me this is more of a gimmick than useful. Yes it could be used a a self defense option, or used to break glass but the last thing I want is this spike sticking out of my pocket or poking a hole in my bag. Thankfully it can be removed and the threaded hole could be used to connect to a tripod. Personally I would get more use out of this if it was a magnet instead. The spike screws into a ¼ 20 insert. The insert can be removed and I am guessing it’s roughly a ? screw but I ma not quite sure. With the insert screwed in it doesn’t tail stand very stably.

Other versions of this light are also available. There is a version where the head portion is copper, and a red/green anodized version for the holidays. There isn’t a stainless steel model yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see one eventually.

Size/Weight

I measured length at 122mm without the spike or threaded adapter with the 18650 tube. Maximum diameter is 30mm at the head, and minimum diameter is 24mm on the body tube. Weight with battery and clip is 141.5G

LED/Runtime

The light comes with 2 versions, a cool white Cree XP-G3 LED and a Neutral white Nichia 219C at 5000k which is what I have. Tint on mine seems a little warmer than 5000k but I don’t mind. The light is capable 2100 lumens on it’s turbo mode.

Beam shots has a warm hot spot in the center that a gradual fade as you move from the center. For a quad light it’s fairly round. At short distances you notice a few artifacts but these mostly fade away at 4-5 feet.

Output & Runtime

The S43’s runtime and heat output is a little disappointing but roughly what I would expect from a small diameter quad Nichia light. So the light is capable of a maximum of 2100 lumens and has a ramping UI as it’s primary UI. I did my testing with a Sony VTC6. In turbo the light ran for just slightly over 1 minute before starting it’s stepdown. At the 1 minute mark I measured 113F at it’s hottest point. That is pretty warm very quickly. Between 1 and 2 minutes the light stepped down twice to about 10% relative output. This is a very big decrease in output really quickly. At 2.5 minutes the light reaches it’s comfortable longer term output at about 5-8% relative output. After 6 minutes I measured the light was 95F. It held this low output out to 375 minutes where the light stepped down a few more times to run at bear minimums. I stopped my runtime test at a little over 500 minutes. Overall I felt like while this light gets bright it’s almost unusable because of how fast the light steps down and how much it steps down. At least with it’s ramping UI you can adjust the output to exactly where you want it. Performance with a quality 18350 should be similar just with a shorter overall runtime. The light does have Low Voltage Protection which is good since you want to run it with a unprotected cell for the most output.

UI

This light has one single side switch (A change from the S41), and uses NarsilM ramping firmware for it’s UI. By default it comes with the Ramping enabled but there is a stepped mode if you prefer. For my testing I left it in the default ramping UI. Ramping is fast taking just under 2 seconds to go from the lowest to highest mode. It gives a brief flash at the top to let you know your there, and does it at the bottom too, although thats hard to see at such a low output. I will like to the manual in the description so you can look at the other options, it looks a little complicated to adjust but after you have done it a few times it’s not too bad.

Link to Mode 1 Manual

Link to Mode 2 Manual

Recharging

The light does have onboard recharging via MicroUSB. I measured the speed at 0.72A and this resulted in my 3000mAh Sony VTC6 taking 5 hours and 2 minutes to charge to completely full. A little slow for an 18650 but a very safe speed especially if your using it with a 18350.

Pro’s

  • I like that it now comes with the 18350 tube and a pocket clip for the price. (They used to be add on items)
  • Nichia LED option
  • NarsilM Firmware (Ramping UI with lots of configurable options)

Con’s

  • Step downs from Turbo are large and the light gets beyond warm
  • Breaks connection (Light turns off) if using flat tops and the light is jolted (Doesn’t come back on)
  • Smooth body

Conclusion

For the price this is one of the least expensive Quad LED lights you can get usually (when on sale, see youtube for a coupon). For its size it puts out a ton of light, but at least in this S43 the step down from Turbo to high is quite large and it gets hot! Turbo is more of a momentary because it lasts so little time. I wish it had a bit more grip and didn’t lose connection if jolted hard (Like if using the glass breaker), especially for a light that advertises itself with tactical features.