Xtar MC4S Review (USB-C Inexpensive 4 bay simple battery charger)

Xtar has updated version of the MC4 charger out with the new MC4s. It’s a basic 4 bay charger, utilizing USB-C for input power for charging various lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries. Thanks to Xtar for sending this out to take a look at. 

 

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Physically

The package it comes in is small retail style box with specs and battery sizes it supports listed on it. In the box is the charger itself, a simple manual, and a USB-A (Blue  to USB-C cable. 

 

The MC4S is a simple black flame retardant black plastic charger. It features 4 bays with spring loaded clips and a pad for the positive contact. This allows it to expand to fit most battery sizes. 10440-21700 (Non protected). For Ni-Mh and Ni-CD batteries it can do AAAA through C sized batteries. The outside 2 bays are designed for the larger diameter batteries like 26650’s and C sized cells. 

The MC4s features 4 LED’s on the front, one for each bay that tells you what’s going on. When you plug the charger in at first get a self check and each bay will show green for standby. They go when charging, and then turn green when charged. 

The back features a small vent for heat control, a large sticker showing input/Output power, as well as what all cells it supports. 

I measured the charger at 100mm x 97mm by 26mm. Empty weight is 95.2g.

 

Charging

This is a simple charger, and there isn’t anything to do or options to set. The LED status on each bay tells you what you need to know if the battery is charging (red) or if it’s charged (Green). I tested 4 LG HG2 batteries that started at 2.95V and put them into all 4 bays, and started charging. Terminal voltage was 4.125V and it did this is in 6.8 hours with the maximum charge rate combined at 1.8A or roughly 0.45A per bay. For smaller batteries like 10440 which this charger officially supports this may be a bit high of charge rate but for larger cells it’s just fine. It’s worth noting that slots 1 & 4 have faster charging rates of 1A each, if used by themselves, while inner 2 & 3 have slower rates at 0.5A if used by themselves.

I also tested some AA eneloop batteries across all 4 bays, starting at 1.12V and charging to completion at 1.46V. Charge rate here started off slow but gained in speed. This wan’t a constant current charge and seemed a little spiky on my equipment but ok overall. 

Lastly this charge will charge via USB-C to C cable and charger. I used my Aukey BA-B4 I recently reviewed and had no complaints. I have seen some people suggest this doesn’t have real PD triggering but it doesn’t really need it with these power level draws. 

 

Pro’s

  • Inexpensive with current prices being around $12
  • Basic, safe, get’s the job done.
  • USB-C to C support

 

Con’s

  • A bit agressive for the smaller sized cells it technically supports such as 10440, AAAA, etc. 
  • Not going to win any speed races for your larger cells.

 

Conclusion

What you see is what you get here, this is a dead simple battery charger that does what it says in a simple yet effective manner. If your new to the flashlight hobby and want a simple charger to get you going that will support the most common sizes of batteries you will see in most lights, for a low price, the MC4s does the job. 

 

This isn’t going to be the most appropriate charge for everyone but it’s a good place to get started for many. It’s nice to see USB-C here as the primary power input but in this case it’s all about the cable and connector of convenience if your life revolves around USB-C. It’s not taking advantage of the larger amount of power that could be delivered to speed charging times.

 

Overall the MC4s is a good basic, safe, and affordable charger. I can recommend it for your basic charging needs. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/toH1zXv

Pickup the Xtar MC4S 4 bay charger on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2RfdpFY 

Anker Soundcore Flare 2 Review (20W, USB-C & A Water Test!)

Anker has a new portable Bluetooth speaker out with the Soundcore Flare 2. This is a reasonably large speaker that features 360 degrees of sound, 20W of power, Sound reactive LED light rings, USB-C, it’s waterproof and linkable to up to 100 other Flare 2 Speakers. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to look at, I have been enjoying it during these long stay at home times. For the best version of this review check out the video version for the water test, sound test, and light demonstration.

 

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Packaging

Anker always does a great job with it’s packaging and the Flare 2 is no different. The outer sleeve is where all the pictures and information are, and it has the hanger tag so maybe we will see these in retail too. Inside is a blue box where the speaker is nicely nestled along with the manual, happy/not happy card and a standard Anker USB-A to USB-C Cable that’s about 3ft long. 

Physical Descriptions

The speaker itself is an attractive design. It’s a cylinder shape that tapers out at the bottom a bit. The middle has a cloth mesh fabric covering it that’s black but with little flecks of gray woven in. At the top and bottom are 2 RGB LED light rings that are super smooth when they color change and are very evenly diffused. On the bottom there is a rubber pad to keep the speaker firmly in place, and at the top, it’s concave a bit. There is a power button, volume up and down, a button to change the LED modes, and then a multifunction button in the center that I use for play and pause. On the rear of the speaker there is a bluetooth pairing button, a bass up button and the cover for the USB-C port used for charging the speaker.

Physically the speaker is larger then a standard US pop can, at 3.4” at it’s widest, 2.9” at it’s narrowest, and 6.3” tall. I measured the weight at 1.33lbs. The speaker is IPX7 water rated, meaning it won’t be harmed by splashes or rain. It can even withstand complete submersion to shallow depths. I did test this and can agree but sound quality does suffer till the speaker dries out a bit. As a bonus the speaker does float.

It features a 5,200mAh batter inside which is good for 12 hours of playback time and in my testing I got at least this if not more. From empty to full the speaker took 3.5 hours to charge, and is capable of charging via USB-C to C and or with a USB-C PD charger which is great to see. 

 

The App & Lights

You wouldn’t think that a bluetooth speaker needs an app, but to get the most out of the Flare 2 you really do want to download the Soundcore app, available both on iOS and Android. The app can be used to change any of the defaults for the 5 preset equalizers, including making your own via the custom setting, turn the bass boost, on or off, as well as changing all the lights. You can also use it to adjust the volume, turn the speaker off, pair it to other Flare 2’s and even do firmware updates. I demonstrate this is the YouTube version of this review so make sure you check that out. 

 

There are 5 different light modes that are all sound reactive when the speaker is playing sound, within each you can further define the colors you want to use to better suit your mood or content. Imagine watching your favorite sporting event on your tablet and making your teams colors come through the speaker, Or having a party where you connect multiple Flare 2 speakers together to create a light show. 

 

Depending on what I was using the speaker for I found the LED’s to be a little distracting and annoying. For a party or out by the pool I think they make a lot of sense and there are a number of options in the app to change the colors and patterns for your liking. However when I was at home during quarantine and using the speaker for more volume of podcasts or watching netflix and YouTube while cooking it was a little distracting and I mostly turned them off. 

 

Sound

So how is the sound quality of the Flare 2? First it truly is 360 degree, I used this a lot in my kitchen while listing to YouTube and Netflix while cooking and one of the things i hate about other bluetooth speakers I have is when I would move around to maybe go get something in the pantry I would miss dialog because I was off axis of the speakers. The Flare 2 totally solves this. The same principle applies to music too. Here is a little demo I did walking around my dining room table trying to capture that there are no dead spots.

 

I did notice a small amount of delay when watching YouTube and Netflix with this speaker on my iPad, more so then my Android phone, not a major deal but definitely something to mention. Hopefully future firmware updates continue to improve this. 

 

Using the soundcore app to get the right sound for you is important I feel like as well. I enjoyed the default setting with the Bass Up feature turned on and thought it was great. I used the voice mode a bit for some podcasts, it turns up higher frequencies and minimizes bass. There is custom too where you can create your own.

 

I also listened to it out on my deck and it gets plenty loud enough here but I did notice on especially bass heavy music at high volumes the bass was tuned out a bit and it made more of a splat instead of being clean. That said this is a small speaker and I don’t expect subwoofer level performance. Here is a clip I took of it outside as well.

 

Pro’s

  • Great sound quality at reasonable volumes for its size.
  • True 360 degree sound 
  • Impressive water resistance (IPX7) and battery life (12 hr)
  • Great integration and customization with the Soundcore app

 

Con’s

  • Doesn’t always seem to remember the last LED setting you used like Off.
  • No 3.5mm jack which I am ok with.
  • Bass does fade and get muddy at higher volumes.
  • I did notice a little delay on some youtube/netflix content but it was small.

 

Conclusion

Overall the sound quality here exceeded my expectations for the size of the Flare 2. I wish I could have tried the feature allowing you to link up to 100 speakers as I think that could really be impressive surround sound and light show capabilities. For me the lights are not a feature I was needing in a bluetooth speaker but given this is designed for parties, out at the pool etc I could see it being a feature people would like.

 

I was impressed with the Soundcore App’s integration with the Flare 2, it’s a must have for any Flare 2 owner to dial in the sound profile and light patterns that you want, and to get those important firmware updates over time.Overall I am impressed with the Flare 2 and look forward to using it for many more years.

 

Pickup the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3dIUsoL 

View the full image gallery: https://imgur.com/a/khqzDR9

Xtar PB2C Review (18650 Battery Charger & Powerbank)

Xtar has an update for the original PB2 18650 charger and powerbank. As the name implices (PB2C) the new model adds USB-C but only for charging. The XTar PB2 lineup is a little confusing in naming. The Larger PBS can fit larger 21700 batteries, charge and discharge via USB-C and has a screen. The new PB2S is smaller in size, can only take 18650 batteries, and doesn’t have a screen. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to take a look at and review.

 

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Packaging & Accessories

The Xtar PB2C packaging is very simple, it’s a clear plastic shell with a cardboard back with most of the information on the rear of the package. There is a simple multi language manual included in the package. Inside you get the PB2C itself and a USB-A(3) to USB-C cable.

 

Construction

The Xtar PB2C is made from hard plastic with some texture. The body and color of mine happens to be a sky blue with black accents. It’s a great look in my opinion and feels well built. The lid is held on with magnets at the center that are reasonably strong. There are nail nicks to make removal easier. On the inside you have the input and output specs as well as the units model and serial numbers.  

Inside the cells are held in place with pretty robust springs on one end and tabs on the other. This allows all 18650’s from flat top unprotected cells to protected button tops to fit. There is a ribbon to make removal easier which is a nice. Polarity and charging rates are molded into the base too. 

The only indicators that’s available are a series of 4 small white LED at the top, that are used for charge/discharge status, on/off status, and any errors (All blinking). Four lights building one by one means it’s charging, if all 4 lights are on charging is done. 

 

Size and Weight

The PB2C is smaller then it’s larger more advanced PB2S brother because it only fits 18650 batteries and doesn’t have a display. I measured the length at 109mm, width at 50mm and depth at 24mm. Weight with 2 18650 batteries came in at 150g.

As a Powerbank

As a Powerbank the Xtar PB2C is a little disappointing because it only works via the USB-A slot. The USB-C connector is an input only. Then I remember the price here, about $12 and given that it comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, I will give it a pass. As much as I love USB-C it’s still not as universal especially world wide as the Western World thinks it is. USB-A is the most compatible with the largest market yet.

 

I tested the PB2C with some 2600mAh Xtar batteries and was able to easily discharge at 2.25A for 1 hour 34 minutes. The voltage did sag some when running this hard, and wasn’t quite as stable as you see from most of my Anker and Aukey power banks but it was fine with an average voltage of 4.89V.. Capacity came in at a measured 3115mAh, which seems a little low but is roughly 80% efficiency assuming the labels on the batteries are correct. Higher capacity batteries will yield more capacity to recharge your devices. LVP on the cells kicked in at 3.23V and 3.40V. The powerbank function can be used while the charger is charging batteries, with it primarily powering the device off the USB input rather then discharging the batteries.

 

As a Charger

As a charger the Xtar PB2C combines all the features from Xtar that are proven and well respected such as zero volt activation, reverse polarity protection, safe charging rates, over discharge protection, etc. If one battery is inserted, into the 2 slot charger, charging speed will be 1A, if 2 batteries are installed it will be upto 2A. If the batteries inserted have different power levels, the lower voltage cell will charge first till they are equal and then it will charge both batteries. 

 

In my testing I charged 2 2600mAh cells to full in 3 hours and 7 minutes mostly at 1.9A of speed. Terminal voltage on both cells was 4.17V which is good. I had no trouble fitting protected, unprotected, and all manner of button top cells on the charger. Your luck may vary with custom cells from brands like Olight. 

 

Pro’s

  • Very Affordable
  • Can take protected or unprotected 18650’s
  • Blue and Orange Color Options

 

Con’s

  • USB-C is only used for charging here, it would be better if it was bidirectional.

 

Conclusion

This is a nice little battery charger and powerbank combination if all you need to charge are 18650 sized batteries. It has most cases for those covered. It’s a nice update to see USB-C included but I wish it was in and out instead of just used for input power only. That said the included USB-A to C cable does help with this, and for the price I can’t fault it much. Overall this is a good basic charger and powerbank combo from Xtar at a very affordable price. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/2ovOuC0

Find more on the Xtar PB2C at http://www.xtar.cc/product/XTAR-PB2C-Charger-131.html

AliExpress Global – http://bit.ly/2IUcV3l 

Nitecore Tiki & Tiki LE Review (Keychain light with auxiliary LED’s)

Today I am taking a look at the Nitecore Tiki and Tiki LE keychain lights. These are small, multicolor lights with built USB recharging and a sealed battery. Thanks for Nitecore Store for sending these two keychain lights out for me to take a look at. Links to them will be in the description.

 

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Packaging

Packaging on these are simple retail hangers with a try it feature on the clear see through bubble. The Tiki features a primary white LED, and then a high CRI white emitter and UV led as a an auxiliary. The LE version swaps the UV and High CRI aux emitters for red and blue. On the back the package goes through the simple models. The only included accessory is the keychain attachment point. 

Construction

Both lights are made from polycarbonate plastic. The Tiki is made from a simi translucent plastic allowing you to see the internals pretty well. This also diffuses the side auxiliary LED’s. Up front there is a stainless steel bezel, the light is using a TIR style optic and a small glass lens. The hoop at the back is fairly thick and may not fit every key chain naively without the included small chain. The LE version is a black plastic thats semi transparent on the side LED’s. The front bezel is black colored here. On both the button is in a logical place on the barrel and takes a fairly firm press to actuate. The USB recharging port on the back is nicely flush fit with the body too. 

 

Size & Weight

Overall length is 54mm on both lights, and the diameter as measured is 15mm at the head. This puts these lights a bit smaller then your average AAA keychain light and just a little longer then the Olight i1R and Lumintop Glow I recently reviewed. The light is IPX66 rated.

This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how close these look to the RoyVon A5 both in looks and operation. The USB ports are a little different but that’s about it. I asked Nitecore about this and they declined to comment on if there was any collaboration or licensing here.

LED & Beam & PWM

The primary LED being used on both lights is the Osram P8 LED in cool white. The beam pattern out the TIR optic is pretty decent for what this is but it does have very small artifacts. For a light like this it’s not something I am going to fault it on too much. 

I am not that sensitive to PWM myself but I can see it on the lowest mode, my oscilloscope sees it in the higher modes as well. It’s fairly bad on the scope in at least the lights i have tested this year. 

Not much data on the auxiliary LED’s is given. The UV LED is said to be 500mw and at 365nm. In practice this is really weak, you can use it to help point out the security features on a card or dollar bill but that’s about it, things need to be very close range. The high CRI LED is warm tint and decently bright. No data is given on the red or blue LED options on the LE version.

 

Runtime 

Runtimes on the main LED are identical on this light. The highest mode is good for 300 lumens for about 1 minute before stepping down and running at about 40% output where it runs till the 30 minute mark and where it then steps down and runs for another 20 minutes or so before LVP kicks in. This is pretty respectable for a light of this size. It’s not something you will hike with but more then enough to find something you dropped on the ground, get the mail, or find your key hole.

UI

UI is fairly straight forward here and the same on each light. A slow double press turns the light on in Low mode, with single presses going up in output (4 total modes). Long press to turn off. When off a long press turns it on in maximum output in momentary mode. 

 

To get to the auxiliary modes triple click from off, single click changes modes. The Tiki has the UV on by default, single click again and it goes to high CRI which is warmer and much brighter. Single click again and it goes to high cri blinking. The Tiki LE default is the Red LED, click again and it goes blue, then again and you red/blue cycling option.

 

Recharging

From 100% depleted the light took 1 hour and 15 minutes to fully charge. It does have a little red/blue LED in the body to tell you when it’s done. Charging is quite slow at 0.14A at the maximum but that’s what you want for the health of such a small battery. I am ok with this. 

 

Pro’s

  • The UV/High CRI side lights on the Tiki make for a more useful overall light.
  • Good form factor but not an original design.

 

Con’s

  • Significant PWM in lower modes
  • Seems to be a copy of other lights on the market in this segment
  • UV is limited in what it can do due to the low power and wave length used here.

 

Conclusion

The keychain market has gotten hotter here in the last year or so, and there are lots of good options on the market. I am not that sensitive to PWM personally but can see it on these lights in the lower modes easily. For me that makes it hard to recommend them when there are other lights that don’t have that problem. That said I like the form factor and they produce a good amount of light on the highest output mode. Other then the UV mode I can’t find a ton of practical use for the side LED’s here especially the LE’s Red and blue outputs. That said these make fun zipper pulls and that’s where the are going on a couple of my jackets.

 

Purchase the Nitecore Tiki https://bit.ly/2J9A7uJ 

Purchase the Nitecore Tiki LE https://bit.ly/2xgVuYe 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/18lCemW

Aukey 65W Omnia Chargers (GaN, 2x USB-C, USB-A)

Aukey has released a new line of chargers called the Omnia. Today we are going to take a look at 2 of these models as well as some high quality USB-C and Lightning cables they now offer as well. Thanks to Aukey for sending these to me to take a look at and review. 

 

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Packaging and Accessories

A quick few words on the packaging that everything comes in. The chargers come in cardboard boxes with simple line drawings of each charger on them, and the color that each is, with minimal other information. Inside the charges come with a simple manual, warranty card and that’s it. No cables are included with either.

The two cables come in more retail looking boxes, printed in full color and more descriptive information on each. The USB-C to Lightning cable came wrapped around a reel. Which helped it keep it’s length in check. The USB-C cables came wrapped in their own bags. Each included a warranty card as well. 

 

Charger Construction & Performance

Both chargers I am looking at today are part of their new Omnia Power charging lineup. Omnia power is a term for all the latest charging technology rolled into a one chip solution. In the 2 charges I am looking at today that’s GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology, allowing more power to be smaller and lighter weight, USB-C PD technology for Power Delivery support meaning it can increase and decrease power as the device needs it, Dynamic Detect technology to ensure the power is distributed efficiently between the different ports. 

 

Let’s start by looking at the PA-B4 which is the charger I have been using most since it’s dual USB-C ports. These are quite small in size for being capable of delivering 65W. Here it is compared with the Anker charger I reviewed a few weeks back that didn’t have GaN technology, and only provided 30W or so. Here it is compared with a dollar bill and standard household key. It also has folding prongs which is nice to keep it compact when not in use.

On the front of this charger there is a small white LED that lets you know when it’s in use, it’s not too bright which is good. The top port has a little computer next to it to let you know this is the highest power port that’s available. This can deliver the full 65W if your devices support it. When both ports are in use the top port delivers up to 45w and the bottom port delivers 12W. My laptop requires a max of 45W so for me this was a good fit, in the photo you can see here it did 43W and I plugged in my ipad at the top and it was charging at 8W speed since it was over half full. For me this makes a great travel charger since I can charge my laptop at full speed and charge my phone or ipad all with one compact charger. 

 

 

Specs the BA-B4 supports for output are 

Port 1 65W via PD 3.0

  • 20V @ 3.25A
  • 15V @ 3A
  • 12V @ 3A
  • 9V @ 3A
  • 5V @ 3A

 

Port 2 18W via PD 3.0

  • 12V @ 1.5A
  • 9V @ 3A
  • 5V @ 2.4A

 

The PA-B3 is the same size as the PA-B4 and features 1 USB-C port with all the same specs, capable of 65W. The big difference is instead of a second USB-C port this charger has a USB-A port. Unfortunately the USB-A port doesn’t support any of the Qualcomm quick charge standards and it’s just a standard 5V 2.4A port. When both are in use the top port reduces from 65W to 45W.

 

 

Specs the PA-B3 supports for output are 

Port 1 65W via PD 3.0

  • 20V @ 3.25A
  • 15V @ 3A
  • 12V @ 3A
  • 9V @ 3A
  • 5V @ 3A

Port 2 

  • 5V @ 2.4A

 

Cable Construction and Performance

A few quick words about Aukey’s braided cables. I have enjoyed my time with them and have no complaints about them. Both come with velcro organization loops to help keep everything organized and helps keep things looking nice during travel and use. I have found the right angle USB-C cables really nice to use when I am using my phone and charging it at the same time, I think it’s less stress than a traditional cable. It fit fine over my case but if you have a larger case it may not have the clearance for you. Quality wise it’s very comparable to my Anker cables and I like the red color.

 

The USB-C to lightning cable is great too as it allows me to charge faster then the standard cable and charger that came with my ipad. The 6.6ft length is great here, if you don’t have a longer cable your really missing out, as the stock is pretty limiting. When combined with the Omnia chargers both my devices were able to charge as fast as they are capable of with these cables. No complaints. 

Pro’s

  •  Compact size, and delivered the performance it stated.
  • LED’s are not super bright, great for charging at night.
  • 45W is just enough to charge my Dell laptop and phone at the same time.

 

  • Great build quality on the cables, on par with other braided cables I have from Anker. 
  • Right angle cables are pretty useful especially when holding a phone while charging.

 

Con’s

  • Little bit of weird behavior when charging high watt devices and plugging in a low wattage device on the PA-B3, it sometimes wanted to stop charging on the first and and I had to replug it to get it going again.
  • I wish Aukey offered a longer right angle USB-C cable.

 

Conclusion

Aukey’s latest Omnia chargers are the real deal. They combine the technology you should be looking for with high wattage chargers, with GaN, USB-C PD, and have the dynamic delivery technology to make sure you can charge each of your devices as fast as the charger and device will allow. 

 

I can recommend these chargers if your looking for multiple port, high wattage chargers. If you don’t have one yet, you really should pick up one. They are smaller, faster, and just as safe as what your device came with. If you travel a lot it’s a must have, and for most people they will enjoy the added speed of recharging in every day use too. Make sure to check them out in links below. 

 

Pick up any of the chargers or cables with the links below.

PA-B3 (USB-C & USB-A Version) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0841V6LR5 

PA-B4 (Dual USB-C) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0841VBW8H 

USB-C to Lightning https://amzn.to/2PZ5fRs  (Make sure to save $4 by clicking the coupon)

Right angle USB-C Cables https://amzn.to/2PZ5fRs  (Make sure to save $2 by clicking the coupon)

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

YLP Unicorn 1.0 Review (Samsung LHD351D, 90 CRI, 18650 EDC Light)

YLP is a Russian Flashlight manufacturer (Lights are made in China) that is new to the US market. Their name when translated roughly means bright ray. They have been known by enthusiasts for a few years but it’s been more difficult to buy their lights, having to use google translated versions of their website. Recently they have launched a US English version of the website and got in touch with me to take a look at some of their lights. The YLP Unicorn 1.0 has been on my radar since last year so I selected that to take a further look at and review myself. Thanks to them for sending this out and providing a discount that’s in the description along with links to follow me on various social media platforms. This will probably be a little bit longer of a review so settle back and enjoy. 

 

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging on the Unicorn 1.0 is a nice magnetic closure box full of printing, showing the light on the front, a lot of the highlights on the sides and more details on the back. It’s nicely designed without looking excessive. Inside the light is protected with some custom cut black foam. Accessories include a pocket clip preinstalled, a basic lanyard, and 2 extra o’rings. The manual that came with the light is in borth Russian and English. It’s pretty thorough but an advanced manual is available online as well and I will have a link to it in my description. One other thing to add, my light shipped in a box covered with cool Russian stamps on it too, definitely cool looking and not what I am used to. 

 

Construction

The light is made from aluminum and hard anodized in a gray/brown almost tan color. It’s a really nice color and nice to see something other then black. Machining here is good, with no complaints. Branding is extremely minimal with just the Unicorn 1.0 name and Unicorn logo on the rear of the tail cap, it doesn’t even say YLP on it anywhere! 

The tailcap itself is flat, and magnetic. The internal magnet is held in place with the tail spring so if you want to remove it, it’s easy to do so. You have a place for the lanyard to go on the side of the tail cap if you choose. Threads internally are beefy and square cut.

The knurling on the tail and body tube is aggressive, it feels good in my hands but you may see some accelerated wear of your pants under the pocket clip. It’s pyramid shaped with the tip left on. There is a Y shape milled out of the knurling to add some style to the light, you can see some tool paths in this but I think that’s done on purpose. The tube itself is not removable as it seems to be glued to the head. 

 

The head itself has shallow heatsyncs around about ¾ of the range. The button sits in a slightly raised block on the head but is then recessed inside this. The button itself has a clear silicone cover over it. Underheat there are red and green LED’s used for indicating battery voltage and as a locator beacon. The button itself is on the small side and may be a little hard to actuate with larger gloves on. The front of the light has a smooth bezel with the TIR optic in place. There isn’t glass over the optic so you may see some scratches over time. 

Size & Weight

The YLP Unicorn 1.0 is a pretty compact light for what all it offers. I measured it’s overall length at 102.2mm, maximum diameter in the head at 27.20mm, and minimum diameter on the body at 25mm. When compared to the FW3A is about 20mm shorter, and the Wurkkos FC11 is about 14mm longer. The Unicorn 1.0 weighed in  with a Sony VTC6 battery and clip onboard at 113.6g. Compared to the FW3A’s 98.2g, and Wurkkos FC11 at 111.8G. 

Retention

The Unicorn 1.0 features a reversible pocket clip with plenty of room in it’s top loop for thicker pants. It’s not super deep cary but I found it to carry quite well. As I mentioned earlier the knurling here is aggressive and while I like the feel in my hand, you might find it wears out your pants pocket a little faster them most lights, especially under the pocket clip. The magnet in the tail is quite strong and has no trouble holding the light. It’s also fairly easy to remove if you wish. I had no issues with it activating in my pocket during cary thanks to the recessed e-switch on the head of the light. 

 

LED & Beam

The YLP Unicorn 1.0 is using a 4200k Samsung LH351D at a minimum of 90 CRI. This is one of my favorite emitters right now and a fantastic choice for EDC in my opinion. It’s warmer in tint and doesn’t have any of the green that the LH351D in the Wurkkos FC11 had. My LED was nicely centered, and has a TIR style optic. The light doesn’t have a glass lens, which means overtime you might see a few scratches. Not a huge deal with everything else going on here. The beam pattern does have a defined hot center, and the transition to the spill isn’t the smoothest but it’s not bad either. 

One of the side effects of this light not being designed for huge output numbers is heat is well controlled and it’s also configurable in the UI if you want to push it a bit more. 

1 Minute = 90F

5 Minutes = 101F

10 Minutes = 104F.

 

I measured the parasitic drain of the eswitch at 22?A which is pretty minimal. I didn’t measure any PWM with my scope or eye.

 

Runtime and Outputs

Officially the light produces the following in it’s default UI. .

Turbo 850 lumens

High  450 lumens

Medium 170 Lumens

Low 40 Lumens

Moon 3 Lumens

Runtimes here didn’t have any big surprises from the regulated driver. I performed my tests with a 3000mAh Sony VTC6 battery but you don’t need such a high output battery in this application, a NGR18650GA battery would be a perfect comdination here. Turbo was good for just under 4 minutes, and we then saw stepdowns to 65% relative output. This continued to decline to about 50% output at the 30 minute mark or so but then the light started increasing in output as it cooled and the battery was able to keep up. This peaked at 60% relative output before a sharp decline to the lights lowest mode at the 130 minute mark where it continued running till LVP kicked in at 2.859V at 300 minutes. It’s nice to see active thermal controls on this one. 

 

 

UI

 This light has 4 different UI modes. By default it comes in what YLP calls Basic UI where the light has 5 discrete modes and memory mode turned on. It starts off in low and when you hold the button it starts ramping up about every second. When it gets to the top it automatically starts ramping down. Single click to turn off, Double clicking when on gets your to the maximum output. 4 Clicks gets you to battery check mode where the light flashes the batteries voltage. The way the basic UI works with it cycling up and then down instead of resetting takes a little getting used to as it’s different from a lot of lights and requires you to go up through high before going lower if thats what you want. 

 

The other main UI modes are UI1, which is ramping with memory mode turned on. UI2 which is ramping with memory on and the buttons light on, UI 3 is 5 modes, memory off, and starting on medium instead of low. 

The light has other advanced features which are best if you look at the advanced manual on the YLP website as you can adjust the thermal settings, and engineering mode where you can configure each UI mode through a series of clicks. These are complex and for time sake I won’t go over them in this review, but the manual has you covered and the translation is decent. You can find the full advanced manual here. 

 

Pro’s

  • Great overall size and clip
  • Wide acceptance on it’s battery type, flat tops, button tops, protected, unprotected it takes all the 18650 types.
  • Not another black light
  • Great LED and Tint
  • Very flexible user interface the default Basic UI does it for me just fine but ramping is available if you want it.

 

Con’s

  • Knurling is quite aggressive, and if EDCed in a pants pocket this will eat away at it over time.
  • Not the brightest light in this class but more than enough to get the job done with less heat and more usability.
  • Lowest output mode should be 1 lumen or less
  • Minor annoyance with the Basic UI, I would prefer it start back over on low after reaching top output rather then reversing back down through high, mediu, low etc. 

 

Conclusion

This is a light designed with practicality in mind instead of big numbers for a marketing purpose. As a result it can sustain itself on higher outputs without large stepdows. It’s using a high CRI LED with a pleasant tint and very useful beam pattern. For me it ticks all the boxes on what I want as a solid all purpose flashlight. 

I have taken it walking several times over the few weeks I have had it and it’s done great with that. It’s a useful beam pattern and I like the combination of tint and high CRI LED. It has a lot of UI options for you if you want, if not the default UI I enjoy. 

I hope we see YLP continue the Unicorn line of lights, making enhancements and tweaks as it goes along. At this price point it’s a lot of value, coming in significantly less than some of the well known brands that also share animal names. I look forward to seeing other lights from YLP, after reviewing the Unicorn 1.0 the bar was set high, lets see what they can deliver. I recommend the YLP Unicorn 1.0 without reservations.

If you are considering picking up a YLP Unicorn 1.0 make sure to check the description for a link to their English website and use the code in the description to save 15% off the price which helps cover shipping cost. 

 

Purchase the YLP Unicorn 1.0: https://ylplight.com/en/katalog/1/ruchnye-fonari/unicorn-10/

Use code “liquidretr” at checkout to save 15%

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

Lumintop Glow I Review (Turboglow on a Keychain Light)

Lumintop has a new small keychain style light on the market that’s using using TurboGlow as part of the heads structure. It has a built in battery and microUSB recharging. Thanks to Lumintop for sending this to me to review. 


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Packaging & Accessories

The light comes in a small nicer cardboard box with foam holding it in place. It comes preinstalled with the non removable battery. Accessories include a short 5” USB-A to Micro USB cable and a split ring attached to a small chain and clip for attaching to your keys or other device.

 

Construction

The Glow I is made from aluminium and works off a twist design but is different from some other similar lights. First the tail cap is removable, and held in place with an internal neodymium magnet and indexing notches. Pull force to disconnect here I would guess is about 5-6 pounds. I think this is sufficiently strong for many scenarios but if you were concerned about it coming off accidentally a bit of superglue or JB Weld would make this more permanent. 

I found the magnet here to be actually really nice. It means the light could server as a short under the hood light in your car at night if needed etc. The body of the light has a hole in the side the body is twisted all the way to the left reveals the microUSB charging port. There is a small internal LED in the port that goes red when charging, green when charged.

To operate the light you screw it to the right until it turns on. The light has only 1 mode and no UI to speak of. The head is captured so you don’t have to worry about it getting loose or lost during charging which I know has been a minor issue with other similar lights. The internal 80mAh 10180 battery is sealed and not replaceable. 

 

The turbo glow barrel built into the head of this light, and serves as the walls of the reflector, meaning it’s directly exposed to the LED anytime it’s on. This means it gets charged up everytime the light is on, and since it’s turbo glow it’s much brighter and lasts significantly longer then standard glow in the dark material. It even does a pretty good job of charging and maintaining charge during normal exposure to room or sunlight.

Size & Weight

This is a small light, similar to the Olight i1R I reviewed a while back. It’s currently been my keychain light. I measured the length of the Lumintop Glow I at 45.3mm, maximum diameter around the turboglow at 15.6mm and minimum diameter on the body at 14mm. Weight was 16.4g without the keychain. It’s pretty comparable in size and diameter to the Olight i1R. See the photos below for other peers. 

 

LED & Beamshot

The Glow I uses an Osram LED. No specific model or temperature is given but no surprise here, it’s cool white. Lumintop lists the output officially has 40 lumens. This is more than sufficient with the size and application here. The light is using an optic with a built in diffuser. The result is a pretty standard beam, floody, good for short range which is what you would expect with this light. 

Runtime

Runtime here out of the 80mAh battery was better then I expected. My total runtime was around 80 minutes, with the first 60 of that being near the 40 lumen mark and declining. The light actually ran significantly longer but it doesn’t have low voltage protection so it would be best after you notice the decline in output to charge it. 

 

Recharging

Charging took 1 hour and 10 minutes and the fastest I observed was 0.12A via the microUSB port. While that’s pretty slow this is a very small battery so that’s what you would expect. 

 

Pro’s 

  • Turboglow from the Netherlands is integral to the design and is really pretty effective.
  • Captured head although in theory the tail could come loose unintentionally. 
  • Good size and construction

 

Con’s

  • No Low Voltage protection here, or removable battery means you need to be careful about running the light too long and keep the battery topped up. 
  • Non removable/replaceable battery 

 

Conclusion

This is a neat little keychain light. I like that it’s small and compact but still has a decent amount of output for its size and task. The addition of authentic TurboGlow (Seriously if you have not tried TurboGlow it’s significantly better then any other GITD material) separates this light from the competition for me. It’s a clever design making the TurboGlow an actual part of the light body vs just an insert. I wish the light did have LVP to protect the internal cell since it cant be changed. The magnetic connection here is a give and take, it’s handy but if your concerned about the light dropping off unintentionally it’s an easy fix with some superglue or JB Weld. I don’t think it will be an issue for me. Let me know what you think of the Lumintop Glow I in the comments below. 

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/FU0HES3

Lumintop’s official website for the Glow I http://www.lumintop.com/glow1.html

Nitecore HC35 Review (2700 Lumens, Quad LED, 21700 Battery, Headlamp)

Nitecore has a new large format headlamp on the market, with 4 LED, and a diffused lens. It runs a 21700 battery, and has onboard microUSB for recharging. While designed as a headlamp I am going to come at this one from the angle of a worklight too. Thanks to Nitecore Store for sending this to me to look at and review. I will have a link to them in the description below. 

 

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging is a large yellow retail hanging box, with photos of the lights and lots of stats throughout. Inside the light and accessories site in a plastic shell.

Accessories include the HC35 with the Nitecore button top 21700 4000mAH battery (NL2140HP), pocket clip, Nitecore branded headband, spare o-rings, micro USB cable, manual, warranty, 18650 adapter. Somewhat strangely no extra USB port cover was included and I actually broke mine during testing. (My fault, not Nitecore’s)

 

Construction

The light is made from anodized aluminum, and machining here is pretty good. Starting at the tail cap, it’s flat, magnetic and labeled accordingly. The tailcap has shallow diamond knurling on it that doesn’t add a ton of texture but enough. 

The body tube features the same knurling and is not reversible. The clip only attaches at the head of the light. 

The light is attached to the headband on one side via a spring steel clip, similar to how a clip on clip works. It’s easy to take on and off and allows for the light to be attached without taking off the pocket clip (Nice) which makes charging easier but it doesn’t take a ton to make the heavy light come loose from an accidental smack or bump. For hiking or house work it’s ok, but I want to see something more secure ideally especially if you were caving/climbing with the light. That said when using this more as a work light rather then a headlamp it’s a handy feature to be able to remove it easily. I used it to change some brakes on a car recently and it was nice to pull off and use as an area flood light. For heavier duty situations a zip tie or even rubber band on the other end of the light would make it more secure.

The head features a fairly large lens, with the 4 LED’s under it. It has a optic sitting on top of the LED with a textured diffuser on top to really even out that beam pattern. Everything is surrounded by a silver aluminum bezel. On top there is a textured rubber button, with a pround silver bezel to help locate it. This does allow the light head stand. This button is a little hard to push if you have on larger gloves. On the back there are 3 deeply milled groves for heat dissipation. Lastly the microUSB port is on the light covered with a gray silicone rubber cover. The head has minimal labeling of just the serial number, model number and various regulatory symbols.

Size and Weight

I measured the length at 128mm, minimum diameter on the body was 26mm, maximum diameter at the head was 30mm. Weight with the battery, came in at 172.3g. The headstrap alone weighs in at 41g. This is fairly heavy. It’s a big headlamp, especially when you put it next it’s 18650 counterparts kind of like the Olight Perun I recently reviewed. 

Comfort when used as a headlamp is ok for a couple of hours. Past that the weight kind of starts to get to you in the forehead. Nitecore could add a bit more padding on the back of the bracket to help with this. I do like that the headbands webbing has ventilation holes. 

Retention

For me this isn’t a light I want to EDC in my front pockets, it’s just too big for that. The pocket clip can mount on either end of the light. When mounted nearest the head about 25mm of the light sticks up, when mounted at the tail, the clip extends past the tail and renders the magnet less useful. The balance point of the light is nearer the head so to keep from having to move the clip each time you mount the light to the strap, it really should go at the tail. 

LED | Beam Shots | Heat

The light is using 4x Cree XP-G3 S3 LED. Tint is pretty cool white. The S3 varient has less green tint, but at lower powers it’s still noticeable. The optics and diffuser here do a very good job of making the 4 leds one uniform floody beam. Perfect for this type of application. I didn’t detect any PWM via eye or my scope. 

Official modes and spacing are listed at 

  • 1 Lumen – Ultra Low
  • 40 Lumens – Low
  • 270 Lumens – Mid
  • 800 Lumens – High
  • 2700 Lumens Turbo, Strobe, Beacon, SOS

 

Runtime

This is really a light designed for longer outputs. Turbo starts decreasing at the 30 second mark and it declines pretty rapidly down to high at 800 lumens. This is disappointing that it’s so short, I would have hoped to get a couple minutes out of turbo output here given the size of the light and relative conservative heat values. From here it mostly maintains this while sagging a little for about 140 minutes, then over the next 20 minutes or so you see 2 large stepdowns and the light runs in low and ultra low for the remainder of time about 475 minutes, till it LVP kicks in at 2.947v. Heat was fairly well controlled, at 1 minute I saw 95F, at 5 minutes 97.8F, and at 10 minutes 101F. 

 

UI

UI here is different different, with fewer shortcuts. It’s a quick press to turn on, and then quick single presses to go up in brightness, and all solid modes are available, ultra low through turbo. Long press to turn off. You have short cuts to low when the light is off, a short press gives you 1 lumen. To directly access turbo from off press the button for more then 1 second. When the light is on there is no way to access turbo directly. 

 

To access the blinking modes double press the button when the light is off, then short presses changes the mode. Long press to exit blinking modes. 

 

Recharging

Charge time from LVP at 2.947V to Full at 4.12V on the included Nitecore 4000mAh 21700 battery was 2 hours and 41 minutes at a maximum of 2.1A via MicroUSB. Charge curve here looked normal, and I have no complaints. It’s nice here that with the included cell adapter the light will also charge an 18650 battery. During charging the blue LED on top will flash, and when charged it goes solid. This LED is also used as a voltage indicator when the light is in use. 

I do wish the light came with an extra port cover (my first time needing one due to my mistake). Also being a new design and a large capacity battery the light would see a benefit from USB-C.

 

Pro’s

  • Blinking modes are not part of the normal operating modes.
  • Very even diffused light but quite cool tint.
  • Direct access to low from off
  • Nice it can run off of 21700, 18650 and 2x CR123 with the included adapters. 
  • No proprietary cables or batteries needed, but it’s still MicroUSB 🙁

 

Con’s

  • Cree XP-G3 emitters isn’t what I would expect to find on something in this price range and I am not a fan of the tint.
  • Turbos 2700 lumen output has a very short duration, only 30 seconds.
  • Long press to turn off keeps tricking my brain. 
  • Wish it had an additional clip to secure the light in the headband for added security
  • Anodizing doesn’t seem to be the most durable, especially around the clip.

 

Conclusion

The Nitecore HC35 is a big bright light. I tend to think of it more as a worklight then a headlamp but it does both jobs fairly well. It’s a bit heavier than I want to use as a headlamp longer term, but what you pay for in weight you get in runtime. With the strong magnet and very floody beam it works good as a work light to stick onto a metal object or tail stand on it’s flat base. 

 

UI here is easy but different from a lot of other lights so I can see people fumbling a little around on this one initially. It’s different having turbo as part of your main mode. I do wish turbo could sustain itself for longer, 30 seconds just isn’t very long. Overall this is an interesting combination of headlamp and worklight. Let me know what you think of the HC35 in the comments. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/HWZh9yX

To purchase the Nitecore HC35 Headlamp, visit Nitecore Store at http://bit.ly/2HGp8rP