UPDATE Sept 24, 2008: The new JetBeam Jet-III PRO ST "slim tube" version has now been reviewed.
UPDATE June 27, 2008: My new Jet-II PRO review is now up. In that review, I directly compare the new PRO build to the original Jet-II IBS shown here.
REVIEWER’S NOTE: This is a three-part review. The first part is a build and runtime overview of the new JetBeam Jet-II with “infinite brightness system” (IBS) circuit. The second part is a comparison to other similar single CR123A/RCR lights. The third part is a direct comparison to 18650-only Jet-III IBS. The Jet-II IBS was provided free of charge by JetBeam for review, and the Jet-III IBS was purchased from bugoutgearusa.com.
PART I: Jet-II IBS Build/Runtime Comparison
Specification: (according to the Manufacturer)
Model: JET-II I.B.S.
LED: CREE 7090 XR-E (Q5 bin)
Max Output: 225 Lumen (Torch Lumen)
Reflector: OP aluminum reflector
Lens: Sapphire crystal
Material: T6061 T6 aircraft aluminum alloy
Finish: HA (Type III hard anodized)
Battery: one CR123 battery or any other batteries of the same size
Input voltage: 0.7-4.2V
Switch: Reverse clicky
Waterproof: Accord to IPX-8 standard
Dimension: Bezel diameter 32mm, Tail diameter 21mm, Overall length 96mm
Although my Jet-I MK IBS was an engineering sample with no accessories, this Jet-II is a full shipping version with all package accessories. Like my Jet-I PRO, the light comes in a thin cardboard box with foam inserts and magnet to keep it closed. Unlike my Jet-I PRO, this packaged arrived intact in the mail since it was packaged in a regular cardboard box before being stuffed in a bubble envelope.
Inside, you’ll see it comes with warranty card, manual, wrist lanyard, and spare parts (o-rings, tailcap cover) – and of course, the light. Quality of the lanyard seems decent.
As you can see, exterior styling is very nice. Light comes in a dark slate grey HA finish, similar to their earlier models. Lettering is ok, although not quite as sharp and clear as some other makers. Like most JetBeam lights (except the MK series), the light has knurling along most exposed surfaces to help with grip. Knurling is not overly aggressive, but it is slightly more raised than most Chinese-made lights. The smooth head has indentations to improve grip. There's also a shiny non-anodized "focus ring" located below the head (scroll down for a discussion).
The Jet-II has a wider and deeper reflector than most lights, making this a “pocket rocket” thrower like the LumaPower D-mini digital (see Part II of this review for a throw values and a comparison to the D-mini). This sample came with a textured “orange peel” reflector, to help reduce rings. Personally, I prefer smooth reflectors on thrower lights since the Cree rings don’t bother me in actual usage.
Like many new Chinese-made lights, my Jet-II samples uses the “silver” version of the Cree Q5 emitter (i.e. the area outside central die is silver in color, instead of the standard Cree yellow). These simply reflect different manufacturing plants, and is not generally significant.
The light comes with single o-rings at both ends of the body tube. As you can see, screw threads are unfortunately not anodized, so tailcap lock-out is not possible. Screw threads are thicker than my Jet-I MK IBS, and have the same square design as the Jet-I PRO. Like the Jet-I PRO and other high-end JetBeam and EDGETAC lights, the non-anodized aluminium portions of the body has some sort of anti-oxidant coating that is brassy in color.
As with all JetBeam lights these days, the tailcap switch retaining ring is made of plastic. This is a concern for some, although I haven’t experienced any problems as yet on any of my JetBeam lights.
The reverse clicky switch seems to be larger and more substantial than on the 1AA model lights. It also seems less “stiff” to me, but I suspect that’s partly because of the larger rounded tailcap boot in this case (see my Jet-I MK IBS review for a comparison, and a discussion of potential mods for that light). Unlike the Jet-I MK IBS, I had no trouble accessing the “hidden modes” with the quick 3-time flash in less than one second (see below for an explanation of the interface). A definite improvement!
Early version JetBeam lights tended to have had fairly sharp edges around the tailcap lanyard attachment, but these have been smoothed out in modern models. As you can see, the included black tailcap boot bulges out a bit, so tailstanding is not possible. Personally, I’m willing to trade tailstanding for smoother cliky operation, and this light is certainly quite acceptable in my view.
As you can see, the head contact board has a spring on it, so flat-top RCR batteries can easily make contact. I don’t find the increased resistance due to this second spring to be a problem with any of my protected RCRs or primaries.
Like the Jet-I PRO, the head/reflector assembly unscrews from the emitter/pill, to allow you to easily access the emitter. As you can see, the emitter contacts are insulated from the aluminum reflector by a white plastic disc.
Note that this design also allows you to selectively unscrew the head to de-focus the emitter in the reflector (i.e. make it more "floody"). The purpose of the shiny focus ring is to lock the head at the chosen focus (i.e. unscrew it to match the base of the head, and it locks in place preventing you from accidentally re-tightening the head against the body). Of course, this doesn’t really let you turn a thrower into a flood light, but execution on the Jet-II is better than other focusable lights I've seen. A slight defocus can also be very useful in helping deal with the infamous Cree rings. Some beamshots:
From left to right: maximum unfocused (just before you loose thread traction), to maximum focused
As you can see, the effect is halfway decent, if you don't mind the center "donut" effect at lower output levels. The pics above are just different exposures of max output, but it gives you a pretty a good idea of what different output levels look like at different levels of focus.
All JetBeam lights use PWM, to my knowledge. On this light, the frequency is high enough that I can’t detect it by eye or instrument, even at the lowest output settings.
The IBS circuit allows you to set three defined output states (A, B, C) through a continuously variable brightness mechanism similar to some Liteflux, EdgeTAC, and DBS lights. Interface is the same for all IBS models, and is as follows:
Default settings for the three modes are: A is Default High, B is Default Low, and C is the warning signal/stobe. See my comparison data below for approximate estimates of the relative output levels. There is no memory mode - when switched on each time, the light enters mode A. Lightly press the tail cap button (i.e. quick flash), and the light will go from mode A -> B -> C in cycle.
Changing the Brightness Level
To access the IBS cycle in any of the 3 modes, lightly press the tail cap button three or more times within one second in the mode you want to change. Now in “Brightness Setting” mode, the output will ramp in brightness from Min (5%) to Max (100%) gradually. Once it reaches Max, the light then starts over at Min and repeats the process. A complete cycle is supposed to take about 8 seconds according to the manual, but I’ve found that my engineering sample takes about twice that long (see Ramp graph below). During this process, the light flickers once at Min (5%), twice at 50% output; and three times at Max (100%). Simply turn off the light to select the output level you want, and leave it off for at least ~2 secs. It will then retain this setting the next time you turn the light back on.
Special Functions Mode
After entering the Brightness Setting mode of the Hidden Menu, lightly press the tail cap button once, and the light enters the Special Functions mode - which goes from 1HZ to 15HZ strobe, warning signal, standby signal, 100% SOS and 5% SOS. Again, if you want to select any of these functions, just turn off the light, wait 2 secs, and it will be set for the next time you turn on.
From the Special Functions mode, lightly press the tail cap button once and the light enters Reset mode. Turn the light off, wait 2 secs, and when it comes back on you will be in the factory set default A, B, C settings (i.e. A: Default High brightness; B: Default Low brightness; C: Warning Signal).
I find this interface works pretty well, especially with this improved clicky compared to my Jet-I MK IBS.
For comparison beamshots and a summary of throw and overall output, please scroll down to Part II of this review.
Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's FR.com method. My relative overall output numbers are typically similar to his, although generally a little lower. You can directly compare all my review graphs - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1m using a light meter. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the lowest (5%) setting.
Variable Output Ramping
Below is a graph comparing ramping outputs on both RCR and Surefire primary CR123A batteries. Also included is the Jet-I MK IBS on 14500 for comparison. As you can see, the over ramping pattern is very similar, although my Jet-II seems to be a second or two faster to run through the ramp compared to the Jet-I MK. I haven’t marked the graphs, but the light flashes to indicate 5%, 50%, and 100%.
Note the graph above is presented as % max output. Unlike the Jet-I MK, there is not a great difference between Li-ion and primary batteries with the Jet-II. This is important, since the IBS circuit sets the “50%” output level according to Li-ion output. So while not a big deal when compared to primaries in the Jet-II, this meant that ‘50%” was actually closer to ~90% on standard NiMH/alkaline on the Jet-I MK IBS. See my runtimes below for a discussion of relative efficiency issues on medium modes.
Preliminary Output/runtime observations:
- The maximum output on RCR is very high, ~85 relative units on my scale - but that is likely an underestimate since my lightbox doesn’t handle heavy throwers well. I would say max output is the same as the Jet-I MK IBS on 14500.
- Output/efficiency on RCR is very good, comparable to the Jet-I MK IBS on 14500.
- Output/efficiency on CR123A is similarly good, with no signs of the med-hi efficiency problems of the IBS circuit on NiMH/alkaline (see my Jet-I MK IBS review for a comparison).
- Output on CR123A is fairly close to RCR
- Low output is nice and low – lower than you would typically find on a CR123A/RCR light
- For a runtime comparison of different RCR batteries on Default Hi and 100%, see post #2 below
PART II: Jet-II IBS Comparison Beamshots/Runtimes
For this part of the review, I am going to compare the JB Jet-II IBS (Q5) to two other pocket throwers, the LumaPower D-mini digital (Q2) and Jet-I PRO (R2). I don't believe it's appropriate to directly compare to less throwy lights, since I know my home-made milk carton lightbox underestimates output on these throwers to some degree.
All lights are on max/100% on AW protected RCR ir 14500, about 0.5 meters from a white wall. All lights focused for maximum throw.
As you can see, the Jet-III IBS has the best throw and greatest overall output of all the lights shown (it’s even more noticeable in real life). Tint is white, but with a distinct "pinkish" tint to my eye. Definitely slightly cooler than my relatively warm Dmini-D. I will try to do some longer distance beamshots and add to post #2 below, when available.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
Ceiling Bounce Output: (on RCR/14500 on max/100%)
Jet-II IBS (Q5): 9.4 lux
Dmini-D (Q2): 5.6 lux
Jet-I PRO (R2) 5.4 lux
As you can see, the Jet-II IBS out-throws the Dmini-D on both RCR and CR123A. It’s true my Dmini-D is just a Q2, but it does have a smooth reflector. In contrast, the Jet-II is presumably hampered by its OP reflector, so this result is quite impressive.
In terms of overall output, I would say the ceiling bounce test is the most accurate. My lightbox tends to underestimate the output of really strong throwers like the Jet-II and Dmini-D (less so for the Jet-I PRO). As you can see above, ceiling bounce on the Jet-II is considerably brighter than the other lights, and fairly close to my Jet-I MK IBS result of 9.8.
Weight: (without battery)
Jet-I PRO: 56.6g
Although slightly heavier than the JetBeam published specs, you can see the Jet-II is still quite light for its size. I find it very well balanced and comfortable in the hand, and is not as all "top-heavy".
Note: You can't directly compare the Jet-I PRO's output levels in the graphs above. First off, my AW protected black-label 14500s typically have at least ~10% or greater capacity than AW protected black-label RCRs. Secondly, my milk carton lightbox doesn't handle heavy throwers well, so the DminiD/Jet-II receive lower output ratings than my Jet-I PRO for equivalent output. As you can tell by the ceiling bounce results, the D-miniD on RCR actually has slightly more initial output than the Jet-I PRO on 14500, but my lightbox shows an almost 20% advantage to the Jet-I PRO. So, it seems the max output of the Jet-I Pro is actually closer to ~50% output of the Jet-II. On the basis of these two factors, you should therefore slightly discount all the Jet-I PRO output and runtime values in the graphs above.
Preliminary Output/runtime observations:
- No doubt about it, the Jet-II IBS is best throwing single-cell flashlight in my collection right now.
- Given the incredibly high output on max, it is not recommend you run the light this way for any extended period of time.
- Output/runtime efficiency on RCR seems as good (on med-hi) or better (on low) as the Dmini-D, once you take into account that the Dmini-D is only a Q2. Although the Dmini-D has a good selection of output levels, the Jet-II IBS has the advantage of the continuously variable output range.
- Although the Jet-I PRO seems more efficient on Hi on 14500, this is likely an artifact of my milk carton lightbox and the increased capacity of my 14500 cells (see the note above for an explanation).
Despite its smaller and textured reflector, the Jet-II clearly out-throws my Dmini-D. As I pointed out in my Dmini-D review, although the Dmini-D has a good selection of output levels, it is fixed at a Hi-Med-Lo sequence with no memory mode. In contrast, the 3 set-able states of the Jet-II allows you to choose your output states and sequence.
Although I didn’t include it in this review, the Jet-II clearly has a couple of advantages over the Jet-I MK IBS, which uses the same circuit. Most notably, the Li-ion/lithium primary battery configuration of the Jet-II seems to be the best power source for the new JetBeam IBS circuit. My Jet-I MK IBS suffers from loss of efficiency on lower-voltage standard batteries in the Med-Hi range (acknowledged by JetBeam). But there is no evidence of loss of efficiency on primary CR123A in this configuration.
The Jet-II also has a more substantial reverse clicky that is much easier to activate or flash than my Jet-I MK IBS. This is not a minor point, given the difficulty that I (and others) have had in reliably switching modes or entering the hidden modes of the Jet-I MK IBS. Of course, the Dmini-D has a forward clicky.
The ability to selectively unscrew the head/reflector assembly of the Jet-II allows you to fine-tune or adjust the beam pattern to help reduce Cree rings in the beam. Note that this same ability is also found on Jet-I PRO, but not the Jet-I MK.
More neutral points are the knurling and styling – but I personally prefer the extra grip of the Jet-II over the Jet-I MK.
The downsides to the Jet-II are that the tailcap threads are not anodized - so no tailcap lock-out possible (a feature both the Dmini-D and Jet-I MK possess, but the Jet-I PRO doesn’t). Also, because the clicky projects more, the light can’t tailstand like the Jet-I MK. But I personally consider that later point an acceptable trade-off for easier activation. And of course, the Jet-I MK IBS has a more generally usable beam, with a wider overall spillbeam with and less dedicated throw. However, the Jet-II IBS has a brighter spill area along with massive throw for its size.
As you can tell, I’m very impressed with the new model Jet-II. The IBS circuit seems ideally suited to high-power Li-ion/primary lithium batteries. Sorry little Dmini-D, but the time has come for you to give up your place in my travel bag. I only wish the Jet-II had anodized threads for tailcap lock-out.
For those looking for the brightest “pocket rocket” single CR123A/Li-ion thrower, the Jet-II IBS seems to be it!
But performance on standard batteries is good enough to convince me that it’s also worth upgrading my Jet-I PRO to an IBS circuit once a replacement module is available. That should help us sort out the issue of relative runtime efficiency on AA-size batteries, since I will have both versions to directly compare. And max output on 14500 with an IBS circuit is likely to be almost twice as bright as the current Jet-I PRO circuit.
For a runtime comparison of different RCR batteries on Default Hi and 100%, please see post #2 below.
Jet-III IBS Comparison
I’ve been so impressed with the Jet-II IBS, I thought I’d pick up a Jet-III IBS to compare.
Comparison shot, from left to right: new-style AW protected 18650, Jet-II IBS, Jet-III IBS, Regal WT-1, CPF multi-level (aka VB-16)
The Jet-III is a 18650-sized light that uses the same IBS circuit. Note that since the circuit is designed only for single cell operation, higher-voltage double battery combinations (e.g. 2xCR123A, 2xRCR) are NOT possible. It is probably the smallest 18650-size light I’ve come across.
As you can see, the packaging of the Jet-III is not appreciably different from the Jet II, with wrist lanyard, extra o-rings and tailcap button, warranty card and manual included in the soft cardboard box.
Notice that the head of the Jet-III (on the left) actually seems to use the exact same reflector setup as the Jet-II (on the right). This suggests that throw and output of the Jet-III on 18650 will be exactly the same as the Jet-II on RCR, but with much longer runtime (scroll down to see!). My Jet-III came with an orange o-ring between the lens and bezel.
Unlike the Jet-II, the head of the Jet-III is not focusable, and I don’t see any easy way to access the emitter except by removing the lens/bezel/reflector (which I haven’t tried yet). Like the Jet-II, there’s a spring on the positive contact plate in the head.
Construction of the Jet-III is very study, as you can probably guess from the weight (107.2g for the Jet-III vs 58.3g for the Jet-II). Body tube aluminum seems to be almost a full 1mm thicker than the Jet-II in the center mass, and about 0.3mm thicker at the threads. All my AW protected 18650s and my one Tenergy protected 18650 fit in the light (although the Tenergy is bit snug). The Jet-III feels very solid and well-balanced in the hand.
Like the Jet-II, the threads are thickly cut and square, which should help prevent cross-threading. There’s also a good number of threads on the Jet-III. Unlike the Jet-II, the tailcap threads are anodized, so tailcap battery lockout is now possible.
One welcome addition that the Jet-II lacks is a removable clip. Clip feels pretty sturdy, but protrudes over a section of the light with significant knurling, which could end up being hard on fabrics. The Jet-III also comes with a removable lanyard attachment ring (made of metal).
Although it looks like the light should tailstand, the clicky switch actually protrudes a little too much to make this possible. Switch design seems pretty much identical to the Jet II, which is easier to activate than the Jet-I MK IBS.
UI is exactly the same as the Jet-II IBS or Jet-I MK IBS – all three lights use the same IBS circuit.
Haven’t done beamshots because there really is no difference between the Jet-II/Jet-III beam profiles! My Jet-III emitter is perfectly centered. Tint is very white on the Jet-III (my Jet-II has a very slight pinkish tint).
Output and throw of the Jet-III on 18650 are virtually identical to my Jet-II on RCR – there’s absolutely no significant output/throw difference between the lights. You can refer to my Jet-II throw summary able in part II of this review for more info.
If you would like to compare the Jet-III to other thrower lights, I will be updating my Thrower review with the Jet-III within the next few days.
I’ve only done a couple of higher output levels to showcase the capacity difference of the 18650 and RCR formats. I think the results speak for themselves – as you would expect, you get at least three times the runtime with 18650 …
- If you are looking for the output characteristics of the Jet II in the much longer running 18650 format, with a sturdier build, removable clip, and anodized tailcap threads, the Jet-III is your light.
- If you don’t care about those features and would like to keep the small size, ability to run primaries or RCR, and beam focusability, then go for the Jet-II.
- Throw, output, UI and clicky feel is exactly the same between the lights.