Reviewer's Note: The Jet-I PRO EX V2.0 was supplied for review by JetBeam.
The Jet-I PRO EX V2.0 features the second generation of JetBeam's continuously-variable circuit (IBS), in this case in 1AA/2AA "thrower" format. Although I don't have the first-generation Jet-I PRO EX to compare to, a number of build improvements are obvious from the early pics and will be discussed here in Part I of this review.
Observant viewers will also note that the head of this unit looks a lot like the new IBS version of the 1AA Jet-I PRO - and that's because it is (i.e. they use the same head). As such, in Part II of this review, I will provide some 1AA comparisons of this head to the original non-IBS Jet-I PRO that I reviewed, as well as the first-generation IBS circuit reviewed here: Jet-I MK IBS.
Finally, in Part III, I will discuss the relative advantages of this new IBS circuit in this 2AA format in regards to the earlier lights (both non-IBS and first-gen IBS).
Part I: Build Overview of the Jet-I PRO EX V2.0
The Jet-I EX V2.0 packaging is similar to other modern JetBeam lights, although the foam inserts seem to be made of stiffer foam. The box is made of light cardboard, held closed by a magnetic clasp. Inside, you'll see it comes with warranty card, manual, wrist lanyard, and spare parts (o-rings, tailcap cover). As with other JetBeam lights, the quality of the lanyard seems pretty good.
Length x Width: 156mm x 25.7mm (head) or 20.3mm (tail)
Body length is about what I would expect for a 2xAA light.
Above is a comparison pic up against other 2AA lights, like the Fenix L2D, original incan Mini-Mag, and Mini-Mag LED (lux), and the original 1AA Jet-I PRO. Note that I haven't done runtimes for the non-JetBeam lights yet.
Fit and finish is the usual high quality on my sample - although lettering is somewhat inconsistent (unfortunately also common for JetBeam). The light comes in a dark grey "natural" HA (type III) finish, similar to other JetBeam lights. Note there is some anodizing colour mismatch between the head and body on my sample (again, not uncommon with this colour finish). The included metal clip is detachable. IMO, styling is definitely improved over the plain-looking original Jet-I EX model. The knurling is typical for JetBeam - not overly aggressive, but typically more raised than most Asian manufacturers.
As you can see from the head shot, the business end of this flashlight is similar to my first edition Jet-I PRO. This same head is sold on the current Jet-I PRO IBS, and now comes with a textured OP reflector and dark gray retaining ring (instead of the original brass-coloured one). My sample features the new "silver" backed Cree that comes from the Asian Cree assembly plant. Like the Jet-I PRO, the reflector is deeper and wider than most AA lights, to provide enhanced throw.
The light engine can no longer be unscrewed from the head/reflector as on the original Jet-I PRO. It also lacks the typical JetBeam spring at the base of the light engine. Instead, the head unit has an enlarged screw base height and a new contact plate with distinct metal regions. Here's a better view comparing to the original Jet-I PRO (on the right):
As I suspected from this design, and confirmed by JetBeam, this new IBS version has reverse battery polarity protection. The original IBS design (with the metal spring in the head) did not have this feature. You will find this new circuit design/contact disc in all new JetBeam IBS lights (i.e. upcoming Jet-III models).
Note the presence of square screw threads at both the head and tail regions of this light (a favourite with machinists, and rare on flashlights). Tailcap screw threads are anodized, allowing for tailcap lock-out.
JetBeam is coming out with a new tailcap design with a forward clicky and metal switch retaining ring - beginning with their Jet-III series lights. The tailcap of this Jet-I EX V2.0 is a slightly revised version of the original JetBeam reverse-clicky. Basically, the tailcap switch cover projects out further than the original 1AA tailcap, making it easier to press. The light can still tailstand - but now does so by resting entirely on the tailcap cover and not the aluminum body (see pic below). This reduces stability when placing it down, but still seems to work in a pinch - and is a reasonable compromise given the complaints over the stiffness of the original switch design.
Features and User Interface
All Jetbeam lights use PWM for their low modes, to my knowledge. On all the IBS-driven lights I've tested (this one included), the frequency is high enough that I can't detect it by eye or instrument, even at the lowest output settings.
The UI is similar for all the IBS models. There are 3 defined output states (A, B, and C) that you can set independently. The circuit features a continuously variable brightness mechanism (which flashes at 5%, 50%, and 100%), as well as a wide-range of strobe/SOS frequencies and intensities. For info on the UI, please see my original Jet-I MK IBS review.
Part II: Comparison Review
Since the head of the Jet-I PRO EX V2.0 is the same as the currently shipping Jet-I PRO IBS, I've decided to do a little swapping with my original Jet-I PRO to compare the performance (with the original Jet-I MK IBS also thrown into the mix).
From left to right, new Jet-I PRO EX V2, original Jet-I PRO, and Jet-I MK IBS.
First, here's a score-card of some of the significant changes to recent JetBeam 1AA/2AA series of lights, in rough chronological order:
- Jet-I PRO (shown above): 1AA, Cree R2 emitter, "throwy" head, traditional 3-output level circuit. Circuit had significant efficiency problems on Med on 14500 (i.e. less output and less runtime than Hi on 14500). Now discontinued.
- Jet-I MK IBS - aka MKI IBS, MKII IBS (shown above): 1AA, Cree Q5, traditional head, continuously-variable IBS circuit. IBS Circuit common to Jet-II/III IBS lights. Circuit had some relative efficiency problems on Med levels on standard batteries (i.e. less output but equivalent runtime), but performed well otherwise. Non-linear ramp on standard batteries. Now discontinued.
- Jet-I PRO EX (not tested): 2AA, Cree Q5 emitter, "throwy" head, basically a 2AA version of the Jet-I PRO with the original IBS circuit described above. Now discontinued.
- Jet-I PRO EX V2 (shown above): 2AA, Cree Q5 emitter, "throwy" head, uses new variant of the IBS circuit discussed below.
- Jet-I PRO IBS (not shown, but output/runtime simulated using the head from my Jet-I PRO EX V2 on my Jet-I PRO body): 1AA, Cree Q5 emitter, "throwy" head, uses new variant of the IBS circuit discussed below. Currently available.
Hope that helps - I know it's hard to keep track of all these variants.
A few additional comments about the head builds. As I mentioned in Part I, the PRO EX V2 head features a revised IBS circuit and contact plate. However, the screw threads retain the same relative dimensions as the original Jet-I PRO, so you should in theory be able to swap heads among the two bodies. But what about the height? Here's another view of the new head on the left, and the old Jet-I PRO on the right:
As you can see above, the new head has more threads than the old one. This means that you can fully screw down the old Jet-I PRO head onto the new PRO EX V2 body (and presumably the new Jet-I PRO IBS body). But the new Jet-I PRO EX V2 head can only screw down part-way on the old Jet-I PRO body (see pic below).
This is not a big deal for testing purposes, but it would clearly loose water-proofness if run this way (not recommended). If you want to upgrade your original Jet-I PRO, check with your dealer to see if they ordered any extra replacement heads with the new IBS circuit that will fit the older body (a limited run of these was done by JetBeam, at users' request).
Both lights are on 100% on 2650mAh NiMH (Duracell), about 0.5 meters from a white wall.
As you would expect, the 2AA Jet-I PRO EX V2 is brighter overall than the 1AA Jet-I PRO. Beam profile is similar, but the new lens retaining ring is clearly a bit thicker than the old brass one, as its design shows up in the periphery of the beam. The new OP reflector helps smooth out the Cree rings considerably.
Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the extended run Lo/Min modes which are done without cooling.
Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1 meter from the lens, using a light meter.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
As you can see, the 2AA Jet-I PRO EX V2 is brighter on standard batteries than either the original 1AA Jet-I PRO or Jet-I MK IBS. However, when the new IBS head is run in 1AA format, max output appears lower on standard batteries than the other 1AA lights. On 14500, output of the new head is intermediate to the original Jet-I PRO and Jet-I MK IBS. See runtimes below for more info.
UPDATE: I've just added to this summary chart a throw comparison of the old smooth reflector to the new textured OP one, matched to a common overall output. As you can see, when matched for the same output by lightbox or ceiling bounce, peak throw is only reduced by <3% on the OP reflector. Nice job!
Variable Output Ramping
In addition to the slight reduction in max output on this new IBS circuit, the ramping sequence has been altered. In the original circuit, ramping was roughly visually linear for 3.7V Li-ions, but not at all linear for standard batteries (NiMH/alkaline). This meant relatively little output difference between the 50% flash, Default Hi, or Max on standard batteries.
As you can see in the graph above, JetBeam has fixed this issue for the new IBS circuit on standard batteries. Given that the Jet-I PRO EX V2 body is designed to only use standard batteries, this is a welcomed improvement.
I realize some of these graphs are a bit busy, but this was the simplest way to compare everything all at once. See my score-card explanation at the beginning of this section to understand what the light names refer to.
Again, note that the Jet-I PRO EX V2 is a 2AA light, and the others are all 1AA.
- The new IBS circuit has a better ramp on standard batteries than the original IBS circuit, making it much easier to choose your desired output level.
- As expected, the new 2AA version (Jet-I PRO EX V2) has typically greater output and greater runtime than 1AA versions of the same or older circuits.
- At the lower output modes on standard batteries, this new IBS circuit is considerably more output/runtime efficient when run in 2AA format compared to 1AA (check out the Alkaline and Eneloop low mode graphs).
- Unfortunately, the somewhat reduced relative efficiency of the IBS circuit at the Med-Hi range on standard batteries still seems to be present on this revised circuit. But the extra runtime and output of the 2AA format helps compensate for this.
- The IBS circuit lacks the known efficiency issues of the original non-IBS Jet-I PRO (R2) in the Med-Hi range, and is a considerable improvement for this battery type at all levels.
- Max outputs of my Jet-I PRO EX V2 head on various battery types seem a bit lower than my other IBS lights. This may just be luck of the draw as to where the emitter fell in its output bin rank.
Part III: Preliminary Discussion
The Jet-I PRO EX V2 features a number of incremental build and circuit improvements over the original Jet-I PRO EX body and original IBS circuit. I'll discuss these separately, as well as the relative benefits over the earlier non-IBS circuit in the original Jet-I PRO.
1AA/2AA Build Changes:
- The body styling of the Jet-I PRO EX V2 is a definite improvement over the original Jet-I PRO EX model, IMO. Hand feel and grip is good.
- The new head comes with a textured OP reflector that does an excellent job of reducing Cree rings without affecting throw (when matched for the same output level, throw was only reduced by <3% with the OP in my testing). Good job on the OP design.
- The brass-colored lens retaining ring has been replaced with a thicker dark gray one that is somewhat visible at the periphery of the beam. Personal preference, but I liked the look of the brass one better.
- The switch is still a reverse clicky and the tailcap switch retaining ring is still plastic, but the feel is definitely improved over the original 1AA lights. Much easier to press, and tailstanding is still possible (although less steady, since it rests entirely on the tailcap cover).
- The clip remains the same, and is removable.
- The contact disc in the head has been revised from previous models, and no longer has a spring (see discussion below). This may make it difficult to run older-style 14500 batteries without a raised positive contact button.
IBS Circuit Changes:
- The new IBS circuit has a revised ramping sequence that is now visually linear on standard batteries. This is very welcome, especially for the 1AA/2AA series lights.
- The revised circuit now features reverse polarity protection thanks to the redesigned contact disc in the head. This revised circuit will be included in the upcoming Jet-III PRO U & ST models.
- Although the IBS circuit is known to be relatively less efficient at the Med-Hi range on standard batteries, the ability to run in 2AA format is a great help. Note that that 2AA format seems to offer considerable runtime improvement at the lower output levels, compared to the 1AA mode (i.e. look at the low mode Alkaline and Eneloop runs).
Is the new version of the 1AA Jet-I PRO with the IBS circuit a worthwhile upgrade?
- If you use predominantly 14500 batteries, then you will see definite improvements in runtime and max output - plus of course a continuously-variable interface with much lower low modes. What's not to love?
- If you use standard batteries, you won't see an increase in max output (in fact, mine dropped slightly) or runtime efficiency at the medium levels. But you do get much lower low modes and a continuously-variable interface with appropriate visually linear ramp.
- In terms of build, I definitely like the improved reverse clicky switch, and am impressed that the OP reflector throws as well as it does. I personally miss the brass lens retaining ring, though.
(Preliminary) Last Word
It's nice to see the incremental changes JetBeam has brought into the design of their newest IBS lights. Although most of these are more evolutionary than revolutionary at this point, I know further changes and new model designs are in the works (e.g. forward clickies with metal switch retaining rings). I personally like the build quality of JetBeam lights, and find the new designs stylish and functional.
Given the already-known reduced output/runtime efficiency of the IBS circuit in the Med-Hi range on standard batteries, it's good to have this 2AA format to give you extended runtimes. Interestingly, the efficiency of the IBS circuit seems to be noticeably better on 2AA compared to 1AA at the lower output ranges (Eneloop runtimes just added, along with the Default Lo mode alkaline run).
Of course, overall output/runtime efficiency of the Jet-I PRO on 2AA is not likely to compete with current-controlled lights like those from Fenix and Olight. But that's not the only feature to compare - you also need to consider the relative performance and regulation on the battery type you plan to use, the range and number of output levels available, the user interface, the build and beam characteristics, etc. The Jet-I PRO EX V2.0 has a lot going for it if you are specifically looking for an AA light with great throw, or one that can do really low lo modes (or want a continuously-variable interface, etc., etc.).
My main recommendation at this point would be for JetBeam to make available for sale individual 1AA/2AA body tubes. Given the improved runtimes of the double-cell format, a 2AA tube for the 1AA Jet-I PRO would be a real winner for those wanting to use standard batteries. And given the well-regulated, uniformly good output/runtime performance of this circuit on 3.7V Li-ion, a 1AA battery tube for EX owners would be a real plus to allow you to use a single 14500.
Personally, I'm glad to see JetBeam's commitment to keeping the 1AA/2AA form factor going. It all results in more choice for consumers to pick a light that best meets their needs.