Reviewer's Note: This is a "Mini-Review" of the new Fenix E20. I don't have time right now for a detailed photo comparison, but have included throw, output, runtime, and beamshot comparisons to some of the other 2AA lights available. Fenix E20 was purchased from fenix-store.com
The E20 is Fenix's latest "budget" offering in the 2AA space. Up until now, Fenix "E" series lights denoted the entry-level 1AAA line of lights. These lights were single-stage only, and typically used less-expensive emitters and had lower build quality in keeping with their budget price. That is not to say they were cheaply made - in fact, the E series lights represent excellent value in their price range, IMO. The 2AA E20 carries that tradition on to the 2AA line with a simple single-stage light - but with a few nice features such as a focusable beam and forward clicky.
As you can see, the E20 length is within the range of available 2AA lights (from left to right: Fenix L2D, E20, JetBeam Jet-I PRO EX V2, and MiniMag LED). Note that unlike the others shown above, the E20 cannot tailstand (thanks to the forward clicky).
I haven't done detailed body shots, but construction of the E20 is relatively simple compared to the higher end lights. The knurling is more aggressive on the E20, which helps with "gripability" (if that's a word). Although still well made with good hand feel, overall build quality is not as high as the premium L2D/L2T line. It's hard to describe the difference, but the L2D just has a higher quality feel to me.
All Fenix 2AA lights come with anodized tailcap threads, so tailcap lock-out is possible. Also, the E20 (like the recent L2Ds) offers reverse polarity protection in case you accidentally put the batteries in wrong.
The obvious build difference between the lights is that the single-stage E20 has a wider head with a deeper and wider reflector. It also has a focusable beam feature similar to the infamous MiniMag.
From left to right: MiniMag LED, Fenix E20, L2D
As you can see, the E20 comes with a relatively deep smooth reflector. Although not quite as deep as the MiniMag LED, the reflector is well designed to give you a nice tight hotspot, as you can see below (pics taken ~0.5 m from a white wall, the L2D is on turbo).
As you see in the pics, the E20 (when focussed for maximum throw) gives a good medium-sized hotspot with sharply defined edges, and a relatively dim (but still very usable) spillbeam. In contrast, the OP reflector of the L2D gives you a much smoother transition from hotspot to spill.
So how well does the focusing feature work on the E20? Quite well actually - here are some pics are various levels of focus (taken at ~1 m):
User interface (UI) is quite simple - press the tailcap for on/off, and adjust the head for focus. Tailcap switch is a forward clicky, so you can lightly press for momentary on, and press further for it to lock-on (i.e. click on). You can unscrew the head a fair amount (with corresponding large center beam "donut" effect) before it falls off. Just off from maximally tight is pretty much the best throw, at least on my sample.
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 E20 has less overall output than the L2D on Turbo (it's actually pretty close to the L2D on Hi). Surprisingly, it doesn't have that much additional throw, even when maximally focussed. When handling the two, the E20 certainly looks like it would throw further - but I realize now that this is largely an optical illusion brought upon by its more defined hotspot (and dimmer spillbeam).
As you can see, overall output of the single-stage E20 is actually pretty close to the Hi mode of the L2D, with expected excellent runtime.
I've thrown in runtimes for the older MiniMag LED (luxeon emitter), so you can see how the E20 compares. Basically, you get nearly three times the output for ~40% reduction in runtime.
Just for kicks, I thought I'd also show you the original incandescdent MiniMag most of us grew up on. Here, you can see roughly six times the output for a ~45% reduction in runtime.
UPDATE 8/20/08: Here are the runtimes on Duracell alkaline, with the L2T V2 (RB080) added into the mix:
As you can see, the relative performance of the E20 is quite good, with excellent regulation. But this is also true of the L2D-Q5, which is similarly very well regulated at its Hi setting. The L2T V2 RB080 doesn't stay as fully regulated for as long, but I'm not sure if that's because of the Rebel emitter or the fact that it is running at a higher drive current/output level than the other lights.
The E20 certainly does a good job in besting the venerable MiniMag in the output department while providing a good focusing feature and forward clicky to boot. Regulation and runtime are excellent as always, and Fenix lights don't have the rapid drop-to-zero output the MiniMag LED 2AA suffered from on all cells. E20 Build quality is certainly acceptable for general use, even if doesn't seem quite as high as the L2D.
So, that all sounds pretty good - makes this an easy recommendation for a "budget" quality light with a good mix of features, right?
Well, yes and no. While all the above is true, I think its easy for us to forget just how bright LED lights have become. Frankly, I find this single-stage light way too bright for regular tasks around the house at night. I certainly wouldn't even consider it for up-close tasks like poking around inside a computer, looking under cupboards, etc - all tasks the original MiniMag became legendary for. Without a low mode, I'm afraid this light is relegated to mainly outdoor use. Simply put, it's more a replacement for 2- or 3-cell Mag than the MiniMag!
Of course, YMMV, but I think most users would be better served by the slightly more expensive two-stage L2T series (which also comes with a forward clicky but no focusing feature). Personally, I can count on one hand the number of times I defocussed by old MiniMag back in the day. I think availability of a low mode (with corresponding increase in runtime) is worth far more in a general purpose light. And if you can afford it, the L2D is an incredibly versatile light at a great price. Although I haven't reviewed the current L2T Q2, you can see the earlier L2T RB080 and L2D Q2 in my Fenix 2AA comparison review - that should give you a pretty good idea what to expect.
Of course, if you are looking for a very bright "economical" single-stage 2AA light with a focussing feature and decent build quality, then the Fenix E20 is for you. It could make a great basic bike light, for example. The defocusing also means you can make it into a somewhat "floody" beam (although still with relatively narrow spill). But with so many options available (both from Fenix and all the other makers), just make sure you think carefully about how you plan to use the light first. As always, it's a question of the right tool for the right job.