Reviewer's Note: This is a review of the new ST version of the JetBeam Jet-III PRO flashlight. The Jet-III PRO ST was supplied by JetBeam for review.
UPDATE 12/15/08: The circuit on my original ST appears to have been defective, with reduced regulation and abnormally low runtime. JetBeam has sent me a replacement model, and I've updated this review where appropriate. There are some minor build improvements too.
JetBeam recently revised all their flashlight series to include their continuously-variable circuit (IBS, or "Infinite Brightness System"). The original Jet-III PRO IBS was the first 18650-only light to use an IBS circuit, and contained a relatively "throwy" head of similar size as the original 1xCR123A/RCR Jet-II IBS.
The Jet-III series has now been updated with two new members - an Ultra version, with a slightly bigger build and larger head for even more throw, and a scaled-down "slim tube" ST version (reviewed here). Along there way, there have also been some incremental updates to the IBS circuit.
UPDATE: A full review of new member of the Jet-III family - the Military version with multi-power support - is now available.
Jet-III PRO ST specs from the manufacturer:
- LED: CREE 7090 XR-E (Q5 bin)
- Max Output: 225 Lumen (Torch Lumen)
- Reflector: aluminum reflector
- Lens: Sapphire crystal
- Tailcap lock-out function
- Material: T6061 T6 aircraft aluminum alloy
- Finish: HA III Military grade hard annodized
- Battery: one 18650 Rechargeable Lithium Battery
- Input voltage: 0.7-4.2V
- Switch: Forward clicky with metal switch retaining ring
- Waterproof: Accord to IPX-8 standard
- Dimension: Bezel diameter 25mm, Tail diameter 25mm, Overall length 120mm
- Weight: 65g(without battery)
First thing I noticed is the packaging has also been updated - the Jet-III PRO ST comes in a hard shell cardboard box with a magnetic retaining clasp. This is a great improvement over the thin paper box of the original Jet-III that could easily show up somewhat "smushed" in the mail.
The light comes with warranty card, instruction manual, spare o-rings, good quality wrist lanyard, and an extra forward clicky switch with metal retaining ring and replacement boot cover. A standard reverse clicky with plastic retaining ring came installed in the light. Interestingly, the manual still depicts the original Jet-III PRO IBS in its illustrations.
Please see my original Jet-II IBS & Jet-III PRO review for pics of the original Jet-III PRO.
The replacement ST sample JetBeam sent me came with a smooth reflector instead of orange-peel. I have updated my summary table later in this review to include both sets of values.
From left to right: AW protected 18650, Jet-III PRO ST, original Jet-III PRO IBS, Romisen RC-M4, ITP C6, Regalight WT-1
Jet-III PRO IBS: Weight 107.0g, Length 129.2mm, Width 23.3mm (body) 33.6mm (bezel)
Jet-III PRO ST: Weight 75.0g, Length 121.5mm, Width 23.3mm (body), 25.0mm (bezel)
A lot has changed on this model. The ST has a very streamlined look and feel in comparison to the more "bulky" original Jet-III PRO. Overall height, width and weight are all less now (although still fairly substantial with good hand feel). I no longer have my Fenix P3D to compare, but I recall it had thinner construction and shorter overall length. The Jet-III ST body tube easily accommodates all my AW protected 18650 cells.
The removable clip and lanyard attachment of the original Jet-III PRO are now gone on the ST. Overall diameter remains relatively consistent across the length of the ST, and an anti-roll ridge has been added near the base of the head. New on this ST model is a very attractive stainless steel lens retaining ring (replacing the black plastic one of the Jet-III PRO).
Type III anodizing is flawless on my sample, and a bit more of chocolate-brown colour (which I personally like). Lettering is crisper and sharper than most of my other JetBeam lights.
Newer IBS lights now lack the previously common 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. This provides reverse battery polarity protection, which wasn't available on the original Jet-III PRO. I haven't experienced any problems with any of my flat-top AW protected 18650s making contact with this new setup.
Note the IBS circuit has also received a few upgrades, but they don't make much a difference on the 18650-only Jet-IIIs (e.g. the circuit now has improved ramping sequence and default output levels on 1.2V-1.5V AA batteries - see my Jet-I PRO EX V2 review for a discussion).
The light still retains the high quality, thick square-cut screw threads - although the anti-oxidant coating seems to be gone. Note that the tailcap has anodizing along its interior surface, allowing for tailcap lockout.
Top is the original ST, bottom is the replacement ST. As you can see, the tailcap threads are now anodized on both the body tail-region screw threads as well as the actual tailcap threads (previously, only the tailcap threads were anodized). It is always better to have both sets of threads anodized, since otherwise a scratch of the anodizing in the tailcap could compromise the tailcap lock-out. Note that the replacement ST came with the forward clicky installed by default.
The reverse clicky spring has been elongated from earlier models. With the reverse clicky installed, the light can now tailstand, thanks to a new tailcap design. And here's something for all you "tactical" fans - a forward clicky with a metal switch retaining ring is now included.
Although the forward clicky switch assembly comes with a new boot cover (without the interior projecting nipple portion), the boot cover/switch still protrudes too far out the back with the forward clicky installed to allow tailstanding. The switch retaining ring also rests a bit further forward up the tailcap, preventing it from screwing as far down on the body (it still covers the bottom o-ring, so waterproofness should not be affected).
Note that the IBS interface was designed for a reverse clicky, so it is a bit trickier to access programming modes with the forward clicky installed (i.e. you have to fully click-and-release to turn on the light, flash 3 times, then half-press to start the ramping, and only release when you want to stop the ramp).
For beamshots, I've kept it simple with just a comparison to the original Jet-III PRO IBS. Both lights are on max on AW protected 18650 batteries, ~0.5 m for a white wall.
As you see in the pics, the beam is less ringy on the ST, but with less throw. See below for the summary chart and runtimes comparisons. Tint is also cooler compared to my Jet-III PRO IBS - although both would be considered quite white.
Since the replacement ST came with a SMO reflector, I've done beamshots of both units side-by-side, at around the Default Hi output level.
As you can see, there is a small increase in throw with the SMO reflector, but the OP reflector does help smooth out the Cree rings. The tint of the replacement ST is also warmer, but that simply reflects the lottery for cool white tint bins. See the Summary Table below for more info on throw for the reflectors.
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:
I've thrown a few other continuously-variable lights into the mix for comparison. All lights are 18650-only, except for the ITP C6/C6T which are multi-power lights. As you can see, the ST has less throw than the other lights (which are all bulkier with larger reflectors). See the runtimes below for a greater discussion of the output levels and their performance.
Variable Output Ramping
As you can see, ramping is virtually unchanged from the original Jet-III PRO IBS.
The replacement ST sample now performs as expected - runtime performance is very close to my original Jet-III IBS PRO, which shares the same circuit.
The original ST sample had reduced efficiency (although still within the range of other continuously-variable lights), and incomplete regulation at high settings. This seems to have been an anomaly, and the replacement light is behaving as expected.
The multi-power ITP C6/C6T lights outperform on 18650 due to their partially regulated/direct-drive circuit design (which is generally more efficient that fully regulated, but less popular with many members here).
To be honest, I had not expected to like the Jet-III PRO ST form factor as much as I do. I tend to go for dedicated throwers in this class of lights (which are bulkier), as well as lights with removable clips or bundled holsters. But the ST is a real pleasure to hold in the hand, and has a very useful general beam for everyday use. It's also small enough to be pocketable (although there are smaller 2xCR123A lights around - like the Fenix P3D).
Build quality is very high, and the included option of the forward clicky should go some way with the tactical crowd. Personally, I'm happy to stick with the standard reverse clicky - which the IBS was designed to work with - as programming can be a bit more cumbersome with a forward clicky (i.e. have to remember to keep half-pressing after each programming step). The light can also tailstand with the reverse clicky installed, which is another bonus.
The ST is designed for those that like a smaller light with more elegant styling. I've noticed a strong trend recently to move away from thin-walled lights toward lights with thicker aluminium bodies and bulkier external styling (e.g. Fenix "Tank" series). I suspect the Ultra version of the Jet-III would likely fit in pretty well with these newer bulky lights. Of course, styling is a matter of personal taste. For me, I like the hand-feel the ST. And it is certainly no slouch in the build department - I no longer have my P3D to directly compare, but the ST feels more substantial than I remember the P3D being.
The newer Jet-III offerings - the slim-lined ST and throwy Ultra - are definitely worthy upgrades to the Jet-III line. IMO, the only thing missing from these lights is the ability to run on 2xCR123A primaries. However, I understand JetBeam is coming out with a Military version of the Ultra with a revised circuit that should address this issue. Of course, I would have to see the circuit performance of this new light before drawing any conclusions (e.g. multi-power lights are typically only partially regulated on 18650 - see my ITP C6/C6T review for sample output/runtime performance). Not that that is a bad thing by any means - it's actually far more efficient - but I know a lot members here appreciate flat regulation.
UPDATE: My JetBeam Jet-III M review is now up.
As always, it comes down to your personal preference. I find I really like the relatively small size and smooth beam of the ST, so I plan to keep it on my desk for use around the outside of my house (right next to my RaidFire Spear and Lumapower MRV).