Reviewer's Note: The Avenger GX was provided for review by Ricky at Lumapower. Please see his Dealer's thread in CPFM for more info.
Warning: Pic heavy!
Manufacturer's specifications, as taken from Lumapower's CPFMP thread:
- LED : CREE XP-E R2
- Input voltage : 0.9V – 3.3V (i.e. 10440 is NOT accepted)
- Convertible design with both clicky and twisty style tailcaps included
- Removable pocket clip allows bezel up or down carry
- Removable swivel keychain holder and lanyard
- GITD o-ring and tailcap cover
- 3 Brightness levels with digital control, from Low to Medium to High
- Forward clicky allows momentary option (half press to select output level, full press to lock it)
- 1 second memory
- With twisty tailcap, tailstanding is possible (i.e. candle mode)
- Optimized for NiMH
- Digital reverse polarity protection
- Double side AR-coated lens
- High reflective SMO type metal reflector
- High grade aircraft T6061 aluminum
- Aggressive knurling for better grip
- Type III (HA) coating (black)
- 75 lumens on Hi, nearly 90 mins on AAA NiMH
- 20 lumens on Med, with 3 hours 40 mins runtime
- 4 lumens on Lo, with 15 hours runtime
The Avenger GX is the latest 1xAAA light in the Lumapower “EDC” family of easy-to-use, easy-to-carry lights.
Like the Incendio (1xCR123A/RCR), Connexion (1xAA, 2xAA), and Encore lights (1x18650) I have reviewed previously, this light uses a simple three-stage current-controlled output circuit (i.e. no strobe or SOS modes). While typically not the brightest members of their class, the EDC line of lights usually show excellent output/runtime efficiency in a remarkably small form factor. Let’s see how the Avenger GX does ...
The Avenger GX packaging is similar to the other EDC models. The light comes with a forward-clicky GITD tailcap installed, and the package contains a replacement twisty tailcap, manual, warranty card, keychain clip, wrist strap, two pocket clips (one black, one stainless steel), spare o-rings and black clicky tailcap cover. Not shown are the two 900mAh NiMH batteries Lumapower bundled with mine for testing purposes.
(from left to right: 1xAAA Duracell, LF2XT Natural, Lumapower Avenger GX, Fenix L0D, JetBeam Jet-µ, Nitecore EZAA, LF2XT Black)
Although a bit long for a 1xAAA light with the protruding forward clicky switch tailcap installed, the twisty tailcap lowers the height considerably. Overall weight and size feel fine to me, in either format.
Weight: 22.9g (with Clicky switch), 22.0g (with twisty switch)
Length x Width: 93.8mm (with clicky switch) or 86.7mm (with twisty switch) x 15.2mm (bezel widest portion)
Clicky feel is fairly stiff, so accidental momentary activation is less likely to occur (and you need a fair amount of force to lock-on). Note that there is no hole in the clicky tailcap for keychain carry (only on the twisty tailcap), so you need to wrap the keychain clip holder around the pocket clip on the clicky-version if you want to carry it on a keychain.
Fit and finish on all portions is very good on my sample. The labels are clear and the type-III hard anodizing had no chips or flaws. Note that the head screw threads are anodized, so head lock-out is possible (no anodizing on tailcap threads).
Knurling is fairly generous on the head – combined with the concentric raised portions, grip is quite good. The optional pocket clips would provide an anti-roll feature – they fit fairly snuggly, so there is little risk of them popping off accidentally.
And of course, the light can tailstand in the twisty version.
The light uses the new smaller Cree XP-E emitter, currently with a cool white R2 output bin. I would estimate my sample is a WG-WH tint (i.e. on the warmer yellow-green end of the cool white tints), but of course yours could be different. For more information on tints and color perception, please see my Colour tint comparison and the summary LED tint charts found here.
Typically, most XP-E emitters I’ve seen have come with textured reflectors, thus virtually eliminating any potential Cree “rings” in the beam. I don’t know why, but the Avenger GX comes with a smooth reflector. This produces a more sharply defined hotspot, but also introduces a few rings into the beam.
All lights are on 100% on Sanyo Eneloop (NiMH), about 0.5 meters from a white wall.
The camera is accentuating the tint difference a bit, but the Fenix L0D (older Cree P4 model) does indeed have a slight bluish Cool White tint. The Lumapower Avenger GX is not quite as warm as it seems, although still on warm end of Cool White (maybe a WG-WH tint). The LF2XT is not as orange as the pic above suggests – a lot more yellow (4C neutral tint).
The Avenger GX is very similar to all the Lumapower EDC lights – they all use a classic keep-it-simple interface.
With the forward clicky switch tailcap installed, press the clicky for momentary on, click for lock on. The 3 output levels advance in sequence from Lo to Hi in repeating fashion by soft-pressing on the clicky.
Light has a memory mode to retain the last setting used when you turn it off (i.e. comes back on at that level). One improvement is that the memorization delay is only 1 sec now (it was ~2-3 secs on the original Incendio/Encore members of the family).
UPDATE July 6, 2009: Unlike other Lumapower EDC lights, the Avenger GX uses pulse-width-modulation (PWM) for its low and medium modes. This is common on 1xAAA lights, since it is apparently difficult to fit a current-controlled driver in such a small head. I tested the frequency I found it to be 1.31 kHz (i.e. 1310 cycles per second) on both Med and Lo on NiMH batteries.
Avenger GX on Lo
Avenger GX on Hi
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 (i.e. >12 hours) 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:
Note in the comparison above that my Fenix L0D is an early edition with a Cree P4. Based on a 350mA drive current (where Cree Output bins are determined), a Cree Q4 emitter would be expected to be ~25% brighter on average, and a Cree R2 would be ~40% brighter on average, for the same drive current. Note there is typically a ~7% output range over which an emitter is binned, so those numbers are just representational averages.
Like the other members of the Lumapower EDC line, max output is kept at regulated level just below the max possible output for a given emitter emitter/battery combo. Please see the runtimes below for a more accurate picture of the performance of the Avenger GX.
Please note that I do not have many modern 1xAAA lights to compare to, so take the representative runtimes shown here with a big grain of salt.
The members of the Lumapower EDC line-up consistently have slightly lower Max output compared to other lights of their class – but feature incredibly flat runtime regulation. The same can be seen here for the Avenger GX – especially on NiMH/Eneloop (which the Avenger GX seems to be optimized for).
What isn’t as impressive is the alkaline performance. Of course, I don’t recommend running modern lights on alkalines (given the propensity of alkalines to leak and potentially damage the light they are in). The exception is L92 lithiums - like NiMH, the Avenger GX does well here (only Hi tested).
On Lo/Med modes, Avenger GX runtime performance is certainly acceptable. But based on this limited runtime data, the Avenger GX appears to be closer to what you might expect from a Fenix L0D with a Q2 emitter, as opposed to a R2 emitter. However, I suspect this is largely due to Vf variation among my samples. Since none of the manufacturers seem to buy emitters with defined Vf bins, you don’t know what you are going to get.
I have reason to believe my L0D (Cree P4) has a particularly low Vf (which would translate into longer runtime on lower output modes). My LF2XT #1 sample also seems to be an exceptionally strong performer, and may not be indicative of typical for that model. It is possible my Avenger GX just happens to have a LED with a relatively high Vf, leading to lower runtimes on Lo/Med.
As always, don’t read too much into low mode runtime data from a single review sample.
With the clicky tailcap installed, the light is a bit longer than typical. Keychain carry in this format would also require use of the additional pocket clip, increasing bulk. The forward clicky switch is also a bit stiff, and I have some concerns for its long-term reliability (see post #2 for a discussion)
The smooth reflector enhances throw, but leads to greater rings in the beam compared to other Cree XP-E lights with textured reflectors. Still not as bad as a typical XR-E emitter with a smooth reflector, though.
Li-ion (i.e. 10440) cannot be used in the Avenger GX.
As is common on multi-stage 1xAAA lights, the Avenger GX uses PWM for its low modes. However the frequency is high enough (1.31 kHz) as to not be noticeable in everyday use (although it is detectable if you go looking for it).
As with my previous reviews of the Lumapower EDC line, I generally like the approach Lumapower has taken with this series. Early EDC series lights had some issues regarding switch accessibility, anodizing, and general build construction. These were revised and improved over successive launches, and I am glad some of the improved features have made it into this new Avenger GX.
I particularly like the ability to switch between a forward clicky and twisty tailcap. I can’t think of any other 1xAAA light where you can easily do this. I suppose you could stick a Fenix L0D/LD01 head on the Streamlight Microstream clicky body – but this is not a particularly elegant solution, IMO. Kudos to Lumapower for providing both options in the standard package.
Speaking of the package, there are a good number of extras here. The pocket clip fits on very snug, and the extra color one is nice touch. The only thing missing is a better way to attach the clicky tailcap version to a keychain (i.e. maybe a removable clip ring?).
Circuit-wise, I continue to be impressed with the decision of Lumapower to go for just sub-maximal output on Hi on the EDC line. This typically provides for a nice balance of output, runtime, flat regulation, and low heat, which is preferable over running at full tilt (especially for lower capacity 1xAAA batteries). Med/Lo runtime performance was certainly acceptable, although not stellar on my sample (again, likely due to normal Vf variation and my lone review sample).
For a KISS light that moves through all modes in sequence, I’m glad to see no SOS or strobe in there. They are fine for lights with hidden modes, but you don’t want to see them all the time on an a simple EDC light like this one. And the Lo-Med-Hi sequence continues to make the most sense to me.
At the end of the day, this is not going to be a "sexy" light for those who like all the bells and whistles. But I think it does provide another reasonable choice in the EDC realm - especially for those that like a forward clicky.