For consideration for flashlight reviews
Lumapower Mentor Tool-Light review
Mentor: Websters Dictionary defines a mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide”. What better to guide you through the night than a Lumapower Mentor?
Lumapower has come out with a new line of lights, named, the Tool-light series. This series features high-performance value lights that emphasize solid construction and high efficiency.
The Mentor is the first model of the series and runs on 1 or 2 C cells. It can run effectively on alkaline cells but achieves highest performance when used with NiMH cells.
Ricky at Lumapower sent me a neutral tint (Cree Q3 5A bin) review sample of this latest release. Here’s a thorough evaluation of this solid light.
Specs and Information
The mentor is a multi-mode C cell light that has 3 levels, selected by the forward clicky. It features an enhanced version of the Lumapower EDC UI, named “Smart UI” and will be described below.
The specifications (as quoted from Lumapower) are as follows:
Standard LED: Cree XR-E
3 versions are available to satisfy most anyone!
Q5 (WC/WD) Version: (Max ~200 Lumens) (Standard model)
R2 (WC/WD) Version: (Max ~225 Lumens) (Higher output model)
Q3-5A version: (Max ~150L Lumens ) (Neutral tint model)
Powered by 2xC-size Alkaline or NiMH batteries, the MENTOR can also be used on 1xC for emergencies (with lower output).
Runtime: 2.5hrs on high (2 x C 5000mah Nimh)
- 3 output levels (no SOS/Strobe, low-medium-high mode sequence)
- 2-way memory locking system (Smart UI)
- Electronic battery polarity protection
- Forward clicky with momentary-on. Tailcap lockout available.
- Square threads
- Double side AR-coated lens
- OP textured reflector
- Anti-roll features and tail-stand capable
- Type III Hard Anodized (Black)
Standard 2xC Dimensions:
- Overall length : 171.2mm
- Max. Diameter : 45mm
- Body Diameter : 33.2mm
- Weight : 220g (without battery)
The included accessory kit is sparse and includes just a few items. I have been informed that Lumapower does have many optional accessories planned so stay tuned. The included items are:
- Spare (black) o-rings
- Spare (black) switch cover
First Impressions: Solid construction, Size, Ergonomics
Well, after using mostly smaller EDC lights almost exclusively, the Mentor was quite the change.
It’s definitely not an EDC (every day carry) type pocket light, but is a purpose built utility light that emphasizes performance as well as flexibility. It’s also the only 1-2 C cell, multi-mode utility light available today (apart from modded Maglites of course).
The light is surprisingly hefty with thick walls, and rugged construction. The head itself is quite heavy so there is a fair amount of mass for effective heat sinking. Threads are thick and square to ensure longevity and the light just feels tough. The knurling is quite good, but could be a bit more aggressive. The finish is smooth and consistent with few if any flaws.
While the light is quite solid, it is still much smaller than the typical 2C Maglite.
The light tailstands, but the anti-roll feature is quite subtle and confined to raised ridges on the tailcap. The light will still roll on slight slopes. Perhaps more pronounced ridges or flats on the head would be more effective.
A glow ring is found around the AR coated glass lens, and the tailcap switch uses a glow-in-the-dark boot. The tailcap threads are anodized so lockout is possible and the clicky switch feels firm and crisp. Lockout can also be achieved at the head and the middle of the battery tube (it splits to allow 1 or 2 cell use).
As stated in my previous reviews, ergonomics can be a very personal matter. How does the light feel in the hand?
The Mentor feels good in the hand, and lends itself quite well to the typical overhand grip. A light of this size may benefit from the use of a side clicky, but that would increase length and require a major redesign.
Smart UI: The New, Versatile Interface
The biggest innovation of the Mentor is the newly developed “Smart UI”. This UI is a refinement of the Lumapower EDC UI. It offers the typical memory mode (light must be on for second to lock mode memory) as well as the ability to lock in any one mode for tactical use or signaling.
Here’s how it works: the light must be on for at least 1 second or more to set the mode memory. At this stage, turn off the light and quickly pulse the light on 4 times (within 1 second). Upon the 4th half-press, the light is locked into the memorized mode. Now the light is locked into that brightness setting and works like a single mode, forward clicky light. To unlock the light, simply repeat the above procedure. The light is now back to a 3-level interface (low-medium-high sequence) with mode memory.
BTW, updated the review above. 4 half presses locks in the Smart UI. I just tended to hold the 4th press, which doesn't work. 4 quick half presses locks and un-locks the Smart UI as stated in the Lumapower instructions.
There are no strobe or SOS modes, so the interface remains relatively simple, and no nonsense.
Locking the mode is a bit fiddly initially, but once learned it’s easy to change from multi-level to single level interface. Reducing the number of half-presses may help but his could lead to the accidentally activation of the mode lock. Adding some kind of mode-locked indication would be helpful though. In any case the Smart UI should satisfy many different types of users.
Battery availability and compatibility
The Mentor is compatible with alkaline cells, but like most high powered lights, runs much brighter and longer with NiMH cells. In a pinch, I found NIMH AA cells (in AA to C cell adapters) to be quite effective. The Mentor is not compatible with Lithium ion C cells (max 4.2V). This has been confirmed by Lumapower.
Battery availability should not be a problem with this light.
I found the levels on the mentor to be quite well spaced and useful.
Without actual specs, my estimates are 5-8 lumens (low), 60-70 lumens (medium) and 150+ lumens (high) for my Q3 5A neutral tint model. The max output drops to about 70-90 lumens when used on a single cell.
The Mentor low mode is useful for dark adapted eyes and should provide nice long runtime, even on alkaline cells.
Medium is a great general purpose level, and maximum can be used for spotting distant objects. I did detect mild heat build up on maximum, but the light did not become uncomfortable to hold.
Surprisingly, PWM (pulse width modulation) is used for dimming the light. I don’t have the tools to measure, but estimate that the frequency was above 1 Khz. I did not detect any PWM flicker in use, though it can be observed by shaking the light quickly.
Beam, tint quality
The Mentor uses the Cree XR-E emitter. My sample has the neutral 5A tint emitter and provides a pleasing warm beam, with a hint of pink.
This tint has proven very popular as it tends to emphasize greens and browns as well as providing a pleasing glow to skin tones. It does lose about 20 - 30% efficiency compared to the cool white bins (Q5/R2 bins) so one must chose between tint preference and absolute maximum output. Conveniently, Lumapower offers Q5, R2 Cool white LEDs as well as the warmer Q3 5A tint. This should please most users.
The Mentor uses a textured reflector, that appears to be the same as that found in the new Lumapower D-mini Ex (The CR123 powered MC-E light). The beam consists of a very wide, flood with a very pronounced, tight hotspot. Oddly enough, the beam is very similar to a Maglite with LED insert.
This beam profile is effective for throw and the wide flood is soft and smooth but a broader hotspot with a smoother transition to spill would be more useful for general purpose use. The current profile tends to be a bit too tight for close or medium range use. Luckily, adding a diffuser of some kind would easily solve this.
The emitter was perfectly centered.
The Mentor has a smooth bezel ring that is easily removed without tools. I believe that this could be lead to useful accessory bezels (stainless perhaps?) to make the light more rugged or just to enhance appearance.
For modding types, the Mentor is not glued or potted, so there is easy access to the led and driver. I have not tried to disassemble the head (yet). Lumapower has hinted that future upgrades may be in the works, so the light can be updated with the latest LED/driver etc. as technology evolves.
The Mentor is a very solid offering in the new Tool-light series. It has rugged construction, excellent build quality, and three well spaced levels in a clever new interface. It’s also quite unique since it runs off one or two commonly available C cells.
Lumapower has taken a solid concept, the 3 mode EDC series, and made it more versatile with lockable smart UI. I look forward to the upcoming new models in the Tool-Light series!