Reviewer's Note: The Quark Mini lights were provided for review by 4Sevens.com. Please see their website for more info.
This is a mini-review of the new member of the Mini family, the Mini CR2 (please see my earlier Mini AA and Mini 123 review for a comparison to the earlier members of this class).
For a discussion of the possible tint options for the Mini line (i.e. Cool White, Neutral White, Warm White), please see my new Mini Tint Comparison Review.
Manufacturer's specifications, condensed from their 4sevens.com:
- LED: CREE XP-G R5
- Max Output: 180 OTF lumens,
- Material: Type-III Hard-anodized Aircraft-grade Aluminum
- Lens: Optical-grade glass lens with anti-reflective coating on both sides
- Water resistance: IPX-8
- Battery: 1xCR2 (3V max)
- Seven Output Modes:
- Low: 3 OTF lumens, 1.2 days
- Medium: 40 OTF lumens, 4.8 hours
- High: 180 OTF lumens, 40 mins
- Special (hidden) modes:
- Strobe: 1.4 hours
- SOS: 4.3 hours
- Beacon (Hi): 7.2 hours
- Beacon (Lo): 36 hours
- Length: 2.0 inches
- Diameter: 0.75 inches
- Weight (w/o battery): 0.6 ounces;
- MSRP: $39 for aluminum versions, $99 for Ti versions
Again, please see my earlier Mini AA and Mini 123 review for more background on this family of lights.
4Sevens has simplified the packaging for all members of the Mini family (i.e. no more presentation case). Inside the cardboard box you will now find the light along with a 4Sevens CR2 battery, good quality wrist strap/lanyard, and manual.
UPDATE: I also understand that a new “green” packaging of much lower waste will be available soon (perhaps by the time you read this!). Check out the 4Sevens forums on CPFMP for more info.
From left to right: Panasonic CR2, 4Sevens Mini CR2, NiteCore EZCR2, 4sevens Mini 123, Nitecore EZ123.
As you can see, the Mini CR2 is quite tiny, in keeping with its battery source.
Build is very much in keeping with the other members of the Mini line – please see my earlier Mini AA and Mini 123 review for more info.
The Minis all have the advantage of generous knurling, which makes it easier to use the twist feature one-handed. No problem for the Mini CR2 – it is as easy to use as the other members of this family.
The Minis all feature one of the latest edition Cree emitters - the XP-G (R5 output bin, no tint bin specified). Reflector is not overly deep, but heavily textured.
I haven’t taken beamshots for the Mini CR2, but you’ll find the profile is similar to the Mini AA and Mini 123 shown in my earlier review.
The sample above is of the standard Cool White Mini CR2, but other tints are now available as limited runs. For a discussion of the possible tint options for the Mini line (i.e. Cool White, Neutral White, Warm White), please see my new Mini Tint Comparison Review.
The Mini CR2 uses the same interface as the other members of the Mini line, as well as the AAA-class 4Sevens Preons. In their standard operating mode, they are very similar to other budget lights (e.g. ITP/Maratac), and use a Lo > Med > Hi mode sequence. Basic operation is controlled by twisting the head tight against the body to activate the light, loosen to turn off. Do a twist off-on in under 1 sec and the light advances to its next mode sequence. Wait more than two seconds before re-activating the light after turning off, and it returns to default Lo (i.e. no memory mode).
There is no strobe or SOS mode to worry about in the regular interface. But like the Preons, they are “hidden” away if you want them. Normally, twisty-mode cycle selection continues indefinitely - keep doing off-on twists to run through all the sequences in order again. But if you run through the complete sequence twice in under two seconds (i.e. On Lo > Med > Hi > Lo > Med > Hi), you will access the additional hidden modes. These present themselves in sequence as Strobe > SOS > Hi Beacon > Lo Beacon.
Strobe was measured at 10Hz on all my samples. Beacon modes are 5 rapid flashes followed a single ~1.25 sec flash at 10 sec intervals, at either full power (Hi) or lower power (Lo).
Note that there is no memory for “special outputs” either – if you turn off the light for more than 2 seconds, you will be back at constant output Lo when next you re-illuminate. So no worries about getting stuck accidentally strobing yourself here. Frankly, this is the sort of interface I like to see – “special modes” are well hidden, and not at all obtrusive.
Like all multi-mode lights in this class, the Minis use pulse-width-modulation (PWM) for their Lo/Med modes. However, the PWM frequency is high enough at ~2.4 kHz that you will not notice it regular use, unless you really go looking for it. Again, this is the same frequency as the 4Sevens Preons (as well as the ITP A1/A2 series lights).
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:
On standard primary batteries, the Minis all strike a good balance between output and runtime (i.e. in keeping with their small size, they are not exactly maximally driven).
As you can see in the table above, output levels of the Mini CR2 are basically identical to the Mini 123 reviewed previously. Throw is reduced, likely due to the slightly smaller head (i.e. reflector is not as deep).
Although I don’t have any RCR2 batteries to test, my experience from the other members of this class tells me that 3.7V Li-ion will be a *lot* brighter on Hi Frankly, I don’t consider the levels I saw on the Mini 123 and Mini AA to be very safe for extended runs – the lights will heat up very quickly.
I only have primary CR2 cells on hand, but thought it would be worth testing the Mini CR2 on the included 4Sevens CR2 and my only two other samples – the Panasonic and Titanium Innovations CR2s.
I have also compared it to my only other CR2-based light, the NiteCore EZCR2
First off, the Mini CR2 is a lot brighter on Max than the NiteCore EZCR2. It also runs for an equivalent length of time, although not in as regulated a fashion.
What I have found interesting is the performance of the batteries – both the included 4Sevens CR2 and the Titanium Innovations CR2 perform comparably in my testing, and both out-perform the USA-made Panasonic cell . A similar pattern is seen in the NiteCore tests – the Panasonic again under-performs.
UPDATE: Med-Lo Runtime
Body wall construction is fairly thin, in keeping with a budget build. Heat dissipation on Hi could be an issue for extended runs.
Given that the performance seems to match the Mini CR123A, this leads me to believe that the same issue on 1x3.7V Li-ion RCR2 would occur – i.e. max output is way too bright for such a small light. I recommend you do not run these lights on max on this battery source.
The general comments from my Mini AA and Mini 123 reviews apply here – this is a nice little family of lights. Please see the main review for greater context.
For keychain carry, I think you will find that CR2-based lights fall into quite the sweet spot in terms of performance for size. Sure, CR123A-based lights will last longer – but it’s hard to beat the size of the Mini CR2.
The one additional take-home message here is that you can expect as good output/runtime performance on 4Sevens-branded CR2 primary cells as any other brand I’ve tested.
This is also one instance where I would recommend the use of primary cells over rechargeables. Given the extremely high output of the Mini line on Max on 3.7V Li-ion cells (i.e. direct drive?), I do not recommend you run any light of this family on Max on rechargeables. Also, if you do plan to use RCR2, please note that these cells typically lack cut-off voltage protection circuits, so you will have to carefully monitor voltage/output to prevent over-dischage.
Frankly, given the excellent performance of the 4sevens CR2 cells, I think you are best off sticking with primary CR2s in this case.