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Thread: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XP-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + more!

  1. #1

    Cool Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XP-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + more!

    Reviewer's Note: The Eagletac PN20α and PN20α2 were provided for review by Eagletac. The PN series doesn’t seem to be up on their website yet, but you should be able to find out more from their authorized dealers.

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.

    Specifications:
    • LED: CREE XP-E R2
    • Output: PN20α 70/15 OTF Lumen, PN20α2 100/22 OTF Lumens
    • Runtime: PN20α 70 Lumen - 1 hour / 15 Lumen 4.5+ hrs, PN20α2 100 Lumen – 1 hour / 22 Lumen 6+ hrs
    • Operation: Twist head on - Low / Twist head tight - High (clicky switch for on/off on PN20α2)
    • Reflector: Light OP
    • Fully Regulated
    • Aircraft Grade Aluminum
    • Battery: PN20α 1xAAA battery; PN20α2 2xAAA batteries
    • Dimensions: PN20α Length 3 1/8", Weight 0.7 oz; PN20α2 Length 5 3/8”, Weight 1.1 oz
    • Black Hard Anodized finish
    • Water Proof: IPX-8 Rated to 10 Feet
    • Anti Roll clip
    • Diffuser included
    • Optional RGB filter kit available.
    • Note: PN20α comes with a flat tailstanding cap for head twisty-only action, PN20α2 comes with an forward clicky switch (allowing both clicky and twisty action). A tailstanding switch cover is available for the PN20α2.
    • MSRP for PN20α ~$35, PN20α2 ~$40

    The “personal nano” PN series is Eagletac’s contribution to the recently burgeoning 1xAAA and 2xAAA class of lights. The samples I received are from the first batch produced – there may be some differences in later shipping versions.






    Note that unlike the inter-changeable 4Sevens Preon series, the Eagletac comes in two distinct forms – the 1xAAA PN20α and the 2xAAA PN20α2 You cannot mix and match the tailcaps or heads of the PN series.




    The lights come in similar packaging. Inside the cardboard case with plastic insert is the light with a removable (and reversible) pocket clip installed – and with either the flat tailcap (PN20α) or protruding clicky switch (PN20α2). Also included in the package are 1x or 2x Duracell alkaline batteries, spare o-rings, diffuser attachment, keychain attachment ring (PN20α only), and manual.

    Eagletac also sent me a wrist strap, good-quality red and blue filters, and an optional tailstanding cap for the PN20α2. I’m not sure how much these are (purchased separately). Shown below without and with flash, to show you the quality of the filters.




    Note that the filers – like the bundled diffuser – slip on over the existing bezel (i.e. no unscrewing/swapping necessary).




    From left to right: Duracell alkaline AAA, Eagletac PN20α, PN20α2, 4Sevens Preon 1, Preon 2, Maratac AAA (Natural), LiteFlux LF2XT, VersaTi.

    PN20α: Weight 22.9g (with pocket clip), Length 80.1mm x Width 16.0mm (bezel), 18.6mm (max, around base)
    PN20α2: Weight 31.3g (with pocket clip), Length 137.7mm x Width 16.0mm (bezel)
    Preon 1: Weight 15.3g (with keychain clip), Length 75.6mm x Width 14.0mm (bezel)
    Preon 2: Weight 20.2g (with keychain clip), Length 127.4mm x Width 14.0mm (bezel)

    The PN20α has a more aggressive appearance than many lights in the 1xAAA category. Good quality (and generous) knurling adorn the light, and the head is wider around the base (presumably to accommodate the electronics, but also helps with grip).

    The PN20α2 has a more streamlined appearance, and wouldn’t look out of place in with a stack of pens in your pocket protector. Personally, I rather like the styling of the PN20α2.

    Fit and finish are excellent on all my samples - no flaws or chips on the black hard anodizing on either sample.

    Both lights come with a removable clip (which also helps with grip and anti-rolling). Clip quality seems good, and attaches fairly firmly to body. It is also easily reversible on both models (i.e. can attach near the head for bezel-down carry).

    Identification labels are sharp and clear against the black background, although I would have preferred a few less.




    Screw threads are anodized on the PN20α, consistent with the UI (i.e. tighten for activation, tighten further for Hi mode - scroll down for a discussion).



    On the PN20α2, the head threads are not anodized - but this is also required by the UI (i.e. activation is controlled by the tailcap forward clicky, mode switching is in the head).

    A bit too much blue lube on the threads of both my samples, but an easy fix to wipe off.




    As mentioned previously, the flat tailcap on the PN20α and clicky-switch tailcap on the PN20α 2 are not inter-changeable. The keychain attachment point of the PN20α seems nice and solid – and the light can still tainstand.

    The PN20α2 comes with an optional tailstanding tailcap that works with the existing clicky switch:



    To replace, you unscrew the rear-end of the tailcap, and screw on the tailstanding replacement insert. Note that this makes it a bit hard to activate the clicky, but tit does give you a nice option if you want it.




    (PN20α on the left, PN20α2 on the right)

    As you can see, the lights use the newer XP-E emitters (R2 output bin), coupled with OP reflectors. Overall dimensions seem the same, so I expect beam profiles will be as well.

    And now for the requisite white wall hunting . To start, here are my only 2 2xAAA lights, both on Hi on Sanyo Eneloop AAA, about ~1 meter from a white wall.





    Sorry for the quality of the beamshots – I’ve recently moved, and haven’t had a chance to set up a proper beamshot closet yet.

    As you can see, the PN20α2 has a much narrower beam profile than the Preon 2. To put that in perspective, the Preons have a slightly wider beam spill than typical for the AAA-class lights, but not hugely so. The 1xAAA patterns are comparable for the PN20α and Preon 1, so I haven't bothered with additional beamshots. See my Preon review for more comparison shots of other lights in this class

    The Eagletac offerings clearly have narrower (but brighter) spillbeams, with more throw than typical for this class.

    For the rest of these shots, the PN20α was photographed alone, about 0.5m from a white wall. Exposures vary slightly to better show you effects of the colored filters.

    Control


    Diffuser


    Red filter


    Blue filter


    User Interface

    Basic operation is pretty simple. On the PN20α, twist the head clockwise to turn on. The light starts in Lo, and turns to Hi as you continue tightening. Turn counter-clockwise to turn off.

    For the PN20α2, on/off activation is controlled by the forward clicky switch. Soft press for momentary on, click for constant on. You change modes by twisting the head (tight is Hi, loose is Lo). This presumably explains why the head screw threads are not anodized.

    And that’s it – no hidden strobe or SOS mode – just two output levels.

    No PWM

    Happily (but surprisingly) I was unable to detect any signs of PWM on either light. For lights this size, you usually need to use PWM for the lower mode (i.e. current-control electronics won’t fit in this small a head). If the lights do use PWM, the freq is undetectable. But based on the runtime performance I'm seeing on Lo (scroll down for runtime charts), I'm pretty sure the lights must be current-controlled.

    UPDATE: HKJ confirms - with his more extensive setup - that the lights are indeed current-controlled on Lo.

    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:



    Output levels for the PN20α are pretty much what I would expect for a two-stage R2-equipped 1xAAA light (i.e. "general" mode and "turbo", similar to the Med and Hi for multi-level lights). But consistent with the beamshots, throw is the highest I’ve seen for this class.

    For 2xAAA, I only have the Preon 2 to compare to. One point to note is that the 2xAAA PN20α2 is not that much brighter than the 1xAAA PN20α on Hi (i.e. it is not twice as bright, as in the case of the Preon).

    Output/Runtime Comparison:




    The two graphs above are on the same output range, so you can directly compare output levels.

    Runtimes seem a bit low on Hi on the 1xAAA PN20α, but that may be due to the attempt to maintain full regulation on this battery source (i.e. this is bound to be less efficient than direct drive). Another point that struck me - unlike many other lights of this class, the PN20α maintains comparable regulated output levels on all regular battery sources (i.e. most lights have different outputs depending on the battery used).

    While 2xAAA PN20α2 is measurably brighter than the 1xAAA PN20α on Hi, the difference is not as great as on the Preon series (where output more than doubled). However, the Eagletac offerings are impressively regulated on all batteries on 2xAAA.

    So how does it stack up to the competition? First the 1xAAA lights:









    And now the 2xAAA lights:



    Clearly, the 1xAAA PN20α has an efficiency issue on Hi on regular battery sources. I suspect this is due to the attempt to maintain perfectly flat regulation (see below for a discussion of the issue – and the potential remedy). On the PN20α2, overall efficiency on Hi seems ok – certainly much higher than expected based on the 1xAAA PN20α performance.

    On the flip-side, the output/runtime efficiency on Lo is among the best in class for both the PN20α and PN20α2 – and fully-regulated to boot! You can really see this on the 2xAAA graph – those fully-regulated runtimes are very impressive.

    Potential Issues

    Hi mode of the PN20α has much lower efficiency than other lights of this class. However, Eagletac informs me that newer shipping versions will have lower Hi output with improved runtime.

    The lights lack a true Lo mode – the Lo mode on the PN20α and the PN20α2 is closer the Med mode of three-mode lights in this class.

    Build components are not interchangeable between the models (i.e. the head and tail sections are specific for each model).

    Preliminary Observations

    One thing I will say at the outset – Eagletac continues to impress with how well regulated their lights are. It’s particularly rare to see fully-regulated lights on all batteries and at all levels – especially in the AAA-class size. And somehow, they have managed that with no sign of PWM on the low levels.

    Of course, there is downside here – overall efficiency of the 1xAAA PN20α on Hi is disappointingly low on all batteries. I suspect this battery source just isn’t capable of pumping out enough juice for full regulation at these drive levels. However, Eagletac informs that me future shipping versions of the PN20α will have a lower output on Hi, with improved runtime. I think that is a wise decision.

    Certainly, regulation and efficiency are top-of-class at the Lo output level for both lights. At present, the two output levels are well-spaced – although the lights lack a true “low” Lo mode, and the Hi output in 2xAAA is not as high as the Preon 2.

    Build-wise, I find both lights are very well made. I like the thoughtful design touches - like the reversible clip on both models, knurling on the 1xAAA PN20α to allow for easy one-handed switching (thank you!), tailstanding and keychain clip-attachment on the PN20α, and the optional tailstanding tailcap for the forward clicky on the PN20α2. Incidentally, the 2xAAA clicky switch has a good feel – something that’s hard to do in this size light.

    Beam pattern is narrower than typical for this class, but that may better suit those of you who like more throw. And in any case, Eagletac has thrown in a good quality diffuser with both lights (slips right on over the existing bezel – no swapping/screwing required). Frankly, this offers the best of both worlds – relatively good throw if you want it, and smooth flood available with the diffuser.

    Frankly, I have little to criticize on the physical aspects of the lights. Although these are Eagletac’s first offering in the AAA-space, they seem like mature products. Assuming Eagletac can improve the efficiency of the 1xAAA PN20α on Hi, I imagine these lights will become strong contenders in this class.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 07-30-2010 at 11:02 AM.
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  2. #2
    HKJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Reviewer's Note: The pre-release Eagletac PN20α and PN20α2 were provided for review by Eagletac. The PN series doesn’t seem to be up on their website yet, but you should be able to find out more from their authorized dealers.
    PWM
    The lights has been in the shops for 2 month. I have been reviewing them, but only in Danish.

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Hi mode of the PN20α has much lower efficiency than other lights of this class. However, Eagletac informs me that shipping versions will have lower Hi output with improved runtime.
    Looking at my runtime graph, it looks like they might have improved the efficiency a bit, I get 43 minutes in runtime or it might just be tolerances.

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Happily (but surprisingly) I was unable to detect any signs of PWM on either light. For lights this size, you usually need to use PWM for the lower mode (i.e. current-control electronics won’t fit in this small a head). If the lights do use PWM, then the freq is undetectable in my setup.
    There is no pwn, they are current controlled, this also means that the low mode will only work correctly below 2.7 volt, at 3.2 volt it is same brightness as high.

    The reason they can do current control is probably because the light does not have a microprocessor to control the brightness, this leaves more space on the circuit board and might also make it simpler to design a two level current control.
    My website with battery, charger, usb reviews, comparisons & information: lygte-info.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by HKJ View Post
    The lights has been in the shops for 2 month. I have been reviewing them, but only in Danish.
    Right, better to say that my review sample is from the first batch of lights sold. Dan at ET informs that subsequent shipping batches will have improved runtimes (and slightly lower output) in 1xAAA form.

    Looking at my runtime graph, it looks like they might have improved the efficiency a bit, I get 43 minutes in runtime or it might just be tolerances.
    I suspect it's likely just within natural variation, but you never know - yours could be from a newer batch. I will also try another eneloop cell to confirm that mine is consistent.

    There is no pwn ... The reason they can do current control is probably because the light does not have a microprocessor to control the brightness, this leaves more space on the circuit board and might also make it simpler to design a two level current control.
    Hmm, makes sense. Dual mode designs are certainly a lot simpler than 3+ mode microprocessor controlled lights. Reminds me of the performance of my VersaTi ... although the switching mechanism in the head seems a lot more robust on the PN20a.
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  4. #4
    Flashaholic* Paul_in_Maryland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    I really like EagleTAc's screw-in diffuser. It stays attached all the time on my P20A2 Neutral White. But diffusing a 1xAAA or even 2xAAA is another matter; the lux would be so low, I can't imagine it being useful except in pitch darkness.
    My lights, all AA, neutral or warm: 3 Fenix TK20s; 2 Malkoff M30WFs; 2 Shiningbeam Romisens (5A); Dereelight XP-G R5 (close enough); UK 4AA incan.

  5. #5
    HKJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_in_Maryland View Post
    I really like EagleTAc's screw-in diffuser. It stays attached all the time on my P20A2 Neutral White. But diffusing a 1xAAA or even 2xAAA is another matter; the lux would be so low, I can't imagine it being useful except in pitch darkness.
    The diffuser is really useful is when looking in a book or on a map. The biggest problem is finding the diffuser, when needed.
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  6. #6
    Flashaholic* Phaserburn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    I love this series; I think it wins hands down in build features and UI vs the Preon (I have both). The neutral white PN20a2 with diffuser puts out an impressively large and extremely useful amount of even floodlight. To me, this form factor is all about close range, but ET has made it the best of both with the diffuser.

    Anyone know when the newer version of the PN20a will be shipping, and from which vendors? I'd like to pick up a NW.

    Thanks, SB!
    The Phaser: A nice EDC with great throw; heat and runtime can be issues.

    Best Diffusion Film!

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* was.lost.but.now.found's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Pics not showing. Is it just me?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_in_Maryland View Post
    I really like EagleTAc's screw-in diffuser. It stays attached all the time on my P20A2 Neutral White. But diffusing a 1xAAA or even 2xAAA is another matter; the lux would be so low, I can't imagine it being useful except in pitch darkness.
    Quote Originally Posted by HKJ View Post
    The diffuser is really useful is when looking in a book or on a map. The biggest problem is finding the diffuser, when needed.
    I find I quite like it on these lights. I've typically always favoured slip-on diffusers on larger lights, as it's faster and easier to switch back and forth. But for 1xAAA, screw-on might have been better - I'm likely to want to leave it on all the time. And as HKJ points out, finding it can be an issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaserburn View Post
    I love this series; I think it wins hands down in build features and UI vs the Preon (I have both). The neutral white PN20a2 with diffuser puts out an impressively large and extremely useful amount of even floodlight. To me, this form factor is all about close range, but ET has made it the best of both with the diffuser.
    I should point out that the ET lights are a bit larger and heavier than the Preons - but I personally find them a bit easier to use (i.e. knurling on the PN20a, better switch feel on the PN20a2).

    A lower Lo (especially on the 2xAAA PN20a2) might also be nice ... but that's just a personal preference.

    Quote Originally Posted by was.lost.but.now.found View Post
    Pics not showing. Is it just me?
    Hmmm, works fine for me, even on different browsers and computers. Maybe photobucket was down temporarily? Anyone else having problems?
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  9. #9
    Flashaholic* was.lost.but.now.found's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Showing up now, must have been a temporary issue like you said.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by HKJ View Post
    Looking at my runtime graph, it looks like they might have improved the efficiency a bit, I get 43 minutes in runtime or it might just be tolerances.
    FYI, I just retested my PN20a with another Eneloop, and got 32 mins to 50%. So my sample is internally consistent - but I suspect this is likely just normal sample-to-sample variation.
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  11. #11
    Flashaholic MojaveMoon07's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Hi mode of the PN20a has much lower efficiency than other lights of this class. However, Eagletac informs me that newer shipping versions will have lower Hi output with improved runtime.

    Of course, there is downside here – overall efficiency of the 1xAAA PN20a on Hi is disappointingly low on all batteries. I suspect this battery source just isn’t capable of pumping out enough juice for full regulation at these drive levels. However, Eagletac informs that me future shipping versions of the PN20a will have a lower output on Hi, with improved runtime. I think that is a wise decision.

    Did Eagletac ever make these changes ? I postponed buying the PN20a because of what they promised.

    Also, has the clip been reliable for everyone ? AardvarkSagus shared (link) this experience:

    "When I first pulled this light out of the package for initial testing, I was immediately greeted with discouragement as the pocket clip promptly snapped off during extrication from the packaging. I have mentioned EagleTac’s clip attachment method a number of times previously and I still believe it to be one of the weakest points on their lights. I hope someday that this will begin to improve but in the mean time, don’t get your hopes up for a decent clip."
    Last edited by MojaveMoon07; 10-26-2012 at 04:21 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Eagletac PN20α & PN20α2 (1xAAA, 2xAAA - XR-E R2) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by MojaveMoon07 View Post
    Did Eagletac ever make these changes ? I postponed buying the PN20a because of what they promised.
    + 1

    am wondering too if Eagletac is continuing or discontinuing these AAA models, there is zilch talk or mention on the forums. maybe the D25-series rendered them superfluous? an upgraded evolved version would be worth considering a purchase imho. would love to see a picture with the 1xAAA and the D25A light side by side

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