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Thread: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

  1. #1

    Cool Xtar S1 TEST sample (3xXM-L, 3x18650) Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Warning: even more pic heavy than usual!

    UPDATE April 21, 2012: This review of the pre-production S1 has been superseded by a new review of the final production version, presented here. Most the issues identified on the pre-production model have been addressed. Please refer to that new review for information on the shipping version of the Xtar S1.



    The S1 is a new 3xXM-L, high-output "thrower" light from Xtar. The build and capabilities of this light are a significant expansion for Xtar. How does it compare to other lights in this class? Let's see …

    Manufacturer's Specifications from CPFMP (updated with info from the included spec sheet):
    • LED: 3x Cree XM-L U2
    • Battery: 3x18650/18700 Li-ion (protected button-top mentioned on spec sheet)
    • Working Voltage: 2.7-4.2V (2.75V-4.2V on spec sheet)
    • Output: min. 30lm, max. 2750lm (3000lm claimed on spec sheet)
    • Runtime: 1h at 2750lm (1hr 35min on spec sheet)
    • Runtime 330hr at30lm (on spec sheet)
    • Max range: 359m (360m on spec sheet)
    • Max Intensity: 32300cd (32500cd on spec sheet)
    • Switch: Head magnetic ring switch ("magnetic dimmer" on spec sheet)
    • Mode: SOS/Strobe/High/Off/Preset/Select
    • Material: Anodized aircraft 6061 aluminum allow (on spec sheet)
    • Water resistance: IPX-8 standard
    • Impact resistant: 1m
    • Size: 83mm (head), 47mm (body), 240mm (length)
    • Weight: 956g excluding batteries (888g on spec sheet)
    • MSRP: Unknown, but likely >$200




    I don't know what final packaging will look like – I was only provided with the review sample and a spec sheet by Xtar. According to the spec sheet, a lanyard and extra o-rings will be included on shipping samples.

    Note that the included spec sheet I received from Xtar seems to differ somewhat from the previously published specs on CPFMP (both sources are listed above). I will discuss the accuracy of these specs at the end of the review, but my results differ from the specs in several ways ...



    From left to right: Xtar Protected 18650; Nitecore TM11; Xtar S1; 4Sevens S18 Maelstrom, Olight SR92.

    All basic dimensions are given with no batteries installed:

    Xtar X1: Weight: 883.4g (est. 1035g with 3x18650 protected), Length: 236mm, Width (bezel): 83.4mm
    Nitecore TM11: Weight: 342.6g (476g with 8xCR123A), Length 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
    4Sevens S18: Weight: 700g (800g with 6xCR123A), Length: 233mm, Width (bezel) 63.0mm, (tailcap) 25.6mm
    4Sevens X10: Weight: 156.9g (245.7g with 1x26650), Length: 135.5mm, Width (bezel): 46.0mm
    Olight SR90: Weight: 1.6 kg (with battery pack), Length: 335mm, Width (bezel): 97mm
    Olight SR92: Weight: 1.15 kg (with battery pack), Length: 271mm, Width (bezel): 98mm

    The X1 is a substantial light – overall build is quite hefty. It is generally intermediate between the 4Sevens S18 and the Olight SR92.






    Construction quality seems excellent (i.e. this is not a budget quality light).

    Anodizing is a glossy black, and seems to be good quality - although there are a few chips on my sample (but that may just reflect its review sample nature). Knurling is present on the body, and is reasonably aggressive. Along with the ridges and other build detail, grip is very good.

    Labels are fairly basic on my review sample (hopefully it stays that way on the shipping versions ). Labels are sharp and clear against the black background.

    The light can tailstand, and there is a built-in grip ring around the tailcap (with lanyard attachment points). There are double o-rings at the tailcap end of the battery tube. Screw threads are standard triangular-cut, but seem of good quality. Tail threads are anodized for lock-out.

    As you can tell from the pics, the body handle is a substantial piece of aluminum – with machined areas cut-out to support 3x 18650 cells. There is a flat contact plate in the head, so you will need to use button-top or raised-top cells 18650 cells (i.e. true flat-top cells may not make contact)

    There are three raised negative-contact points in the tailcap, which all seem linked to a common base (i.e. the three cells are clearly run in parallel). As a result, you could run the light on 1x or 2x battery sources as well, but I wouldn't recommend this at the higher outputs (unless you are using IMR cells rated for the high current drain). 1x26650 will fit and work in the light, if button-top (although again, I would recommend IMR chemistry if you plan to run at higher outputs).

    Light has a scalloped bezel ring. For more details on the reflector, scroll down to the beamshot section of the review. Here is the control ring in more detail:





    The control ring is lightly colored, with indentations to help with grip. There are clearly labeled modes on the head of the light (SOS > Strobe > High > O > Preset > Select, with "O" meaning Off), and an arrowhead marker labeled on the ring. There are very clear detents for each mode, and I found ring action to be quite smooth (smoother than I expected for a light this size, frankly).

    Overall feel of the ring is quite good, but there are a few peculiarities: for one, the ring continues to turn past all the output modes in either direction. If you go fully around the circumference of the light, you return to the modes as you come around the other side. Also, the labeling of the arrowhead on the ring is hard to see (i.e. white on a light gray background ). There is no physical identification as to the reference point on the ring.

    UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2012: Xtar plans to improve the identification mark on the ring, and prevent it from turning to regions outside of the control modes.

    User Interface

    The S1 is controlled entirely by the control ring below the head. With the tailcap fully engaged, you select your output mode by turning the ring and lining up the arrowhead indicator with the labels on the head above the ring (i.e. SOS > Strobe > High > O > Preset > Select). "O" is the Off position (actually, it's really a Stand-by mode – scroll down for details).

    The output modes to the left of the Off/Stand-by mode are fairly self-explanatory (i.e., Strobe and SOS). The Preset mode refers to a memorized custom output level, selected by the user. You select the Preset mode by turning the control ring to the Select position. The light will ramp up and down in brightness, in a continuously-variable fashion, in a repeating loop. Turn back to Preset to select the level you want (i.e. this stops the ramp, and saves the current output level). The light has Preset mode memory, and will always return to this level unless you start a new Select ramp.

    For a more detailed examination of the build and user interface, please see my video overview:



    Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the 360p icon in the lower right-hand corner, and select the higher 480p to 720p options, or even run full-screen.

    Ramp

    The S1 ramp is fairly quick, with 7 secs between Min and Max outputs. Shown below are three complete cycles of up- and down-output ramping:



    UPDATE January 17, 2012: Corrected time scale for the ramp.

    Note that my relative output scale is not in lumens. See my methodology section later in this review for links on how to convert to estimated lumens.

    While the S1 pauses for ~1 sec at the Max output (with a very faint flash), there is unfortunately no pause whatsoever at the Min output. This means that it is practically impossible to select the really low outputs.

    I have added a dotted-line on the graph above to show the approximate level of the lowest output I was able to obtain (~30 lumens). As you can see, I was unable to capture the really low output stages of the ramp (if I convert to estimated lumens, the lowest recorded dips of the above three ramps are ~85, ~200 and ~170 lumens, respectively).

    What this means is that you actually have only a fraction of a second to choose a <200 lumen output level. When you consider the time delay in turning the ring to Preset, this takes a lot of practice to try and get a good low output level.

    Also, while it may look like the S1 is using a visually-linear ramp, this isn't really the case – you need to remember the output actually does drop down to the lowest output level (i.e. the dotted line). If you mentally extend the curves to the dotted line, you will realize that it subjectively spends very little time in the lower output range.

    I would recommend that Xtar extend the overall ramp time by a couple of secs, add a ~1 sec pause at the lowest level, and switch to a more visually-linear ramping pattern.

    UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2012: Xtar reports that they will increase the ramping time to 15 secs, and add a 1-2 sec pause at the lowest output level, as well as 25%, 50% and 75% output on the shipping versions.

    PWM/Strobe




    The S1 uses visible PWM at all levels below Max, measured at a consistent 486 Hz (note there is no PWM on Max). This frequency is high enough to not be particularly noticeable in use, although it is detectable. I find it acceptable, but >1-2kHz would be better.



    Strobe is a fairly standard fast tactical 9.8 Hz.

    SOS mode is actualy a repeating SO mode (i.e., SOSOSO ...). Xtar reports it will fix this in the shipping versions.

    Standby drain and Lock-out

    Due to the electronic switch design, the S1 is always drawing a small current when the light is fully connected. I measured this current as 0.90mA on one cell. Since the cells are arranged in parallel, for 3x 2600mAh cells, that would translate into 361 days (i.e. one full year before they would be drained). This is quite reasonable, but I always recommend you store such lights locked-out when not in use.

    UPDATE January 23, 2012: I originally tried to give current measures for the minimum output level, but now realize these were inaccurate. Due to the high max current draw in the on-phase of the PWM - and the resistance introduced by the DMM and leads - I cannot accurately measure current draw using my limited setup. Scroll down to posts 26-31 in this thread for a discussion.


    Beamshots:




    The S1 uses three Cool White XM-L emitters, each well-centered in its own reflector well (although the wells do overlap with each other in the center). The overall reflector is quite deep for this type of light, so I would expect a relatively throwy beam (with a lot of artifacts in the spill, due to the overlapping wells).

    And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective max battery sources (3xAW protected 18650 for the S1), about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.













    Even at this up-close distance, I think you can tell that throw is excellent on the S1. The spillbeam does have some very noticeable artifacts due to the overlapping reflector wells. It is also not as wide a spillbeam as the SR92 or TM11 (again, due to the relatively deeper reflector on the S1). Beam tint in definitely on the cool side of Cool White (i.e. a slight bluish-purplish tint on my sample, but of course, YMMV).

    UPDATE FEBRUARY, 2012: Xtar reports that they will switch to an AR lens, and reduce the color temperature of LEDs from the original 7000K+ to ~5000-6000K for the shipping versions (i.e. will be less cool tinted).

    And now for the outdoor shots. These beamshots were done in the style of my earlier 100-yard round-up review. Please see that thread for a discussion of the topography (i.e. the road dips in the distance, to better show you the corona in the mid-ground).



    The S1 clearly out-throws both the Olight SR92 and Nitecore TM11. It is really no contest on the TM11, as that light is designed more for flood. Also, while the spillbeam is not as wide on the S1, it seems brighter in the mid-ground (i.e. more light is being channeled into a narrower spill width).

    So how does it compare to a dedicated thrower? The Crelant 7G5 is the best throwing 2x18650 light in my collection at the moment:



    The S1 almost an exact match to the 7G5 for peak throw – but with a much wider hotspot and brighter spill, of course.

    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 any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

    I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:

    Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.



    A few comments about overall output: it is very difficult to provide reliable estimates for high-output, multi-emitter lights (not least in part because the heads are often too big to fit fully inside my lightbox ). I therefore use my ceiling bounce data to help "calibrate" my lightbox, against known values for other lights.

    Note also that my ceiling bounce numbers are based on ~30 secs after activation. At this point, the output of the S1 was slightly lower than my Nitecore TM11, but noticeably brighter than my Olight SR92.

    ANSI FL-1 lumen estimates are a bit trickier, as they are measured at 3 mins into the run. On the S1, the sag in Max output can be significant depending on the battery type used (scroll down for a battery analysis). So, while my S1 sample gave a consistent ~2000 lumens estimate on initial activation, output at 3 mins varied from an estimated ~1750 to ~1950 lumens, depending on the battery source. As most batteries were still at or above ~1900 lumens, I have gone with that ANSI FL-1 value in my table above. Note that this is well below the reported 3000 lumen spec for the S1, but quite consistent with other lights in this class.

    Throw actually exceeded the reported specs for the S1 – I directly measured just over 55K lux@1m, which translates into an ANSI FL-1 beam distance of 470m. This matches my currently best throwing 2x18650 light, the Crelant 7G5.

    The key point here for the S1 is that the max output spec is over-stated, and the max throw/beam distance spec is under-stated.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:

    I normally do all my testing on button-top 2200mAh AW protected 18650 cells, to ensure maximum reliability in all lights (and backwards-compatibility with earlier reviews). On well-regulated lights, you can generally approximate the performance of higher capacity cells fairly well (i.e. runtime is roughly proportional to the rated capacity, although there can be some variation at higher drive levels).

    The Xtar S1 appears to be mainly direct-drive at higher output levels, so runtime patterns will be heavily dependent on the specific internal battery chemistry (see below for a discussion). Here is a comparison of a several types of cells, on Max:





    The Redilast 2600mAh and 4GREER 2400mAh tended to produce a slightly "flatter" runtime pattern on Max, compared to the Redilast 2900mAh and AW 2200mAh. But with that "flatter" pattern came a more rapid drop-off as the cells neared exhaustion.

    UPDATE January 19, 2012: I've added 4GREER 3100mAh runtimes above (based on the Panasonic NCR18650A). Interestingly the runtime profile of these cells is virtually identical to my Redilast 2900mAh on Max - just with an extra dozen or so minutes of runtime as the levels drops near the end of the run.

    Let's see how the S1 compares to other high output lights I've tested (again, on standard AW protected 2200mAh 18650):



    Direct-drive is typically very efficient at high drive levels, and you can see that in the Max runtime traces – the S1 does rather well for 3x18650 2200mAh.



    The S1's lower output levels seem less efficient for the class, but still provide reasonable runtimes. Note that the S1 can go down to much lower output levels than most of the lights shown here. Based on my current draw measures at the lowest output I could obtain (~30 estimated lumens), estimated runtime would be two months.

    UPDATE January 18, 2012:To really understand how the circuit is working, you would need to do proper current-voltage interrogation using a bench-top power supply. HKJ has done some of these in his excellent review of the S1 - I recommend people refer to his voltage sweeps for more info. Simply put, there does seem to be some attempt at flat regulation (i.e. stabilization) on Max output, but it is dependent on the ability of the batteries to deliver a high amp load at high voltage. Also, heat likely has some effect on lowering output and reducing the apparent regulation (i.e. HKJ has shown that the current can remain fairly constant while output drops and heat rises - but that is under specific laboratory conditions where just the head is being tested).

    Potential Issues

    Light uses visible PWM for its lower output modes, but at a frequency that is not particularly disturbing (486 Hz). I would prefer something 1-2kHz (or higher), if possible.

    The continuously-variable ramp is a useful feature, but ramping time is fairly quick with no pause at the Min output. This makes it extremely difficult to accurately select <200 lumen output levels. UPDATE JANUARY 16, 2012: Xtar reports that they will increase the ramping time and add a 1-2 sec pause at the lowest output level on the shipping versions.

    Due to its "thrower" reflector configuration, there are noticeable artifacts in the periphery of the spillbeam.

    Light does not appear to be flatly regulated at any level, and seems to be dependent on the internal chemistry of the Li-ion cells for its specific output/runtime performance. UPDATE January 18, 2012: While I originally presumed this to be direct-drive, HKJ's results show there is some stabilization at Max output, only at a current draw that is hard for the cells to provide. Heat may also be an issue, reducing the apparent output further. See HKJ's review for more info.

    Only single 3.7V Li-ion cells may be used in the light (i.e., doesn't support multiple CR123A primary cells)

    Flat-top cells will not work in the light (although my raised-top Redilast cells all worked fine).

    Due to the electronic switch, the light has a stand-by current when fully connected. But this current is very low (<1 mA), and will not be problem for regular use (i.e. will take about a year to drain three fully charged 18650 cells).

    The indicator mark on the control ring is hard to see, making it hard to tell which mode you are in by simply looking at the light. The ring also continues to turn past all the output modes (and returns to the modes on the other side as you come around the circumference). UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2012: Xtar tells me that they will put a clearer mark on the ring for the shipping versions, and prevent it from turning to regions where there are no output modes.

    Some induction whine (i.e., buzz or hum) was present on non-Max levels. As an aside, it is important you tighten the tailcap securely, to make sure all three cells are engaged. On the few times when the whine seemed unusually loud, I found it could be reduced back to normal low levels if I tightened the tailcap further. This suggests to me that not all the cells were initially engaged, leading to excessive drain on the one or two that were (i.e., induction whine is highly dependent on the specific characteristics of the power source). This is speculation on my part, but it is interesting that just tightening the tailcap further could lower the intensity of the hum.

    Light is a good size, with substantial weight (grip is good, though).

    The various published specs do not seem to be accurate for max output (specs overstated) or max throw (specs understated).

    Packaging and extras are unknown at this time.

    Preliminary Observations

    The S1 is an impressive light, with very good build quality and performance characteristics.

    Output is well within the range of other 3x XM-L lights (i.e., Nitecore TM11, Olight SR92). No, the "3000 lumen" spec is not believable – I would rate the light at just over 2000 estimated lumens at start-up, with a measurable drop-off over time dependent on the battery chemistry (more on that in a moment).

    What distinguishes the S1 from most other 3x XM-L lights is the throw – this is the best throwing multi-emitter light I've seen so far. In fact, throw well exceeds the Xtar specs (I measured it at just over 55K lux@1m, or 470m beam distance). That puts the S1 in the same category as my best throwing single XM-L lights (e.g. Crelant 7G5). Of course, this kind of throw in a multi-emitter setup comes as a price – expect significant artifacts in the peripheral spill (which will be narrower overall than other lights with shallower reflectors).

    The other distinguishing feature is the continuously-variable control interface. This allows you to exquisitely control your output level, down to a rather low ~30 lumens in this case. Unfortunately, the S1 ramp is fairly quick with no pause at the lowest level before reversing direction (i.e., making it very hard to accurately select anything <200 lumens in practice). I recommend Xtar make a few revisions to the ramping pattern, to facilitate practical use of this excellent feature (i.e., extend the ramp time, add a pause, and make it more visually-linear). UPDATE JANUARY 16, 2012: Xtar reports that they will increase the ramping time and add a 1-2 sec pause at the lowest output level on the shipping versions.

    The three 18650 cells are arranged in parallel – this means you can run a lower number of cells, but with increased current draw on each one. I don't recommend you try to run most output levels on anything but the full complement of cells. However, an IMR 26650 could be an interesting option to explore (I don't have one to test, but it should work well in the light). UPDATE January 19, 2012: Actually, I doubt this would work very well - I have tested a single IMR 18650 in the light, and get a lot of buzzing/whine at all output modes (increasing with output intensity).

    Looking at my runtime traces, it would appear that the S1 is relying on the internal chemistry of the Li-ion cells for quasi-regulated output. As my battery comparisons show, you can expect slightly differing profiles of output and runtime depending on the type of cells you use. Further battery runtimes are ongoing. UPDATE JANUARY 18, 2012: To really understand what the circuit is doing, you would need to do voltage sweeps with a bench-top power supply (that I don't have). I note that HKJ has performed some in his excellent S1 review, which shows clear signs of stabilization on Max (but at a current draw and voltage that is difficult for standard Li-ions to supply).

    While many here may decry the lack of flat regulation at all levels, direct-drive-like performance can be quite efficient at high drive levels (and you will not be able to notice the slow drop-off in output provided by the internal resistance of the Li-ion cells). Overall efficiency does seem to suffer somewhat at lower output levels (compared to the fully-regulated, or stabilized, competition), but the S1 has infinitely more output levels to choose from – including ultra low levels with the concomitant extended runtimes to match.

    I was impressed to see the relatively low standby mode current (suggesting about a year before it completely drains fully charged cells). But as always, I recommend you store the light locked-out when not in use.

    Despite its size, I find handling of light is good (i.e., well balanced, good grip, etc.). I quite like the feel of the control ring, and the overall interface. That said, I would like to see a few tweaks on the S1 – most notably an improved ramp, higher frequency PWM, and a clearer indicator mark on the control ring. But it is definitely an impressive new offering in the high-output/multi-emitter space, with some fairly unique features.

    UPDATE April 21, 2012: This review of the pre-production S1 has been superseded by a new review of the final production version, presented here. Most the issues identified on the pre-production model have been addressed. Please refer to that new review for information on the shipping version of the Xtar S1.

    ----

    S1 provided by Xtar for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 04-22-2012 at 08:03 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Fantastic review as always.
    I had my eye on this light since it appeared.
    There's a steady stream of high powered triple XML's that been surfacing lately.
    This one seems to fit the bill as far as my beam preference.
    I'm looking for I guess what you could call a power flood with hotspot with a single XML big reflector type throw.
    Your comparison with the Crelant answered my needs.
    I hope the price is right.
    Last edited by makapuu; 01-14-2012 at 01:16 PM.

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    Enlightened theix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    The reflector looks pretty much the same as Jetbeam RRT-3! If it shares similar reflector, then beam profile and throw capability should be close to each other?





    These numbers may not be accurate. Just my best guess.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Thanks for the review selfbuilt!

    Some numbers didn't seem to match up to me but maybe I read them wrong?

    Is the lux @ 1 m closer to 33k or 55K? In the first section was that you correcting the spec sheet with your numbers? Were you putting 2750 lumens against their claimed 3,000 and then later estimating 1,900?

    Sure wish you could take the SOS/beacon/strobe and swap them for more quick access, USABLE modes

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    Flashaholic* BLUE LED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    I must find the strength to walk away from this one, for I will have need of such strength so soon. CPF London meet coming soon.

    Thank you for the review.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by theix View Post
    The reflector looks pretty much the same as Jetbeam RRT-3! If it shares similar reflector, then beam profile and throw capability should be close to each other?
    I don't have the RRT-3 to directly compare, but it seems to have a much smaller head and reflector. The Jetbeam specs give the RRT-3 bezel opening as only 67mm. I measured 83.4mm for the S1 - the S1 clearly has a much larger head and reflector. Also, the depth of the reflector here seems unusually great, compared to others I've seen.

    Quote Originally Posted by rickypanecatyl View Post
    Some numbers didn't seem to match up to me but maybe I read them wrong?
    Is the lux @ 1 m closer to 33k or 55K? In the first section was that you correcting the spec sheet with your numbers? Were you putting 2750 lumens against their claimed 3,000 and then later estimating 1,900?
    No, at the start of my reviews, I always list the reported "manufacturer's specifications" - these are never my numbers. It just that Xtar has given two slightly different sets of specs (one on the web, and one in the bundled spec sheet). I have included both sets of numbers in the manufacturer's specs section, identifying which source they came from.

    The key point is that my testing directly measured 55K lux@1m (despite the much lower claim in the specs), and I found lower apparent output (despite the much higher claims in the specs). Max output of the S1 is slightly lower than the Nitecore TM11 (which seems to be accurately rated at 2000 lumens).

    I can't give a proper estimate for ANSI FL-1 lumens, as it depends on what brand and capacity of cells you use (i.e. my estimates range from 1750-1950, depending on the battery brand). This is because the S1 does not have flat regulation - it is dependent on the internal chemistry of the type of 18650 cell you use - so different cells have different output at 3 mins.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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    Flashaholic* 276's Avatar
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    I hope they address the ramping speed before they release it, from your video its too quick.

    Alex
    Surefire,Inova,4Sevens,Fenix,Olight,Malkoff, AEX25,Xeray50,Polarion Aybss Dual, AElight 30-50 watt,Wiseled tactical 2000,Peak, Lupine Wilma TL, .......

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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Thanks a lot for your excellent review as always. Selfbuilt!
    It's a shame that S1 doesn't provide steady or flat regulation in runtime graph. As you mention, it seems to be direct-drive.
    But it doesn't behave consistency on both levels(high, med. level) as the batteries run down on my test. (The med. level on my test is ~50% of high level.)


    It's strange that high(max.) mode on my test shows same as yours, but med. mode on my test doesn't look like yours.
    P.S. : The brightness on med. mode rises slightly for 25mins between 10 and 35mins on my test.
    Last edited by candle lamp; 01-15-2012 at 04:09 AM.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by candle lamp View Post
    It's strange that high(max.) mode on my test shows same as yours, but med. mode on my test doesn't look like yours.
    I suspect it's likely a battery issue - the Panasonic 3100mAh cells may do better at intermediate drive levels compared to my AW 2200mAh.

    As you can see on my ~25% output run, the initial 40 mins or so seems pretty well regulated on the AW 2200mAh (i.e. fairly flat). It may just be that your batteries do better at maintaining that pattern at the ~50% outputs. That is the issue with direct-drive patterns - they are highly variable depending on the battery source.

    I have some 3100mAh cells en route, and will update with review with additional comparisons once they arrive (including both a max and mid-range runtime). Should have the additional data up by the end of the week.

    P.S.: In case anyone is wondering, my AW 2200mAh used here are relatively new - less than 2 months old, with no more than a dozen charge cycles on them. I typically retire all my cells after ~40-50 charge cycles. Given that I buy in batches of 4 cells at a time, that means I completely rotate though 18650 cells every 6-9 months. You see now why I maintain a battery fund ... rechargeables cost me almost as much as primary cells.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-15-2012 at 10:17 AM.
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  10. #10
    Flashaholic* candle lamp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    As you can see on my ~25% output run, the initial 40 mins or so seems pretty well regulated on the AW 2200mAh (i.e. fairly flat). It may just be that your batteries do better at maintaining that pattern at the ~50% outputs. That is the issue with direct-drive patterns - they are highly variable depending on the battery source.I have some 3100mAh cells en route, and will update with review with additional comparisons once they arrive (including both a max and mid-range runtime). Should have the additional data up by the end of the week.P.S.: In case anyone is wondering, my AW 2200mAh used here are relatively new - less than 2 months old, with no more than a dozen charge cycles on them. I typically retire all my cells after ~40-50 charge cycles. Given that I buy in batches of 4 cells at a time, that means I completely rotate though 18650 cells every 6-9 months. You see now why I maintain a battery fund ... rechargeables cost me almost as much as primary cells.
    Thanks for your explanation. Selfbuilt!
    My batteries used on my test are quite new ones.
    I know it's not easy to make a runtime grpah when I had hands-on expereince of making runtime graph. So I appreciate you for giving yourself trouble to make a lot of excellent reviews.
    You need many rechargeable cells for many years to come.
    Hope you write a wonderful review of the light in the futuer.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by 276 View Post
    I hope they address the ramping speed before they release it, from your video its too quick.

    Alex
    We have decided to extend the preseting time, and will stop at the minimum output for one or two seconds.
    and also there will be couple of other changes for the final version of the S1.Thanks for the advice, guys!
    Kevin.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by xtarlight View Post
    We have decided to extend the preseting time, and will stop at the minimum output for one or two seconds.
    and also there will be couple of other changes for the final version of the S1.Thanks for the advice, guys!
    Kevin.
    please say that you will get rid of pwm as well

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Thanks, a very informative review. I'll be interested to see what the price is; xtar have always struck me as good value so far.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by xtarlight View Post
    We have decided to extend the preseting time, and will stop at the minimum output for one or two seconds.
    and also there will be couple of other changes for the final version of the S1.Thanks for the advice, guys!
    Kevin.
    Glad to hear it Kevin. Thanks for the official update. I've added that information to the review.

    Oh, and to the main forums.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-16-2012 at 07:25 AM.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by candle lamp View Post
    Thanks for your explanation. Selfbuilt!
    Looks like my guess is correct - here is another ~60% max output runtime test, on the Redilast 2600mAh cells this time:



    It is definitely a lot "flatter" on these cells.

    We'll see how my 3100mAh cells perform once they arrive - should have updated graphs up by the end of the week.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-17-2012 at 11:08 AM.
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  16. #16

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Correction notice: My datalogger was off for the ramp time scale - it actually recorded at 1 sec intervals, not 0.5sec. I have update the graph in the review:



    Note that only the x-axis time scale changes. This confirms that it is actually 7 secs to do a ramp down from Max to Min.

    FYI, my 3100mAh batteries arrived, so I am starting additional tests at the 100%, 60% and 25% output levels, to see how the runtime patterns look. Should have the results up in a few days.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Looks like my guess is correct - here is another ~60% max output runtime test, on the Redilast 2600mAh cells this time:



    It is definitely a lot "flatter" on these cells.

    We'll see how my 3100mAh cells perform once they arrive - should have updated graphs up by the end of the week.
    Yes, the 2600mAh cell shows a quite better steady regulation. Thanks for your posting it. Selfbuilt!
    Can't wait the performance of 3100mAh.
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  18. #18
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    Default

    Excellent review Selfbuilt, you rock! The way you do it makes me feel as if I am holding the light and evaluating it

    Cheers

  19. #19

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    As an update, Xtar informs me that in addition to extending the ramp and adding a delay at the lowest output, they also plan to improve the reference mark on the control ring, source a better lens, and standardize on 6000-7000K LEDs. Glad to see they are responding to requests from the community.

    Also, I note that HKJ has published his review of this light, with his valuable voltage-current interrogation graphs (using a bench-top power supply). They clearly show that there is an attempt at flat regulation (i.e. stabilization) on Max output - it just at a current load that is difficult for most Li-ions cells to supply, at the necessary voltage. Heat is likely a contributing factor as well - see his review thread for more info.

    My 3100mAh runtime tests are ongoing, and the review should be updated tomorrow with the results.

    Quote Originally Posted by firelord777 View Post
    Excellent review Selfbuilt, you rock! The way you do it makes me feel as if I am holding the light and evaluating it
    Thanks, glad to hear it strikes a chord.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-18-2012 at 10:20 AM.
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    In addition to the things that various reviewers have pointed out as shortcomings, I've emailed them to ask for the following changes in a future version of the S1. The person I contacted said that these are more difficult changes to implement, so no guarantees. Do any of you think they'd be good additions? Maybe if more of us speak up, Xtar might be more willing to make the changes:

    - Provide at least 2 steady modes: High and Low. We could use the Preset mode for “medium”. But I would still prefer 3 or 4 steady modes in addition to the Preset mode.
    - Give us a choice of neutral white LEDs.
    - Make the selector ring difficult to push past High and Preset, so that you don't accidentally get to Strobe and SOS modes, and don't accidentally get to the Select position, which would change your Preset mode.
    - Search & Rescue people might need the SOS and Strobe modes, but many other people don’t, and many people would never use those two modes. Maybe you could produce another version of the S1, for "regular people". You could omit the SOS and Strobe modes, so that turning the selector ring to the left gives you Low, Medium, and High.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    I've updated the main thread with results from my 4GREER 3100mAh battery (based on the Panasonic NCR18650A cell):





    Basically, you get the exact same runtime profile as my Redilast 2900mAh cells on Max - just with an extra dozen or so minutes of runtime as the levels drops near the end.

    I haven't bothered doing additional tests at the ~25% level, as it seems pretty clear there is no apparent circuit stabilization at the lower outputs (e.g., see HKJ's 40% and 6% voltage sweeps in his review).

    As an aside, I appear to have confirmed my earlier supposition of excessive hum/whine being due to not making full contact with all three cells (i.e., hum disapppeared with further tightening of the tailcap). I have tried to measure the current draw on a single IMR-18650 cells at the lower outputs, and get extreme levels of whine/buzz at even the medium levels.

    At around half max output, I measured current draw on single IMR-18650 to be just over 2.8A (EDIT: note that this reading is not accurate for a specific output, as the PWM and resistance in the DMM results in lower output and current when everything is connected). The whine was so severe at this level, I could feel the vibration through the handles of my multimeter leads. At about a quarter max output, I measured 1.1A, and still had quite noticeable hum - but greatly attenuated (EDIT: again, these current readings are being affected by the resistance in the DMM).

    As a result, I suspect my earlier speculation that an IMR26650 cell could work well in the light is unlikely. I don't have one to test, but you are likely to experience considerable whine if you try. Recommend you stick with 3x 18650 sources, as the manufacturer intended.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-23-2012 at 02:24 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Very good job. Thanks for your effort. Selfbuilt!
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  23. #23

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    how can they claim
    2800 AnSi Lumen
    when tests done by our reviewers show so much less. I thought the Ansi rating was a standard of otf not emitter lumens...am i wrong? and i guess we wont see the updated version till the end of feb :-/
    230 euros for the prototype model... a bit steep i wonder how much the updated version will be!?


    http://xtarlight.de/index.php?cat=c10_comming-soon-comming-soon.html

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Pretty sure that's just a dealer try to make a big buck off the light. It's selling for $150 USD in the MP

  25. #25

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    ok cool i thougth it was xtars site but hopefully its not!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt
    Although it is hard to select the <200 lumen output levels, I also measured the current at the lowest level I could obtain (which was ~30 estimated lumens). At this level, I got 4.8mA. Although difficult to give an exact runtime estimate, that would be expected to roughly translate into over 1600 hours (or over two months), for 3x 2600mAh cells. This is greater than the 330 hour estimate provided by Xtar.
    These numbers are wrong.

    30 lumens at 4.8mA at 4.2V would result in luminous efficacy of 30 lumens per 0.02016 Watt or 1488 lumens per Watt. And these aren't LED lumens but OTF including driver losses and optical losses.

    That is way more than theoretically physically possible when all energy would be converted to light, and about ten times more than possible with an XM-L LED (including optical and electronic losses) at optimal current.
    Since this light uses PWM (and thus likely a much higher current) it's even more off.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by Helmut.G View Post
    These numbers are wrong.
    I've managed to lock on to an even lower low mode, which my lightbox estimates as below 20 lumens. Here is a shot of the DMM (on appropriate uAmA port), with a single fully-charged 18650 at this level.



    As you can see, I am getting 2.8mA at this really low level.

    And here are shots comparing the output at this level to my Novatac 120P on its 30 lumen setting (Novatac 120P on the left, S1 on the right - various exposures in low light conditions).





    FYI, my lightbox and ceiling-bounce both agree the Novatac 30 lumen mode is brighter than the S1 at this level (which I estimate to be <20 lumens). So, I am getting ~15-20 lumens output on 2.8mA battery tailcap current, and ~30 lumens at 4.8mA (which is comparable), on a single 4.2V battery.

    30 lumens at 4.8mA at 4.2V would result in luminous efficacy of 30 lumens per 0.02016 Watt or 1488 lumens per Watt. And these aren't LED lumens but OTF including driver losses and optical losses.
    This is not my specialty, but I know that normally you can't infer luminous efficacy from tailcap current draws (i.e., due to the circuit, you typically need to actually measure current and voltage directly at the emitter). If you are looking at a direct-drive or a linear regulator light (which I believe this is), then I suppose tailcap current should be pretty comparable.

    But where does the fact that there are 3 emitters involved factor in to the math? I have no idea how the emitters are wired together, but it seems to me that has to be taken into consideration somehow (i.e. this isn't the same as single emitter setup, as you are looking at the combined output of 3 emitters).

    EDIT: Actually, turns out the problem is that the output is lot lower when the DMM is in the path during the current readings. The PWM and extra resistance in the DMM results in lower current and output (scroll down for a discussion ...)
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-23-2012 at 02:19 PM.
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    But where does the fact that there are 3 emitters involved factor in to the math? I have no idea how the emitters are wired together, but it seems to me that has to be taken into consideration somehow (i.e. this isn't the same as single emitter setup, as you are looking at the combined output of 3 emitters).
    I thought about that before posting, but in my opinion it doesn't make a difference.
    I'll use some made up numbers for an example:

    I you have an LED that can put out 5 lumens with a luminous efficacy of 150 lumens per watt (peak efficiency) or 100 lumens at 100 lm/W or 300 lumens at 60 lm/W then you can get 300 lumens out of one LED using 5 Watts of power or you can get 300 lumens from 3 LEDs using 3 Watts.
    You need less power here using more LEDs because you use a current that causes the LEDs to be more efficient.

    But when you go to the efficacy peak of the LEDs (5 lumens in my example) you can not do this again. You can have three LEDs put out 5 lumens each at maximum efficacy but if you lower the current to have less output from each individual emitter in order to achieve a combined output of 5 lm you will need more power.

    The maximum efficacy doesn't increase when you use more LEDs.

    Again, all numbers are not real numbers.




    This is not my specialty, but I know that normally you can't infer luminous efficacy from tailcap current draws (i.e., due to the circuit, you typically need to actually measure current and voltage directly at the emitter). If you are looking at a direct-drive or a linear regulator light (which I believe this is), then I suppose tailcap current should be pretty comparable.
    It's true that you can't calculate the actual efficacy from such measurements because you don't know the losses, so the actual efficacy of the LED is going to be higher than the calculation's result.
    The calculated number is a lower limit of the actual value.

    But since the result I'm getting is already a magnitude beyond possible (unless I made a major mistake), it's safe to say that something is wrong with those numbers even though only a lower limit is known.
    measuring directly at the emitter would only make the resulting lm/w-figure even bigger.



    I think maybe your meter is getting confused by the PWM.
    Because if your lumen estimate is about right the current measurement has to be wrong, and you know selfbuilt doesn't estimate 30 when it's actually only 3 lumens (even without your comparison pics)


    If somebody finds a mistake in my calculations please tell!
    Last edited by Helmut.G; 01-23-2012 at 12:19 PM.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    I'm sympathetic to your calculation result - I don't see an obviously flaw. And it's true I don't see how the 3 emitters changes things (it should all be proportionate). But logically, we are left with three possible explanations:

    1. There's a flaw in the math (due to an incorrect assumption neither of us can recognize, but again this isn't my specialty) - or, as you put it:
    If somebody finds a mistake in my calculations please tell!
    2. My output readings are way off by an order of magnitude, but as you say:
    Because if your lumen estimate is about right the current measurement has to be wrong, and you know selfbuilt doesn't estimate 30 when it's actually only 3 lumens (even without your comparison pics).
    3. The DMM is not accurately reporting the current draw from the battery:
    I think maybe your meter is getting confused by the PWM.
    I'm obviously confident the problem is not with #2 - and personally, I'm hoping the problem is with #1. Otherwise, this would call into question the accuracy of current readings at really low outputs on PWM-based lights. Not a pleasant thought ...

    EDIT: Actually, turns out that both #2 and #3 part of it - the PWM and extra resistance in the DMM results in lower current draws, reducing brightness while the current measures are being taken (scroll down for a discussion ...)
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-23-2012 at 02:17 PM.
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Xtar S1 (3xXM-L, 3x18650) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    As Helmut G. writes, something is wrong, the absolutely maximum power than can go into the light is 2.8mA*4.2V -> 0.016 W.
    Try measuring the lumen with the meter connected, it will be considerable lower than without the meter.

    One of the problems is that the light uses pwm, i.e. even at the lowest brightness it is drawing nearly full current (That is 7 ampere), but only in very short spikes. With the meter adding maybe 1 ohm resistance this is not possible and will reduce the brightness and current.

    To measure current in this light you need some good equipment and knowledge about how to use it, even 0.1 ohm resistance (Typical for many meters on 10A range) would be to much (Check the voltage sweep char in my review and see how much a 0.7 volt drop will change current and brightness).
    My website with battery and charger information: lygte-info.
    More than 1000 reviews of batteries, charges and other stuff.
    Compare 18650 LiIon batteries or smaller (RCR123, 16340, 14500, 10450) LiIon batteries.

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