Warning: pic heavy as usual.
Niwalker is a relatively new Taiwanese flashlight maker. They used to be an OEM manufacturer for a few other companies (e.g., Tiablo), and are now producing lights under their own name. I have previously reviewed their 750N1 and 220 models, and now have their first continuously-variable 600N1 on hand for testing.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
Note: as always, these are only what the manufacturer reports. To see my actual testing results, scroll down the review.
- Cree XM-L U2
- Output: 2~600 Lumen constant current circuit (1-18650)
- Lux @ 1 meter: 16,200 (1-18650)
- Run Time: 1-50 hrs
- Operation: magnetic ring infinitely variable switch and tactical tail cap switch
- Reflector: Smooth polished reflector creates maximum throw
- Body Finish: HA III Mil Spec hard anodized mat black
- Waterproof: IPX-8 standard
- Working Voltage: 3.7V-8.4V
- Low Voltage warning: 1-18650 3V
- Dimensions: Length: 165mm Bezel diameter: 40mm Body diameter:25mm
- Weight: 180h
- Light Body: Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
- Lens: Toughened AR coated glass lens
- Product Character: Rugged construction and magnetic ring infinitely variable switch
- Lockout: Assures the NWK 600N1 will not inadvertently turn on
- Accessories: Holster, lanyard, clip, rubber tactical ring, flat black aluminum bezel, spare o-rings and switch cover (standard)
- MSRP: ~$145
The light comes in Niwalker's eco-packaging – a simple sturdy cardboard box, very reminiscent of Zebralight. Inside, the 600N1 came with a good quality belt holster with vecro closing flap, decent wrist lanyard, clip-on style pocket clip, rubber grip ring, extra o-ring, manual, and warranty card. My review sample came with only the scalloped stainless steel bezel and tailcap rings, but I understand the matching black anodized bezel ring is included standard with the shipping versions.
From left to right: AW protected 18650; Niwalker NWK600N1; Sunwayman V20C; Jetbeam RRT-21; Nitecore IFE2; Jetbeam RRT-2.
Niwalker NWK600N1: Weight: 171.6g, Length: 161mm, Width (bezel): 39.7mm
Nitecore MT25: Weight 124.6g, Length: 142.9mm, Width (bezel): 34.2mm
JetBeam RRT-21: Weight: 137.3g, Length143.3 mm, Width (bezel) 33.8mm
Klarus XT11: Weight 133.0g, Length: 148.8, Width (bezel) 35.0mm
Sunwayman V20C: Weight: 117.4g, Length 133.0mm, Width (bezel) 32.2mm
Thrunite TN10: Weight: 154.7g, Length: 145.5mm, Width (bezel): 35.1mm
Light is a bit taller than some, likely due to the variable-control ring mechanism and deeper than usual reflector.
Anodizing is a matte black, with no chips on my samples. Labels are bright white and include a serial number - all clearly legible against the dark background. There is some minor knurling across the tailcap, head and battery tube, but it is very mild in terms of aggressiveness. Grip is ok, but that's about it.
The control ring has a shiny silver color, with a slight checkered pattern. Grip is could be better. Ring feel is a bit different from most – hard to describe, but a bit "grittier" than typical (i.e., like it could use more lube). Niwalker is looking into this. It still turns fine on my sample.
There are clear detents for Off and Max. Past Max, there is another detent for Strobe. This is similar to the Sunwayman V20C.
There is a slightly raised contact point in the head, with a small spring underneath. This means flat top cells can be used (confirmed on all of my flat-top cells). The body tube is wide enough to take high-capacity protected 18650 cells.
Screw threads are standard triangular cut, and seem of good quality. They are also anodized for lock-out at the tailcap.
Tailcap boot cover has fairly cylindrical shape. Switch is a forward clicky, and switch feel is a little stiffer than most. Light can tailstand, but is a bit wobbly on my sample.
Again, my review sample only included the stainless steel bezel and tailcap rings, but I understand flat-black aluminium ones are included on the shipping version.
The 600N1 comes with a cool white emitter, well centered on my sample. Reflector was smooth finish, and quite deep (which should translate into good throw).
The 600N1 has a forward tailcap clicky - press and release for momentary on, click for locked on.
Mode switching is controlled by the control ring in the head. The 600N1 features a somewhat continuously-variable interface – you control the output level by twisting the ring. You can select your desired mode while the light is off.
The ring traverses a little over 1/4 of the circumference of the light. When holding the light in front of you, turning the ring clockwise (i.e. to the right) increases the output level. There is a clear and firm detent just below the minimum output, which is a standby "Off" mode. There is another clear detent at the Max mode. A little further past Max is another detent for the Strobe mode. There is a label on the head that is meant to show you the sequence.
One comment here – there seems to be a lower number of discrete levels in the continuously-variable ramp than most other lights with this sort of interface. If you turn the ring slowly enough (especially at the low levels), you can spot the slight jumps in output of the beam.
To put the 600N1 in context to other continuously-variable lights of the same class , here is what you can expect to observe as you turn the ring:
The 600N1 does not have what is generally known here as a "visually-linear" ramp (i.e., like the Sunwayman V20C). The 600N1's performance more closely (but not exactly) matches the Jetbeam RRT-21.
To explain, here on the forums a "visually-linear" ramp is taken to mean a logarithmic ramp of output, as opposed to an actual circuit-linear ramp of output. The reason for this is that we perceive brightness in a non-linear way. A logarithmic adjustment has long been used to try to compensate for our relative visual perceptions (e.g. the stops of camera are logarithmic).
However a logarithmic adjustment is not entirely accurate – it is just a rough approximation of how our eyes and brain adapt to varying output levels (and one based on Victorian-era science at that). More extensive scientific research over the last several decades has revealed distinct power relationships that better correlate to our various relative sensory perceptions. For perceived brightness of a non-point source of light, the currently accepted linearization method is actually a cube root of output. For a full discussion of this - including detailed graphs and primary literature references - please see this post and the subsequent discussion.
Here is a much better way to depict how we actually perceive light – by plotting the lightbox output values on a cube-root scale. This is known as the Stevens’ power law relationship for perceived brightness:
This is what you can expect to see when you handle the lights. Subjectively, the "visually-linear" V20C will spend a lot of time at the lower output levels upon initially turning the ring. This gives you very good dynamic control of the relative perceived brightness of the lights. The "circuit-linear" RRT-21 on the other hand spends most of the range of the dial choosing between near-maximal outputs.
The 600N1 is basically a "circuit linear" ring, not a visually-linear one. But there does seem to be some adjustment made to give you an accelerated ramp in output of near-maximal levels near the end of the dial. Not sure why they did it this way instead of going for a full "visually-linear" ramp", but I suppose you could consider it as something of an intermediate-style ramp. I would prefer fully visually-linear, to facilitate selection of the low modes.
For more information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my new video overview:
As always, videos were recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.
Standby Current Draw
I have measured the battery current draw at the standby "Off" detent, and get 9.3mA on 1x18650. For a standard capacity 2600mAh 18650, that would translate into a little over 11 days before a battery would be fully drained.
That's a significant current drain, so I recommend you always fully lock-out the light by either clicking the tailcap off, or unscrewing a quarter turn.
To put that in perspective, that current draw is about half that of the Jetbeam RRT-21/15 (which uses a similar non-linear control ring). In contrast, the visually-linear Sunwayman V20C has a miniscule 0.7uA on its standby mode (i.e., less than a thousandth the current draw here or on the RRT-series lights).
As a side note, the current draw of the lowest output level I could measure on the NWK600N1 (i.e. 0.09 lumens) was 12.4mA. This means that the maximum runtime you could expect is a little under 9 days, even at this ultra-low level. This is not unusual – for most lights with continuously-variable control rings, the circuit overhead is considerable (thus limiting runtimes at the lowest levels).
I am unable to detect any signs of PWM on any output using my standard soundcard oscilloscope. Either the light is current-controlled, or it uses PWM at too high a frequency for me to detect. Either way, there is no sign of flicker visually.
There was some high frequency noise that I observed on all modes below Max, but it wasn't visually detectable.
Strobe is fairly standard ~10 Hz.
All lights are on Max output on 1x AW protected 18650 (2200mAh). Lights are 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.
Due to the very deep reflector and raised scalloped bezel ring, there are some noticeable artifacts around the periphery of the beam (i.e., seems a bit triangular). It is possible the included standard black aluminium bezel ring would have less of an effect, but one wasn't included on my review sample (should be included on all shipping samples, though). As expected, throw is good for this class.
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 devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables.
Again, throw is reasonably good for the class. The max output seems very consistent in my testing with the published specs.
Although I was able to measure a lower low mode than the specs indicate, this is hard to do (i.e., requires a very fine turn of the ring). But you should be able to set it to <1 lumen levels reasonably easily. The ring is firm enough to not move on its own.
As you would expect for a continuously-variable light, the 600N1 is not a particularly efficient performer, but it is acceptable. The runtime pattern is well regulated on 2xRCR/CR123A, but looks more "direct-drive"-like on 1x18650 (at all levels). This is not a problem though, as you will not be able to notice the gradual drop-off in output over time.
The 600N1 starts to flash once output drops below ~25% initial output, on 1x18650 or 2xCR123A. This is the expected low-voltage warning feature.
But on my sub-Max 2xRCR runs, I noticed some flickering/flashing beginning after ~15 mins of runtime. Not sure what the source of this circuit glitch was, but it was fairly consistent – and not present on Max with 2xRCR (or on any other battery type).
The feel of the 600N1 control ring is not quite as smooth as some other models (i.e., feels a bit "gritty" when turning). Niwalker is looking into it. The ring surface is fairly smooth, and not as grippy as some others either. There is also a bit of lateral play (i.e., can slide up and down slightly).
The light is not "visually-linear" in its ramping pattern, although there does seem to be some slight adjustment to improve the dynamic range of the near-max levels.
There seems to be a lower number of discrete levels in the continuously-variable ramp than most other lights with this sort of interface. If you turn the ring slowly enough (especially at the low levels), you can notice the slight jumps in output as it moves through levels (i.e., not fully continuous visually).
My sample seems to have some issues with 2xRCR – at any level lower than max, the light eventually started flickering after ~15 mins continuous runtime. If I turned it off/on at this point, the flickering continued, making me think it has something to do with the low-voltage sensor mis-reading the capacity of the 2xRCR.
Standby current is relatively high on the control ring "off", and will drain a fully charged battery within a couple of weeks. Recommend you all store the light either clicked-off, or locked out at the tailcap.
Switch has a stiffer feel than typical.
This is the second production-model Niwalker that I reviewed, and one with a distinctive-looking build and function. It shows Niwalker knows how to make a flashlight, but there are a few tweaks here that I would like to see (maybe for the N2 version?).
The overall approach of their control ring is good. I like the traverse length, and the clear detents at Off, Max and Strobe. In this sense, it is very similar to the Sunwayman V20C, which I have always liked.
But the ring itself could use a few adjustments – the turning mechanism could feel smoother, and the surface of the ring itself could be grippier. More importantly, I would like to see a full "visually-linear" ramp implementation. At the moment, Niwalker seems to be using a slightly customized circuit-linear ramp, with greater control over near-max levels. This is better than some makers, but I like to have greater control over the really low levels (which a fully visually-linear ramp would provide).
The 600N1 is clearly designed for throw, and it does this job well. Beam pattern was clean, with a sharply defined hotspot. But the scalloped bezel ring included on my sample introduces some edging effects in the spill beam (common on any light with a deeply seated emitter and scalloped bezel).
Circuit-wise, overall output-runtime performance was typical for the class at the Max level, and fairly mediocre at the continuously-variable levels (likely due to the continuously-variable interface). I'm not generally a big fan of low-voltage warning sensors, as they can sometimes cause problems (i.e., inadvertent early activation on some batteries). Case in point – my light started flickering on 2xRCR when the cells were still more than three quarters fully charged. Not sure if this is related or not, but 2xCR123A and 1x18650 worked consistently well in my testing.
The 600N1 is a distinctive light - both form and function differ slightly from other models in this class. This suggests to me that Niwalker really has built this model from the ground up, and not relied on other existing designs. But as such, there remains some fine-tuning of specific features and performance that could help make it more well-rounded overall.
Niwalker 600N1 provided by Niwalker for review.