Nitecore raises the stakes in one-upmanship with the latest in their Tiny Monster series, the TM26:
Five well-spaced output levels with range between 3 to 3500 lumens easily accessed via a two-stage electronic switch? - Check!
OLED display that can indicate: battery voltage/gauge, estimated runtime, internal temperature? - Check!
Built-in active thermal management, charger and tripod mount? - Check!
All this in a light not much bigger than a can of soda? - Check!
Suffice to say, the TM26 is currently one of the most technologically advanced flashlight in production. However, cynicists would point out that extra features just means extra things to potentially malfunction. Will they be right in this case? Let's see...
- The world's smallest 3500 lumen LED flashlight
- Integrated multi-function OLED display
- Thermal protection circuit prevents overheating
- Compatible with both 18650 Li-ion and CR123 batteries
- Intelligent charging circuit with voltage detection charges safely and rapidly
- Exceptionally long runtimes using 4 × 18650 Li-ion or 8 × CR123 batteries
- Capable of using 1 × 18650 or 2 x CR123 batteries in emergency situations
- Eight rapidly switchable brightness levels and modes to select from
- Innovative single button two-stage switch provides a user-friendly interface (Patented)
- Toughened ultra-clear mineral glass with anti-reflective coating
- Integrated “Precision Digital Optics Technology” provides extreme reflector performance
- Stainless steel bezel ring protects core components from damage
- Constructed from aerospace-grade aluminum alloy
- HAIII military grade hard-anodized
- Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (submersible to two meters)
- AC charging cable included
PACKAGING / CONTENTS
The TM26 arrived in the following box and ample foam cushioning:
Additional accessories included are:
- 1 x o-ring
- spare rubber charging port cover
- wrist strap
- 100-240V ~50/60Hz charger (Output: 12V/1000mA)
- silica gel (yes, it's worth a mention, always nice to see this included w/electronic equipment)
Here is a complete video summary of the TM26 while while I work on fleshing out this review:
SIZE / HANDLING
L to R (both pics): NITECORE TM11 | Shadow SL3 | NITECORE TM26 | Sunwayman T60CS | Niteye EYE30 | APEX 5T6
The above shots demonstrate just how compact the TM26 vs. other multi-emitter and multi-cell (w/exception of the SL3) lights.
Here are some direct comparo's vs. the TM11:
For details of the above indoor shots and comparo vs. many other lights, please check Epic Indoor Shots Trilogy
OUTDOOR COMPARO VID
Please see this thread for commentary on this vid.
RUNTIME & OUTPUT
The relevant battery stats are provided above each runtime graph along with:
- Voltage of the battery at the start and end of the test
- Current draw
- Actual runtime using ANSI FL1 (first in HR and then in M so for the RL3400 on Turbo, read this as 3.0hrs or 181min)
- As of May 2012: Lumens measured on my PVC LMD @ 30 seconds
- Also for Turbo, captured the temperature: ambient, the head/fins at start and the max it reached (fan was used for all bats)
Max output measured @ 30 seconds was 3560lms w/4xRediLast 3400's (note: although I calibrate my PVC LMD before each runtime/lumens testing, the ambient temp will also cause deviations in readings).
There is a general mild decline in output from the moment the TM26 is first turned until the thermal management kicked in at 3.75 minutes and the TM26 stepped down to L4. This is maintained in perfect regulation until the cells can no longer sustain output at which there starts a gradual decline. I didn't capture the tail-end of the run (the nose dive portion) since my logger cut out but total time to 10% of initial output was about three hours.
In L4 (High) mode, the TM26 will run nearly perfectly regulated for the full duration without stepping down:
- The TM26's built-in charger doesn't exhibit a true CC/CV curve given that the current starts declining at a good clip a little over an hour into the charge
- this prolongs charging by a bit; case in point, four fully depleted RediLast 3400's took ~9.4hrs to charge
- Termination current is ~122mA (30.5mA if charging four cells)
- In general, charging has been quite conservative; as it stands I haven't been able to get any cells charged above 4.18V
- pro is that it'll lead to longer overall life of the cells used and is generally very safe
- con is that if max runtime is desired, then one would need to charge the cells externally with a different charger to 4.2V (or whatever is the max for the cells in use since there are some newer batteries that can be charged to 4.35V)
- Upon termination, there is a current draw of 8mA (due to the charging indicator light and the OLED display)
- this isn't exactly trivial especially if less than four cells are used so I'd recommend always unplugging the charger when charging is complete
- otherwise stand by current drain is respectable @ ~1.5mA w/spikes to 4mA due to locater beacon
- Is able to reset a tripped PCB's
- There is a weird voltage spike approximately 25min into the charge; it's likely due to my wiring config but I'll report back if I run another charging test in the future
TM26 provided by Nitecore for review.