Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
The GoBe is a new light from Light & Motion, an American manufacturer that I hadn't previously been familiar with. The GoBe series is an innovative design, with interchangeable head modules and two potential battery pack handles. The lights feature an integrated battery and charger, of generally similar capacity to modern single 18650 batteries.
Light & Motion have sent me their higher capacity battery pack and handle (3000mAh, designated as GoBe+), as well as two head modules: a 700 lumen "spot" model, and a 500 lumen "search" model. As always, let's see what the official specs have to say for this configuration ...
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides scroll down to see my actual testing results).
Common GoBe+ Specs
- The GoBe Platform is compatible with 6 different light heads and a wide range of accessories.
- GoBe lights have 3 standard power levels and an auxillary mode with SOS & Extended run time settings
- LED Indicator behind the power button clearly displays battery status during use.
- Charge it anywhere with the USB rechargeable system that slides into the external charge port. Rapid charge with optional 2 amp USB adapter.
- Gobe+ (3.0Ah): 2 Amps - 3hr, 1 Amp 4.5 hrs, .5 Amp 6 hrs
- Gobe (2.2Ah): 2 Amps - 2hr, 1 Amp 3.5 hrs, .5 Amp 5 hrs
- The LED indicator displays charge status (100% - Solid Green, 50-99% - Flashing Green, 25-50% - Flashing Yellow, 0-25% - Flashing Red).
- Charge rate status is also displayed by holding down the power button while charging. A green light means it's charging at 2 Amps, Yellow - .5A-1A, Red - .5A or less.
- Integrated thermal management. By circulating air and water through ventilation ports behind the light head and through the body, the GoBe is able to provide efficient thermal management underwater and on land.
- Compact design is travel ready and weighs only 160-170 gr.
- USB rechargeable li-ion battery with an accurate battery status indicator, 5 power modes, and run-times up to 54 hrs.
- Specifications tested and certified to the Fl-1 Standard.
- Accessories included: USB Charge Cable, Bar Mount, Lanyard, Head & Body Splash Caps, Grease & O-Ring. GoBe+ Handle & light head.
Gobe+ 700 Spot
- Featuring a powerful 20° beam optimized to eliminate hot spots and provide an excellent balance of beam distance and viewing angle for a variety of uses.
- Lumens/Runtime: High 700lm/1.5hrs, Med 325lm/3hrs, Lo 100lm/12hrs, Extended 50lm/24hr, SOS 100lm/36hr
- Size and Weight: 45x122mm, 160g
- Beam angle: 20 degrees
- MSRP: ~$299
GoBe+ 500 Search
- Optimized to deliver maximum penetration with a tight 8° spot beam, the GoBe+ Search is ideal for applications where beam distance and run-time are key, such as search-and-rescue, signaling or technical/cave diving.
- Lumens/Runtime: High 500lm/2.2hrs, Med 225lm/4.4hrs, Lo 70lm/18hrs, Extended 35lm/36hr, SOS 70lm/54hr
- Size and Weight: 45x122mm, 170g
- Beam angle: 8 degrees
- MSRP: ~$329
- Optional mounts: Photo Ball mount & Video Locline mount kit, YS Mount kit, and Helment Mount available, $19 each
- Additional heads are typically $79-129 each (depending on model)
- Additional battery/handles are $149-199 (depending on battery capacity)
- Additional mount kits are typically $19 each.
- Light & Motion also offers a number of combo options for $499, typically featuring two heads, with the imaging mount kits and phosphor flip-cap.
- 2A wall charger is $29.
Packaging is distinctive, with the light (and/or separate head module) securely fixed inside a clear plastic cylinder with shipping foam. Inside the cardboard box (which has specs and features printed on it), you will find extra o-rings, good quality wrist lanyard, custom USB charging cable, bicycle bar mount, o-ring lube, and manual.
From left to right: AW Protected 18650 2300mAh; GoBe+ 700 Spot; Sunwayman C21C; Eagletac D25LC2; Olight M20S-X; ArmyTek Viking; Eagletac G25C2-II
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Light & Motion GoBe+ 500 Search: Weight (with built-in battery): 189.2g, Length: 132.4mm, Width (bezel screw threads): 47.7mm
Light & Motion GoBe+ 700 Spot: Weight (with built-in battery): 174.5g, Length: 125.7mm, Width (bezel screw threads): 47.9mm
Foursevens MMR-X: Weight 90.8g, Weight (with 18650): 138.5g, Length: 138.6mm, Width (bezel): 31.5mm
Nitecore P25: Weight: 171.3g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
Nitecore MH25: Weight: 145.4g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
Olight M20S-X: Weight: 124.1g, Length: 145.4mm, Width: 35.5mm (head)
Klarus RS11: Weight 158.0g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel) 34.9mm
Rofis TR31C: Weight: 180.7g, Length: 153.0mm, Width (bezel): 39.8mm
The GoBe lights are pretty close to their specs, although both are slightly heavier (and the 500 Search has a slightly longer head)
The GoBe is a pretty unique design I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. The initial impression is one of a custom light, with high quality attention to detail.
The two-toned gray plastic body of the GoBe+ has different consistencies, with the light gray areas having a soft rubberized grip, and the dark gray feeling like hard plastic. With all the styling elements, I would grip is good.
Labeling is minimal on the body of the light, mainly engraved Light & Motion logos and the GoBe+ name. There are white labels printed on the head modules, identifying the specific module.
Head modules appear to be anodized aluminum in blue finish for the 700 Spot and black for the 500 Search. The head modules attach by a screw thread mechanism, with a clear plastic ring that mates with the corresponding plastic body threads. Screw thread mechanism has a good feel in my testing.
The "stalk" of the aluminum head module makes contact with a corresponding region in the body, with a series of internal pins that connect the two components. There are a series of cut-out holes around the body in this region, allowing for air or water flow over the head components.
Waterproofness is maintained by an o-ring at the base of the head module "stalk". Oh, and you might have noticed the labels that say each module is rated to a max 120m depth? Since the Manufacturer claims to meet ANSI FL-1 testing standard, that would presumably mean the "Submersible" standard (which is actually a more explicit form of IPX-8) - rated in this case to a depth of 120m.
The control switch is located under a raised portion of the soft gray plastic near the head, where the Light & Motion logo is engraved (i.e., just above the LED power indicator). Switch feel is a little "squishy" for my tastes, with a longer traverse than typical for an electronic switch. It has worked reliably in my testing though. Scroll down for a discussion of the User Interface.
There is a tripod attachment point at the opposite end from the switch, as well as an attachment point for the various mount accessories. There is a wrist lanyard point in the tail area.
The tail area features two distinctive items: a locking mechanism, and the charging port.
I quite like the lock feature you can turn it with a fingernail, but it stiff enough that it won't turn on its own. When locked out, you won't be able to turn the light on.
Since the battery is integrated into the handle (i.e., not user serviceable), you can only charge it with the accompanying charging cable. There is no open voltage at the contacts on the tail, so there is no risk of shorting the battery inside the light. The cable attaches by sliding over the contacts, clicking into place when fully engaged. This is straightforward, and again removes any potential risk of shorting during installation.
The charging cable plugs into a standard USB port, for a 0.5A charging rate. If you use an appropriate AC/USB adapter that supports higher currents, you can charge the light more quickly. Light & Motion also sells a dedicated 2A charging plug. See my charging experience with the default cable under the User Interface section later in this review.
And now, the heads:
GoBe+ 700 Spot
GoBe+ 500 Search
The 700 Spot uses an XM-L2 emitter, cool white, well centered in a small and shallow reflector (with texturing). This will produce a wide flood of light, with little-to-no hotspot. As such, I find the "Spot" label for this beam somewhat puzzling it really should be a "no spot" beam, or what we commonly call a flood beam here.
The 500 Search head has a TIR optic, which should produce maximum throw with minimum spill. I can't tell what emitter is under the optic.
Scroll down to see my beamshots for these two lights.
The GoBe series has a straightforward basic interface. Click (press-release) the electronic switch to active the light in Lo mode.
You can advance modes by clicking again. Mode sequence is Lo > Med > Hi, in repeating sequence.
Turn the light off by pressing and holding the switch.
To access the "hidden" auxiliary modes, press-and-hold the switch from off. The light will come on in the Extended Lo mode. Click the switch to advance to SOS (in a repeating Extended Lo > SOS sequence). As before, press and hold to turn the light off.
When on, the LED indicator over the switch lights up and indicates current battery life remaining. Constant green means 50-100% remaining, constant yellow means 25-50%, constant red means 10-25%, and flashing red means 0-10% left. The GoBe also has a low battery warning in the main beam, which will flash every 12 secs once the charge remaining drops to below 2%.
The GoBe has integrated thermal management, and will reduce output by 50% in any mode if it detects excessive temperature.
You can lock out the light by turning the dial in the tailcap. The light can only be activated in the unlocked position.
Charging is controlled by the dedicated USB charging cable. When charging, the switch indicator will flash to indicate relative charging time left: flashing red means the light is only 0-25% charged, flashing yellow means the light is 25-50% charged, and flashing green means the light is 50-99% charged. Solid green means the light is fully charged, and can now be disconnected.
You can verify the current charge rate during charging by waiting 15 secs and then pressing and holding the switch. According to Light & Motion, constant green indicates >1A charging, constant yellow means 500mA-1A charging, and red means <500mA charging.
Charging time for the 3000mAh GoBe+ battery pack by USB port using the included cable - was approximately 6 hours in my testing (consistent with the GoBe specs and charge indicator). When using the standard cable with a 1A-rated AC/USB adapter I had lying around, charging time was 3 hours. The GoBe indicated a >1A charging rate during this time, which is consistent with the accelerated charging time. Note that an optional dedicated 2A charger is available from Light & Motion, for even faster charging.
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
Video was 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.
As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.
The GoBe lights use Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) for the lowest levels (Lo and Extended Lo), but the not the higher levels (Med and Hi), which appear to be current controlled.
Gobe+ 700 Spot Lo
Gobe+ 700 Spot Extended Lo
Gobe+ 500 Search Lo
Gobe+ 500 Search Extended Lo
As you can see, the Lo/Extended PWM is at a visible 200 Hz frequency. Although this may be disappointing for those who are sensitive to low frequency PWM, I don't find it to be an issue on the Lo mode (although I do notice on the Extended Lo modes). The likely reason for this is the unusually high pulse width in this case (i.e., "on" period of the pulse duty cycle).
I have previously observed that that the variable pulse width of PWM matters greatly in terms of how perceptible it is (in addition to the constant frequency). At higher pulse widths (i.e., when the light is actually "on" a good amount of the pulse), I find that PWM "flicker" is far less noticeable. This why a ~50% "Med" mode may not look too noticeable on a PWM light, but a ~5% "Lo" mode is very distracting (i.e., a 50% pulse width compared to a 5% pulse width).
The GoBe is very unusual that the Med and Hi mode are both constant-current, and the set value for PWM duty cycle seems to be based on a constant current value somewhere between Lo and Med output levels. You can tell this from the oscilloscope traces the 500 Search has ~50% pulse width, while the 700 Spot has a ~65% pulse width on Lo. As you will see in the output tables later in this review, the Med mode is actually quite a bit brighter than the Lo mode (~4-6x brighter, depending on the module). So the PWM duty cycle is clearly based on a much lower constant current than is typical for a PWM light.
Practically, what this all means is that you would be hard pressed to notice the PWM on the Lo mode. In my experience, the low frequency PWM used here is only an issue on the Extended Lo mode the standard Lo/Med/Hi levels are fine.
SOS mode is a fairly typical SOS sequence. Note the SOS is not at full power, but at the standard Lo level. This is why you are seeing the effect of the PWM in the on-sequences above.
Due to the electronic nature of the switch, there is bound to be an ongoing standby drain at all times. However, given the integrated battery, I am unable to measure this drain.
To prevent accidental activation, you lock the light at the tailcap dial.
For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an AW protected 18650 battery. 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.
These standard white wall beamshots really don't capture the GoBe lights well, as they are set up to show reflector light beam patterns. But you can tell that the 700 Spot has a wide beam, and the 500 Search has little spill (with just a few faint concentric rings).
To really tell what is going on, we need to take a look over a further distance
Unfortunately, we are still in a middle of a deep freeze here in my part of Canada, with several feet of snow on the ground. As such, outdoor shots would be meaningless (think of snow as equal parts ground-level diffuser and a massive reflector to get the general idea of why outdoor beamshots won't work).
So for now, you will have to make do with some indoor shots in my basement. For your reference, the back of the couch is about 7 feet away (~2.3m) from the opening of the light, and the far wall is about 18 feet away (~5.9m). Below I am showing a couple of exposures, to allow you to better compare hotspot and spill.
This will give you a better feel. The 700 Spot model is really like a typical XM-L2 light with a light diffuser cover a wide beam, with no real hotspot to speak of. The 500 Search is all hotspot, similar to an aspheric or well-focused TIR optic.
All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. 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. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).
The above table captures the differences between the two GoBe lights quite well, and allows you to compare to the competition.
Here are how all the levels compare to the official specs, in my lightbox:
As you can see, there is very good concordance for both the 700 Spot and 500 Search and my lightbox estimated lumens. Both lights seem slightly brighter on Med than the specs would indicate. And the 500 Search seems slightly dimmer on the Extend Lo and Lo modes in my lightbox.
For the runtime comparisons, I'm going to use other in-light recharging models.
As you can see above, both lights do quite well in runtime compared to their peers but that's because I'm using a 2200mAh battery on most of the other lights (the Foursevens has a 2600mAh battery). Both lights have good regulation pattern, which is reasonably flat.
Hard to comment further without knowing the specifics of the emitters in there, but I would rate the overall efficiency as good, with more than acceptable runtimes for the class.
The battery is not user-accessible. You would have to buy additional battery pack/handles directly from the Manufacturer.
The GoBe uses visible PWM on its Lo and Extended Lo levels, of 200 Hz frequency. However, I do not find this at all noticeable on the Lo level, as the pulse width is unusually high (indicating a relatively low minimum constant-current level). See my comments under the oscilloscope section for more info.
The GoBe body handle is made of plastic, but feels quite sturdy and very well made and with good attention to effective thermal management in the head.
The GoBe by Light & Motion is really more of a flashlight system than a specific model it is very modular, with a lot of interchangeable options and extras. In simple terms, I suppose you can think of it as the equivalent of an in-light charging 1x18650 series, but with an integrated battery.
The GoBe has a lot going for it, with a thoughtful design and good hand feel. Both head/LED modules examined here have worked well in my testing, with good quality beams for the design styles. The 500 Search has a nice TIR optic for a very consistent spot beam (with relatively little chromatic aberration), and the 700 Spot is a very even flood beam.
There are a lot of small touches to commend like the physical lock out dial, the charging contacts with no open voltage, the rapid charge option, the high-depth waterproofness, clever thermal management, a wide series of mounts, etc. With all that, probably the only extra thing that I would like to see is a general purpose flip-top diffuser for the throwy models (to complement the "nightsea" design).
Output/runtime efficiency and regulation were very good on my 3000mAh battery pack sample. One potential issue here is the low-frequency PWM on the Lo and Extended Lo levels (200 Hz) not present on the Med or Hi levels. But it's important to realize that the unusually high pulse width on the Lo mode makes it relatively flicker-free in actual use. A better way to think of this light is as a hybrid constant-current and PWM light, with the PWM duty cycle based on an unusually low constant current (by typical PWM-light standards). Please see my comments in the oscilloscope section of this review for an explanation. I am personally quite sensitive to PWM flicker, and have absolutely no problem with the Lo mode on the main sequence of the GoBe.
But that does raise another issue for me - I would also like to see a true moonlight mode (and one that was constant current, as I do see flicker on the Extended Lo). Ultra-low light is important to me in a general purpose flashlight. Similarly, if you are only going to have one flashing mode, a slow signaling strobe (i.e. 1-2 Hz) is far useful than SOS (when similarly run at low power). I know some here like to see a full-power "tactical" strobe on every light, but my preference would be for a slow strobe, or maybe a beacon mode, over a fast strobe or SOS. A signaling strobe would be particularly great given the variety of biking-suitable mounts available (e.g., the included handbar mount, or optional helment mount).
I'm impressed by the thoughtful design and attention to detail in this series. All aspects are clearly the result of careful consideration. The GoBe really does seem to be a "go anywhere" sort of light, with a rugged enough construction to be used on-road, off trail, under water, etc. The final set of products is flexible to appeal to a wide range of users (just remember that "search" models are spot-beams, and "spot" models are flood-beams). Hopefully the detailed testing here will help bring this series to the attention of the broader community.
GoBe modules provided by Light & Motion for this review.