Nitecore has updated their recently released EA41 to a new "2015" edition featuring a higher output bin emitter. The official specs have also been updated, suggesting a significantly higher drive level on some output modes.
How does this new 2015 model compare to the original 2014 that I reviewed a little while ago?
Well, there is certainly no change in external styling.
Let's put this new sample through its paces to find out what has changed "under the hood" …
Manufacturer/Dealer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the dealer/manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- Emitter: 1 x Cree XM-L2 U2 (note: the 2014 edition was a T6)
- Output/Runtime: Turbo Mode: 1020 lumens (1hr 45mins), High Mode: 580 lumens (2 hrs and 45 mins), Mid Mode: 160 lumens (12 hrs), Low Mode: 50 lumens (30 hrs), Micro Mode: 1 lumen (400 hr)
- Beam Intensity: 28,276cd
- Beam Distance: 335m
- Battery Type/Quantity: 4 x AA Battery (not included)
- Modes: 8 (Turbo; High; Middle; Low; Micro; SOS; Strobe Mode; Location Beacon)
- Waterproof: IPX-8 Standard Waterproof (Underwater 2m)
- Reflector: Aluminum Smooth Reflector
- Lens: Toughened Ultra-clear Glass Lens with Anti-reflective Coating
- Impact Resistance: 1.5m
- Aerospace Grade Aluminum Body with Anti Scratching Type III Hard Anodization
- Body Material: Aluminium Alloy
- Available Color: Black
- Product weight: 0.151 kg (without battery)
- Package weight: 0.4 kg
- Product size (L x W x H): 11.7 x 4 x 4.18 cm / 4.6 x 1.57 x 1.65 inches
- Package size (L x W x H): 15 x 6 x 13.5 cm
- Package Contents: 1 x Flashlight, 1 x Quality Holster, 1 x Lanyard, 1 x Spare O-ring
- MSRP: ~$65
Note that there are some discrepancies in how output and throw measures are reported for the 2014 and 2015 editions. For example, reported output has increased significantly at sub-max levels since the 2014 edition, with oddly no reported change in runtime. Also, the initial 2015 specs reported a large beam intensity increase to 35,594cd (376m), which has subsequently been revised down to what is currently reported above (28,276cd, 335m). Please see the actual measures later in this review for a discussion.
External packaging for the EA41 has been updated with the new "2015 VERSION" banner, revised emitter output bin (U2) and revised max output and beam intensity measures. Note that the printed beam intensity measures are wrong, and have since been revised down on the Nitecore website (see current official specs above).
Inside, the packaging is the same as the 2104 edition. Along with the light, you will find a holster with closing flap, decent wrist lanyard, extra o-ring, manual, and warranty card.
Note that the light looks exactly the same as the previous 2014 edition. There are no identifying labels anywhere on the light to indicate it is a new edition. As such, I will re-use the body pictures from my 2014 review below.
From left to right: Panasonic Eneloop Pro (2550mAh) NiMH; Nitecore EA41, EA4; Fenix E41; Sunwayman D40A, F40A; Eagletac GX25A3.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed (unless indicated):
Nitecore EA41 2015 4xAA: Weight: 147.9g , Length: 118.4mm, Width (bezel): 40.1mm
Nitecore EA41 2014 4xAA: Weight: 149.9g , Length: 118.2mm, Width (bezel): 40.1mm
Nitecore EA4 4xAA: Weight: 161.6g , Length: 117.9mm, Width (bezel): 40.2mm
Eagletac GX25A3 3xAA: Weight: 151.4g, Length: 109.2mm, Weight (bezel): 38.6mm
Fenix E41 4xAA: Weight: 204.1g , Length: 115.9mm, Width (bezel): 44.1mm
JetBeam PA40 4xAA: Weight: 184.0g, Length: 183mm, Width: 40.8mm (bezel), 42.1mm (max width)
JetBeam SRA40 4xAA: Weight 236.0g, Length: 126.1mm, Width (bezel): 48.5mm
Lumintop SD10: Weight: 117.6g, Length: 120.3mm, Width (bezel): 40.1mm
Olight S35 3xAA: Weight 177.3g, Length: 127.7mm, Width (bezel): 38.7mm
Sunwayman D40A 4xAA: Weight: 167.9g, Length: 120.4mm, Weight (bezel): 40.0mm
Sunwayman F40A 4xAA: Weight: 182.0g, Length: 109.3mm, Weight (bezel): 42.0mm
There is some very minor fluctuation is dimensions between my samples, but I expect that is just normal natural variation.
Again, there is no significance difference in the physical appearance of the light, between the 2014 and 2015 editions. The EA41 series is generally cylindrical, with thick ridges along the body to help with grip. There is no knurling per se, except on the tailcap (but is fairly mild here). Anodizing on my 2014 edition is even more matte finish (flat black) than my previous 2014 edition, but that is again likely just natural variation between samples.
As before, body labels are rather extensive. What I previously thought was a serial number turns to be just a model number – all labels are the same on both my samples. Labels remain very legible and clear.
The EA41 uses two square buttons, located one above the other, as before. The lower button is the power button, and the upper is the mode changing button (see my User Interface section for more info). Button feel is fairly "grippy", and they are slightly raised. That said, the lights do have a tendency to roll away from you.
As before, there is also a single faint blue LED located underneath the switch area. This is used to signal the state of the light (i.e., battery status, standby). Scroll down for an explanation of the interface.
Battery handle is quite compact, but easily houses 4xAA (alkaline, NiMH or L91). The battery compartments are molded right into the aluminum, with the cells in a series arrangement as before.
Screw threads are square-cut and anodized as before, but it doesn't really matter – there is no physical lock-out, because the connection is carried by the contacts in the tailcap and not the body. You would need to loosen almost all the way off to break this contact.
The light can tailstand as before. There is a cut-out on the base to allow you thread a wrist-lanyard through.
The EA41 reflector is smooth finish, and relatively deep – unchanged from before. As I noted in my review of the 2014 edition, the reflector seems somewhat deeper on the EA41s compared to the EA4. The XM-L2 emitter was again well-centered on this sample. Scroll down for beamshots.
The user interface is unchanged from the 2014 edition of the EA41. Note that it is significantly updated from the EA4, thanks to the use of two separate switches on the EA41.
Activation is controlled by the lower power switch – press and release (i.e., click) to turn the light on at the previously memorized constant output level. Click the power switch again to turn off.
While on, click the upper mode switch repeatedly to cycle between the five main output levels in the following repeating sequence: Lower > Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in a repeating loop. Note that my EA41 manual still incorrectly states you should "half press" the mode switch to change levels (in fact, you need to do a proper click). The light has mode memory, and will return to the last level used when turned back on from off.
Note that Lower/Lo/Med/Hi output levels have changed somewhat from the 2014 edition EA41 - see my direct measures later in this review.
There are a couple of shortcuts available - you can jump directly to Lower or Turbo mode from Off. Press and hold the power switch from Off for more than 1 sec to activate in Lower. Press and hold the mode switch from Off for more than 1 sec for Turbo. Cycle through modes or turn off as before. You can also jump directly to strobe from Off by a double-click of the mode switch.
For the special modes (i.e., blinking modes), these are normally accessed from On. With the light on, press and hold the mode switch for more than 1 sec. The light will enter into Strobe. To advance to Location (aka beacon mode), press and hold the mode switch again. To advance to SOS, press and hold the mode switch again. A click of the mode switch exits back to constant output modes. Note that there is no memory for the blinking modes.
The light will read-out the voltage of the cells when you first connect the tailcap, by a series of blue flashes under the switch cover. 3 flashes means there is >50% battery life remaining. 2 flashes indicate <50%, and 1 flash means the batteries are almost dead. You can also check the voltage at any time (when Off) my a single click of the Mode switch.
To activate the "special" standby feature, press and hold the power switch when turning Off the light. The faint blue locator LED will flash every ~3 secs in this standby mode. This standby flash is disabled by default.
To lockout the light, you need to start with the light On. Press and hold both buttons for more than 1 sec to electronically lock-out the light. The light will flash once to confirm the lockout. The same sequence (from Off) is required to unlock the light.
For more information on the overall build and user interface, and direct beam/output comparison of the 2014 and 2015 editions, please see my new video overview:
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.
As an aside, if you want to get an instant notification for every new review that I post here on CPF, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel (the vids go public at the same time). Just mouse over my logo watermark on the top right-hand corner of the video for the subscribe feature to open up. You may need to tap or click, depending on the platform you are using to watch.
There is no sign of PWM that I can see, at any output level – the EA41 is fully current-controlled, as before.
On the 2014 edition, I reported that strobe was a very high frequency of ~22 Hz, with an altered pulse duration duty cycle (i.e., not the typical 50:50 on/off). This differed from the original EA4, with had a true variable strobe (with a variable overall frequency and pulse duration). My 2015 edition sample brings back the variable pulse duration seen on the EA4, although at the higher frequencies observed in my 2014 EA41.
What you are looking at above are a few screen grabs from my oscilloscope, showing that the strobe speed (frequency) varies from between ~18-25Hz, with varying pulse durations.
The above analysis doesn't matter much in use – all models are extremely disorienting.
SOS mode is a typical SOS mode.
Beacon is a brief full power flash, once every 2.1 secs (as before).
A standby current drain is inevitable on the EA41, due to the electronic switch in the head. Unfortunately, I'm not able to easily measure it, as the batteries are arranged in series (i.e., I would have to connect everything under tension, without the tailcap in place, to get a reading). There have been reports that the drain is different before and after activation on the EA41 (at least for the 2014 edition). But that would require a much more complex arrangement with high current jumpers (to bypass the risk of damaging the uA port of the DMM), in order to accurately measure. As a result, I have not measured the standby drain here.
For the other single-cell members of the Nitecore Explorer series, I found this current to be in the in the low uA range, with occasional spikes up to the low mA range when the indicator would flash. For the parallel multi-cell Li-ion TM-series lights, I typically found these to be in the high uA range, with low mA spikes for the indicator flash. The end result was that most of those related lights would give you several months of runtime before the batteries would be exhausted, under normal Standby usage.
UPDATE JANUARY 14, 2014: I describe a quick indirect test to estimate battery drain in fresh cells in post #22 below. The results suggest Eneloop Pro (2500mAh capacity) would be fully drained in under 9 months in this light. It may be faster than that though, as I haven't tried testing partially depleted cells.
Note that you cannot easily break this current by unscrewing the tailcap - it needs to be nearly completely unscrewed to reliably block the current. As with many other models in this class, it is the tension on the springs that maintains the connection (i.e., it has nothing to do with the anodized threads).
The EA41 does include an electronic lock-out mode. I don't know how much this lowers the standby current, but it may. I recommend you make use of it.
And now the white-wall beamshots. All lights are on Sanyo Eneloop NiMH (4x). 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.
There really isn't much difference between the max output or throw of my 2014 and 2015 editions of the EA41. I did notice some tint variation (especially in the hotspot/corona), but this is to be expected between any two samples of a given light. Scroll down for direct measures of output.
In terms of comparisons to other lights, the deep reflector of the EA41 certainly makes this one of the "throwier" examples of this class, with a relatively well defined hotspot.
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).
Consistent with the beamshots, there is no real significant difference in the max output or throw of the 2015 edition of the EA41.
There was some confusion with the initial release of the 2015 edition as to whether or not output was significantly increased on all levels, compared to the 2014 model. Although Turbo output specs have increased only nominally (consistent with a single output bin step), there was initially a huge increase reported for max beam intensity/distance (i.e., 35,594cd, as printed on the 2015 edition box). This has recently been corrected on the Nitecore website to 28,276cd – which is much closer to what I actually found on my sample.
But what about the output at the sub-max levels? Here you can see a more significant increase in the output specs (although oddly with no reduction in official runtime). Let's do a comparison of my direct output measures for these two editions.
Before we start, please be advised that the Turbo step-down feature on the EA41 is a dual step. As I showed in my 2014 edition, there is a gradual reduction in Turbo output over the first 7 mins – at which point, it levels off at a new set level for another ~13 mins. There is a second abrupt step-down at ~21 mins into the run, where the light drops to a new flat-stabilized level. I will report output at all of these levels below:
What I am showing above are the current official specs for the 2014 and 2015 editions, and my direct measures in my calibrated lightbox. In the last column, you will see a comparison of the percent change; reported followed by measured.
As you can see, the reported max output has only increased by the estimated output difference between the U2 and T6 bins (i.e. ~6%). At the lower levels, there is a larger reported increase – which implies that Nitecore has increased the drive levels at the Lo/Med/Hi compared to the 2014 edition.
My testing above bear this out. Generally, I get pretty good concordance with Nitecore output specs – except on the Turbo level of both models, where I find initial output to be lower than reported. My 2015 sample is only ~2% brighter initially on max than my 2014 sample. But that is the nature of output bins - any single bin step is on average ~6% brighter, but any two specimens could be anywhere from ~1-13% brighter, depending where each fell within its defined bin.
The take home message is that Nitecore is accurate in its relative reported increases in output, at all levels. But those hoping to see a significant increase in max output will be disappointed - the 2015 edition is definitely not driven any harder on max.
Of course, something that doesn't make sense is why the official runtime specs haven't changed. The output at sub-max levels have increased by more than one output bin step, indicating Nitecore has increased drive current on all sub-max levels on the 2015 edition. There is no free lunch here – you cannot raise drive levels without it negatively affecting total runtime. So let's see how that looks …
I have been moving my NiMH AA testing to the newer Panasonic Eneloop Pro NiMH (2550mAh typical capacity). Panasonic acquired Sanyo a little while back, and the new Panasonic-branded Eneloop Pro cells are an updated version of the former Eneloop XX cells (i.e., Panasonic Pros are basically 3rd generation XX cells, with improved charge holding ability). For more comparisons of the 2014 edition EA41 to other lights in this class on standard 2000mAh Sanyo Eneloops, please see my 4xAA Round-up Review.
Although initial max output is not changed much on my sample, there are noticeable output increases across all the other levels (including the two step-downs from Turbo). Otherwise, regulation pattern looks very similar (i.e., flat regulated, with identical Turbo step-down timings).
What this means is that absolute runtimes are shorter on the 2015 version, as expected. There is no way around that – when you increase the drive levels, runtimes will be lowered proportionately. The single output bin step does help here (i.e., raises output/runtime efficiency slightly). Note that overall output/runtime efficiency remains very good on the EA4/EA41 series lights.
Due to the electronic switches in the head, the light has a stand-by current when batteries are installed. I have not measured it in this case, but on most Nitecore lights it tends to be in a range that will drain fully-charged batteries over a course of months. There have been reports that the standby drain is higher when first connected, so you may want to activate/deactivate the light at the switch after a battery change.
You cannot easily lock out the light physically, so I recommend you use the electronic lock-out in regular use, to prevent accidental activations.
There are a couple of timed step-downs from Turbo on the EA41, similar to the EC20 that I recently reviewed.
The take-home message is that the 2015 edition of the EA41 is very similar to the 2014 edition, with slightly higher output on the sub-max levels only. On Turbo, I see no significant initial differences between my samples (although the step-down levels are marginally higher on the 2015 edition).
There was some confusion with the initial release of the 2015 edition as to whether or not output was significantly increased on the Turbo level. Unfortunately, the initial 2015 beam distance/intensity measures (as printed on the box) are wrong, and have since been revised by Nitecore. Please check out the video overview for a side-by-side comparison of the two editions, as well as the direct measurements above for more information.
Overall output/runtime efficiency remains very good as before, consistent with a good current-controlled circuit. Note the regulation pattern of the 2014/2015 EA41 on Turbo is a bit different from some competing lights (i.e., two sets of step downs). Please see the runtime section of this review for more info.
Build-wise, the 2015 edition is unchanged from the 2014 model – you can't tell them apart. Personally, I am a fan of the implementation of the two-switch design here. General operation is intuitive, and Nitecore has included a number of additional shortcuts.
Beam pattern is also unchanged. The EA41 series has a slightly deeper reflector than the earlier EA4, making this series one of the throwier members of the 4xAA class. Check out my 4xAA Round-up Review for a discussion of various diffuser options, to further increase the versatility of the light.
Personally, I don't consider these 2015 updates to be significant. Although they have a small effect on output and runtime, I would really consider the 2015 edition to be a minor incremental change from the 2014. While a step-higher output bin is always nice (i.e., from T6 to U2), it is certainly not worth "upgrading" for, or paying a significant price premium. To me, the EA41 series (any version ) remains a top pick in the 4xAA space.
EA41 2015 was purchased from an authorized Nitecore dealer