The TM06 is a latest member of the ‘Tiny Monster’ series from Nitecore. It is a high-output 4xXM-L2 light (up from the 3xXM-L2 TM11/TM15), with a new physical tailcap clicky on/off switch. Smaller than the previous TM-series lights, the "soda can" sized TM06 still runs on 4x18650 (although 8xCR123A/RCR is no longer supported).
Let's see how it compares to the earlier TM-series lights, other recent models in this class.
Manufacturer/Dealer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the dealer/manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- LED: Four CREE XM-L2 U2 LEDs
- Output/Runtime: Turbo 3800 lumens / 45min – Hi 1500 lumens / 3h 15min – Mid 480 lumens / 9h – Lo 160 lumens / 25h – Lower 3 lumens / 433h
- Strobe, SOS and Location Beacon modes
- Beam intensity: 28,000cd
- Beam Distance: 334m
- Features advanced temperature regulation (ATR) technology
- Tactical forward switch on the tail cap
- Innovative two stage side switch accesses different modes and functions (patented)
- Integrated power indicator on side switch indicates remaining battery power (patented)
- Power indicator displays battery voltage accurate to 0.1V
- Direct access to ultra-low or turbo output
- 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 2 meters)
- Impact resistant 1.5m
- Dimensions: Length: 4.92” (125mm), Head diameter: 1.97” (50 mm), Tube diameter: 1.97” (50mm), Weight: 9.77oz (277 gram) (without battery)
- Accessories: Quality holster, lanyard, spare O-ring
- MSRP: ~$200
Packaging is the standard Nitecore cardboard box with packaging foam. Inside you will find the light, belt holster, extra o-ring, simple wrist lanyard (with threading wire), manual and product warranty insert.
From left to right: Keeppower Protected 18650 3100mAh; Nitecore TM06, TM11, TM15; Fenix LD60; Thrunite TN36.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed (unless indicated):
Nitecore TM06: Weight: 276.4g (464g with 4x18650), Length 123.9mm, Width (bezel): 50.0mm
Nitecore TM11: Weight: 342.6g (531g with 4x18650), Length 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Nitecore TM15: Weight: 450.6g (639g with 4x18650). Length 158mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Fenix LD60: Weight: 334.6g (476g with 3x18650), Length: 154.9mm, Width (bezel): 63.1mm
Fenix TK75: Weight: 516.0g (704g with 4x18650), Length: 184mm, Width (bezel): 87.5mm
Niwalker MM15: Weight: 333.7g (without handle), 355.9g (with handle), (539g with 4x18650 and handle), Length: 114.6mm, Weight (bezel): 63.7mm
Niwalker MM18: Weight: 510.g (without handle), 534.1g (with handle), Lenth: 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 73.9mm
REV Captor: Weight: 498.3g (639g with 3x18650), Length: 182mm, Width (bezel): 68.0mm
Thrunite TN36: Weight: 390.4g (578g with 4x18650), Length: 125.4mm, Width (bezel): 64.0mm
The TM06 is definitely the smallest member of the Tiny Monster family to date – a full centime narrower at the head and shorter in length, compared to the original TM11. And they have even managed to fit in an extra XM-L2 emitter and a forward tail clicky switch.
As with the TM11/15, anodizing is a flat black, and seems in excellent shape on my sample. There is some knurling on the body, of reasonable aggressiveness (as before). However, because of the more consistently cylindrical body now, I find overall grip is reduced a little. It also rolls more easily now (although the raised electronic switch helps a bit with that).
Body labels are rather extensive as before – in additional to the usual make and model information, you also have the standard 5-point series of warnings about the light.
The side switch design is similar to the TM15, but used only for mode changing now (i.e., there is a physical clicky switch for on/off here). This side switch is still a two-stage (two-pressure) electronic switch, with a projecting button. The ring around the switch uses a blue LED as before to signal the state of the light (i.e., battery status, voltage, and standby modes). Scroll down for an explanation of the interface. One small point – I find the first stage of the switch on my TM06 sample to be less clearly defined than on my TM15 sample (i.e., I could more easily tell when I had reach the partial activation level on my TM15).
The tail region has changed with the addition of a forward physical clicky switch and raised sides (with cut-outs to allow use of a lanyard). This allows easy access to the button, and the light can still tailstand stably. Feel of the physical switch is a bit stiff, requiring a fair amount of force to click on.
Inside, the battery handle design has changed completely. Previously, the TM-series lights opened at the head, and the 18650 batteries all went in with the same orientation (with a common base plate connecting the four negative terminals). The TM06 now opens at the tail, and features the more common rotating tail contact disc with body locking pins. The 18650 batteries go in alternating orientation, as indicated by the labels and springs.
In keeping with this physical change, the wiring of the TM06 batteries is more complicated now. The TM11/15 used a relatively uncommon 1s4p arrangement (i.e., all four cells in parallel). I presume the new TM06 is using a 4s1p arrangement (i.e., all four batteries in series). However, in testing, I noticed that the standby indicator (under the side switch) could be activated on only two cells (although the voltage readout didn't function properly). See my user interface section for a discussion of how the interface works.
Tail screw threads are anodized on the TN06 – but lock-out is complicated. A quick turn of the tailcap prevents activation through the tail switch, but the standby current (and indicator flash) persists until the tailcap is loosened about half-way. Note that there are more screw threads than typical on this light, and it takes about 5 full turns to fully tighten/remove the tailcap. Again, scroll down for a discussion of the interface and standby current.
Despite the large amount of lube on my sample, I found screw thread action to be a bit rough on my sample.
Note that true flat-top cells with not work in the light, as the positive contact points in the head and tail are not raised. Cells with a wider positive button should work, as long as it protrudes beyond the wrapper.
Despite the addition of the extra emitter, the TM06 has a smaller head now. It still comes with a stainless steel bezel ring, slightly scalloped. Something else that is different – note the original pics I took when I received the light.
I was originally puzzled as to why the lens looked so opaque. Upon closer inspection, I realized there was an adhesive plastic film covering the lens, presumably to protect it during assembly/transport. Here's what things look like once you peel it off:
That's better. Of course, you could always leave it on if you wanted to slightly diffuse the beam (although it doesn't make much of a difference in practice).
As you can see, the four XM-L2 emitters are at the base of a very shallow textured reflector, with overlapping wells. This should produce a massive flood light. Scroll down for beamshot comparisons to other recent high-output lights.
The TM06 use a revised version of the TM-series interface, thanks to the addition of the physical clicky switch.
Turn the light on/off by the physical clicky switch in the tail. Click (press-release) for locked-on, or press and hold for momentary.
Changing modes is done by two-stage electronic switch. Note that switch feel is a little softer on my TM06 than my TM15 (i.e., the first stage is not as clearly defined).
Full click the side switch (press all the way and release) to advance modes, in the following repeating sequence: Lower > Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo. Partial click the side switch (i.e., press just to the first stage and release) to cycle through modes in the reverse sequence. The light has mode memory, and returns to the last level used when pressing off/on at the tailcap clicky.
There are a number of shortcuts. To jump to Turbo when on, press and hold the side switch at the first stage for >1 secs. To jump to Turbo when turning on the light, fully press the side switch when activating at the tailcap clicky. To jump to Lower when turning on the light, partially press the side switch when activating at the tailcap clicky.
To access the "special modes", fully press and hold the side switch from on for >1 sec. This will activate strobe mode. Simply press and hold again to advance to SOS. Press and hold again to advance to Location Beacon. Press the side switch again to exit special modes.
The TM06 will read-out the voltage of the cells as you first tighten the tailcap, by a series of blue flashes around the side switch. After the initial voltage is read-out, the light will then flash here once every four seconds (two seconds on, two seconds off), to let you know you are in standby mode. You can block this indicator flash by simply clicking the side switch when off. Note however that this does NOT block the actual standby current – see comments below and in the Standby section of this review.
There is no longer an electronic lock-out of the side switch. Instead, Nitecore recommends you loosen the tailcap to lock out the light. Note that a quick twist of the tailcap will lock out the main tail switch (and prevent activation), but the standby drain will persist until the side-switch indicator is locked out. You will need to unscrew the tailcap ~2.5 turns from tight to completely block the side switch standby drain. Note that you have ~5 turns to fully remove the tailcap, but the o-ring is exposed by ~2.5 turns (so waterproofness will likely be reduced when stored fully locked out). See my Standby section below for more info
For more information on the overall build and user interface, please see my new video overview:
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There is no sign of PWM that I can see, at any output level – the TM06 is fully current-controlled.
Strobe was a very fast tactical strobe, with a variable frequency from ~16-23 Hz (as shown above). As with many strobes in this frequency range, the on-pulse duration is reduced (i.e., not 50:50, like slower strobes). Regardless, rest assured that this is quite disorienting.
A fairly typical SOS mode.
Beacon was a quick full-power flash every 1.55 seconds.
Due to the indicator flash feature (around the electronic switch side switch), the TM06 will always be drawing a small current when batteries are making contact. Note that a quick turn of the tailcap will block light activation (by locking out the tail switch), but this separate side switch standby drain persists unless the tailcap is more fully unscrewed (see comments below and under User Interface section).
There is a complex wiring arrangement of the TM06, so I'm not sure how to accurately measure the standby drain. Using only two 18650 cells, I can measure a persistent standby current of 1.35mA, jumping to 3.75mA during the blue indicator flash. Since the indicator flashes on/off for 2secs at a time, this effectively produces an average current of 2.55mA with two batteries in place. If the drain is comparable with four cells, that would give you ~50 days before 3100mAh cells would be fully drained (~101 days if the extra two cells cuts this rate in half, or doubles the effective capacity). Note that the Nitecore specs say that you should expect 30 days of battery life with the indicator on.
You can turn off the indicator flash by simply clicking the side switch when off. This results in a constant 1.35mA drain. Again, that would yield ~95 days if the extra two cells make no difference, or ~191 days if the extra two cells help. Nitecore specs indicate that you should expect 108 days with the indicator turned off.
I appreciate Nitecore providing official specs for the standby drain. Personally, I consider these drains to be a fairly high for simply allowing for a standby flash to be toggled on/off.
At a minimum, you will want to store the light with the tailswitch locked out when not in use (i.e., a quick twist of the tailcap). But I recommend you unscrew the tailcap ~2.5 turns from tight to block the standby drain (i.e., unscrew until the standby indicator flash disappears). Note that you have ~5 turns in total to fully remove the tailcap. Again, simply clicking the side switch to turn off the indicator is not enough – while that will cut the drain to almost half, it will still continue to drain your cells.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on protected 18650 3100mAh batteries. Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall).
It is always hard to compare high output lights (especially "floody" ones) at this ridiculously close distance. TM06 is an extremely floody light, with a very wide dispersion (i.e., beyond the camera frame above).
The TM06 definitely introduces some artifacts into the spillbeam – more so than the earlier TM11, for example. That said, I find fewer artifacts in the hotspot of the TM06, so it all really depends at what distance you are using the light.
Since you can't really tell too much from these standardized up-close beamshots, so let's move on to 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.
Notice how much the TM06 lights up the foreground ceiling bulkheads? These shots help show just how floody the TM06 is, compared to the more-focused TM15 and Fenix LD60.
Given the middle of winter here, I'm afraid outdoor shots are not feasible.
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 TM06 definitely has more raw output "oomph" than the earlier TM-series lights. That said, the relative throw/output ratio is definitely lower now, consistent with a floodier beam profile.
Note: Before discussing relative output levels, I need to clarify my earlier TM15 results. That review was published over 2 years ago, and I have revised my calibration standard for lights too large to fit into my lightbox since then. I am also doing all my testing on 3100mAh cells now (which tend handle higher drain better than the earlier AW 2200mAh). As such, here is revised estimated lumen table for my 2012-edition TM15 re-measured this week (against the original Nitecore specs).
As you can see, there is remarkably good concordance of my current lumen estimation method and the original Nitecore specs for this particular model.
With that clarification out of the way, what happens when I compare the new TM06?
Ok, that is a bit different – I get a lot more variation from the Nitecore specs than typical. Something unusual is definitely going on at the Lo level on my TM06, which is barely 4x brighter than my Lower level (and is thus far below spec).
But there also isn't as much of a difference between the Hi and Turbo modes on my TM06 sample as the specs would suggest. Since our relative perceptions of output are skewed, there will appear to be even less of difference between these modes in practice. As I've discussed here, a cube-root power relationship best fits human visual perception of non-point light sources.
Although these spacings may seem odd at first, they actually work pretty well in practice. The Hi mode is very bright, and I would consider the Turbo mode to be just that – an option for a burst of max output. That said, I realize not everyone is a fan of too many low modes in high-powered lights.
As always, my standard runtimes are done under a cooling fan. Previously, I used to use AW 2200mAh protected cells in my 18650 testing (for their excellent consistency and ability to fit and work in any light). After considerable testing, I have switched to a few of brands of protected NCR18650A cells (3100mAh capacity). I have found a few brands that show good correlations and internal consistency, and that collectively can fit and work in all of my lights. I have now moved to using 3100mAh cells in all my 18650-class reviews.
Otherwise, overall performance of the TM06 is very similar to the TM15, in terms of runtime patterns and relative output-runtime efficiency across levels. I like that there is a gradual drop off in output when the batteries are nearly exhausted, as opposed to abrupt shut-down.
The TM06 still uses a thermal sensor to control step-down from Turbo, but I find it activates more quickly now (i.e., always kicked in by ~4-7 mins in my testing, even under a cooling fan). I expect this has to do with the higher output/heat generated now. Note that you can re-start the Turbo mode fairly quickly after it steps down, but it will step back down again very soon if heat remains elevated.
To compare how quickly step-down occurs, here is a comparison with and without fan cooling
Due to the shallow reflector design, the TM06 has a wider spillbeam than typical in this class. Coupled with the overlapping reflector wells, there are also more spillbeam artifacts that typical for this class. That said, I found the hotspot to be relatively consistent in intensity.
True flat-top 18650 batteries will not work in this light.
RCR/CR123A is no longer supported (i.e., unlike the other Tiny Monsters, the TM06 is 18650-only).
Due to the locator feature around the electronic switch in the head, the light has a stand-by current at all times – even when clicked off at the tailcap. While this current is not dissimilar to the earlier Tiny Monsters, it seems relatively high for a simple indicator flash option (i.e., on/off control has moved to the physical tailcap switch). While you can lock out the tailswitch with a simple twist, you need to unscrew the tailcap half-way on my sample to lock-out the side switch and break this standby drain.
The two-stage side switch is similar in design to earlier models, but I found the sensitivity of the first stage harder to reliably access (i.e., there was more tactile feedback on my TM15 switch).
Although earlier Tiny Monster lights were very consistent with Nitecore output specs in my testing, the TM06 is more variable. In particular, the Lo and Turbo modes of my TM06 sample are lower than spec, and the Hi mode is brighter.
The TM06 is "tiniest" monster yet from the Nitecore TM-series – and the one with the greatest output and floodiest beam.
Physically, the TM06 is a complete re-design for the TM series, with a completely different battery arrangement and the inclusion of a physical tailcap clicky switch. The side switch works as before, but the interface has been updated to accommodate the new design.
Circuit performance is very similar to the earlier models, with comparable output/runtime efficiency overall. The TM06 still seems to use a thermal sensor to control step-down from Turbo, although I found step-down occurs faster now (likely due to the higher output/heat). Note that output levels on my TM06 sample varied somewhat from the Nitecore specs (early TM-series lights were very consistent with their specs, in my testing).
The beam pattern is a true flood beam now – even more so than the original TM11. While I note some additional artifacts in the spillbeam (due to the four overlapping wells), there was less regional variation within the combined hotspot of my TM06 sample.
All told, the TM06 is a nice addition to the Tiny Monster line. This model would be most suitable for those looking for the max flood in as small a size as possible. Second to beam pattern preference, I would also encourage readers to consider their preferred interface. While some people love a physical clicky switch (at all costs), otherwise may not like having to switch hand grips to change modes. As always, it comes down to your preferences and needs. Performance of the TM06 is certainly in keeping with other TM-series lights, and the other good current-controlled members of the 4x18650 class.
TM06 provided by Nitecore for review.