Reviewer's Note: I am very backlogged with lights, so expect less detail than typical in my upcoming reviews.
The SD Mini is a new light from Lumintop, very similar in design and features to the Nitecore MH20/MH20GT. Let's see how it compares.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- LED: CREE XP-L HI (also available in XM-L2 U2)
- Battery source: 1x18650 or 2xCR123A (not included)
- XP-L Lumen outputs/Runtimes (1 x 18650): Turbo: 920 lumens - 2h, High: 425 lumens - 3h, Mid: 270 lumens – 5.5h, Low: 36 lumens - 36h, Strobe/SOS/Aviation Signal: 920 lumens
- XP-L Max beam intensity: 22,500cd
- XP-L Beam/throw distance: 300m
- XM-L2 Lumen outputs/Runtimes (1 x 18650): Turbo: 1000 lumens - 2h, High: 489 lumens - 3h, Mid: 320 lumens – 5.5h, Low: 50 lumens - 36h, Strobe/SOS/Aviation Signal: 1000 lumens
- XM-L2 Max beam intensity: 11,025cd
- XM-L2 Beam/throw distance: 210m
- IPX rating: IPX-8 (2 meters)
- Impact resistance: 1.5 meters
- Charge the flashlight through connecting computer, power bank or other electrical devices by USB cable
- High strength aerospace aluminum allow with anti-scratching type HAIII military grade hard anodized finish
- Single button side switch design provides one-handed operation and easy access to all functions
- Innovative tube body design allows the clip to change directions in the same location
- Double-side AR coated, tempered window resists impact and thermal shock, maximizes light transmission (99%)
- Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
- Optimized ultra-precise reflector offers a longer beam distance than competing products
- Anti-rolling design
- Dimensions: Length: 4.29" (109mm); Head Diameter: 1.3" (0.33mm); Body Diameter: 1" (25.4mm); Weight: 3.11oz (88g) excluding batteries
- Included accessories: O-ring, Lanyard, Holster, Waterproof cap, USB Charging Cable
- MSRP: ~$70
Packaging is a hard cardboard box, with specs and information printed on a sticker on the bottom. Included with the light is a holster with Velcro closing flap, micro-USB charging cable, spare O-ring and charging port cover, basic wrist lanyard, manual, and warranty card.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Lumintop SDMini: Weight: 91.1g, Length: 108.7mm, Width (bezel): 31.8mm
Eagletac D25LC2: Weight: 50.0g, Length: 116.3mm, Width (bezel): 22.5mm
Eagletac TX25C2: Weight 93.6g, Length: 120.4mm, Width (bezel): 31.6mm
Fenix PD35: Weight: 82.7g, Length: 138.1mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
Nitecore MH10: Weight: 73.6g, Length: 129.5mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
Nitecore MH12: Weight: 87.3g, Length: 139.5mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
Nitecore MH20: Weight: 85.4g, Length: 105.5mm, Width (bezel): 31.8mm
Nitecore MH20GT: Weight: 89.4g, Length: 111.6mm, Width (bezel): 31.9mm
Thrunite TN12-2014: Weight: 80.0g, Length: 140.5mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
Again, very similar in overall dimensions of the Nitecore MH20GT.
Anodizing is a matte black finish, hard anodized, with no chips or damage on my sample. Body labels are minimal (only on tailcap), bright white and clear against the black background. Knurling is of mild aggressiveness on the body tube and tailcap, but the larger cut-outs and ridges help with grip. When combined all the other grip elements (e.g., side switch cover, fins in the head, pocket clip, etc.), I would describe overall grip as good. The pocket clip fits on very securely, with a tight fit.
The SD Mini has a built-in micro-USB port in the head, across from the switch – for in-light charging with the supplied USB cable. The light has anti-roll indentations on the head – and these work well to stop roll, along with the rubberized port/switch covers.
Tailcap is pretty basic, with a simply tin spring. There is a spring on the circuit board in the head, so flat-top cells can be used. Tailcap screw threads are standard triangular cut and anodized for lock-out at the tail. Tailstanding is reasonably stable, but the cut outs on the tailcap reduce this somewhat (and serve no purpose that I can see). You would need to thread the lanyard option through the clip, which is not ideal.
The electronic switch in the head controls output selection. Switch is raised and textured, and easy to locate by feel. There are two green LEDs located under the switch cover. Please see my User Interface section for a discussion.
The body tube is wide enough to accommodate all size 18650 cells.
While the SD Mini is very similar in general design and hand-feel to the MH20/MH20GT, the Nitecore lights have marginally better fit and finish (although the differences are subtle). For example the USB port is slightly recessed on the SD Mini, making it more difficult to ensure a good contact with the charging cable (i.e., doesn't hold it as securely). The dust cover is also hard to seat properly on the SD Mini. Further, the pocket clip interferes slightly with easy screwing of the tailcap, and there is no dedicated lanyard attachment point. None of these are potential deal-breakers, but taken together, they give the Nitecore products a slight but noticeable edge. Of course, the SD Mini is a bit cheaper.
The emitter on my sample is the XP-L HI (XM-L2 U2 also available), and as well centered. The XP-L is also used on the MH20GT – but the overall reflector size of the SD Mini seems closer to the regular MH20. I would still expect excellent throw for this class. Scroll down for beamshots.
To activate, click the switch. The light has memory on this mode, and will returns to the last output used. Simply click the switch again to advance modes. Mode sequence, in repeating order, is Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo. Turn off by a press-and-hold of the switch.
Strobe modes can be accessed by fully holding down the switch from Off for ~3 secs. The light comes on in fast strobe. To advance strobe modes, simply click switch as you would for constant output modes. Mode sequence is Strobe > SOS > Locator Beacon, in repeating sequence. Turn off the light (press-and-hold) to exit strobe modes. There is no memory for strobe.
There are two green LEDs under the switch to serve as a charging indicator.
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my 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.
The light appears to be current-controlled. There was no sign of pulse width modulation (PWM) at any level, on any light.
Fairly typical high frequency strobe, at 9.7 Hz.
A fairly typical SOS mode.
Beacon is a quick full-power flash, once every ~2.3 secs.
There is a standby drain on the SD Mini, due to the electronic switch. I measure it at 44uA. This would translate into ~8 years before a 3100mAh battery would be drained, and so is not a concern.
Accidental activation can be prevented by a physical lock out of the light – simply do a quick turn of the tailcap when not in use.
Because the light uses a USB charging cable, I was able to take direct measures of the charging parameters using my Xtar VI01 "USB Detector" (basically a specialized USB current/voltage meter). There are many of these on the market now, and this model was favorably reviewed by HKJ here.
For charging tests, I started with a NCR18650A 3100mAh battery (protection circuit tripped). For all these tests, I left the USB detector in place for all readings. Note that the voltage reading on this device refers to the input voltage (i.e., from the USB port).
Initial charging current wasn't stable, but jumped around rapidly from ~0.60A to ~0.95A, as shown below on three separate camera exposures.
On average, I would estimate charging current was in the low ~0.8A range.
Charging had terminated at some point between 5 and 7 hours (sorry, didn't time it exactly). However, the resting voltage of the cell was only ~4.08V in my testing, indicating it had terminated early.
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.
As you would expect, beam pattern is intermediate to the Nitecore MH20 and MH20GT. Basically, my SD Mini uses the same emitter as the MH20GT (XP-L HI), but a similar reflector to the MH20. It's still a great throw light.
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).
As expected, the SD Mini is intermediate the MH20 and MH20GT in terms of throw (and closer to the MH20GT). This is excellent throw for the class. Max output is comparable to the MH20GT.
The SD Mini's output levels are pretty consistent with Lumintop specs. I would like to see a Moonlight mode, though. Here are how the Nitecore lights compare:
All my current runtimes are done with protected NCR18650A (3100mAh capacity) batteries, under a cooling fan.
Overall runtime patterns are very similar to the MH20/MH20GT, with the comparable efficiency. All lights are excellent performers for the class.
The SD Mini uses an electronic switch, and therefore has a standby current when a battery is connected. But this current was negligible - and can easily be broken by a simple twist of the anodized tailcap.
The rubber dust plug was a tight fit, and may not be very waterproofness. I recommend you make sure it is securely in place before venturing into any wet conditions.
There is no moonlight or low-lumen mode (i.e., 30 lumens is as low as it goes).
While overall build quality is decent, the Nitecore products seem of marginally higher quality.
Charging showed a variable initial current (fluctuating from ~0.60A-0.95A initially), and terminated early (~4.08V resting). Note the charging cable is easy to dislodge during charging (i.e., the port is a bit recessed, making it hard to fully insert).
In many ways, the Lumintop SD Mini really is a cross between the Nitecore MH20 and MH20GT reviewed previously.
Physically, the SD Mini is intermediate in size, with a reflector that matches the smaller MH20. However, there SD Mini can come with a XP-L HI emitter (reviewed here), which the MH20GT also sports. Maximum output is equivalent, so expect intermediate level throw to the MH20 and MH20GT.
Overall circuit efficiency is virtually identical to the Nitecore lights as well. The main difference is that the SD Mini lacks a Moonlight mode (which both Nitecore models possess). The SD Mini's output levels are otherwise a close match to the MH20 - which are a bit higher than I would like to see on Lo/Med.
The rechargeable feature worked in my testing, although with earlier than expected termination. There were also some fluctuations in charging current initially.
The interface is serviceable on the SD Mini, although it is a bit simpler than the Nitecore lights.
The build of the SD Mini is certainly quite acceptable. However, I have to give the nod to the Nitecore lights here again, as there are some small issues with the fit and finish of the SD Mini. These aspects are not necessarily unreasonable, as the SD Mini retails for a lower price than the Nitecore MH20GT.
As with the Nitecore lights, the SD Mini has very impressive beam pattern for those looking for maximum throw in a compact size.
The SD Mini is another option to consider in the compact 1x18650 thrower class. It offers a lot of the same functionality as the Nitecore models, at a lower price point (i.e., equivalent output and circuit efficiency, choice of emitters, in-light charging, etc.). Of course, with that lower price come some compromises in build and interface. Hopefully the testing results above will help you choose between the various models out there.
SD Mini provided by Lumintop for review.