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Thread: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

  1. #1

    Default Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I have been using my new zebralight sc64W for the last few days and I am very impressed with it. The customizable interface is a big deal on a light this bright. Without it, a single click blasts 1400 lumens. I switched the high and medium so that a single click gets 100-200 lumens and you have to double click for high. This makes me willing to lend my light to the kids or others. Holding the button for .6 seconds still gives me low (1 lumen or less). I love having quick and easy access to high, medium and low.

    I do still wish zebralight would make the ramping from low to high sequential no matter how you program the levels. Now, if I hold the button longer than intended I can go from 1 lumen to 1400 in a single step. A gradual ramp would be much better. (ramp through all 6 levels I have programmed or even all 12 possible levels.)

    The size to brightness ratio, wide range of brightness, and great interface are why I am now carrying exclusively zebralight.

    Any other makers have an interface as good or better?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    In general, I like Zebralight the best. But it still comes down to what you're using it for. Sometimes I prefer a rear clicky with momentary on, for instance, a thorwer that you'll be only be using for a couple seconds here or there to spot in the distance. You can sort of do that with a ZL, but there's a chance you'll double click without intending to do so.

    Regarding lending lights, I would still be hesitant with my Zebralights. I'm stubborn though, and put flashlights in that list of things to never let others borrow. Not out of selfishness; there are just some things that always seem to get returned screwed up or broken (chainsaws, tents, sleeping bags, guns, anything with a sharp edge)
    GOOD TINT!

  3. #3
    ven's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Tough call , i have a few favs which suit certain application over others. I really like the HDS rotary UI, ability to dial up/down on the fly! So with that, i like the v11r as well. I like programmable UI, so certain drivers like the h17f , i can have 1 level or up to 7....and pick the brightness of each level. Sometimes i just want 1 mode level...........simple rocks some times.
    Also a fan of vinhs drivers, vn4 is excellent with many options, single, 2,3 etc modes.A variety of clicky lights with this driver option.....
    As with you, i like ZL's, especially the newer UI which i can set to any level of high, medium and low................pretty cool from a manufacturer. The narsil ramping UI on the D4/D1 is also a strong like, short cut to min/max and what seems like a perfect 2.5s ramp from min to max.

    So i have a few i like a lot, could not pick one out of them tbh.

  4. #4
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    archimedes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    My favorite (no joke) is on/off.

    Next would be high/low ... prefer a two-stage progressive press (momentary) / twist (constant) but I am ok with bezel twist to set.

    Then ramping (click on/off, hold to adjust)

    Followed by fully programmable, especially HDS/Ra type format (independently set and directly accessible A/B/C/D outputs)

    Much less of a fan of rotary, in general.

    Least preferred would be multi-click / multi-twist to cycle.
    ... is the archimedes peak

  5. #5

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Infinite Adjustment Rotary wheel near the head for easy one hand adjustment before turning on (THE KEY) Forward clicky on the tail. I hate multiple clicks.
    Last edited by recDNA; 02-14-2018 at 03:56 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Control ring. One hand operation. NEVER have to search for switch.

    The other can be used to walk the Dog or hold your girlfriends hand!

    Hey,is Valentines day!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by archimedes View Post
    My favorite (no joke) is on/off.
    Same here.
    A well made slider is my favorite. With positive points for off/signal/on. I fully understand why they are pretty much extinct on new stuff.

    Clicky on/off with momentary is next.

    Gas pedal is cool too. Low/high with a twist to hold feature for using on low and signal with high.

    Clicky hi/lo or lo/hi after that. But I do like a medium that gives the virtue of a slightly brighter lo/lo or a somewhat dimmer hi with much improved runtime.

    Control rings are cool too.
    Twist on/off is cool so long as you don't have to hold your left leg at a right angle while whistling Dixie to change settings.

    Side buttons are cool if they are easy to find. If not give me a dual switch option there, please.

    I like memory for some lights but not all.

    And most important I love, love, love any flashlight that lights when I hit the on switch no matter how that is achieved.
    John 3:16

  8. #8
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I like on/off with head or tail rotation to select high or low. Holding the button to cycle between high and low on my Stinger is also acceptable but not as good as a rotation. Double tap for strobe isnít too bad though Iíd prefer triple. At least it always comes on in high mode.

    Multiple clicks is my least favourite.

  9. #9
    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Bluetooth interface to set-and-forget number of modes and outputs, and/or control the light in real time.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by XR6Toggie View Post
    I like on/off with head or tail rotation to select high or low. Holding the button to cycle between high and low on my Stinger is also acceptable but not as good as a rotation. Double tap for strobe isnít too bad though Iíd prefer triple. At least it always comes on in high mode.

    Multiple clicks is my least favourite.
    I like the Stinger UI you speak of. Yeah, I could see 3 for strobe.
    John 3:16

  11. #11
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    I like the Stinger UI you speak of. Yeah, I could see 3 for strobe.
    Iíve accidentally put it onto strobe a couple of times when trying to mode select. Itís easy enough to just click again and switch off but given how rare it is to use strobe a triple click would be ideal.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Agreed.
    I have a 260 lumen Strion with the same UI. My intial thoughts were the combo of that and the Stinger were superb for when a backup was in order.
    John 3:16

  13. #13
    Flashaholic Keitho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I think the perfect UI would be the programmable ZL interface (I have mine set up with one "lend out" group--every mode is the same level, so it acts like an on-off one-mode light; the other is a firefly group), but with one additional option, a "G8" ramping mode like the Emisars. Oh yeah, and an added functionality that any of the memorized modes can be a bike flashing mode with variable output.

    The momentary mode on the Emisars is a great idea, but I have little use for it. The precise battery check and thermal check function on the Emisars and Noctigon is pretty cool too.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Ramping, like my TH20 headlamp, the BLF, and Emisar lights. Direct access to moonlight and turbo. Infinitely variable with memory. One handed operation.

  15. #15
    peter yetman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Arch beat me to it. On with the possible option of Off.
    Cannot be doing with clicking through modes. I wan the light to come on at the level I want.
    Maybe a Telepathic Light?
    P

  16. #16

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    In practice, the advanced ramping firmware in the emisar's and the q8, though I'd also enjoy a smooth rotary style control scheme of some kind. I'd also like a CCT adjusting ramp or dial if that ever becomes a thing in multi emitter lights. I'd love to be able to use a dim warmish light and fade to a brighter mixed light when on higher brightness, so long as I could control that behavior.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I want my lights to be utterly predictable. I should be able to set my desired output before I've even pulled the light out of its holster/pocket. As such, I hate mode memory and holding the button to ramp though the levels.

    UIs that work well for me:
    4Sevens Quark: L-M-H that resets back to L after the light's been off for a short while.
    HDS Clicky: B default, 2x for C, 3x for D, 1x + hold for A.
    Malkoff hi/lo bezel: essentially on/off, but twisting the bezel lets you choose the output.
    Manker E02: click for Low or press for last used non-low output. click to advance. I ignore the blinky modes and never rely on the memory.
    On/Off: simple can be good.

    UIs that work well enough, but aren't my favorite:
    Zebralight: I don't like how easy it is to accidentally get High when I wanted to start on Low. I could probably fix this if I had a more current Zebralight (mine is 6 or 7 years old). I also hate holding to ramp through levels. It would be better to click through levels.
    Any M-L-H or H-M-L (or whatever else) as long as there's no memory.
    Malkoff MDC: L-M-H that resets to L based on how long the current mode has been on. This mostly works well, but if I tap it to look at something, then sometimes when I use it again a while later, it starts on M instead of L. Resetting to L after it's been off for a while would be an improvement.

    UIs I can't tolerate and only use when there are no other options:
    Any UI that ALWAYS advances to the next level when you turn it on (especially if Strobe is a mode).
    Any UI with 4+ modes that you have to cycle through all of them to turn the light off.
    Any UI that starts on H and then makes you hold the button to ramp down (nightvision ruined before you get to low output).

    --flatline

  18. #18
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    First Choice: Rotary, just like all the other knobs on my appliances, radio, etc.
    Second Choice: Up/down buttons, like the other devices in my life.

    The only other device I have that requires me to cycle are some of my clocks, and it is EXTREMELY annoying!
    Wish: 1) Super low beacon; easy find flashlight. 2) Low voltage indicator, so not stranded without light. 3) Simple, one handed control ring mode changer (magnetic control ring). 4) Flood beam for walking/tasks. 5) Pocket carry. 6) LiFePO4.


  19. #19

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I like tail switches for turning on/off with modes controlled by either rotary ring (favorite) or separate switch like many Fenix lights have.

    I do not like twisty or side switches.

  20. #20
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    A Side Switch - absolutely. Army Tek has the best UI in a side switch.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I still want a Sunwayman V40A....

  22. #22

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I find thrunite light have a great user interface.. hold it down the switch for moon light mode... double click for turbo.. hold it down to return to the last mode... also have a last mode memory..

    i am more of tail switch light.. then its depend on a light.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I purchase flashlights based primarily on beam profile and power/weight ratio. The user interface that comes with the flashlight is what it is. That way, I get exposed to all different types of user interfaces. There are so many different people who ask manufacturers to make various user interfaces, so what I get I can't complain about.
    Acebeam two X65Vn, X45vn70.2. Eagletac MX25L4CvnT XP-L. Fenix TK75vnQ70. Manker MK34Vn XPL.
    Nitecore TM06Svn 4 x XHP50.2. Noctigon Meteor M43vn XP-L dd. P60vn Quad XP-L HD 2 cell host Cryos Cu head. Thrunite TN36UTvn, TN42vn.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    ^^ Good point RB
    John 3:16

  25. #25
    ven's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Newlumen View Post
    I find thrunite light have a great user interface.. hold it down the switch for moon light mode... double click for turbo.. hold it down to return to the last mode... also have a last mode memory..

    i am more of tail switch light.. then its depend on a light.

    Yes thrunite are quite good, also olight seem similar on some lights which i also like.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Simpler is better for me; one or two clicks to get the level I want. Blinky/flashy stuff and multiple clicks or press & hold to ramp or cycle through levels are a no go for me. In no particular order:

    Malkoff hi/lo ring set where the light just barely turns to low. The slightest pressure from my pinky on the head gives high mode.

    HDS original but I might get around to buying a rotary. The original can be programmed as simply or complexly as the user wishes. A single or double click gets me where I want to be.

    A reverse clicky paired with a 3-level drop-in. Turn it on and if I need to change levels one or two light bumps on the tailcap will give the desired amount of light. I have 2 set up like this; Vinh quad mule/switch and Tana TripLED paired with a Dell Superman. Both switches are high amp rated.

    Dan
    I'm not quite as iliterate as my typos would suggest.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Forward clicky on/off with momentary...twist ring for hi/lo. That's all...no programmable nonsense or strobes etc. I HATE how the majority of lights...especially cheaper lights...are loaded with stupid amounts of modes and nonsense in some attempt to add value to the product. it's absurd you have to spend lots generally to get simple.
    Last edited by hap124; 02-18-2018 at 01:20 PM.

  28. #28
    peter yetman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    You are not alone.
    P

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by hap124 View Post
    Forward clicky on/off with momentary...twist ring for hi/lo. That's all...no programmable nonsense or strobes etc. I HATE how the majority of lights...especially cheaper lights...are loaded with stupid amounts of modes and nonsense in some attempt to add value to the product. it's absurd you have to spend lots generally to get simple.
    Things have progressed to the point where I'd rather buy multiple single output lights of various strengths than by one multi mode light.

    Love my high/low switches, though.
    ďMay it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.Ē
    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

  30. #30

    Default Re: Best User Interface for Flashlights?

    I reject the concept of "best" in most contexts. Unless the use case is very narrowly defined, there are usually tradeoffs and not unambiguous correct answers.

    For general use EDC flashlights, I like to have a shortcut to high, low and last-used or medium with a single click to turn on to a reasonable mode and a single click to turn off. With a single e-switch, that usually means long-press for cycling modes or ramping, but sometimes there's some other solution, which is fine with me. Zebralight, Armytek, Olight and most of the recent open-source e-switch firmwares like Narsil and RampingIOS have some variation of this behavior. Acebeam has a variation where the side switch behaves this way, and the tailswitch is a forward-clicky that's always max output. I like that design a lot.

    Some other options that address the same concerns are dual-switch without memory and starting in high or low depending on whether the mode switch is held (Eagletac DX30LC2 and relatives), control ring with tailswitch (Nitecore SRT, Jetbeam RRT, some of the big Acebeams), the Klarus dual-tailswitch design on some of the XT series lights (once you take it out of the mode where the secondary is instant strobe) and Peak's QTC twisty/plunger.

    For something to loan out, a dual-switch where the tailswitch is on/off and the side switch changes modes is nice because it only takes a second to explain, and most people figure it out on their own.

    For high-stress use, I want a tailswitch that's high-only. It's OK if this behavior is switched on by tightening the head as on some Armytek and Eagletac models. It's also OK if it has a secondary e-switch UI like the Acebeam L-series.

    For big lights that are usually turned on and left on for longer periods, I don't care as much about the UI.

    I always dislike holding down a button to turn on/off, blinking modes in the normal mode rotation and shortcuts to blinking modes that are similar to another UI action (think single-click to change modes and double-click to strobe). These are dealbreakers on an EDC light, but maybe tolerable on a bigger light if it's great otherwise.
    Ceilingbounce - flashlight testing and runtime graphs for Android

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