4Sevens Atoms Family Review

gunga

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4Sevens Atoms Family Review


Okay, cue appropriate theme music here…

This is a review of the 4Sevens Atoms Family collection. It will be a companion piece for my 4Sevens Atom AL & 360° Headlamp Kit Quickshot Review, since the bulk of the family is very similar. While I will not be doing precise measurements for output and runtimes etc., I will be providing my impressions on each individual light.
So, welcome to the family!

Family Shot!

atom_family_20140420_0005_zps0fbdab83.jpg



Shown below (from L-R) is the Atom A0/Preon P0 (with hand brushed finish), Atom A0 red, Atom AA, Atom AL, Atom ALR2

atom_family_20140420_0001_zps03f2d365.jpg







This review will encompass the following models as shown in the chart below, please note, the Atom A0 is simply the Preon P0 with a new name. My sample is older and was originally called the Preon P0.

Atom AA Atom AL Atom ALR2 Atom A0 (red) Atom A0
Battery Type AA or 14500 CR123 or 16340 CR2 or RCR2 AAA AAA
Low Mode​
1.5 lumens* 6 lumens 5 lumens 0.5 lumens 0.24 lumens
High Mode 70 lumens* 110 lumens 100 lumens 15 lumens 25 lumens
LED Type+ XP-G2 XP-G2 XP-G2 XP-E (red) XP-E
Body Material Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Stainless Steel
Lens Material Plastic Optic lens Plastic Optic lens Plastic Optic lens Glass Optic lens Glass Optic lens
Features Lanyard loop, magnet tail Lanyard loop, magnet tail Lanyard loop, magnet tail Lanyard loop, magnet tail Lanyard loop, magnet tail
Size 2.56x0.71", 1.24 oz 1.84x0.77", 1.03 oz 1.67x0.74", 1.05 oz 2.2x0.5", 0.46 oz 2.2x0.5", 0.46 oz
Retail Price $40 $40 $40 $25 $25

+Note: All the LEDs are cool white (except the red LED of course).
*Note: Output of the AA seems to be around 6 and 110 lumens when running 14500 (3.7V battery)

Because of the similarity in all the lights, I will be paraphrasing sections of my Atom AL quickshot review along with added details about the individual lights.
See here for the original review: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...m-AL-amp-360%B0-Headlamp-Kit-Quickshot-Review


Overall Impressions

My overall impressions are very positive. These lights are lightweight but nicely made. While they do not feel substantial, the thin steel walls are quite strong. I see no durability concerns here. Light operation was initially overly stiff but proper lubrication of the O-ring cured this and smoothed things out considerably.

As you can see, these lights are tiny, being barely larger than the batteries they house. The following picture shows the lights next to their respective cells.

atom_family_20140420_0007_zps382e5ddc.jpg




The lights are all reflector-less pure flood (or "mule") configurations, so they are best used for close range tasks where a wide, even, flood beam is desired. Any notion of throw should be discarded, these are task lights, not a spotting or tactical lights. That said, I found the beams to be very useful for the intended purposes: close range tasks, reading, working in tight spaces etc.


atom_family_20140420_0003_zpse5e7bb4d.jpg



Instead of a reflector, there is a disk of glow material that provides a nice after-glow when the light has just been used. This may add some green tint to the edge of the beam, but it was not an issue in use. Note that while the Atom A0 red also has glow material around the LED (see picture below), the red LED does not charge the material, hence it will not glow normally.

The A0 red shown below has had the glow material charged by another light.

atom_family_20140420_0014_zps1ab76ca9.jpg



I also find the magnets on the tails to be very useful. They are strong enough to hold the lights in any position and add an extra degree of utility, making them perhaps a very useful light for automotive work. Note though, that the Atom AA was the least stable in the horizontal position. The long and heavy battery (Nimh especially) could cause the light to slip off a smooth, vertical surface. I do not see any issues if the light is used in most other configurations though.


atom_family_20140420_0002_zps61bd10a2.jpg



The Atom AA, AL, ALR2 are progressive twisty lights, that is, twist a little for low, twist more for high. This is an ideal user interface for these lights and is superior to the multi-twists required for many other similar lights (Like the Atom A0!). Internally, it seems that the two levels are controlled by a springy metal disk in the head. Initial battery contact turns on the low beam, and more pressure compresses the disk, closing the circuit and initiating the high beam. This seems like a more durable alternative to similar circuits I have seen in the past that rely on springs or small metal tabs. Only time will tell, but the design seems durable. I find the concept similar to metal membrane buttons one can find in some remote controls. So far, longer term testing of the Atom AL shows no deterioration of the switching action.
The Atom A0/A0 red, unfortunately, are too small to utilize this switching configuration and rely on the more common multi-twist interface (twist for low mode, twist off and on again for high mode. No memory, always resets to low). This is adequate and works well enough. If 4Sevens ever implemented the progressive twisty interface on the Atom A0, it would be more intuitive, however it would also likely increase costs. Long term testing on my Preon P0 (old naming of the Atom A0) is positive, with few problems in heavy use. The finish on my P0 was worn, so I sanded it off to give a nice brushed finish. This is a nice option for steel keychain lights.

The brightness levels seem well spaced and I didn't notice any PWM (pulsing/flicker) in the beams.
Overall, I do find these to be a nice, useful short-range task lights, however, their utility is greatly enhanced by the 360° headlamp kit.
Now here are some individual impressions about each specific light in the family.



Atom AL

As per my original review, this is a great task light. It's tiny, light, and has two useful levels. If I could change anything, I'd reduce the high mode to a longer lasting, somewhat lower level. 110 lumens is impressive but I feel like something in the 50-70 lumen range would be just as useful for the intended shorter range tasks while permitting much longer runtimes and reducing the heat. As it is, the light runs very hot on high mode. The small steel body is not great at dissipating heat.
While 6 lumens is a touch high for a low mode in pitch-black situations, it's very useful if there is ambient light, especially when used in the headlamp configuration. I had originally wished for a lower low mode but have changed my mind on this. This is a very useful level.
Overall, this is my favorite model. It's acceptably small, is compatible with the fairly common CR123 and rechargeable 16340 batteries, and feels good on the head and in the hand.

Atom ALR2

The ALR2 model is great if one wants the smallest possible size or wants compatibility with CR2/RCR2 batteries. While it's barely smaller than the Atom AL and has reduced runtimes due to the smaller battery, sometimes this makes all the difference in the pocket. This is also the most comfortable model in headlamp configuration.

Atom AA

This one is a bit of a paradox for me. It's probably one of the best survival lights (hand held) and is great in low light situations. That said, it's my least favorite model when used in headlamp configuration.

I find the 1.5 lumen low mode is great for wandering around in very dark conditions but is easily washed out if there is ambient light. This is especially true when used as a headlamp. It does however, have amazing long runtimes and could function well as a survival task light. See here for some runtime tests: http://www.cpfmarketplace.com/mp/showthread.php?311607-Long-running-lows-on-the-Atom-AA

I like the 70 lumen high mode, a nice bright flood that provides reasonable runtimes with very little heat buildup. 50 lumens would be even better (longer runtimes) but 70 is very reasonable.

Unfortunately, I find the long light, coupled with the heavier weight of Nimh batteries makes for the least comfortable headlamp configuration couple with the most "unicorn effect". It's not unreasonable, but it's just my least favorite. Of course using lithium primary batteries would alleviate most of the weight issue.

Here is the Atom AA (longest) vs the Atom ALR2 (shortest). While not too unweildy, the AA is the oddest looking and feeling of the family when used as a headlamp.

atom_family_20140420_0016_zpsfe90713b.jpg



And another profile shot

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I did notice hit or miss results when trying to use 14500 cells. The output is increased to about 6/110 lumens as per the Atom AL/ALR2 models, so this is a nice option to get those levels. The issue is the cell fit. I found my AW 14500 (black) cells did not function because the button top was too low. My AW IMR14500 (red) cells also had the problem of being too short to activate the light while also having a too-short button top. A small magnet in the head provides some functionality but it tends to cause issues and is not recommended. I did get good results using an Ultrafire 14500 cells (with tall button tops) but those are low quality cells and are not recommended. So, one can achieve favourable results using 14500 cells but the cells must be long enough and have tall/small button tops.

The Atom AA is the longest Atom, but is still dwarfed by the Quark AA.

atom_family_20140420_0008_zps46666df3.jpg




Atom A0/A0 red

The Atom A0 is basically the same light as a Preon P0. The levels make for a great survival light (0.24 lumen low) but as a headlamp are only good in very dark situations. The 25 lumen high mode is very useful and is a good balance of output and runtime for the tiny AAA batteries.

Here is the Atom AL vs the Atom A0 in headlamp configuration

atom_family_20140420_0012_zpsa5d4f66d.jpg



The A0 red is useful in that it helps preserve night vision. Overall it's even more of a niche product, but those who favour red lights will like this one (e.g. Astronomy uses)
It's a shame that these lights don't share the progressive twisty UI of the Atom AA/AL/ALR2, but they are based on the older Preon design. Perhaps future designs could change the switching configuration, but it would likely increase the cost ($25 retail). In any case, the design works well enough and functions well in headlamp configuration.


I won't go into the 360° headlamp kit as I feel that my previous review covers the details quite well. That said, longer term testing has shown no issues with the headlamp kit. This kit is now my go-to headlamp combination. The kit comes with a variety of adapters to fit every Atom and Mini model (well, not the 2AAA model!).


atom_family_20140420_0009_zps919240c3.jpg



Here is the Atom AA (left) and Atom ALR2 (right) vs the very common Zebralight H51

atom_family_20140420_0010_zpsad0605f0.jpg



Overall, the Atom Family provides great versatility and functionality. You can just pick based on your preferred battery type and get a very useful little task light.
 
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Blue Steel

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Excellent comparison and description of those lights. I do want the Atom AA. Do you wear your headlamp on your forehead or off to the side of your head?
 

ven

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Excellent review,gunga,thanks for taking the time,:twothumbslove the comparison pics,really nice small lights.................great family :D
 

yoyoman

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Nice write-up. The AA looks thicker than the CR123 - does this impact the beam? Thank you for taking the time to provide useful information and pictures.
 

jonwkng

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Great follow-up review, gunga! :thumbsup:

It is certainly interesting to see the size difference of the lights side-by-side. I'm thankful 4Sevens is still supporting the CR2 form factor. Will likely be getting the Atom ALR2 soon.
 

gunga

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Hey all. Thanks so much for the feedback! I really appreciate it!

To answer a few questions:


- I wear the headlamp on my forehead in front. It prevents glare on my glasses and allows me to direct the light as desired.

- The AA is slightly slimmer than the AL. Any differences in bezel are minimal. The AL actually has the widest beam but the AA and ALR2 are almost as wide. The difference in beam width is barely perceptible. The A0 is a bit narrower, noticeably so. I'm unsure if this is due to light design or because of the narrower beam angle of the xp-e LED.

- Yes. The ALR2 is a great continuation of CR2 support. I expected it to be smaller but it is still tiny.
 

BillSWPA

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Thanks for the review.

I have an Atom A0 with red LED on my keychain now. As the review stated, proper lubrication is important. I broke my first O-ring in less than a week of use, and I have never previously worn out an O-ring on a light. A couple of tubes of lubricant recommended in the general lubrication thread have been ordered.

Regarding CR2 lights, I really like them for keychain use. On a keychain, small differences in size make a big difference. I recently lightened up my keychain, primarily by removing the Leatherman Micra, on the advice of the service manager of the shop where I have my car serviced. He was afraid that the weight would damage my ignition. CR2 cells from Titanium Innovations are available from Battery Junction for about $1/cell. Most of my CR123 lights use 2 cells in series, raising safety concerns in the event that the cells are less than perfectly matched, so I only use made in USA or made in Japan cells. I generally buy Surefire CR123 at about $2/cell. Most or all CR2 lights are single cell, eliminating the safety issues raised by cells in series, and thereby making less expensive options worthwhile. If I did not want the extra low setting and night vision preserving properties of the A0, the light on my keychain would be my MLR2, which uses the same CR2 cell as the ALR2. This would certainly be on my keychain if it was the only light I carried.
 

gunga

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Well said, sometimes that last little decrease in size makes something pocket -able vs being a lead weight in the pocket. I've amended my review to reflect this.
 

nbp

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I'm kinda interested in this new Atom family. I do love floody lights! Why don't they specify that they are basically Mules on the website? I don't even see a business end pic. If I wasn't a member here I would be pretty surprised when I saw the beam pattern. For me it would be good but not everyone would think so.
 

gunga

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That's a good point. I looked again at the website and saw no mention at all that this is a pure flood light. I think any uninformed person buying will be quite surprised. The term "mule" is very hobbyist specific, so I don't think that is helpful for the general public. In any case, it's not specified anywhere that these lights are all flood!
 

Blue Steel

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That's interesting. Only the Atom A0 has a brief mention of it being a flood-type light, other than that, doesn't go into what degree of flood.
 

BillSWPA

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My lubricant arrived yesterday. Today I was about to apply some to my A0, and found my second O-ring gone. The light was used a grand total of 3 times since the last O-ring was replaced. Clearly something is not quite right.

Last weekend, I spent the night in a hotel. Since I had 2 room keys, and having seem claims that the magnet will not effect credit cards, etc., I left my keys near one of the room keys overnight. The key did not work the following morning. Clearly, the magnet is a concern if anything magnetic is in the same pocket, and I may try to deactivate the magnet on mine. Magnets do not belong on keychain lights.

I am generally a big fan of FourSevens. I currently own 9 of their lights, always EDC at least one, and often EDC two of them. They are one of my go-to recommendations in the "Recommend me a light" forum. This is the first and only FourSevens product I have seen that has left me less than impressed.
 
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Etsu

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Yeah, the Atom A0 is just a renamed Preon P0. I am not too impressed with my P0 quality, either. I still love the light for its very small size, but it doesn't match up to the quality of 4sevens other lights. I think they emphasized miniaturizing it too much, which resulted in cutting corners on the design. I'd rather it was a couple of millimeters longer, and had more consistent operation.

I use Deoxit Gold lubricant that 4sevens sells. It works well to keep the o-rings from wearing. I haven't had any issues. If you don't lubricate it, you could run into problems.
 
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