Fenix E01 Review

AardvarkSagus

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I recently was given a Fenix E01 by Divine in the Christmas Giveaway. Upon receiving this nice little light I checked with Divine if he would be ok with me reviewing it for the site. Once he gave me the go-ahead, I started putting this popular little companion under the microscope with a critical eye. Here's what I came up with:

Fenix E01

The Fenix E01 is a little light trying to fill a big role. Hardly bigger than the AAA cell that powers it, this little light seems to be designed around the ability to be completely forgettable, but only until it is needed.


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Fenix E01


Meat and Potatoes

The Fenix E01 utilizes a Nichia 5mm LED to provide consistent low levels of illumination for extended periods of time. The fact that the E01 has a flat discharge curve over the first 10 hours of battery life is fantastic. This light is the perfect key chain companion ready to serve in a moments notice, even for just an average Joe who wouldn't normally take to carrying a larger, higher powered flashlight at all times.
The simple twisty switch supplements this intent by performing as a no frills reliable and out of the way switching mechanism that doesn't add any unnecessary bulk to the light at all. With no extra parts at all, it literally cannot get any simpler than this.


One of the most interesting features of this light has been proven through numerous documented accidents and destructive testing. Through the combination of quality building materials and light weight, this light appears to be nigh unto indestructible. Tales have been told of E01's surviving falls from multiple stories in height, apparently unperturbed by the precipitous drop, nor the concrete impact awaiting the end of the trip, that would invoke the demise of lights with more gargantuan proportions.

Constructive criticism

My E01 does have one glaring fault that I find slightly disconcerting. The bad news is, it's big. The good news however, is that it is quite likely my individual unit rather than a design flaw for the entire run. The LED is angled quite severely off to one side shedding a beam that is disturbingly out of alignment. The further away from myself I shine the light, the further off center the beam shows up. Navigating my way around a dark room, I find myself having to consciously aim the light away from my intended target. Whether high, low, left, or right of center depends entirely on how I happened to extricate it from my pocket on that particular occasion. I know that this is not likely to be a design error, and that Fenix is probably not exactly intending this to be within tolerance, however apparently some further care needs to be taken when inspecting the final product before it leaves the factory destined for the hands of the consumer.


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Off-center beam



Another point of contention where this light could stand to improve somewhat is the tints. No, that is not a typo. The beam of the E01, though it still classifies as white overall, is actually a varying duo of two different tints throughout the beam. The diffuse hotspot appears with a strong blueish hue fading extremely smoothly into a yellow toned corona/spill. Admittedly, this concatenation is only apparent when hunting down the elusive uninterrupted stretch of white wall, but it is there none the less.


I have read of some high end, semi-custom lights in this category sporting a Cree based high color rendition 5mm LED. While I suspect it will be some time before that caliber of LED begins to show up at this pricepoint, it would be quite a feat if Fenix were to be able to become one of the first mass production lights utilizing this technology.

Conclusions

This little light has an occasional use or emergency use mindset that benefits it greatly. It's long lasting low level light is probably better suited to a disposable Lithium AAA cell rather than rechargeables of whatever sort, due to its ability to not be in your way until you find yourself in need of light. From finding a keyhole in the dark, to navigating a prolonged power outage, these are the situations where this light really shines. My E01 has found it's way onto my keyring, where it is likely to endure for some time to come.


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E01 on a Keyring
 

Woods Walker

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Lithium AAA cell rather than rechargeables

I think the lower draw works great for NiMH LSD batteries and even standard junk Energizers. Somehow feel that lithiums are better used in LOD type lights. Also that beam being so far off center is not standard E01. However only own one.

Nice review.
 

AardvarkSagus

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I was most referring to the preference toward Lithium to avoid bothering with recharging the light frequently to top off the cells or risking the alkaline cell leaking due to the long term approach the E01 takes to power.
 

TONY M

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I was most referring to the preference toward Lithium to avoid bothering with recharging the light frequently to top off the cells or risking the alkaline cell leaking due to the long term approach the E01 takes to power.
Yes lithiums are the way to go for the E01 IMO.

One of my E01s that I just gave away as an Xmas present had a hideously off centre beam. The hotspot was also at the edge of the spill... Not good but I still love the light.
 

Ousanas

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My E01 is also horribly off center as well. I keep meaning to order a new one to replace it and hand this one down, but honestly I haven't yet, it sits on my key chain with my house keys, lithium AAA ready to go, and has no problems.

It's a great little light!!!
 

jag-engr

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I can deal with off-center emitters and oval beams, but the tints are disconcerting.

Someone on the forum did an experiment with regrinding the emitter domes about 1 mm shorter and more egg-shaped. They said that they got much better color from the emitters, no doubt due to how the light refracts through the emitter dome.

I'm anxious to see how the 5mm Cree emitters in Muyshondt's Mako perform. Maybe Fenix will give these a try. Nichias seem to have the market cornered on 5mm emitters, but it's been a long time since they were really cutting edge. Their brightness/efficiency is growing incrementally, but they seem to be giving no heed to color, CRI, or pattern. They need some competition!
 

AardvarkSagus

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I will eagerly be awaiting reports of the Mako as well, however in my current state of financial affairs, seeing that light reviewed on my site is extremely unlikely. I would love to have a crack at it, but I don't see that happening.

I too am hoping that more competition occurs at this lower level. At this point I wouldn't be surprised to see the trend heading toward greater color rendition for a little while rather than straight up efficiency.
 

mrm65

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My E01 is also horribly off center as well. I keep meaning to order a new one to replace it and hand this one down, but honestly I haven't yet, it sits on my key chain with my house keys, lithium AAA ready to go, and has no problems.

It's a great little light!!!

I just got an E01 and mine is off centre too!
 

kramer5150

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curious.. can you manually bend the emitter back to center position? I had a gerber tempo that was severely off center too... drove me nuts so I took it back to REI and exchanged it for one thats perfectly centered:twothumbs. It got unbelievably annoying pointing the light straight ahead to illuminate my feet
 

Art

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:shakehead 2 of them are a bit off centre but not as much as the foto in the first post.
 

Jarl

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Does the LED appear centred in the reflector, or if you handed it to someone would it be obvious before they turned it on that the beam was off centre?
 

D-Dog

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I would say a Lithium AAA might suit the light well, as the cells are lighter and have a much greater shelf life than say an Alk or even a LSD NI-MH. I know they are more expensive, however, the battery would also last longer, especially when driven at a low current :twothumbs

Nice review and I hope the light gets lots of use :)
 

AardvarkSagus

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In mine (can't speak to everyone else here) the LED is centered, but obviously angled to one side. This was only apparent however upon inspection as to why the beam looked the way it did.

Aside from that and my small gripe about the tint however, this light is excellent. The switch is buttery smooth and everything functions as advertised.
 

WadeF

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All 5 of my E01's have centered beams. All of mine are from the first runs in each color though. For $15 I guess it's up to the purchaser if an off center beam is worth returning the light. I paid $55 for an ARC GS shipped that had a beam as off center as the OP's reviewed E01. Combined with other issues, such as a rough finish, exposed o-ring, I decided to send that back and was sent a much better example. So if a $55 ARC can have an off center emitter, a $15 E01 certainly can as well. Hopefully Fenix can find a way to ensure all E01's are centered, but sometimes the LED can be straight, but the beam can come out of the LED crooked.
 

Woods Walker

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Wow I didn't know that so many E01 are off center. Mine seems good.

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A little purple however for this class of light so what. I like it. I am sure the Lithiums run longer however for me LSD NiMH AAA is the way to go. I don't need to worry about self discharge.
 

Flying Turtle

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Mine seems alright, too. I'm wondering if perhaps 4Sevens inspects them closer than others before shipping. Did the off center ones come from all different places?

Geoff
 
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