ITP A6 Polestar Review (6xAA MC-E): RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

raco

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Nov 28, 2008
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Hi,

This light puts all of my old C & D Maglites to shame, it's very bright and lights up my neighbors houses really good.

I just bought the A6 Polestar to replace my MagLED 4D, but I will miss the insane runtime of the Mag:

magled4cellrun.gif


Of course the ITP is brighter, but the Mag really gives enough light for many uses... during more than 43 hours (with alkaline batteries).

Considering that the Mag is very solid and so cheap, I don't think we can't say that the A6 puts the Mag to shame, far from it.

What I'd like is a flashlight that has the same output and runtime as the MagLED 4D, but is smaller. But it seems that it doesn't exists. If I want 43 hours of light with my A6, then I have to carry 30 AA cells... which is much heavier than 4 D cells. So the Mag is still a good flashlight, cheap and solid, with an incredible runtime.

Regards,

raco
 

selfbuilt

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What I'd like is a flashlight that has the same output and runtime as the MagLED 4D, but is smaller. But it seems that it doesn't exists.
It's really a question of output levels and battery sources. I presume you want to stick to standard cells?

I don't have a MagLED 4D to test, but I know that my lightbox gives reasonably good concordance with Doug's (from flashlightreviews.com). Based on his numbers, it would seem like the MagLED 4D 'sregulated level only gives ~20-25 on my relative output scale (initially, it would be ~45, but drops rapidly to the regulated level).

So, the ITP Polestar on Med is ~3X brighter for ~9 hours on 6xAA. The Fenix TK45 on Med is ~2X brighter for ~23 hours on 8xAA. On their lo modes, they would last much longer - but not be as bright as your MagLED 4D.

Part of the problem here is the battery sources - 6x or 8xAAs just can't quite match 4xD cells, despite the much greater efficiency of the newer LEDs. Also, most high output lights don't offer too wide a range of output levels.

There is also the issue of throw - most people run their mags as max focus for best throw. The Lumapower Mentor (Cree XR-E R2) runs on 2xC cells, and can give you ~8 hours on Med on alkalines. It has a bit more output and similar throw your MagLED 4D, thanks to the single-die emitter (and with the TurboForce head installed, it actually throws much further!).

But otherwise, you really need to look at 2x18650 options and lights with an appropriate Lo level. The Eagletac M2C4 or M2XC4 on Lo would both give you almost the same runtime for equivalent output as your MagLED (although throw would be less). Throw would still be better than your A6, though.
 
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raco

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I presume you want to stick to standard cells?
Yes, because I think they're less likely to vent. Which means, in an airtight flashlight, to explode. I wonder why manufacturers don't realize that an airtight design makes the venting valve of the cells useless. This is a major flaw of this flashlight, in my opinion.

So, the ITP Polestar on Med is ~3X brighter for ~9 hours on 6xAA. The Fenix TK45 on Med is ~2X brighter for ~23 hours on 8xAA. On their lo modes, they would last much longer - but not be as bright as your MagLED 4D.
I found the low mode of the A6, which lasts 50 hours, to be really useable. The problem is when you want more light temporarily: you have to cycle through all the modes, which is annoying.

The Eagletac M2C4 or M2XC4 on Lo would both give you almost the same runtime for equivalent output as your MagLED
That's quite impressive, but unfortunately I want to stick to alkaline cells. Thanks for your insight, anyway.
 

selfbuilt

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Yes, because I think they're less likely to vent. Which means, in an airtight flashlight, to explode. I wonder why manufacturers don't realize that an airtight design makes the venting valve of the cells useless. This is a major flaw of this flashlight, in my opinion.
I agree with you on the issue of venting in an airtight space. But I suspect 6xNiMH cells would in fact be more likely to vent than 2xLi-ion - it is just that the result would be far less catastrophic when they do!

There's lots of reports here of users of 2xAA Fenix lights having "bulging" tailcaps - invariably due to mismatched NiMH cells venting. Seems to be a common problem, but not really dangerous with AA cells. The risk of alkaline cells leaking and destroying the light are probably the greater concern.

I found the low mode of the A6, which lasts 50 hours, to be really useable. The problem is when you want more light temporarily: you have to cycle through all the modes, which is annoying.
Yes, the UI of the A6 is not ideal. The new Fenix TK45 will probably be to more people's liking, since you can set the mode and it remembers.
 

raco

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There's lots of reports here of users of 2xAA Fenix lights having "bulging" tailcaps - invariably due to mismatched NiMH cells venting.
It happened to me with my Fenix L2P. The explosion was not dangerous but powerful enough to provoke ringing in my ears for a few seconds. So I don't want to try 6xMiMH in the A6. I'll stick with alkalines, even though they're not totally safe either : http://data.energizer.com/design_hints/pages/dhints_hydgeneration.html.

Yes, the UI of the A6 is not ideal. The new Fenix TK45 will probably be to more people's liking, since you can set the mode and it remembers.
I don't like the UI of the TK45 (if I understood your review correctly) because you still can't switch between two modes with a single click. Why not have one button like on the A6, and the other button allows to switch between the current mode and next mode ? That would be convenient. In a real-life situation, you need either low and medium mode or medium and high. You don't need low and strobe, you don't need low and high.

Plus, I guess that the TK45 have the same dangerous design as the A6 (you say in your review that one can unscrew the tailcap to avoid the parasitic drain, but I'd rather unscrew it to avoid an explosion). And I really hate this triple-mount head, it makes it look like a toy, in my opinion ;-). Fenix probably wanted their light to "look cool", which is the opposite of "professional".
 

harro

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Hello,
One problem i've had with my A6 was the thin brass contact at the head end dislodging from the carrier. One of the tabs had come open. However, easy enough to bend back into position and refit to carrier, otherwise, no problems and a nice light.
Cheers Harro. :thumbsup:
 

selfbuilt

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I don't like the UI of the TK45 (if I understood your review correctly) because you still can't switch between two modes with a single click. Why not have one button like on the A6, and the other button allows to switch between the current mode and next mode ? That would be convenient. In a real-life situation, you need either low and medium mode or medium and high. You don't need low and strobe, you don't need low and high.
That's pretty much how the TK45 works - the left switch controls on/off, the right switch advances between modes when on (and only does Lo-Med-Hi-Turbo in regular mode, no strobe). The TK45 has mode memory, so retains the last level when you turn off/on. To access the hidden strobe modes, you need to do a double-click of the right button when on. See my full review of the TK45 for more info.

All in all, a good interface on the TK45.

One problem i've had with my A6 was the thin brass contact at the head end dislodging from the carrier. One of the tabs had come open. However, easy enough to bend back into position and refit to carrier, otherwise, no problems and a nice light.
Thanks for the report - I suspected that those tabs could be a potential problem. Glad to hear you were able to bend it back in position without incident.
 
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Tigger101

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I am new to CPF and would like to thank you Selfbuilt for very thorough and informative reviews on many products. I have been reading them and have found it to be very helpful in making my first purchase. I just purchased the ITP A6 Polestar and am so far pleased with it. Your review was very accurate and I liked the fact that it runs on 6 AA Eneloops. Once again thank you for all of your hard work and devoted time. Also thank Mrs. Selfbuilt for her understanding as you continue to deliver these helpful reviews.

Kendall :twothumbs
 

selfbuilt

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I just purchased the ITP A6 Polestar and am so far pleased with it. Your review was very accurate and I liked the fact that it runs on 6 AA Eneloops. Once again thank you for all of your hard work and devoted time. Also thank Mrs. Selfbuilt for her understanding as you continue to deliver these helpful reviews.
:welcome: Glad you found the review helpful. And I will pass along your comments to Mrs Selfbuilt. ;)
 
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