It's been awhile since my last 1xAAA-class light review – and my last Lumintop AAA light in particular. In 2013, I reviewed the physical clicky-based Lumintop Tool AAA and in 2011 the twisty Lumintop Worm.
Let's see how the new Tool Ti compares to others in this class. :wave:
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
Note: as always, these are only what the manufacturer reports. To see my actual testing results, scroll down the review.
- Uses High CRI Nichia 219BT LED or CREE XP-G2 (R5) LED
- Output mode/Runtime:
- XP-G2 R5: High: 110 lumens/30 Minutes, Mid(Default): 32 lumens/4 hours, Low: 5 Lumens/36 hours
- NICHIA 219BT: High: 80 lumens/30 Minutes, Mid(Default): 18 lumens/4 hours, Low: 3 Lumens/36 hours
- 3 modes: Mid-Low-High; Press the metal tail switch to change modes
- Runs on: 1 x AAA (NOT included) (10440 Not Recommend)
- Dimensions: Length: 2.91" (74mm); Head Diameter: 0.56" (14.4mm); Body Diameter: 0.56"(14.4mm); Weight: 0.78oz(22g) (excluding battery)
- Max Beam Intensity and Distance
- XP-G2 R5: 553cd, 47 meters
- NICHIA 219BT: 304cd, 34 meters
- Made from aircraft-grade Ti-6Al-4V alloy that is lightweight, resistant to corrosion, wear and high temperature
- Precision micro-textured reflector creates smooth, optimized beam
- Double-side AR coated, tempered window resists impact and thermal shock, maximizes light transmission (99% light transmittance)
- High-efficiency digitally regulated circuit to maintain a constant brightness as battery life diminishes
- Glow in the Dark front O-ring around reflector
- Diamond-cut knurling forms a decent appearance and a great grip
- Chic yet practical electronic metal tail switch
- Brass circuit board ensures incredible heat dissipation while the exposed brass ring becomes a wonderful decoration
- Multi-Function, electronic metal tail switch provides one-handed operation and easy access to all functions
- High quality detachable stainless steel reversible clip makes it durable and keeps a firm grip on your pocket or hat
- Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
- Impact resistance to 1.5 meters and waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (submersible to 2 meters)
- Market applications include, but are not limited to everyday carry, keychain, gift, emergency, security, hardware/tool and many other uses
- Operation: Click the tail switch to turn on/off; press the switch to select brightness (Mid-Low-High).
- MSRP: ~$70
Packaging is the new Lumintop "luxury" jewellery-box, with padded inserts. Along with the light (which has a pocket clip attached) are extra o-rings, lobster-style clip, and manual.
From left to right: Eneloop Pro NiMH AAA; Lumintop Tool Ti; Ultratac K18; Lumintop Worm; Fenix LD02; Thrunite Ti3; L3 Illuminations L08.
Lumintop Tool Ti: Weight: 22.6g, Length 73.6mm, Width 14.4mm (bezel)
Lumintop Tool AAA: Weight: 15.3g, Length 82.6mm, Width 14.4mm (bezel)
Lumintop Worm Aluminium: Weight: 14.3g, Length 72.0mm (battery installed, off), Width 14.1mm (bezel)
Lumintop Worm Stainless: Weight: 27.3g, Length 72.0mm (battery installed, off), Width 14.1mm (bezel)
Eagletac D25 AAA (with clip): Weight: 13.4g, Length: 69.8mm, Width (bezel): 14.1mm
Fenix LD02 (with clip): Weight: 16.5g, Length: 76.9mm, Width (bezel): 14.4mm
Fenix E99Ti: Weight: 18.7g, Length: 66.1mm, Width (bezel): 14.1mm
Foursevens Preon P0: Weight 13.0g (with keychain clip), Length 55.0mm, Width 12.6mm (bezel)
Foursevens Preon P1: Weight 15.3g (with keychain clip), Length 75.6mm, Width 14.0mm (bezel)
Klarus Mi X6: Weight 16.2g, Length 72.9mm (battery installed), Width 12.8mm
L3 Illumination L08: Weight: 22.4g, Length: 77.8mm, Width (bezel): 17.0mm
Olight i3 (2013/14): Weight 12.3g, Length: 69.3mm, Width (bezel): 14.0mm
Thrunite Ti3: Weight: 11.5g, Length: 69.9mm, Width (bezel): 13.6mm
Titanium Innovations Illuminati Aluminum: Weight 13.9g (with keychain clip), Length 68.8mm, Width 14.0mm (bezel)
Ultratac K18 Stainless Steel: Weight: 29.5g, Length 76.0mm, Width 14.0mm (bezel)
The titanium body has a polished finish. The light has reasonably aggressive knurling over the tailcap, body tube and head. Labels are faint, in dark grey (i.e. not as high contrast as some lights). There is a brass pill in the head, which is exposed at the contact point between head and body. There appears to be blue threadlocker on my sample, between the body and pill (and head and pill). The light is meant to be opened at the tailcap for battery changes.
Screw threads are standard triangular cut, and very fine (as with all 1xAAA lights). Note that all titanium lights have some degree of "galling" on their threads – but I don't find it to be an issue for this light. Since titanium cannot be anodized, there is no physical lock-out. Note that you need to keep the threads and contact surfaces clean to ensure consistent operation.
Tailstanding is possible on the Tool Ti, thanks to the recessed switch. Note that the the Tool Ti uses an electronic clicky switch (but one with mode memory even without a battery installed). Scroll down to the Standby Drain section for a discussion of how the switch operates.
Stainless steel pocket clip attaches firmly, and can oriented in either head-up or head-down orientation.
The Tool Ti uses a lightly textured reflector (OP). My sample is the Nichia 219BT emitter, which has a nice neutral white tint. Centering of the emitter was excellent on my sample. Scroll down for beamshots
Turn the light on by a click of the electronic switch.
Light comes on in Med output to start. Rapidly turn the light off/on to advance modes (i.e., double click). Mode sequence is Med > Lo > Hi, in a repeating loop. In other words, mode sequence is consistently from Hi to Lo, but starting at the Med level.
There is no memory mode, and the light will always come on in Med after a pause.
There are no blinking modes on the Tool Ti.
Note that the switch can retain a memory of its state (open or closed) even without an AAA battery installed. Scroll down for details.
For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
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As with the Worm/Tool, there is no sign of PWM on the Lo mode of the Tool Ti. Here are the oscilloscope traces for each mode:
There is no strobe feature.
Output mode switching is controlled by the circuit in the head, and can be operated independent of the switch (i.e., you can short the tail with a paper clip instead of the tailcap and still move through modes).
However, as previously described, the tail switch is an electronic switch - and one that retains mode memory of its state (open or closed) even without an AAA battery installed inside the light. :thinking: It manages this through an unusual arrangement - the tailcap switch is using a small rechargeable battery built-in to the switch itself. There is thus a constant stand-by drain on this internal battery, to allow the switch to function. But so long as this internal battery is charged and working well, any drain on the main AAA should be negligible. Note that in another unusual twist, the internal tailswitch battery must be fully charged for all the light output modes to work correctly.
The way this seems to work is that the internal tailswitch rechargeable battery is recharged (slowly) when a AAA battery is inserted in the light and all contacts are made (i.e., even with the light off). As explained above, because the switch is electronic, there is thus a continuous standby drain on this small internal battery (which I cannot measure). However, once an AAA battery is installed in the light, the rechargeable battery in the switch is able to fully recharge itself. This secondary drain (on the AAA battery, to re-charge the internal switch battery) I can measure. In my testing to date, it a fluctuates depending on the drain status of the tailswitch battery. Typically, it ranges from ~0.05uA up to ~50uA. Note the drain current drops as the internal battery recharges from the AAA (i.e., quickly falls to the low uA range).
There is an issue with using the light, if stored for a period of time with no AAA battery installed. When stored this way, the rechargeable switch battery slowly drops in charge (due to the standby nature of the switch itself). After ~4 days with no activity (and no AAA battery installed), I measured the initial standby drain when an AAA is re-installed at ~50uA. But at this point, the Hi output level was significantly reduced: while Lo and Med were normal, Hi was ~45% of max output initially (although this recovered to ~55% of of max output after 1 minute of runtime and contact).
Now, ~50uA standby is not enough on its own to explain that drop in output, so I can only presume it takes some time for the rechargeable battery to build up enough charge to allow all the modes to function properly. Based on anecdotal reports so far, it seems that if you let the switch sit alone long enough, the Med and Lo modes could be affected - right down to the light not turning on at all. But if you let it sit for an hour or so with an AAA battery inside the light with all contacts made, that is enough time to recharge the switch's internal rechargeable battery, and give you all modes again.
Note that no lockout is possible, so you would need to fully remove the tailcap to block this current.
All lights are on 1xAAA Sanyo Eneloop NiMH, about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). The Neutral White Tool Ti is photographed under a Daylight white balance. Automatic white balance is set for the Cool White emitters, to minimize tint differences. All beamshots taken immediately upon activation.
The beam of the Tool Ti is reasonably well focused (due to the small emitter die). The tint is a pleasing neutral white, in my view.
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).
The max output of the Nichia 219BT version of the Tool Ti is lower than the XP-G2 version – but still more than reasonable for this class. Consistent with the beamshots, peak intensity throw is reasonably good for the class.
Here is how my lumen estimates compare to the Lumintop specs:
A pretty close concordance, as you can see.
The Nichia 219BT emitter and/or circuit is not particularly well-suited for the Hi output drive level – runtimes are typically a bit shorter than most other lights in this class (for an equivalent output level). The light also shows a more direct-drive-like regulation pattern, and can't hold flat stabilization for long (even on NiMH).
On the Med output level, regulation is flat-stabilized on all batteries, and overall output/runtime efficiency is definitely improved. While not exactly top of class, the Tool Ti Nichia 219BT is a good performer at this level.
Light has a titanium build – which is very structurally stable, but can produce galling on screw threads (which cannot be anodized for lock-out).
Efficiency of the Hi mode is lower than typical for this class, at least when equipped with the Nichia 219BT emitter. Med mode output shows decent efficiency and regulation.
The Tool Ti uses an electronic switch that has its own internal rechargeable battery. The standby drain is thus internal to the switch, and the drain to re-charge the switch is then in the low uA range from the main AAA battery (which is pretty negligible). However, there is an issue because the internal battery drains slowly over time (due to its internal standby drain), and it needs to be well-charged for the switch to work properly. It takes some time for the rechargeable battery to build up enough charge from the main AAA cell to allow all the modes to function properly. For some reason, if the light has been sitting for several days with no AAA battery installed, there is a reduced output of the Hi mode. Based on anecdotal reports, it seems that if you let the switch sit alone long enough, the Med and Lo modes could also be affected - right down to the light not turning on at all. But if you let it sit for an hour or so with an AAA battery inside the light with all contacts made, that is enough time to recharge the switch's rechargeable battery, and give you all modes again.
There is no memory mode, and the Tool Ti always starts on Med (and cycles from Hi to Lo).
10440 is not supported.
The Tool Ti is a higher-end 1xAAA light, clearly meant to appeal as a gift item. The titanium build, brass pill accent, optional Nichia 219BT emitter, and slim in-line clicky switch all bring a touch of class to the 1xAAA keychain light group. But it is also sturdy enough to be used as an every-day carry.
It has been a long time since I've seen an integrated tailcap clicky switch like this (i.e., not since the dearly departed Liteflux LF2XT). Unfortunately, the Tool Ti has a very simple interface in comparison to that sophisticated light – and one with a Hi to Lo mode sequence, starting by default at the Med level. :shrug: Still, this is a definite step up from the regular Tool AAA, with its simple protruding tailcap clicky switch.
While the interface may be simple, the functioning of the switch is anything but. Unusually, there is an internal rechargeable battery inside the electronic switch. While this limits the standby drain on the main AAA battery (i.e., the drain now is only to keep the internal switch battery fully charged), the tiny switch battery can't hold a charge for long. This means that if you let the light sit for days or weeks without an AAA battery installed, the switch may not function properly - until the minuscule drain on the main AAA battery is able to re-charge it sufficiently (i.e., up to an hour or so). Expect reduced output on Hi, and potentially lack of operation, until the switch is recharged. :shrug:
Performance of the light is good overall, although not as impressive as some of its simpler constant-current competition. As explained above, the Hi mode can suffer from a reduction in output (and/or runtime efficiency) if the switch internal battery gets drained. At least there is no sign of flicker on any level – the Tool Ti remains fully current-controlled, like other Lumintop AAA lights. :thumbsup:
Build is solid, although I'm not sure why thread-locker was included on the head (i.e., seems that you are meant to open the light at the tailcap for battery changes). The beam pattern and tint are very good on my 219BT sample – very pleasing to my eyes.
This is a nice light, with a quality feel and build. I would personally prefer a revised mode sequence (from Lo to Hi) – but I know there is no general consensus on the best sequence for these simple 3-stage keychain lights. The Tool Ti certainly brings a bit of bling to this class.
Lumintop Tool Ti provided by Lumintop for review.