Review: Convoy S9 (580lm, 18650, XM-L2)

stephenk

stephenk

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 13, 2015
Messages
762
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Convoy is a small Chinese flashlight manufacturer which produces a range of decent budget flashlights that are very popular with flashlight enthusiasts, in particular the huge selling Convoy S2+. The Convoy S9 also has an 18650 tube profile, but with a side switch and USB charging. How does it compare with similar lights?
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Disclaimer


The Convoy S9 was sent to me for an honest review by FastTech. I receive no commission from links or sales.
Product link. 5% off with code “saving”.


Construction


The Convoy S9 arrived in a foam padded Convoy branded box, containing the flashlight, clip, and lanyard. No spare O-rings, USB cable, or battery were included.

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The Convoy S9 is a 18650 tube profile light with a head diameter of 24.1mm. The S9 is slightly shorter then the S2+ at 114mm in length. The flashlight has three sections (head, tube, and tail) that can be unscrewed.


Both ends of the battery tube have springs, which allows for flat top, button top, and raised top li-ion 18650 batteries. The battery tube is also bored wider, and appears to be slightly longer than the S2+, and this allows obese protected batteries such as the Klarus 3600mAh battery (18.6 diameter x 69.5mm length) to fit.


The S9 has internal USB charging with a rubber plug to cover the micro USB port. As almost everyone should have a micro USB cable somewhere around the house, Convoy can be forgiven for not including a cable. The USB charging is claimed to be at 1A, so a charge from approx. 50% charge will take 1.5-2 hours. This was reflected in testing. The charge terminated at 4.18V which is very good. The light has low voltage protection, and will turn off when the battery voltage is below 3V. This was also successfully tested. As the Convoy S9 terminates charge correctly, and has low voltage protection, then unprotected batteries are suitable - I would recommend the Panasonic/Sanyo 3500mAh NCR18650GA for maximum runtime.


The knurling on the tube is grippy enough, and the side switch with red and blue LEDs underneath is located near the head. The tail section threads are anodised, and thus the S9 can be safely locked out by slightly unscrewing the tail cap. The S9 has different branding to some of Convoy’s other lights, with a “CONVOY.MK” logo.

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User interface


The Convoy S9 has a very basic user interface. This is very different to the older 3/5 mode or newer Biscotti user interfaces found on the Convoy S2+, M1, and M2 lights which have tail switches capable of half or full clicks. All control is using the backlit side switch. A single click from off enters the memorised mode. Each click after that goes in order Low(3%)>Med(30%)>High(100%)>Low(3%) and so on. A double click from on or off enters strobe mode, which is single frequency, and relatively slow at 7.5Hz. A long hold (1 sec) turns the light off. The S9 will memorise the previously used mode, including strobe. No instructions are provided, so I could see some users having difficulty in working out how to turn the light off, as the hold for off is not intuitive.


When the light is on, the side switch is usually backlit blue. If the battery voltage is below 3.3V, the backlight will be red to warn the user that they need to charge the battery. When the battery is charging, it is backlit red. When the light has terminated charging, it is backlit blue (until the USB cable is unplugged).


Beam and output


The Convoy S2+ has an orange peel reflector, and genuine Cree XM-L2 LED. This results in a floody beam profile that it identical to Convoy S2+ with the same reflector and emitter combination (note that some S2+ models have a smooth reflector/Cree XP-L HI combination with a tighter hotspot). The floody beam is great for illuminating light painting tools such as light blades and fibre optics.


The output is claimed to be 580 lumens, and ceiling bounce tests agreed with this at 30secs. The brightness at 100% output visually appears to be halfway between a 850lm (8*7135) Convoy S2+ on 100% and 40% output. Medium mode is at approximately 30% output, and low mode at approximately 3% output. Strobe is at 100% output.


Due to the lower output, and 1.4A current, the S9 takes much longer to heat up than a 8*7135 S2+. I found that after 10 minutes it was getting warm enough to consider stepping down, which needs to be done manually. Thus the S9 is much more suitable for a li-ion flashlight newbie than the S2+, but can still get too hot to touch if left unattended. Due to the 1.4A current, the runtime was in excess of 2 hours, and output gradually declines during the runtime as per other 7135 chip based lights.


The review sample was with a cool white emitter 6500k (1A). Other tint options are neutral white 5000k, and warm neutral white 4200k. I like the choice of emitters, something that most manufacturers do not offer. A 3000k warm white option is oddly missing for Convoy who usually offer this.


The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of the reviewed cool white emitter version appears the the in the usual low 70s, which is good enough for most purposes. Whilst the S9 uses PWM, the PWM is so fast that it is not visible to the eye or during photography.

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Conclusion


Things I liked:
- Low price
- Multiple tint options
- Internal USB charging
- Low voltage protection
- Memory for all modes including strobe
- Single frequency strobe
- Genuine Cree emitter (increasingly rare at this price point)
- Excellent 18650 battery compatibility
Things I didn’t like:
- Side switch is unusable when in commercial light painting connectors (only an issue for light painting photographers)
- Relatively low output for modern 18650 tube lights (but better heat handling)
- No instructions


The Convoy S9 is a good value for money side switch flashlight. With internal USB charging, and lower heat production than most 18650 tube lights, it is a good light for those new to li-ion battery lights (though an included battery and instructions would make it more attractive for the consumer market). It is also a good light for those who would rather have a longer runtime (2+ hours) on high, instead of requiring 1000 lumen output typical of modern 18650 tube lights.

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Outdoor beamshot f5.6, 2.5secs, ISO400
 
derfyled

derfyled

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Messages
1,058
Location
Canada
Good review ! :thumbsup:

The ''hold to turn off'' is the deal breaker for me. I own it and can't get used to this UI, I always end up changing the level instead of turning it off. Otherwise, this is a great all-rounder light at a fantastic price.
 
stephenk

stephenk

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 13, 2015
Messages
762
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Good review ! :thumbsup:

The ''hold to turn off'' is the deal breaker for me. I own it and can't get used to this UI, I always end up changing the level instead of turning it off. Otherwise, this is a great all-rounder light at a fantastic price.

At least the "hold to turn off" means that you can change mode without having to turn the the light off.
 
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