Review: Manker PL10 120 lumen Nichia 219B LED Penlight

JohnnyMac

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[h=1]Manker PL10 120 lumen Nichia 219B LED Penlight[/h]
When the guys at Manker showed me a picture of the PL10 back before it was released I was instantly intrigued. This is one sexy little light and, to me, it looks like something a machinist would have put together for himself. So, after very little cajoling, I convinced the guys to send me one to check out and likely review. I was intrigued when I saw the first pics of it but once it arrived and was in my hands I fell in love with it. I've been carrying it now for a month and a half. It's one of my favorite lights. Before I break things down and explain why let's take a look at Manker's marketing copy and see exactly what this great EDC tool is.
Manker's Product Description
Specification:
Tactical Breakglass Pen:
- Material: Stainless Steel (Pen body) + Tungsten steel(Attack Head)
- Size: 10.5cm in length x 1.3cm in diameter
- Net weight: 60g with battery
- Refill INK: Black Color

Flashlight:
- LED: Nichia 219B
- Max Lumens Output: 120lm
- Brightness Level: low 10lm 6.5hrs, High 120lm 0.5hrs
- Micro USB rechargeable function
- 10180 lithium battery Included
- Peak beam intensity: 900cd
- Max Beam Distance: 60m
- Impact resistance:1.0m
- Waterproof Standard: IPX-6

Operation:
- Easily twist the head to turn on/off the light, Tighten the head left (off-low-high), loose the head right (high-low-off)

Package included (with the original package)
- Manker PL10 Pen light
- replacement refills
- Spare O-rings
(Kindly note: The penlight included 1x 10180 lithium battery, when you get the parcel, firstly please take off the insulating sheet on the battery)

Retail Pricing: $45.95
FIRST IMPRESSIONS
"Wow!", I believe, was my first thought when I saw the PL10 in person for the first time. The machining on the PL10 is fantastic. I love the look of it. The stainless steel body has a nice hefty weight that I enjoy. The knurling...ahh, the knurling...simply fantastic. Clean and aggressive but not too rough. The head of the PL10 is stiff (as it should be) so it doesn't come on accidentally in your pocket but the knurling means you can easily turn it on and off and adjust output level with one hand. The Nichia 219b emitter is a High-CRI staple among flashaholics and the TIR lens over it makes a broad, smooth beam with a nice, "soft?" center spot.
I did have a bit of a mess when I unscrewed the cap of the pen end for the first time. It seems the drastic changes in air pressure managed to push out a decent amount of ink from the ball point, resulting in a black, ink covered tip. Some wiping with a napkin and a flush off the inside of the pen cap under tap water cleaned things up easily. I tossed out the original ink cartridge and swapped in one of the two included refills. The pen writes nicely but it's small size means you shouldn't plan on using the PL10 to write out that novel you've been planning. It's perfect for writing down a phone number or taking a quick note which is really all it is designed for.
The clip is perfect in stiffness, ease of use, and depth for jeans pocket hems. The carbide tip on the end of the pen cap certainly looks like it could break a car window. I have large hands and the length is just right that held tightly in my fist with my thumb braced against the lens of the flashlight head, the aggressive tip sticks out enough to strike a window or be a kubaton in a pinch.
PERFORMANCE & UI

The difference between Manker's claimed output figures and my testing aren't too far apart although my high mode readings were a bit off. Even at 97 lumens it's still brighter than many AAA lights on the market and the beam is simply creamy goodness. 10180 cells don't last too long as it is and anything over 100 lumens will shorten runtimes by a lot.
Where Manker and I had WAY different results was in throw/candelas. My lux readings were half of what Manker claims and Throw was less with a 17.4m difference. Not sure how they got such a high candela reading, especially with the TIR optics and the beam type. Below is a wall shot showing how smooth the beam of the PL10 is. I have to admit, lights like this aren't designed for throw. They are for close range illumination and, even though it's range is far less than claimed, it works well enough to make me happy. It lights up my back yard so I can see the garage and much of the width of the yard.
Beam Shots

^ You can see just how creamy smooth the beam of the PL10 is thanks to the nice TIR optics. Tint is perfect Nichia 219B High-CRI goodness.

^ Here is the PL10 lighting my back yard. I'm more than happy with the output considering the tiny 10180 Li-Ion cell that powers it.
DETAILS & CLOSEUPS
One of the reasons it's taken me so long to write this review is that I misplaced the box and didn't find it until the other day. Was driving me crazy because I accidentally cut the head O-ring while connecting the USB cable for charging and I needed the spare that was in the box. I also wanted to write the review but without any photos of the box I was actually ready to go order another PL10 from Amazon. That's how much I love this little light. Fortunately for my wallet I looked one last time sure the result would be no different from previous searches but this time I actually found the box. O-ring replaced, head nice and tight again, and Mac is a happy boy again.


^ The Manker PL10 comes packaged in a sturdy brown cardboard box covered in a cardboard sleeve with a drawing of the light on the front and details of it on the back.
29901200795_5eafd794e6_z.jpg

^ Inside the box is a fitted foam liner containing the PL10. Also included was a Ziploc with 2 spare ink cartridges, and another bag with an additional ink refill and two spare O-rings - one for the head of the light and one for the cap seal. The small white disk visible in the box is the insulating spacer covering the back of the battery to prevent accidental activation of the light during shipping. This must be removed before you can turn on the PL10.

^ Here we can see the PL10 from front, back, and sides.

^ I love the purposeful look of this light. The knurling is spectacular and the fins, while not serving a thermal purpose, at extra grip when using it as a pen. Plus they look really good.

^ The cap of the pen has the nice, wide clip that is easy to clip the PL10 into your pocket. The little tungsten glass breaker point sits on the end of the cap

^ Here you can see the TIR optic with Nichia 219b LED behind it.

^ Here is the PL10 with the threaded pen cap removed. It makes for a comfortable, if short, pen and is easy to grip. It's not at all slippery like most metal pens I've tried using. The thick O-ring seals with the cap to make a nice dust and waterproof seal.

^ A look at the threading in the cap itself.

^ With the pen tip unscrewed you can see the replaceable ink cartridge.

^ Back to the "light" part of the penlight, you can see the nice machining in the head of the light and the fantastic knurling. This bugger is super grippy.

^ A better look at the front of the PL10's TIR optic and LED.

^ Head removed, we can see the Micro-USB charging port and the positive contact switch at the base of the head that switches between Low & High modes depending on how tight the head is screwed onto the PL10 body. The O-ring grips the head tightly ensuring both water and dust proofing, but also accidental tightening or loosening of the head in your pocket.

^ At this angle you can see the contact button that carries current from the driver to the head.

^ If you unthread the PL10 a little farther back you will open the battery compartment. Here is where the little white insulating disk must be removed once you receive your PL10.

^ A nicely cut button in the base provides contact for the battery negative. Those little 10180 cells are tiny!

^ A look inside the front end of the battery compartment we can see the positive connection spring (very stiff) and some of the driver components on the back of the driver.

^ Here are the flashlight components taken apart.

^ I find the PL10 to be a great length. I don't care for the length of 2*AAA penlights and 1*AAA lights are usually too small for penlight duty. It fits nicely in the hand, isn't long enough to poke into you when clipped inside your front jeans pocket. The clip itself isn't too stiff and it can't accidentally pop off since it is permanently attached to the light.

^ All my photos are taken a couple days prior to posting this review and show what little wear a month and a half of heavy EDC carry there is. I haven't cleaned or polished it.

^ The PL10 is just a great feeling, bright little penlight and best of all, unlike most penlights, it is literally a pen-light

^ To charge the Manker PL10 just unscrew the head and plug your Micro-USB cord into the port. Charge it in your car, on your laptop or PC, or using your phone's wall charger. While charging the indicator LED will glow red.

^ When charge is complete current to the cell stops and the indicator LED turns bright green to let you know it's ready to go.
CONCLUSION
The Manker PL10 gets my enthusiastic approval. It's honestly one of my favorite lights and if I ever lost it I would replace it immediately. It's great to look at but in the hand it is amazing. It puts a smile on my face and that, to me, makes it worth having. Add in the creamy smooth beam, super easy to use UI, excellent pocket clip, great knurling, good pen, easy charging, glass breaker, and ability to use for self-defense as a kubaton, it's a winner of a light. I'm really surprised that few people are talking about this little sleeper.
Are there any negatives to it? Sure, no light is perfect. The clip is not reversible (but it is more secure) and that might be a negative if you wanted to clip the PL10 onto your hat brim as a head lamp. 10180 batteries are tiny and this means shorter runtimes. Oh, and the ink cartridges are very small and I'm not sure how readily available extras will be. That's about all I can think of and none are deal breakers for me. I'm fine with these possible negatives. If you think you might be as well then the Manker PL10 might become one of your favorite lights as well. ;)

29820524752_dd615778ca.jpg
 

Blades

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Thank you for the review. I like it and was wondering about the ink refills. I wonder if there is a refill that can be cut down to fit it. I'm assuming you can't post the cap. :)
 
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Skeeterg

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I see there are refills on Ebay. I do like the way it writes,but why couldn't they have made it longer?
 

Still_Of_The_Night

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Would be appreciated if anyone could give info as to what the colour temperature is of the Nichia 219B's used in the light. Cheers and Happy Holidays
 

jamesraykenney

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I see there are refills on Ebay. I do like the way it writes,but why couldn't they have made it longer?

I would like an extension tube that could be used as a little extra storage capsule or an extension that would let you use a longer refill.


ALSO, when I unplug mine from the charging cable, the green light stays on. I have even checked an hour later and when I unscrewed the cap, the green light was still shining... Does it go out when the cap is put on??? Because, even if I do not use mine, the battery goes dead every day or two. Is this normal? I love this light, but having the battery run down without even using it makes it hard to rely on it...
 

LightObsession

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ALSO, when I unplug mine from the charging cable, the green light stays on. I have even checked an hour later and when I unscrewed the cap, the green light was still shining... Does it go out when the cap is put on??? Because, even if I do not use mine, the battery goes dead every day or two. Is this normal? I love this light, but having the battery run down without even using it makes it hard to rely on it...

Sounds like you need to contact either the vendor or Manker regarding the green light staying on and the battery going dead every day or two. I'd like to know the answer to that, before I buy one.
 

jamesraykenney

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Sounds like you need to contact either the vendor or Manker regarding the green light staying on and the battery going dead every day or two. I'd like to know the answer to that, before I buy one.

Just sent an e-mail to Manker about it... I checked it in the dark and the green glow was showing through the lens... I bought it directly through Manker when I was ordering the 18650 Tube for my E14, because I could not find it anywhere else.
I LOVE this little light, and I am REALLY hoping that everything goes right. I guess I have had too long a run of not getting things DOA...
 

redvalkyrie

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Dec 20, 2005
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This is a good idea...I do have a question though. I see people have found the ink cartridges on EBay and maybe I missed it, but are the cartridges proprietary? I would imagine not but the plastic tubing throws me off--most refillable pens that use cartridges use steel casings like the Fisher Space pen...
 

jamesraykenney

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Manker replied asking for a video of the problem.
I made a YouTube video and sent it to them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVJ4vE_B9EE

They replied:
Thanks for your video.
To fix it faster, we will ship out the part (with board) for your replacement soon.

I was thinking I would have to send it back to them first, so this sounds very good to me... If I have to send the board back to them, that will not be a problem as I can send it in a padded envelope.

So far, so good... Customer service seems good so far!
 

jamesraykenney

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Just an update...
They sent me the driver module and I replaced mine, and charged it up and have deliberately not used it much...
Been about a month or so, and it is still holding the same charge without a problem!!!
A big thumbs up for Manker customer service!
If you are reading this, Manker, do you need me to send the old driver back to you?
 
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BigBluefish

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Jan 25, 2008
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I just picked up one of their LAD keychain lights, which I very much like (except for the ghastly red double-crazy-eye beam profile...easily remedied, as I understand) and think I will now try to find one of these. When I first clicked on the review I thought this item was too gimmicky. But upon reflection, it seems to actually be a pretty good idea, and if manufactured well, as it appears to be, could be quite practical. The only downside perhaps being the teeny-tiny ink cartridges. But I see this, as the reviewer said, something for jotting down a phone number, or a price on an item, or taking a quick note for the shopping list...not taking notes at a 3-hour lecture, or writing long letters. I think it's also a bit short for use as a kubotan, at least in my large hands, but I'm not proficient with one of those, so wouldn't be employing it in that role anyway.
 

jamesraykenney

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I just picked up one of their LAD keychain lights, which I very much like (except for the ghastly red double-crazy-eye beam profile...easily remedied, as I understand) and think I will now try to find one of these. When I first clicked on the review I thought this item was too gimmicky. But upon reflection, it seems to actually be a pretty good idea, and if manufactured well, as it appears to be, could be quite practical. The only downside perhaps being the teeny-tiny ink cartridges. But I see this, as the reviewer said, something for jotting down a phone number, or a price on an item, or taking a quick note for the shopping list...not taking notes at a 3-hour lecture, or writing long letters. I think it's also a bit short for use as a kubotan, at least in my large hands, but I'm not proficient with one of those, so wouldn't be employing it in that role anyway.

It is a bit(way too) short for use as a kubotan, but if you put your thumb over the lens, I think that it would make a great striking 'tool'.
I would pay good money for a 1 inch to 1.5 inch extension tube. Either to allow use of a longer battery, a longer refill, or a tiny storage capsule. Depending on how it is made, you might even be able to make it able to be moved to serve as either of two of them.
Hint... Hint... Hint... Manker...
 
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