Review: NiteCore EX10

snakyjake

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NiteCore EX10 Review

I give some high praises, and some very strong criticism for the NiteCore EX10.

Excellent build quality and form factor. The size of 77 mm x 21 mm makes this a light I can easily carry in a pocket, rather than a holster. So this light easily goes everywhere and anywhere. The form factor is the best CR123. I absolutely love the switch. The switch is very smooth, quiet, metal, and has an excellent feel. The switch is so smooth, you almost don't even need a momentary on/off. I find myself wanting to play with the switch all the time. Plus, the switch keeps the light shorter in length. The shape of the light doesn't have any aggressive knurls, bulges, self-gouging prongs, or other edges that will catch on clothing or make it difficult to use your pocket instead of a holster.

Runtime on high (130 lumens) is adequately 1.3 hrs on Li-ion. A maximum runtime of 60 hrs on Li-ion running at 5 lumens is more than long enough. 5 lumens is too low to me, but might be useful for someone who doesn't want to ruin their night vision. For me, I use red light if I know I'll be in that situation.

The largest complaint I have are the modes/UI. It's terrible. When in the mode of click on/off, I simply want to access my user defined brightness setting. Here's an example scenario of the frustration.

  1. I turn light on.
  2. Adjust light to desired output. In my case the low is too low, so I set the light to be brighter.
  3. The light will remember the output setting only for as long as I don't change the output setting. I can turn the light off, and when I turn the light on, it remembers my last setting. However…
  4. When I want to run the light on maximum output, I then lose my low setting. Memory is "replaced" by the high setting.
  5. I perform the mode change by double-click, and I'm back on the bottom low setting, and have to start the ramping all over again to reset my desired low. Annoying!

The above scenario is very frustrating. For my NiteCore Ex10, I want low and high. Once I find the low I want, I will rarely (if at all) ever change that low setting. And as for the high setting, there is little reason to require more than 130 lumens from a single CR123 battery Q5 light (I only noticed a slight difference from 130 to 215, and only noticeable at distant objects), and I can't find a reason to want less than 130 lumens on RCR123, so no need for a second memory for a high.

If I'm somehow wrong about the UI, then it is still just annoying -- being too complicated. I find it annoying to have to keep referring to the manual to learn the "tricks" to the UI. I want something simple and intuitive (more on my suggestion later).

What I liked:
  • Build quality
  • 130 lumens
  • Switch
  • Size/Dimensions/Form Fact
  • Color
  • Grip
  • Pocket Clip

What needs to be changed:
  • Fixed memory. This doesn't have to be complicated. It could be just like NiteCore's NDI. You have a high, and you adjust the memory for something in between low and high. Once you have selected your illumination, it remains locked and memorized. The memory cannot be changed unless you do some sort of special code or sequence. Personally, I think the memory changing mode should be initiated by X number of switch taps. Maybe 10 taps gets me into lumen change mode. Something not complicated, and something that prevents me from inadvertently changing the memory. Some sort of lockout mechanism perhaps.
  • Instead of turn on, double-tap to change to low AND turn on, double-tap-hold to change to high, why not just double-tap to switch between modes?
  • Get rid of the triple tap when light is turned off. Just make both mode changes a double-tap.
  • Setting the lumen memory needs to be changed from the number of taps to something else. Perhaps like the NDI, but without making the flashlight longer.
  • All these taps makes my mode changing unpredictable.

Compared with:
  • Fenix P3D
  • EagleTac P10C

imgp0689bb1.jpg


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My perfect light:
The perfect light for me would be the form/quality/switch of the EX10 combined with the NDI UI or Fenix L1T UI.

Opinions from,

Jake
 

Pima Pants

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I've had a Nitecore for about a month and still can't get used to the UI. Way too complicated. The "direction" you are going (ramping up or down) in brightness seems to affect the number of times the switch needs to be pressed for direct access to high or low.
 

Glenn7

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i dont see whats so hard about IU

1 click on - 1 click off

while on - 2 quick clicks for a shortcut to low

while on - 2 quick clicks holding the second click down for shortcut to high

or while on - click and hold for ramping up or down - letting go at the desired out put - and then when you turn back on it remembers where you left it.

easy!! - practice till it becomes natural :whistle:

not to mention twist off - twist on - and when twisted off - use button for momentary on.
 
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snakyjake

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i dont see whats so hard about IU

1 click on - 1 click off

while on - 2 quick clicks for a shortcut to low

while on - 2 quick clicks holding the second click down for shortcut to high

or while on - click and hold for ramping up or down - letting go at the desired out put - and then when you turn back on it remembers where you left it.

easy!! - practice till it becomes natural :whistle:

not to mention twist off - twist on - and when twisted off - use button for momentary on.

What makes me HATE the UI is losing the ramped output memory. When you use any of the shortcuts, you lose the memory.

The other item I dislike is a lot has to do with the timing of the UI. It is way too easy to enter a mode or ramp inadvertently. I find myself have to repeat commands in order to get the light to do what I intended. I don't want a light like that.

I've also been noticing the light doesn't react too well with the switch. Sometimes it flickers when changing modes. It may have something to do with 3.7v protected batteries, the bezel, or the switch. Or it may just be me. But my light is doing things I don't intend it to do.

Basically, the light is trying to do way too much!

I much rather have:

  • Tail switch like the EX10 used to turn on/off.
  • Double-tap to switch between high/memory output.
  • Twisting the head enter program memory for ramping (like NDI).
  • Twisting the head to go between constant/momentary (like EX10).
  • I think the NiteCore NDI ramping UI is more ideal.
NiteCore is getting real close to what I think the ideal light is for my EDC. Fenix L1T is getting very close too.

Jake
 

Sector7

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both the Nitecore EX10 and D10 doesn't have intuitive programming....if you have it at either low or high mode and go to ramping...it should know automatically to ramp down if you are on full high or if full low to ramp up. :shrug:
 

Illumination

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I'm not crazy about the D10/EX10 series either. I love the piston design but I'm not crazy about the led/reflector combo.

My D10 cree had an awful set of cree rings.

My EX10 GD didnt't have the cree rings, but it had an awful violet tint

I would prefer a three to five level light that would either step up or step down instead of continuously change output.

Alternatively I'd like a programmable custom jump point so I wouldn't always be fumbling for the right level.
 

Glenn7

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They sell so many of them so they must not be that bad :D

I have no problems with the IU - like I said practice so it becomes second nature - or get rid of it - as they aren't going to change your light for you. :poke:
 

ja10

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Aug 19, 2006
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Very good write-up - thanks. I appreciate the way you specifically laid out your dislikes. It makes it very easy for me to read, and then decide which (if any) of your complaints would apply to me.
 

Solstice

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I have a D10 that I've been using as an EDC and bike light. Overall I'm very pleased with the light, but I do agree that I'd probably prefer if the light remembered the user-set level even after being used at low or high once it has been turned off and than on again. I don't find it so hard to get used to the way it works now, but it can be a pain to get back to a mid-low level that I like.

Acutally, I feel like my real complaint is that the ramping is kind of inconsistant in that from high to low, it will start out really slow, and then all of a sudden, it will be on full low. Similarly, from low to high, the light brightens very fast. In both cases, the 5-30 lumen range is glanced over rapidly, and this is the range I find most useful. So I am left with the choice of fiddling with the light until I get a selection I like, and then keeping it there, or using the low or high and setting myself up for more work later.

The problem could be solved by keeping the user setting regardless of using the low/high after turn off as stated above, or simply by making the light have a more smooth, linear ramp between low and high, thus making it easier to "catch" a desired level.

I'll also add, on a controversial note, that I am one of the dissenting few that has use for a strobe mode. I'm not saying it should be so easy to access that it comes on accidentally when trying to do something else, but I do think it should be in there somewhere. There is nothing so attention getting, and when doing certain activities (like riding a bike at night) a strobe can be a big help. I had my light on high on my bike a few nights ago and I was hit by an inattentive driver in a car who claimed not to have seen me. Perhaps a strobe could have saved me from this misfortune.

These complaints aside, I find this light to be one of the best EDC options I've handled due to its robust build-quality, excellent and silent switch, and suburb adjustable output (the super-low low and screaming high are welcome). As for beam quality, the cree "ring" is only visible when white-wall hunting- for upclose, the beam is smooth enough to read by, and at a greater distance, the ring poses no real-world distraction. I could have gone with the GD, but given the perfect tint of this light coupled with a smoother, not-all-throw, beam upclose, makes me glad it didn't.
 

EdB

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The EX10 is the best EDC I own. Granted the UI is a little quirky and takes some getting used to, but it's not bad for what I use it for. I agree with Pima Pants the last direction of ramping does affect the number of activations required to reach the next function. I got a GD with excellent tint, too.
 

litetube

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I dont think there will ever be a UI that hits its mark for everybody. Its a good thing there are so many options out there. That is why 4-7s stressed from the start that the PDs should be looked at as a one or 2 level light not a true programmable light. The adjustment is there but it was designed primarily as a simple 2 level twisty/PD
Look at the new Liteflux LF3. That sounds like what you are seeking. Problem with that one for me is no clip which an EDC should have whether you use it or not it should come with the light. Granted the NC had to add it on but at least they tried.
 

BabyDoc

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I agree that there is a problem with the consistency of the ramping operation. I believe this due to the flakey contact ring on a spring and the even pressure you must apply to it with the PD system. If your thumb pressure isn't steady enough, the light either turns off while ramping or jumps to high or low. (It does help some to clean the underside of the contact ring with Deoxit. The underside of the movable contact ring mates with a fixed contact ring on the circuit board. Put a very small amount of deoxit red between the 2 rings and twist the rings together.)
When you get to the level you want while ramping, if you don't let up on your thumb pressure quickly enough the light sometimes turns off instead of staying at the selected level. I find this very frustrating.

I also don't like that the light loses its one user definable mode. If it wasn't for the unforgiving ramping (YOU MUST HAVE A STEADY THUMB. OR ELSE), losing the memory and resetting it wouldn't be such a big deal.
 

p1fiend

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I've been debating if I should pick up a EX10 to replace my P2D, but after hearing/reading so much about the UI, I think I'll skip it.

Like the OP, I think the Nitecore Defender Infinity has one of the best UI on the market. Shame I lost mine and that it's so darn expensive :sigh:.

Would love to see a Nitecore Extreme the size of the EX10.
 

FsTop

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I too dislike the UI on my D-10GD (too stinking fussy), but otherwise it's a great light.

I also agree with others that the Jetbeam IBS 3-settable-modes UI is far superior.

So maybe a little cross-fertilization, and we'd have the last flashlight anyone ever needs to make...
 

AardvarkSagus

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I personally carry mu EX10 everywhere. I know that the UI has a couple of bugs that I would like to see addressed, but as a whole, it's nearly spot on for me. I would love to see a selectable middle mode that is remembered and smart ramping (when at the extremes) but other than that, it works extremely well for what I desire to use it for.
 

Blindasabat

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This is a very common "stated" reason for accidents. The actual reason is most often that the driver was not looking or paying attention. A brighter light or a flashing light would have extremely little effect on getting a driver's attention that is texting while driving or more concerned with what DVD to put in next. The driver will NEVER say "I was too busy messin with the iPod to look where I was going." That would be admitting fault.

It's a pet peeve of mine that people drive with brights or "driving lights" (marketing term - ptth) on thinking it will make them more visible and safer. It just makes them more annoying and blinds everyone else on the road devreasing overall safety. If that driver was paying attention and didn't see you, then he was most likely blinded by oncoming cars who wanted to be seen.
...I had my light on high on my bike a few nights ago and I was hit by an inattentive driver in a car who claimed not to have seen me. Perhaps a strobe could have saved me from this misfortune.
'Inattentive' is the key word here.

I bike a lot and I think a good solution to be seen is to use a different color than cars use. It will make drivers notice and curious to what it is while white is lost in other lights. I think amber is a good color for a flashing light. I used blue once, but police don't like you using bright blue lights, though my 'police blue' Inova X5 was great for getting attention flashed manually.:naughty:

ON topic of the EX10 UI, I like it overall, but do think a more accessible 'mid' level would be useful. The size and switch are stellar and deserve different upgrade modules to be available with different UI.
 
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WadeF

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I love the UI on the EX10. Yes, it could be better if it would know to ramp down from high, ramp up from low, but almost all lights have something annoying about them. I find the EX10's pros out weigh it's cons. It replaced my Fenix P2D. I really like the UI on the P2D, but if I started in low and needed more light I had to bump up to medium, high, then go through SOS, strobe, to get back to low, etc. It was just as much fiddling around as with my EX10 if I need to drop to low and ramp up, etc. Generally I leave my EX10 set to low, and I can quickly get to high if I need it, or ramp up a bit from low. I usually return to low before turning it off.

The EX10 has a last mode memory. It doesn't have a user set memory that is forgotten. It has a LAST MODE USED memeory. Meaning if I used high and turn it off, it turns on in high. If I used low and turn it off, it comes back on in low. If I had it ramped to medium and I turn it off it turns back on in medium. So if I don't want to get my panties in a bunch and have it turn on in high, or low, I set it to what I want it to turn on in and turn it off. Then the next time I turn it on I know what to expect.

I can't recall being in a situation where adjusting the light to the desired output was a major issue. It only takes a second or two to adjust the output if needed. I think some people aren't working the piston properly. It takes firm and consistent presses. You can't just tap it with alernating pressure, you gotta make sure your presses are firm.

I noticed when I first got the light I had trouble with the UI because I was playing with it for long periods of time and I started not pressing as hard as I thought I was. My thumb was kind of getting a memory and not doing what it should have been. :)

Also some people may need to adjust their EX10's slightly. There was an issue with some of them needing the ring turned inside, the gap made wider, etc, but I don't know if this is the case on new lights. Also if your piston doesn't have much movement you can lossen it a bit. You only have to twist it on until it turns on, you don't have to fully tighten it. Some batteries are a bit longer and will reduce the travel of the piston, so leaving it a bit loser may give you a bit more travel with the piston.

The Cree version doesn't have the nicest beam. I have a EX10 Cree, and EX10 GDP. The GDP has a much nicer beam, with more throw (in my case), and the tint is okay, not the greatest.

Another plus is the light just feels solid. No rubber boot over a little plastic clicky switch. It just feels good, and has good knurling.

If programming was introduced it would make the UI more complicated. The UI is very simple, it doesn't get much simpler.
 

snakyjake

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I dont think there will ever be a UI that hits its mark for everybody.

I still believe in capitalism, and I have money to spend on the perfect UI light for me. I also rather have several lights with differing UI's for differing purposes, instead of one light that tries to miserably do it all.

I don't know how many lights exist, but I hope that there will be someone out there that develops the perfect light for me :)
 

snakyjake

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I've been debating if I should pick up a EX10 to replace my P2D, but after hearing/reading so much about the UI, I think I'll skip it.

Like the OP, I think the Nitecore Defender Infinity has one of the best UI on the market. Shame I lost mine and that it's so darn expensive :sigh:.

Would love to see a Nitecore Extreme the size of the EX10.

I basically use the UI of the EX10 as constant on/off, high only.

Because:

  • Low is too low for me.
  • The memory of the user defined output is reset whenever I change to high.
  • Don't like the momentary ON as much as I thought. Because when I'm one handed on momentary, I find I need to use both hands for a purpose. This requires me to drop whatever is in my other hand in order to switch the bezel into constant. With constant, I can lay the light down, or place it in my mouth so I can work with both hands. The piston switch is very smooth and makes constant on/off "smooth". Don't know quite the word...but maybe "slick" or "elegant". Love the feel of the piston switch.
So the rest of the UI features are useless.

On the pros, the light is bright, small, light, high quality, and love the piston switch.
 
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