What's your favorite UI design on flashlights?

XTAR Light

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As the E-switches can work without interrupting the light being on, it allows for fancier UI than physical switches. It seems many people prefer the good e-switch UI. For example, Click on; Click off; Hold the switch to change modes, normally cycle from lowest to highest, then back round again to low; Shortcut to turbo with double click; Shortcut to moonlight with holding the switch from off; 3 or 4 clicks to lock/unlock the light… And there are also other users telling they like tail switches for turning on/off with modes controlled by either rotary ring or separate switch. A good UI is easy to use. How about your preference, what the user interface and controls do you like? We appreciate your kind comments and suggestions on this!
 

Olumin

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Ideally I prefer a mechanical switch for on/off, and a separate magnetic or otherwise rotating ring for changing modes/brightness, or mode change by head rotation. Otherwise a simple dual-mode setup with a mechanical forward clicky is ideal in many situations, and so is the simple on/off single mode light. Multimode lights with E-switches are great for casual EDC, but I would not rely on them for anything critical due to the complexity of their interface.
 

idleprocess

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I'm of a mind somewhat similar to Olumin.

Well-considered E-switch UIs are fantastic for most of my usage, however I do wish that someone would devise a light with a config file or other out of band management mechanism for programmability. My Emisar and FW3A lights have sufficiently low standby current draw that removing physical power switches can be acceptable.

Power-interrupt single-switch UIs are OK, but slower in practice, limited in functionality, and the designs I've used seem to have highly-variable timing (a consequence of temperature I gather).

An annoyance with dual-switch arrangements is the general tendency to locate the power switch in the tail and the mode switch in the head, necessitating much fumbling in use.

The only rotary-ring light I own is a Surefire U2 that sees almost no use. Also a bit of fumbling since the ring takes more force to actuate than a switch.
 

bykfixer

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On/off... preferably forward click.
Half press for mode changes.

All time favorite interface is a slider with on/off and in the center of the travel a signal option. Bright Star had a very nice one with detents you could feel.
 

funzel

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- tail switch
- mechanical switch for on/off (= no standby drain!)
- forward clicky
- no memory mode! on = high (always)
- half press for mode changes
- tail-stand-able
 
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LEDphile

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I remain a big fan of the "gas pedal" tailswitch found on a few Surefire lights (and perhaps a few others):
Half-press for momentary low, partial tighten for constant low, full press for momentary high, full tighten for constant high.

Direct access to low and high, no fiddling around with counting clicks or making sure that clicks are timed correctly, momentary functions with instant response. And no questions about what mode the light is in. And with well-chosen low and high levels, I don't think more than 2 levels are needed.
 

stephenk

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There isn't one perfect UI, it depends on the purpose of the light:
My favourite for general use is Convoy's Biscotti/12-Group - easy to use, programmable, last mode memory includes strobe, shame about the alternating frequency strobe.
My favourite for light painting photography - Ryu's Lightworks UI on Light Painting Paradise LightPainter.
My favourite for headlamps - UI on Nitecore HC65 - direct access to pretty much any mode.
 

Bronco

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As long as the UI isn't named after a Lord of the Rings reference and is therefore unable to fundamentally reprogram itself whenever it gets tossed into a backpack, I'm fine with it.
 

fuyume

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There isn't one perfect UI, it depends on the purpose of the light:
THIS. A thousand times, this.

I have written about this before, but a tactical light should have, ideally:
1. One mode—maximum brightness
2. One mechanical on/off activation switch
3. One mechanical lock on/lock off switch

A tactical light with a confusing UI or more than one activation switch or without a lock off/lock on is a disaster waiting to happen. You don't put two triggers on a firearm for a very good reason. High stress, life critical situations are the very times when mistakes are most likely to happen and when the consequences of mistakes are most dire.

A safety lock out prevents accidental activation of a light powerful enough to dazzle and blind, both to prevent accident loss of eyesight and to preserve battery life for when it is most needed, not to mention heat damage, should a light become inadvertently activated inside a container.

A safety lock on prevents accidental deactivation in the middle of an emergent situation, should something cause the light to be dropped.

A utility light should always always always ever only start up in minimum brightness mode, preferably less than 10 lumens, or even 5 lumens, both to preserve battery life and to preserve night vision as much as possible. It should also have a mechanical activation switch and a mechanical lock off mechanism, but does not necessarily need a lock on setting.

It's OK for a utility light to have higher brightness modes, but it must always start up in low power mode first. A utility light is not a light to be used for life critical applications. That is what a true tactical flashlight is for. Conversely, a tactical flashlight should never be used as a utility flashlight, in order to preserve maximum battery life for emergent use.

Professional public safety officers really should have two different types of flashlights, one utility, and one tactical, ideally of differing design, to avoid confusion.

The best tactical light UI on the market, imo, belongs to ASP and some Fenix models, like the PD36 TAC, and hopefully the TK28 TAC.

With the PD36 TAC, the lock off doesn't lock on, and it does try to do double duty as a tactical and a utility flashlight, but the way Fenix did this is actually workable: the rotary switch selects lock out, tactical mode that has only high power (press) and strobe mode (press+hold), while the utility mode turns on in low power mode, and successively higher power mode can be selected from there. I still recommend carrying a smaller flashlight for utility purposes, since the PD36 TAC's lowest power mode is 30 lumens, too bright for many uses.

But, you could couple than with, say, a Fenix E20, for utility use.
 

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Bronco

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THIS. A thousand times, this.

I have written about this before, but a tactical light should have, ideally:
1. One mode—maximum brightness
2. One mechanical on/off activation switch
3. One mechanical lock on/lock off switch

A tactical light with a confusing UI or more than one activation switch or without a lock off/lock on is a disaster waiting to happen. You don't put two triggers on a firearm for a very good reason. High stress, life critical situations are the very times when mistakes are most likely to happen and when the consequences of mistakes are most dire.

A safety lock out prevents accidental activation of a light powerful enough to dazzle and blind, both to prevent accident loss of eyesight and to preserve battery life for when it is most needed, not to mention heat damage, should a light become inadvertently activated inside a container.

A safety lock on prevents accidental deactivation in the middle of an emergent situation, should something cause the light to be dropped.

A utility light should always always always ever only start up in minimum brightness mode, preferably less than 10 lumens, or even 5 lumens, both to preserve battery life and to preserve night vision as much as possible. It should also have a mechanical activation switch and a mechanical lock off mechanism, but does not necessarily need a lock on setting.

It's OK for a utility light to have higher brightness modes, but it must always start up in low power mode first. A utility light is not a light to be used for life critical applications. That is what a true tactical flashlight is for. Conversely, a tactical flashlight should never be used as a utility flashlight, in order to preserve maximum battery life for emergent use.

Professional public safety officers really should have two different types of flashlights, one utility, and one tactical, ideally of differing design, to avoid confusion.

The best tactical light UI on the market, imo, belongs to ASP and some Fenix models, like the PD36 TAC, and hopefully the TK28 TAC.

With the PD36 TAC, the lock off doesn't lock on, and it does try to do double duty as a tactical and a utility flashlight, but the way Fenix did this is actually workable: the rotary switch selects lock out, tactical mode that has only high power (press) and strobe mode (press+hold), while the utility mode turns on in low power mode, and successively higher power mode can be selected from there. I still recommend carrying a smaller flashlight for utility purposes, since the PD36 TAC's lowest power mode is 30 lumens, too bright for many uses.

But, you could couple than with, say, a Fenix E20, for utility use.

I am so over these flashlights with UIs that are more complex than a Space Shuttle launch sequence.

If you ever hear me say how much I'm looking forward to using a series of clicks and presses to reprogram the emitter step down temperature of my flashlight's turbo mode, please kick me in the nuts and tell me to snap out of it.
 

LuxWad

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I love the UI used in Nitecore's EC4 line, with two E-switches - One for power and one for changing the modes. It takes more space than a single switch, but I feel it's easier and quicker to understand and use. I feel that this setup has so much potential for more advanced button combinations, and it's one of the easiest interfaces for others to understand when handed the light for the first time.

If I were to make the perfect UI for me, it would have the same switch setup, with the lower button turning the lighton from off. While on, the upper switch advances the modes upwards, the lower switch steps the output down, and pressing and holding the lower switch turns the light off. Pressing and holding the lower switch from off actuvates moonlight, pressing and hlding the upper switch activates Turbo, just like the EC4. From there you could implement any number of configuration and blinky modes into the upper switch with combination presses.
 

patrickiv

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It depends on the purpose. These are my ideal setups:

Tactical Light:
-physical forward clicky (half press for momentary, full press for latch ON/OFF)
-optional separate button for light level/mode (tap to cycle)
-no memory (depressing the tail switch means I want max light right now every time)

Alternative Tactical Light:
-e-switch (hold for momentary, tap for latching ON/OFF, max light always comes on while the button is depressed regardless of mode)
-optional separate button for light level/mode (tap to cycle)
-remember last level/mode while latched ON

Headlamp/Pen Light:
-single e-switch button (tap for latch ON/OFF)
-while latched ON, hold to cycle light level/modes
-remember last level/mode

These would all have a maximum of 3 light levels/modes. I don't want any type of lock/unlock function that would prevent the light from coming on immediately. I don't want a light with 30 different modes that are programmed using a flowchart and a long sequence of button presses and holds. I should be able to pick up the light and figure out the entire range of functionality in 30 seconds without reading any instructions. Good UI needs no explanation.

In my experience using a light almost every day for work, physical forward clicky switches are the most intuitive, but they tend to chew up the rubber switch seals much faster than other types do. I don't use flashlights with rotary rings because they usually require two hands to operate. For lights with two switches, the main ON/OFF button MUST be significantly larger and more obvious than the mode button.

One setup that I absolutely reject is any type for which I must hold down a button to turn the light on or off. It's a step backward for the user experience. It's needlessly time-consuming and it ruins an otherwise good flashlight. I will never buy a light with such a setup.
 

scout24

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Mechanical forward clicky with half press for momentary or to change modes. True rotary with detent for off. Surefire momentary/twisty gas pedal with low/high. Oh so slight variations on these themes, a'la HDS. All my needs can be served by one of these three. Tactical, casual, SAR, dog walking, loaner that's easy to explain. My preferences aren't your preferences, which is fine. Place would be boring otherwise... 😁
 

borealis

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I prefer an e-switch to a clicky because it's faster and quieter.

I prefer infinitely variable rotary, so I don't have to remember the mode sequences or worry about mode memory. Single e-switch with Narsil/Anduril is also OK and I have a few of those, but I still prefer rotary -- it's faster to get the brightness I want with a rotary.

I used V10R/V11R (with e-switch) for almost a decade, now I'm using the RRT01 (2019) with the 18650 extension, but only because the battery lasts much longer. If I had a 18650 body for V10R/V11R, which are rare and expensive, I'd still be using it, since it's constant current and I can often see the PWM flicker on the RRT01.
 

bykfixer

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John 3:16
I am so over these flashlights with UIs that are more complex than a Space Shuttle launch sequence.

If you ever hear me say how much I'm looking forward to using a series of clicks and presses to reprogram the emitter step down temperature of my flashlight's turbo mode, please kick me in the nuts and tell me to snap out of it.
Don't hold back Bronco,
Tell us how you really feel :LOL:
 

Candlestick

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Oct 17, 2018
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HDS rotary has to be my first pick for serious flashlight use.

Choose output before turning on
I can reliably turn the light onto whatever mode I need. Could be important either tactically, or just making a midnight run while camping or sharing a hotel room without accidentally firing a death star beam into the eyes of a sleeping friend.

Instant mode change

I can be walking around at night, using 3-10 lumens to navigate and if I hear something I don't like I just hold the button down to go into high instantly, and just let go to get back into the last mode I was using. A lot of other UIs struggle with this needing to take time to get up to high, or turn the light off or do some multi click stuff and then to get back down to low or medium is another puzzle to solve which might be tough under duress or while cold.

Intuitive brightness adjusting
If the light is too bright or dim I can change it without jumping around brightness levels, for example changing from medium to low or high without jumping levels.


Knowing roughly my runtime for a given level is also important to me so no infinite variable output please.

HDS is the only light I know of with quite this much thought put into leveling, which makes it good for both tactical and utility. I really use those moonlight lows a lot and I need to be able to switch to high and back down to low without delay.

Now with that being said I lost my HDS and am holding over with a Zebralight until I can order a high CRI 18650 rotary. The zebralight has half as many output levels and does everything well except switching quickly. I realize that the 2 seconds extra it takes to change modes has not made a big difference in my life.
 

Frumious

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I am so over these flashlights with UIs that are more complex than a Space Shuttle launch sequence.

If you ever hear me say how much I'm looking forward to using a series of clicks and presses to reprogram the emitter step down temperature of my flashlight's turbo mode, please kick me in the nuts and tell me to snap out of it.
Haha
 

WebHobbit

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For a long time I was a die hard Surefire-Malkoff guy. Until I finally broke down and got a ZebraLight....and then a bit later I got my first Emisar. I can understand people's reluctance to learn Anduril. Looking at the official manual it IS daunting. But the truth is you don't need to learn Anduril (unless you just want to). This is ALL you need to know to use the greatest flashlight UI ever devised (and this applies to v1 and v2):

From OFF:

single click - mode memory
click-hold (starts at bottom of ramp)
click-hold-continue to hold down to increase brightness
let off briefly and repress to reverse direction
double click from OFF or anywhere in the ramp for Turbo

What could be better than an infinite ramped interface?
 
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