Xtar R30 (XM-L U2, 1x18650 rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO and more!

selfbuilt

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May 27, 2006
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Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :whistle:

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The R30 is new light from Xtar that features an in-light 18650 charging feature. Note that R30 doesn't support 2xCR123A/RCR – it is a 1x18650 only light. Let's see how it compares to the competition … :whistle:

Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).

  • LED: CREE XM-L U2
  • ANSI Illumination levels/runtime: Turbo: 800lm / 1.8hr - High: 400lm / 3.5hr – Mid: 200lm /8.0hr – Low 30lm/ 65hr – Strobe: 800m - SOS
  • Max Beam Distance: 235m
  • Max Beam Intensity: 13800cd
  • Input Power: DC 5.0±5%/≥1A
  • IC monitor, CC/CV charging
  • Charging Current:1000±10%mAh
  • Cut off Charging Voltage:4.2±0.05V
  • Working Voltage: 2.8~4.2V
  • Battery: 1*18650/18700
  • Reverse-polarity protection to prevent damage from incorrect battery insertion.
  • Impact Resistance: 1.5m
  • Waterproof: IPX8
  • Body Materials: Anodized aircraft 6N01 aluminium alloy, type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
  • Switch: Side switch
  • Battery power indication. (A LED indicator hides behind the switch. When the battery power is at 5%-25%, the switch shows red; When the battery power is below 5%, the switch flashes red. When the battery in charging, the switch shows red; when the battery is full charged, the switch shows green.)
  • Size: 38.0mm (Head dia) x 25.4mm (Body dia) x 27.5mm (Tail dia) x153mm (length)
  • Net Weight : 151g (Excluded batteries)
  • Additional Functions: Memory function, Reverse polarity protection, Battery power indication
  • Package Contents: Flashlight, AC Adaptor, Spare O-ring, Lanyard
  • Recommend accessories: Car adaptor and 18650/18700 Cell
  • Note XTAR R30 can't work with CR123A/ICR123A/RCR123A/16340 batteries, otherwise it might cause damage to the drive circuit.
  • MSRP: ~$100
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The R30 comes in a nice presentation package, with a plastic case and cut-out foam. Inside, you will find the light, holster, wrist strap, extra o-rings, USB charging cable, AC power adapter, manual and warranty card. My sample also came with a car DC adapter and Xtar-branded 3100mAh 18650 battery (although I believe these are optional extras).

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From left to right: AW Protected 18650; Xtar R30; Sunwayman T21CS; Rofis TR31C; Nitecore P25, MH25; Crelant 7G6CS; Skilhunt K11.

All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:

Xtar R30: Weight: 148.0g, Length: 153.9mm, Width (bezel): 38.0mm
Eagletac TX25C2: Weight 93.6g, Length: 120.4mm, Width (bezel): 31.6mm
Klarus RS11: Weight 158.0g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel) 34.9mm
Nitecore MH25: Weight: 145.4g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
Nitecore P25: Weight: 171.3g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
Rofis TR31C: Weight: 180.7g, Length: 153.0mm, Width (bezel): 39.8mm
Sunwayman T21CS: Weight 161.9g, Length: 154mm Width (bezel): 41.4mm

Overall size and weight is in keeping with other lights with built-in 18650 charging features. Note that this typically adds a bit of length, due to the extra circuitry needs.

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Anodizing is a flat matte black, with no chips on my sample. Labels are bright white and clear against the dark background. The light doesn't have knurling per se, but it does have raised areas with ridges all around the body tube, plus extra grip elements in the head. Grip is quite reasonable.

There is no tailcap switch – functions are controlled solely by an electronic switch in the head. Switch feel is about typical for an electronic switch. Like on some Olight models with a similar design, there is a LED under the power switch of the R30. This will light up when the charging cable is applied (solid red when charging, green when fully charged),
The R30 comes with a flat stainless steel bezel ring.

There is a spring on the positive contact point in the head, which means flat top cells can be used. The internal body tube is wide enough to take high-capacity protected 18650 cells.

Screw threads are square cut (i.e., trapezoidal), and seem of good quality. They are also anodized, so you can lock out the switch by a quick turn of the tailcap.

The tailcap spring is substantial, and the spring assembly is screwed into place inside the tailcap. Note that I had to adjust this on my first sample, as it wasn't making contact with the body tube initially (a quick quarter-turn restored full contact).

Light can tailstand stably. Note there is an attachment point for the lanyard in the tailcap.

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The charging dock uses a standard 12V DC pin-style connector, under a white rubber cover (USB charging cable and USB-AC adapter included, DC-adapter optional). Unlike some competing products, the cover plug is attached to the light, so you don't have to worry about losing it. One comment here – it can be hard to tell from touch alone whether your finger is on the on-off switch or plug cover. :whistle:

The AC adapter for the included USB cable lists a maximum charge rate of 1000mA, which is higher than the standard USB 2.0 specs (which limit you to a 500mA charging current). Note that XTAR reports that the bundled cable supports USB 3.0.

In my limited testing, when connected to a USB 2.0 port, the charging time was ~4.5 hours for a 2200mAh 18650 cell. When connected to an AC power through the bundled adapter, the charging time was slightly faster at 4 hours. There doesn't seem to be a big difference between these charging methods. :shrug: Note that most in-light USB charging solutions take longer in my experience (often 6-8 hours).

In both charging cases, final voltage of the cell was ~4.23-4.24V. This is higher than I would like to see, as it isn't good for Li-ions to be stored at these levels in the long-term. I recommend you stop charging earlier (i.e. somewhere between 3-4 hours), or you drain off some capacity by running the light for a minute or two after completing a charge.

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Reflector is textured, with a medium orange-peel finish. It is fairly deep. The XM-L (cool white) emitter was well centered on my sample.

User Interface

The R30 uses an electronic side switch to control on/off and output modes. With the tailcap screwed on, click the side switch to activate the light (i.e., press and release)

The light comes on in its previously memorized mode. Repeatedly click on the side switch to advance you through all the modes in the following sequence: Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in repeating loop.

Turn the light off by pressing and holding the switch for 2 secs. There is a memory mode – the light always activates in whatever constant output mode you last left it in.

There is a Strobe and SOS mode, accessed by a successive double-click of the switch from On (i.e., double-click for Strobe, double-click again for SOS). Single-click or press-and-hold to exit the Strobe/SOS mode. There is no memory for Strobe/SOS.

Note there is always a standby current when the tailcap is connected (see later in this review for details).

Video:

For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:



Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.

As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.

PWM/Strobe

The R30 uses visible pulse-width-modulation (PWM) on all levels except Turbo.

Lo:
R30-LoPWM.gif


Med
R30-MedPWM.gif


Hi:
R30-HiPWM.gif


As you can see above, there is a classic PWM pattern of increasing pulse width as the relative output level increases – with a constant frequency of 500 Hz. Personally, I find this frequency to be visible by eye in actual use (i.e., has a perceptible flicker, especially noticeable on low). :sigh: I would recommend Xtar try to increase this frequency to >2 kHz, which is typically no longer visually detectable.

Strobe:
R30-Strobe.gif


The regular strobe is fairly typical fast "tactical" strobe, of 9.8Hz frequency.

SOS:
R30-SOS.gif


The R30 has a fairly typical SOS mode.

Standy Drain

Whenever the tailcap is in contact with the battery tube, there is a constant standby current due to the electronic switch. I measured this current on 1x18650 as 0.513mA. For the bundled 3100mAh 18650 battery, that would translate into a little over 8 months before it would be fully drained.

While this is not bad, I would recommend that you lock the light out when not in use. You can easily lock the light out by a quick twist of the tailcap.

Beamshots:

For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an AW protected 18650 battery. Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.

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Beam pattern and overall output is certainly in keeping with the other in-light 18650 charging models shown above. Overall output is high, and throw is good for the class. The beam pattern is similar to the Nitecore P25. Scroll down for detailed comparison testing results.

Testing Method:

All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. 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).

R30-FL1-Summary.gif


As expected, the R30 is a fairly close comparable to the Rofis TR31C and Nitecore P25 on max – for both output and throw. The difference is that the R30 doesn't go as low (and of course, is limited to only 1x18650).

To give you an idea of mode spacing, here are my estimated lumen levels:

R30-Lumens.gif


Spacing may not seem unreasonable "on paper", but perceptually they seem weighed toward higher outputs. I would have liked to have seen a lower Lo mode (i.e. single-digit lumens or sub-lumen). Note that unlike many recent lights, my lumen estimates are lower than the Xtar specs.

Output/Runtime Graphs:

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all my runtimes below are based on AW 2200mAh 18650 cells.

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R30-Hi18650.gif

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On Turbo, you get excellent regulation and runtime for the class (as you would expect for 1x18650-only light). The higher capacity 3100mAh cell provides extended runtime in the direct-drive-like phase once the light fall outs of regulation, but is otherwise comparable to my standard 2200mAh testing cells.

On the lower outputs, you can see the effect of PWM lowering relative efficiency somewhat. While the R30 can maintain flat regulation for a period of time, it eventually drops-off into a more direct-drive-like pattern. Overall efficiency is similar to the Crelant 7G3CS/7G6CS.

While still acceptable in absolute terms, this is somewhat disappointing in relative terms (i.e. those Crelant lights are continuously-variable with multi-power support). While I appreciate the partial flat-regulation pattern here, I would have hoped for greater regulated runtime on a 1x18650-only light with just four defined output levels. :shrug:

Potential Issues

The light uses 18650 only, and cannot take CR123A or RCR cells.

The light has a standby current, but this is reasonable at ~0.5mA (i.e., gives you over 8 months on the 3100mAh cell). As always, I recommend you lock out the light when not in use – which you can easily do, thanks to the anodized screw threads.

The tailcap spring assembly was over-tightened on my sample, and didn't make contact with the body tube initially. A simple quarter-turn loosening with a pair of tweezers resolved the issue, but Xtar should ensure that each sample is properly adjusted before being shipped

My review sample suddenly stopped working during testing. I am unable the track down the fault, but it appears to be in the circuit/switch (as the light still draws a stanby current). Xtar supplied a replacement to complete the review.

The light lacks a true Lo mode.

The light uses PWM on the Lo/Med/Hi modes (but not Turbo), at a visible frequency of 500Hz. While not overly distracting, I recommend Xtar seek to raise this to >2kHz to prevent any visual perception.

The switch is difficult to locate by touch, as the charging port connector has a similar feel.

Preliminary Observations

I have been reviewing a lot of 1x18650 in-light charging solutions lately, and the Xtar R30 has a number of good features for this class. But there are also a few areas of the circuit design that I think could use some revision.

Physically, I quite like the build of the R30 – it is reasonably streamlined for a recharging 18650-class light, with good hand feel. The use of an LED indicator under the switch is good, and it is fully utilized for both charging and discharging situations. I also like that the rubber cover for the charging port is attached to the light (i.e., no risk to lose). While the light doesn't use a standard micro-USB cable, the supplied cable works well and comes with both AC and DC power adapters (the latter may be an optional accessory).

Charging time is reasonably speedy at 4-4.5hrs on my 2200mAh 18650, although I'm not clear why there isn't a greater difference between 500mA-max USB 2.0 ports and the 1A-max AC adapter. Note that at termination the cells were charged to the absolute max recommended for Li-ions (~4.23-4.24V), which is higher than I would like for long-term stability of the cells.

The R30 is relatively throwy – even with its textured reflector. Overall beam pattern was good, with few artifacts.

So what's the problem? There are a number of aspects of the circuit that I think could stand improvement. First off, I am personally sensitive to PWM flicker perception, and find the 500 Hz used here to be noticeable. While not as bad as some of the cheap budget circuits out there, this frequency is lower than I would like. :sigh:

Secondly, it seems odd to come across a 1x18650-only light today. Support for at least 2xCR123A is pretty standard in the industry for this class of light (except the lowest level of budget lights).

Thirdly, overall efficiency is lower than I would except for a single-voltage-source, defined-level light. Although the R30 is at least partially flat regulated on 1x18650 (unlike many of the multi-power lights), I would have expect greater runtime on Lo/Med/Hi given the optimization for only four outputs on one voltage source. Basically, the overall efficiency is comparable to the Crelant line of multi-power, continuously-variable circuits in this space. And while on the subject of levels, I would also like to see a lower lo. :whistle:

Aside from these issues, I found the electronic switch control to be good. Like on some of the Skilhunt lights, it may take you a little time to get used to a press-hold to turn off the light (and click to switch modes). The LED indicator performed consistently and well in my testing, with appropriate levels of flash/solid indication as the batteries ran down.

Xtar has put together a nice package with the R30. Basically, I like the physical form and design of the light, but wish it has been coupled with a more advanced circuit. Still, it may meet your needs in the budget in-light 18650 charging class, so I suggest you consider it in terms of the feature sets of competing products at this price.

----

R30 was provided by Xtar for review.
 
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kj2

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Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
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Re: Xtar R30 (XM-L, 1x18650 rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO and more

Thanks for the review :) I see Xtar is making some better lights now, but still have to improve in that last step.
 

LEDAdd1ct

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Messages
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Hudson Valley
Re: Xtar R30 (XM-L, 1x18650 rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO and more

Thank you for the review.

I think I will pass.

1) Regulation

I don't see it. A dedicated 18650 light should have very good regulation.

2) Termination Voltage

A charging circuit dedicated to charging 18650 cells should be able to cut off at 4.20 or slightly below.

These two points are enough for me to wait for a revision.
 

Spasmod

Newly Enlightened
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May 18, 2013
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United Kingdom
Re: Xtar R30 (XM-L, 1x18650 rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO and more

Hi Selfbuilt, a fantastic review as per usual.

I have a couple of questions of you don't mind.

Have you had a chance to measure the width and depth of the reflector ? and is the reflector Aluminium or plastic ?

I'm curious if you managed to obtain a simulated tailcap amperage reading in each of the modes ?

This leads me on to the next question. Since the driver seems fairly inefficient and uses PWM, could you give us and idea of the width of the driver currently used in the R30 ? and aside from the electronic switch potential problem, would you say there is room inside the pill to fit for example an 8x 7135 Nanjg 105c fully linear regulated driver?

Does the front glass lens have an AR coating ? and finally, What is your opinion on the potential weakness of the charging port rubber cover to prevent water ingression over prolonged 'in light charging' use ? I know some are better than others and just wondered where your opinion stands on this particular one.

Thanks again for a great review and apologies for all the questions.

Spas
 

selfbuilt

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Re: Xtar R30 (XM-L U2, 1x18650 rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO and

No problem with all the questions, but I am away from my computer, so answers will be short. :)

The head is glued at both the reflector opening and at the body tube connector. As such, I cannot access the reflector or pill, so cannot provide measurements.

The reflector does not seem to have AR coating.

I don't typically do tailcap current draws as the runtimes are more valuable for most people.

As for the port cover, hard to say how waterproof it is compared to other lights. It seems to hold well, but I do not routinely do waterproofing tests, so really don't have any evidence one way or the other.
 
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