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  1. #1

    Popcorn Manker MK35 Engineering Prototype (XHP 35 HI | 4 x 18650) In-depth Review

    Ardent Marvel fans who caught the Avengers: Age of Ultron (warning: small spoiler towards the end of this review) can fondly recall the scene where the Mighty Avengers are lounging around at Stark's place and engaged in light-hearted banter regarding the validity of the inscription on the side of Mjölnir that Thor had set on a table. <- longest sentence much? ^_^;;

    Prompted by Hawkeye, a challenge ensues to see who'd be worthy of lifting the hammer. A few try but aren't able to even budge the hammer until Captain America’s turn. With an impressive display of muscles flexing that made viewers of the fairer sex swoon, Mjölnir budges… but just a smidgen, and Cap ultimately gives up.

    “What does this have to do with flashlights?” I hear you asking. Well, when ThruNite’s TN31 was first released, it was dubbed the “Thrower King” and has reigned as such in my collection; first in its XM-L iteration and then later in the upgraded XM-L2 version. While there have been challengers, like the scene played out above, none have been able to lift the title from it. However, there are always plot twists and as in the movie, a new “contestant” appeared… enter Manker’s MK35.

    The sheer size of the reflector paired with a XHP35 HI hints at potential for serious throw. Let’s see how it fairs…


    VIDEO REVIEW
    Video version includes runtime, beam measurements and some brief outdoor shots, will conduct a proper shootout when weather improves (and especially if I can get a hold of a comparable thrower):



    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
    Given this is an engineering prototype, I wasn’t supplied with the final packaging and the only accessory provided was a wrist strap. I’ve been informed that production versions will be supplied with a nice holster as well.



    MFG SPECS
    Production versions are anticipated to have the following specs:
    - Turbo Mode: 2550 lumens / 2.5hours (step down to 1600 lumens after 15 minutes)
    - Peak beam intensity: 504,100 CD
    - Peak beam distance: 1,420 meters

    I will post other finalized specs when I receive them. Please check the Runtime and Throw Summary sections for what I measured in the meanwhile.

    In terms of dimensions, here's what I measured:
    Head ⌀: 86mm / 3.39”
    Body ⌀: 54.2mm / 2.13”
    Total Length: 185.74mm (18.57cm) / 7 5/16”
    Weight (w/out battery): 673.9g / 23.77oz (1.49lb)


    DESIGN & FEATURES
    =======
    NOTE: At the risk of beating a dead horse, I'd like to emphasize this is an engineering prototype. The only changes I've been advised about so far that the production versions will have that is missing or different than on my sample:
    - reverse battery polarity protection
    - step down from Turbo will increase to 15 minutes (vs. ~1.5 minutes)
    - improved side switch button with dragon breath function (quick vid and pic in Designs and Feature section)
    - a nice holster will be included
    Beyond these, I don't anticipate any other changes at this time but will provide updates here if otherwise.

    With that out of the way, let's get into the review...
    =======

    Manker continues the tried and true method of using a large smooth and deep reflector to achieve superior throw in a turbo-head form factor and one can’t help but immediately notice the size of the head which measures 86mm / 3.39in in diameter.

    The gray color of the beefy crenelated bezel (feels like Al but might be SS as it passed magnet test albeit just barely) nicely offsets the otherwise all black HA III finish.

    The bezel holds down the AR coated lens which shields the XHP35 HI from the elements:


    It allows one to easily determine if the MK35 is on (with perhaps the exception of when the ambient light is brighter than the set output level).

    There are many rungs of heat sink incorporated in both the head as well as around the throat that help shed heat and they do the job fairly well since the MK35 never got too hot during run time testing.

    The caveat here is that my engineering prototype steps down from Turbo ~1.5 minutes after start up. Production versions are anticipated to last 15 minutes before stepping down so there should be a corresponding increase in heat.

    There is an electronic side-switch with a LED centered within that provides a generalized voltage indicator; Blue = >75% | Purple = ~50% | Red = < 20%:

    In my testing, the Red happens with cells at resting voltage of ~3.1V. An electronic lock-out feature is available (please see UI section for details).

    Manker provided a quick pic of the updated switch and a vid demo’ing the dragon breath function:


    On the opposite side of the switch, there is a standard tripod mount so one can use the MK35 as supplementary hands-free lighting:




    The use of a diffuser greatly increases the MK35’s versatility in this regard:


    Seasoned photographers will tend to rely on off-camera flash/lighting as they can achieve a certain mood/lighting which contrasts with the typical glare-induced by an onboard flash. Case in point, here are examples of using the on-board flash vs MK35 w/diffuser [note, these were just quick snapshots, one can achieve much better results w/more time]:

    L: on-board camera flash | R: MK35 w/flash diffuser


    L: on-board camera flash | R: MK35 w/flash diffuser

    The tube features four oblong-ish cut-outs of which one bears the manufacturer name engraved with a series of oblong motifs in a sequence of 1, 2 and 3 groups directly beneath it and the model in the bottom right corner:


    The side opposite of this features various symbol engravings. The knurling is mild but does help with grip.

    There are two attachment points on the tailcap for the included wrist strap and during testing, it handled the longitudinal forces of vigorous shaking on my wrist just fine but I'd personally feel a little more comfortable if there was a proper lanyard due to weight. I also found it to be a snug fit thus those with larger hands might have an issue using this strap:

    The overall base is flat thus allowing it to be used in tail-standing mode.

    The threads on either end of the tube were greased from the factory, are square-cut and operate smoothly. Despite being fully anodized, due to the lengthy springs within the tube and on the tailcap as well as the prongs on the head of the tube, physical lock-out isn’t possible (see UI re: electronic lock-out feature):


    The anode nodules allow the use of flat top cells and the spring length along with battery slots that are sufficiently large in diameter accommodate a good range of battery sizes:

    I had no issues using my largest cell, ThorFire’s 3100 mAh (69.6mm x 18.3mm) or the smallest cell, AW IMR 18650 (64.9mm x 18.1mm).

    This arrangement obviates the need for a battery carrier since the body is hewn as a single solid aluminum piece and the PCB's are configured to route the four 18650 cells in series. To wit, I measured ~16.6V for four charged cells:


    The prongs on the head-side are backed by springs with fairly strong tensile strength which aid with making a good connection with the two circular contact points on the PCB under the head:


    The prongs next to the springs are not part of the circuit but rather serves to help with aligning the rotating PCB for correct tail cap insertion:


    One simply needs to insert one of the prongs into either of the two holes and it will mate the springs to cathodes correctly (provided one has inserted the batteries in correct polarity).


    SIZE & HANDLING
    The MK35 follows the soup-can style lights that was first popularized by Nitecore's TM11 with the exception that it has a fairly large turbo-head and as such, is the largest of the 4-celled lights in my collection:


    L to R: ThruNite Mini TN30 | ThruNite TN36 | ThruNite TN36 UT | Nitecore TM11 | Nitecore TM26 | Manker MK35

    While I have medium-sized hands, the MK35 isn't difficult to grip, however I can foresee those with carpal tunnel syndrome or hand/wrist ailments potentially having issues due to the girth and weight. The single-switch allows easy access to on/off and mode changes with the thumb [electronic lock-out can be a bit tricky, see UI section for details], and perhaps more unconventionally, the index and maybe even the middle finger in under-hand grip and the pinky (or digits) in an over-hand grip:
    [UNDER | OVER GRIPS]


    UI AND OUTPUT LEVELS
    I wasn’t sent the instruction manual but after playing around with the UI, I note that it’s nearly identical to the MK34’s so here’s that light’s UI diagram (the only difference is the MK35 has a breath flash rather than battery indicator):


    There are basically two Groups which we’ll dub the left diamond Group 1 (output levels) and the other Group 2 (Turbo, blinky’s & breathe flash):

    For Group 1, there are 5 fixed output levels (non-programmable) of which any can be memorized as the last-used mode:
    Sequence = Moonlight > Low > Med1 > Med 2 > High > Med2 > Med1 > Low > Moonlight, etc. etc.

    For Group 2 (of which none can be memorized):
    Sequence = Turbo > Strobe > S.O.S. > Beacon > Breath flash > [will then go to Group 1 output levels starting in Moonlight]

    From off:
    • a quick click will always turn on the MK35 to Moonlight (*when accessed this way, it’ll never be memorized, you must cycle to other output levels and back to Moonlight to memorize it; given it’s always readily available with a quick click, not sure one would ever need to memorize it though), subsequent quick clicks will cycle through the output levels in sequential order from Low through High but in a deviation from the majority of UI’s that will then cycle back immediately to the lowest output after High, the MK35 will instead go back down in output sequentially (High > Med2 > Med1, etc.). A long click (~.5 sec) in any output level will shut off the MK35 and memorize the last used output level.
    • a long click (~.5 sec) will always turn on the MK35 to the last used output level, subsequent quick clicks will cycle through the output levels in sequential order to the next higher level even if you were in the descending phase of output levels when you memorized the last used mode. For example, let’s say you were last cycling downwards from High > Med2 and then long clicked to memorize that mode, when you long click to turn back on the MK35, it’ll turn on in Med2 and a short click will cycle it back up to High. A long click (~.5 sec) in any output level will shut off the MK35 and memorize the last used output level.
    • a quick double-click will access Turbo mode and each subsequent click will cycle it through the other Group 2 modes and then back to the Group 1 output levels after the Breath Flash. A long click (~.5 sec) in any Group 2 mode will shut off the MK35.

    When On:
    • in any Group 1 output level - a quick click will cycle the light to the next higher/lower output level (depending if you were on the ascending or descending output phase); a long press will shut off the MK35 and memorize the last used output level
    • a quick double-click will immediately enter Strobe mode and each subsequent click quick will cycle through the other blinky modes as well as the breathe flash after which it'll go back to the Group 1 output levels beginning with Moonlight

    Electronic lock-out feature:
    With the MK35 on or off, press in successive short clicks (with a very brief pause in between the sets of clicks): one short click [brief pause] two short clicks [brief pause] three short clicks. The MK35 will then be in lock-out mode and the breath flash will turn on until the lock-out is disengaged. To exit lock-out, follow the same procedure as to engage it and then it will turn back on to the last memorized output level. This is a little tricky and make take some time to master of which I’m able to get it on 8 out of 10 tries usually. I cover this in the video here.


    FIT AND FINISH
    Manker continues to maintain excellent build quality in their products and though this is an engineering prototype, I didn’t find anything glaringly wrong aside from a few scrapes which were likely incurred during testing:


    While it may be a little cliché, the MK35 is indeed built like a tank due to the heat sinks and comparatively thick tube in order to match the overall design. The anodization is applied evenly and with none missing in grooves or corners (with exception of bumps/bruises sustained during testing). All edges are fully deburred, including on the corners and especially on the bezel.

    The engravings are all completed consistently with no blotchiness:


    If there was anything to nit pick about, the PCB in the tailcap incurred light rattling when I screwed the tailcap at a brisk pace and the tripod screw sits a hair’s width higher than the tube itself (lol, I mean seriously, I had to hunt for something which is quite telling). At this point, they have proven themselves from a machining perspective, so one needs to focus on the electronic components and thus far in my few weeks of testing, the only thing that comes to mind is that on a few occasions after shutting off from Group 2 modes and then using long-click to invoke the last memorized mode, it would come on in High instead. I haven’t been able to reproduce it consistently but it doesn’t happen frequently. Will post updates if I am able to find out the root cause.


    RUNTIME & OUTPUT MEASUREMENT ON TURBO
    In the interest of time and not wanting to delay this review any further for sake of additional testing, I’ve only graphed the runtime on Turbo for now. Keep in mind that production versions will engage Turbo for 15 minutes before stepping-down:


    • total runtime achieved was 3 hrs (conducted as per ANSI FL1 standards)
    • there is step down after ~1.5mins
    • dips in temp line was due to me pushing the cover over the temp probe away so I can check on LED, however, this prototype didn't really get meaningfully hot, I do anticipate production versions to run a bit warmer due to the increased sustained time in Turbo



    THROW SUMMARY

    While the production version is anticipated to have the following specs:
    - Peak beam intensity: 504100 CD
    - Peak beam distance: 1420 meters

    I came relatively close with my engineering prototype:
    PBI = 476.48k cd (1381m beam distance) and even after the step-down it was ~343.36k cd (1172m beam distance). This was measured @ 4m on my NIST certified light meter with ambient temp of 69F.
    Both the U21 and the TN31 benefitted from the lower ambient temp with higher readings (vs. the last time I measured it) but was still easily bested by the MK35. I do anticipate the production versions to meet stated specs due to the sustained output in Turbo of 15 minutes.


    INITIAL SUMMARY

    During a somber moment in the latter part of the movie, The Vision casually picks up Mjölnir and hands it to Thor, surprising him and those gathered there. Like that, the MK35 easily takes the mantle of “Thrower King” from the TN31. However, as any true Marvel buff would know, there are actually a few others who have been deemed “worthy” of wielding Mjölnir so who knows what may come next? ;o) For now my stalwart readers, here are my initial thoughts and again keeping in mind that this is an engineering prototype:

    turboBB-licious
    - Seriously impressive throw @ ~480k cd and still fairly decent after step-down (~343k cd)
    - Subjective tacti-cool looks with tank-like construction and excellent finish
    - Electronic lock-out feature
    - Tri-pod mount increases versatility (especially with a diffuser in place)

    turboBB-cautious
    - Step-down of 1.5min in Turbo (will be improved to 15min on production versions)
    - wrist-strap a little tight
    - lock-out feature a little tricky to invoke
    - on rare occasions, shutting off from Group 2 has caused High to be memorized in lieu of what I normally like (Low), have not been able to reproduce it consistently
    - girth and weight of light might cause issues for those with wrist/arm ailments

    turboBB-wishes
    - increased duration for Turbo (wish granted as production versions will hold Turbo for 15 minutes before stepping down)
    - a diffuser
    - a lanyard in lieu of the wrist strap
    - modular attachments:
    - maybe add a center piece between body and head so it can be controlled via Bluetooth and iOS or Android app? Would be so helpful if using for photography (or again any other job type purposes)
    - the battery would be a great power source for charging other devices, create a modular piece to use instead of the head so it has a few USB ports for charging

    =======
    DISCLOSURE: MK35 provided by Manker for review
    Last edited by turboBB; 02-15-2017 at 06:23 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Manker MK35 Engineering Prototype (XHP 35 HI | 4 x 18650) In-depth Review

    Browser keeps crashing so am posting this before I lose everything. Will post updates when it's complete.

    EDIT: Review mostly completed now, will be adding some whitewall shots and additional pics/material.
    Last edited by turboBB; 02-15-2017 at 06:29 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Manker MK35 Engineering Prototype (XHP 35 HI | 4 x 18650) In-depth Review

    Manker finally made the announcement:
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...ead.php?430437

    Both the CW and NW are available on their site - $155.95 USD:
    http://www.mankerlight.com/manker-mk35-thrower-2550-lumens-cree-xhp35-hi-led-flashlight

    Just putting links as PSA for those interested, I do NOT make any referrals for this.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Manker MK35 Engineering Prototype (XHP 35 HI | 4 x 18650) In-depth Review

    Thanks for your most detailed and helpful reviews, turboBB.
    I bet many are tapping their fingers, hoping and waiting for an Utorch version of this at a great discount.
    Imalent, Armytek, Gearbest, and Banggood are still in business for the same reason Logan Paul is still making money.
    Imalent, Failure Imminent.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* samgab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Manker MK35 Engineering Prototype (XHP 35 HI | 4 x 18650) In-depth Review

    It's very interesting that the recently released prototype of this Manker MK35 has the exact EXACT same button as the earlier production UTorch UT02. The way it functions as a voltage indicator is also identical to one of the hidden modes of the UT02, with the same colour shades for different battery voltages from blue->purple->red with decreasing state of charge. I also hope to see a Utorch UT03 or whatever version of this...
    Mag: 4D LED, Fenix: LD20, TK35, TK70, 47s: Preon 2, Quark Mini AA, ReVO SS, ZL SC600Fd Mk III+, SC5Fd Hi CRI, Sunwayman D40A, Nitecore EC4S, TIP 360, Klarus XT12GT, Lumintop Cu Tool, Ti Tool; UTorch UT01, UT02
    Maha: MH-C808M, MH-C9000, iCharger 206B, SkyRC MC3000, XTAR VP2, Litokala Lii 100

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