Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maglite LED Solitaire Mini-review

Using a large flashlight, no matter how great it is, for every situation gets tiring at some point. Something about having to hold a large tube up with three D-sized batteries in it when working in small areas.

I have, and very regularly use, a 3-D LED Maglite that is still running on the same set of batteries I put into it when I first bought it years ago. Great light, but a bit hard to use when working on a computer or under furniture. And there is such a thing as being too bright when working with reflective surfaces.

Maglite has been around for a while and I remember having an AA lamp and AAA Solitaire as a kid. Those flashlights are long gone, probably stuffed in a box or drawer, never to be found again. A few years back, I got a second Solitaire and responsibly kept it findable and in working condition (i.e. took the battery out, threw it in a corner). It didn't really get that much use after the first battery or two. The light wasn't that great and I mothballed it after getting a LED headlamp, which itself has since been put into storage.

To my surprise, I found an LED version of the Maglite Solitaire a few months back when shopping online. Chances are that I would have picked one up out of nostalgia or curiosity even if my Maglite wasn't getting on my nerves. For just around CAD$ 15, why not? I was actually thinking of the Maglite XL200 to have something a bit heftier, but price became an issue. Maybe later. Anyway, here are some basic product details for the Solitaire.
Maglite Non-LED and LED Solitaire Flashlights
According to the Maglite website at the time of writing, the LED Solitaire had a rating of 37 lumens and the incandescent version was rated at 2 lumens. The same source said the non-LED version had a battery life of 3 hours and 45 minutes versus the LED's 1 hour and 45 minutes. Both lumen and run-time stats matched the ratings written on the brochure that came with my LED Solitaire. Note, however, that the incandescent Solitaire in my possession was bought years ago, possibly close to a decade. There may have been upgrades or changes in the past few years.

Maglite Solitaire LED vs Non-LED

Size and Handling
I've only been using my Solitaire LED lightly thus far and haven't even gone through the first battery. Nonetheless, I have found it to be a very comfortable, light, and easy to handle flashlight. This shouldn't be a surprise given its size -- it only takes a single AAA battery and isn't that much bigger than one. I've been using my fingers to hold it instead of putting it into the palm of my hand. This has made it very easy to make fine and quick movements with the flashlight.

Turning the LED version on is exactly the same as with the incandescent version from years ago that I also have: twist the top. This twisting also changes the focus of the light. Not bad, but having used the 3-D lamp, I would have preferred a button to allow for operation with just one hand.

One slightly irritating thing about its size and round shape is that the flashlight enjoys rolling away. This is mainly because I did not bother to attach the lanyard. I did attach it to my incandescent Solitaire and the flashlight stays in place pretty well. My 3-D Maglite can stand on its head easily and it doesn't like to roll very far when laid flat -- probably because it's heavier and has a wide head. Overall, not a big issue.

Another minor detail I noticed was that the head got pretty warm after running the light for about ten minutes straight.

Maglite Non-LED (left) versus LED (right) Solitaire Heads
One of the first things I did when testing out my new LED Solitaire was to run a side-by-side comparison with my older incandescent Solitaire. I put the AAA battery that came with the new LED version into the LED lamp, used it for a few minutes, and then used the same battery in the incandescent one. The difference was huge and you can see the results in the video link above. Note that the incandescent was much older than the LED, and bulbs tend to fade over time. Also, the battery was ever so slightly used in the LED before being put into the incandescent.

Luckily, I found product info to back up the results of my mini-experiment. It is noted in the Overview section that the difference in lumens between the two versions (at the time of writing) is quite big -- 37 versus 2. It's possible that the older incandescent Solitaire had different stats, but I doubt the difference would have been that big.

It felt like the LED Solitaire was a fully functional flashlight with a pretty even spread. In contrast, the incandescent version was like a last resort and not too useful for illuminating large or distant objects. My camera had a bit of trouble even picking the light up.

I found the Maglite LED Solitaire to be a very nice flashlight for a pretty good price. I was much happier with it than with my older incandescent Solitaire. The new one was much brighter and had a more even light distribution.

No comments:

Post a Comment