Saturday, June 11, 2016

Review: Maglite ML300LX LED 2-D Cell Flashlight

I got rid of my Maglite 3-D cell LED flashlight a while ago because it wasn't getting much use. And to be honest, it was kind of really big. The light was bought back around 2010 when LEDs were still maturing or at least not as prevalent as they are in 2016. Long story short, I recently needed a somewhat big flashlight and decided on a 2-D version. There was the basic 2-D LED, the incandescent 2-D, and the newer ML300L series with the scary bright 524 lumen rating.

The really high lumen rating was concerning, as was the price. However, the ML300 supposedly had multiple brightness modes from insanely bright to about the same as my old Maglite 3-D LED to almost as low as my favorite Maglite Solitaire LED.
Maglite ML300LX LED: Out of the Package
x1 - Maglite ML300LX-S2CC6 LED 2-D Cell Flashlight, Stealth Matte Black and Tactical Grip

Paid: CA$ ~75.00

Blister packaging, oh, blister packaging. Oh, you. I got it open, no blood was shed, end of story. The cardboard box version wasn't in stock at the store I got it from. A very well folded manual in multiple languages was found in a corner of the package. It detailed how to change function sets, among many other things.

No batteries were included with the Maglite ML300LX that I received -- thank goodness because I never use the alkalines for more than a few hours of testing. And it's a pain to dispose of them properly if you count having to take them to Best Buy a pain.

I used AA-sized rechargeable NiMH Eneloops in two AA to D battery adapters instead of actual D batteries (bla bla bla, I am not recommending you use batteries not recommended by the manufacturer, do so at your own risk). The battery adapters fit and the flashlight turned on, so I was happy.
Maglite ML300LX: Close-up of Head
Design / Construction
Having had a Maglite 3-D cell flashlight up until recently, the switch on this new ML300 series flashlight got my attention immediately. This was not like the switch on the 3-D. From what I could tell, it didn't feel like the ML300's switch locked into place. There was a clear clicking sound and I felt the switch click, but it was more like a button on an electronic device rather than something mechanical. This made it very easy to switch between the 3 light modes -- not between function sets.

It was outlined in the manual how to change the function sets and the procedure appeared to be very simple. After trying it many times, I think it was and very intuitive -- the procedure only involved the tail-cap and the single button on my unit.

Otherwise, the matte black paint on the Maglite ML300LX was a definite change from the shiny black all of my previous Maglites have been. Dust really liked to stick to it though -- more so than the shiny black Maglites, it seemed. I could say the same about the pineapple grip pattern or "Aggressive Knurled Design." Overall, the flashlight felt like a fairly solidly built tube that could produce light. How does it hold up over time? We'll see?

How was it?
I've mostly used flashlights rated around 100 lumens or less previously, and the jump to a 524 lumen light seemed huge. It was, but not as much as I thought. There were concerns before buying the Maglite ML300LX that turning on the light would result in immediate blindness or something. My first encounter with the High setting was satisfactory: very bright, but not too bright that I'd be afraid of turning the light on without a welding mask. To be honest, this should have been expected considering that the bulbs in my home were generally in the 400 lumen to 800 lumen range -- significantly less concentrated and usually with diffusers though.
Maglite ML300LX: High Mode
The Low and Eco settings were where I planned to spend most of my time, and they looked good. However, I found the latter to be on the brighter side for close-up use. Testing my Maglite Solitaire LED sequentially with the Eco setting of the ML300LX, the bigger lamp was obviously brighter. Given the lumen ratings of both lights (including the ML300LX in Eco mode), this was not a surprise. Regardless, it looks like I'll have the sub-100 lumen range covered between my Solitaire LED and this thing.

Switching between light settings within Activity-Based function sets felt intuitive to me after decades of computer mouse operation. All I had to do was double-click or triple-click to get to the latter two settings. However, I found myself missing the setting I wanted quite often. The switch seemed to require very quick clicking and offered what felt like a window of less than a second before locking into a mode. Having a slightly longer window would have been nice. And it would have been really nice if the standard setting had been reversed, starting on Eco and gone up to Low then High.
Maglite ML300LX: Low Mode
Getting between Activity-Based function sets was also easy for me. However, I was more than happy with the standard/default setting so there was no need other than to satisfy my curiosity. In short, changing function sets essentially required me to hold the single button and mess with the tail-cap. This revealed the Strobe and Momentary light modes that I didn't see a need for. The Strobe was very distracting and annoying. I wouldn't have guessed what it was for until I saw an infomercial for another flashlight on TV -- the scene involved an attempted mugging.

Price was pretty hefty at about CA$ 75.00 considering that a "lesser" Maglite 2D LED with one light mode was only about CA$ 40.00. To add insult to injury, I found it for significantly less on the American Amazon site -- even after accounting for the exchange rate. Oh well. As long as the Maglite ML300LX doesn't drop dead within a few years, I should be happy. My use isn't that heavy so it really shouldn't be hard to accomplish. Having only had the lamp for a relatively short amount of time, we'll see how that works out.
Maglite ML300LX: Eco Mode
I found the Maglite ML300LX 2D cell flashlight to be a pretty nice light with numerous options. The 2D size was essentially what I was looking for. A slightly longer window for clicking into different modes and a reversal of the standard/default setting to go from Eco to Low to High would have been great. And the price in Canada was on the steeper side.

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