Saturday, May 07, 2016

Review: Mini Maglite LED 2-Cell AA & 2-Cell AAA Flashlights

I've been very happy with my Maglite Solitaire LED for the past year-ish. It's small, compact, uses one battery, and bright enough for me. Having a flashlight that could light up an entire room like a Maglite 3-D battery LED was great but I didn't need it and the thing was pretty huge.

However, having options and something a bit more powerful seemed like a good idea. The Maglite 2-AA and 2-AAA LED flashlights looked like they would be reasonably good steps up. Instead of deciding between the two, I got them both to test out.
Mini Maglite LED 2-cell AA and AAA Flashlights
Maglite Mini LED 2-Cell AA Flashlight
Maglite Mini LED 2- Cell AAA Flashlight

Paid:  ~CA$ 27.00 each

I hate you blister pack, but I didn't want or couldn't find the case/cardboard version -- found the flip-case ones after I ordered the blister packs. Anyway, unboxing the flashlights from the containers was uneventful. No blood was shed -- it's happened before. The provided batteries appeared to be in good condition. I unscrewed the bottoms of the flashlights, popped the batteries in, and both the AA and AAA Maglites worked.

Trying to turn the 2-cell AA LED flashlight on for the first time gave me a bit of a scare: I knew it had multiple modes and thought I did something wrong when the head didn't rotate easily. Turned out, it was just a little sticky and all was good after the initial turn. Also, the AAA Maglite LED that I received appeared to be a newer version than the one pictured on the website I bought it from -- one I got had a higher lumen rating label on the package.
Side by Side: Mini Maglite LED 2-cell AA and AAA Flashlights
How was it?
Remember the thing about the lumen rating? The 2-cell AAA Maglite (111 lumens) ended up having a higher lumen rating than the 2-cell AA Maglite (97 lumens), according to the packages. It was the other way around from the product info I saw online -- not really complaining with the upgrade. I couldn't really tell the difference between the two flashlights, in terms of brightness and quality, until I examined the videos I made with them more closely. Looked to me like the color temperatures of the two LEDs were slightly different: one was whiter or yellower than the other?

Otherwise, there were obvious differences between the two LED Maglites like size and weight. The 2-cell AA obviously felt like it had more heft. I thought the AAA version was very compact and only felt slightly bigger than the Solitaire.

In terms of functionality, the AA Maglite had more modes than the AAA -- unless I missed something. Switching between the modes was hit and miss at first, but after a bit of practice, it became pretty easy. I really doubt that I'd use anything beyond the high and low settings. Speaking of the low setting, video recording the AA Mini Maglite revealed something interesting. While the high power appeared as a solid and continuous light, the low setting showed up as a flickering pulse. This wasn't noticeable to my eyes without a camera.

Both lamps were to my liking on the matter of brightness and light quality. It looked to me that they both produced fairly even patterns of light on the wall, as opposed to the waves and uneven patterns an incandescent flashlight might produce.

I really don't think I will ever get rid of my Maglite Solitaire LED. The thing uses a single battery and is bright enough for most of my uses while not being too bright -- Maglite has flashlights in the 500 and 600 lumen range now that scare me. In situations where I need more light, I can see either the 2-cell AA or AAA Mini Maglite coming in handy. Considering their relatively similar lumen ratings, the compactness of the AAA version has me leaning towards that. However, the longer battery life of the AA version is probably the more important item to consider -- I clearly didn't test battery life.
LED Maglites: Solitaire, 2-cell AAA Mini, 2-cell AA Mini
Two compact LED flashlights from Maglite and I liked them both. The 2-cell AA Mini Maglite LED had more light modes and a longer rated battery life, but the 2-cell AAA Maglite was significantly smaller. However, I didn't really see myself using the modes other than high/low on the AA version. Given their similar prices and maximum lumen ratings, it looked like battery life and size would have been my main considerations if I had to choose between the two. If I used rechargeable batteries, one additional criterion would have been whichever batteries I had available.

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