Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: Lumintop PS03 [Triple Emitter 4x18650 Flashlight]

These 3 emitter flashlights have always intrigued me. I reviewed one quite a while ago, but I kind of stopped there. The high end ones like the Nitecore seemed way too expensive, and the low end ones like the Sky Ray seemed way too cheap. So, I stayed on the fence for a long time. I almost pulled the trigger on an Olight but it went out of stock, so I went back on the fence.

Lumintop orginally contacted me about reviewing the Lumintop Tool. But they ran out of stock and asked to send me a Lumintop PS03 in its place. It looked really nice, and I had already decided to buy the Tool with my own money and review it anyway. We kind of hit a language barrier regarding what batteries they prefer with this model, but we worked that all out, and I ended up buying 4 KeepPower 18650 cells from Amazon. Illumination Supply is a great store and has them, too, and even for a little cheaper, but I needed them for the review and couldn't wait. Amazon has the PS03 also, but I do not know the best place to buy one. Currently they beat the 30-day-from-China sellers, but prices fluctuate.

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Product Link
Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Product Link


Product Description

Price: About $85 Online

This is a triple XM-L2 emitter "soda can" flashlight which takes takes 4 18650 protected cells. Like other lights of this type, the batteries are contained in a removable cage which can be inserted into the tube either way. I always liked that feature of the Sunwayman D40's cage.

TIR optics, electronic switch, it ticks most of the checkboxes. It doesn't have any voltage indicator though.

Official Specs (From Lumintop)


Bulb
3 x Cree XM-L2 U2 LED
Output / runtime
100 Lumens (40Hours)          
800 Lumens (5.5Hours)                   
1500 Lumens (3Hours)                
2800 Lumens (3Hours)                           
strobe
Max Beam Intensity
16398cd
Max Beam Distance
256 Meters
Modes
5 Modes(Low-Mid-High-Turbo-Strobe)
Size
Length: 5.0" (127mm)
Head Diameter: 2.17" (55mm)
Body Diameter: 2.05" (52mm)
N.W
8.56oz (243g)
Working Voltage
11.2v-16.8v
Battery Type
4 x 18650
Water Resistant
IPX-8 (2 meters)
Impact Resistant
1.5 meters
Accessories
1 x O-ring, 1 x Lanyard, 1 x Lanyard Nail
EAN/UPC
6933165915039
889709150380

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Unboxing

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - With KaBar Becker BK14 Sheathed
With KaBar Becker BK14 Sheathed

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - With Spyderco Manix 2 and Thrunite Ti4 2xAAA Penlight
With Spyderco Manix 2 and Thrunite Ti4 2xAAA Penlight

Initial Impressions


My fist thought unboxing this thing was "oooh, pretty." My second thought was "uh, what cells am I going to run in it?" since the light got here several days before the batteries did. The problem is that I didn't have 4 of any matched protected cells that I could spare. First I tried some laptop-harvested Sony cells, then I got some unprotected NCR19650B cells in.

It turns out they don't recommend unprotected cells in the PS03. They asked the engineer just to be crystal clear. Of course, I didn't have any issues running unprotected cells, but I think I'll stick to the KeepPower cells that I ordered to go with this light. These new cells also will give me a good baseline for the run time tests.

Batteries aside, the PS03 gave me a positive first impression.With 4 high capacity cells, this thing is quite heavy for it's size. It just looks and feels like it means business.

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Product View 1

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Product View 2

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Product View 3


Build Quality


Overall, good. I'm not a modder, and I didn't take it apart to look at how it dissipates heat, but it seems to be well designed and well built overall. Threads are square cut like higher end lights, and they didn't skimp on anything that I could see. This reminds of me of the tool. It's kind of like they are trying to be the Honda Civic of the flashlight world: A basic product that's not fancy, but well built and reliable.

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 0


Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 1

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 2

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 3

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 4

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 6Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 5


Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 8Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 7Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Side View 9


Fit and Finish


Overall, good. About the only specific thing I can find fault with is that I the anodizing looks a little ... flat is probably the best word. There's nothing specifically wrong with the fit and finish, other than it doesn't "pop" like some higher end brands.

Again, I'm reminded of the Honda Civic. Minimalist and functional.

Tripod Mount


The tripod mount is a nice touch. It almost makes me want to buy a second tripod. There's an included lanyard mount that screws in there, which also serves as an anti-roll mechanism. It lasted long enough to take pictures of before I took it off an put it back in the box.

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Mounted On Tripod
It's actually a useful feature, bravo!
Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Lanyard Mount
Lanyard mount looks decently made


Battery Cage


The PS03 uses a battery tray, cage, whatever you want to call it to hold the 4 cells. It's well done, and looks high end, maybe a little better than the one on my D40A. The structure itself looks very solid and the best I can tell, it looks to be getting a good connection.

My new Protected KeepPower 3,400 cells barely fit in the cage. They even stick out a little bit and barely fit in the tube. These cells have a Panasonic NCR18650B cell inside them, which is long to begin with. But the main reason that I bought these cells is because KeepPower does the wrapping of the bare cells themselves--it's not double-wrapped like some other brands. So, it's a little shorter, thankfully.

Another thing I like about the design of the battery cage is that it can be put in the tube either way, like my D40A. There's no way to get it mixed up and make something bad happen. It's idiot proof, which is good because I'm an idiot.

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Battery Cage 1

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Battery Cage 2

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Battery Cage 4Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Battery Cage 3



Circuitry


I am happy to report that this model uses a high efficiency, constant current circuit. If it has PWM, then my eyes can't see it. My phone sees nothing but constant, pure light on every mode, and I've never seen the "cell phone test" proven wrong.

The reason I like these type of efficient circuits is that you get more run time in an emergency, like searching for a lost dog or child, or being lost in the woods. Now, the thought of 4 of those KeepPowers in a high efficiency light gives me a special feeling.

The circuitry also has a built in temperature sensor, so ideally it won't melt or explode. The regulation also seems to step down to the next lowest level when it loses regulation on the brightness level you set it to, which is a nice touch.

Emitters & Optics


Having three Cree XM-L2 LED emitters with 4 cells means this thing is going to put out some serious light. There's no way on earth that this configuration could put out anything other than a giant wall of light, so they've put TIR optics on it like other manufacturers. I like it.

The optics themselves look beautiful, and the LEDs look to be sitting perfectly centered on centering rings. This kind of optic really doesn't do well with off-center emitters, so machine centering is a good choice. The optics themselves don't look flawless up close, but it's nothing I can see in the beam. Again, not perfect but plenty fine for the price point.

I could swear the specs say it has a plastic lens, but it makes a *tink* *tink* *tink* sound so now I'm not so sure. Usually it's the other way around: they claim glass and you get plastic. I can definitely tell the reflectors are plastic, though.

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Reflector View 1

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Reflector View 2


User Interface


Depress the electronic switch and hold down to turn the light on or off. When the light is on, single click to change modes, and double click to access the strobe mode.

The modes are a basic low-medium-high-turbo with mode memory. Some people like mode memory and some people don't. I do, and think it's a useful feature in this case. But I would also settle for just the sensible mode order that it has.

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Electronic Switch View

Tint


The tint on my review sample definitely leans towards neutral white. There's no ugly blueish or greenish tint which are my pet peeves. This is where there design stands out: good tint with a constant current circuit seems rare these days, and one of the reasons I still EDC my Ti4 most of the time.

Note that the beam is "ringy," though, and the outer rings are greenish. But the way the PS03 uses the optics, you will only see the rings in a confined space. All I see when I point it outside is a single tint. But I'm pointing it out just for reference.

Run Time Tests


I measured the capacity of the new cells on my analyzing charger to make sure that I didn't need to return any of them, and to make sure the test was fair. It worked out well that I needed to get a new set of cells just to run in this light.


Mode Run Time  Current (mA) Notes
Low - 60 Not run.
Medium 6:41 490 Lost regulation at 6:09. Temperature 101-104 F.
High 3:37 2014 / 1070 Lost regulation at 3:02, Temperature 88-92 F.
Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Temperature (High)
Above, taken on High

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Temperature (Medium)
Above, taken on Medium
KeepPower 3400 mAh 18650 Cells Charge Test
We have the power, captain!

Output


The output on this model seems up to spec from what my eyes can tell by comparing it to the closest things I have in that range. I still need to do some outdoor beam shots, which I will add to the review once I find a good place to do the photography in this new area I'm in.

Lumintop PS03 Shown With FandyFire STL-V2 And Sunwayman D40A
Shown with FandyFire STL-V2 and Sunwayman D40A


Usability


Overall, good. This sort of "wall of light" type of light is best suited to large, open areas, like a rural property or large warehouse. Even on a residential street here in Oregon, it's almost too bright on low. The few times I've put it on high, neighbors have come out of their houses to see what the bright light was. But even in this area, the PS03 would be a fine light for walking your dog or searching for a lost child. I also do still spend time on my sister's property in rural Washington. 

I like working with this light, other than it's a little heavy. I normally take a smaller, EDC sized light if I go for a night time walk. 

The user interface and ergonomics are both good. Press and hold to turn on or off, single click to change modes, or double click for strobe: it's pretty intuitive. The light feels good in my hand, and the texturing on the body give it a good grip. The electronic switch has a good feel as well. The completely flat tail stand makes it more useful: 40 hours on low is the stated run time, or light a large room for 6 hours with good batteries.

This isn't quite as useful for throwing long distances, but if you find yourself using the PS03, it can throw pretty far just through brute force combined with the TIR optics. But for throw, my D40A puts it to shame, and there are many lights that put it to shame, so this wouldn't be your first choice as a thrower.




Weights And Measures


The large cells make this thing over a pound!

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - On Scale

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Next To Ruler


Conclusions


I like what Lumintop has done with the PS03. This model kind of sits at that middle point between the cheap light and the really expensive ones, and I think it is well placed. Just like with the Tool, Lumintop knows what they are doing. They've always appeared to me as an enthusiast to be a niche provider, but it seems like they are pushing to be more of a mainstream brand.

It's funny, being a blogger and having people send you free stuff is almost the opposite of what people think. I feel a responsibility to find as much fault as I can with something free. And there's nothing specifically I can find fault with, other than the quality could've been a tiny bit better for the price point, just like with the Tool. With the tool, I thought they should have used a constant current circuit, and with the PS03, the optics look a little ... plasticy.

Since there is no way I would pay over $200 for a light of this type like the high end ones, I think this model is going to win some fans for its good design and construction at a budget price. And now it sits on my shelf next to my precious D40A. They both compliment each other because the PS03 is a giant wall of light and the D40A is a giant beam of light.

Gallery


Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - In Box 1

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - In Box 2

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - In Box 3Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - In Box 4



Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - Glamour Shot

Lumintop PS03 4x18650 Flashlight - With Unsheathed Becker BK14
With KaBar Becker BK14 Unsheathed




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