The market for torches of all kinds in the UK seems to be almost limitless – with everything from budget models coming in at less than a fiver (sometimes even half that!) right through to the professional quality flashlights costing over £200. The two things that seem to be pushing this situation are the ever-increasing pace of development of LED chips and battery technologies, including Lithium Ion.
Active Products has a knack of introducing competent, well-priced and useful torches onto the UK market, so it is not a surprise that the company has now launched an upgraded version of the “old” one million candle power rechargeable spotlight. The “new” version has much in common, and fortunately, retains the features that made the previous model a success.
Firstly, the new model is made in bright yellow plastic so it is, what I guess in modern parlance, would be called “high vis”. The main handle, stand and front lens rim are made in black plastic that is a sharp contrast to the yellow.
Secondly, the body shape of the new version is square and boxy. It is also noticeable that it is much lighter than the “old model – no doubt due to the fact that the new battery is a 3.7v non-replaceable lithium ion version. Lithium ion has many advantages because not only is it much lighter than the old NiCad battery technology for example, but it is more efficient and less likely to suffer from memory effect when recharged.
The new body shape offers several advantages in terms of the versatility of the torch in use. For example, the flat base of the boxy shape means that the torch can be stood upright so that it shines like a searchlight – which could be useful in some situations.
Along the bottom of the torch is a click-stopped stand that adjusts over about 160 degrees so that a wide range of angles can be selected. The click stopping is very positive and does not slip in use, so is able to be relied upon – a great virtue in a torch that may well be used in an emergency situation.
A new feature and one that many users will find very useful is the ability to use the main handle in two different ways. Used conventionally, the main handle is nicely shaped and contoured for the fingers. This handle configuration is comfortable and balances the lightweight of the torch for easy aiming. However, by pushing in the yellow button on the right hand side of the handle, the whole handle can be twisted round so that it becomes a pistol grip. Now the torch can be used at eye or head height more easily, so that it becomes an eye-guided searchlight. Outdoorsmen and campers would be able to make very good use of this feature and again, the flip over handle is very positive and robust so it is not simply an “add on”.
I guess that because of the flipover handle the “standard” switch position of a button on the front lens cover no longer makes sense, so the switch is now located on the side of the torch near the front. It is now a small rocker switch with a definite “on” or “off” feel and is covered by a clear flexible plastic cover that gives some protection from water penetration.
Active Products has also used the opportunity provided by adopting a lithium ion battery pack to provide a couple of recharging options that will reflect the intended uses of the torch.
The standard charger is the SD 9300 that plugs straight into a mains socket. Active Products recommends that when the first charge is done it is charged until the charge indicator turns green. This first charge will take longer as it initiates the charging cycle that is important for a long battery life.
On a full charge, the torch will give about four hours of light, and it is recommended that after every use the torch should have a top-up charge to keep the battery in good health. Also, it is recommended that the battery should be recharged every three months even if it is not used. Lithium ion technology needs such care in order to keep a healthy battery.
Another handy little feature is the provision of the 12v car charger in the package. Since this torch is likely to be used in the outdoors and as part of a car kit, it makes sense to have a non-mains charging option.
Finally, there is a shoulder strap provided to fit over the metal loops on the front and back of the handle. A small criticism in my opinion is that the strap is too short for all users in all situations, so some people might choose not to attach it at all. However Active Products have already picked up on this and the length of the strap is now increased to a comfortable 100cm to suit all users and situations.
With an upgraded light intensity of 150 lumens, the LED spotlight has more than enough power for general situations. It is noticeable that the beam has a very pure centre spot that is clear of spots and blemishes. This spot gives a beam distance of about 400 metres that should be enough for most users. Surrounding the middle spot is a halo of less intense light that helps the user to see things not directly in the main beam – very useful I think, and also a tribute to the continuing development of very good LED light chips.
So to sum up – this is a very practical and well-priced torch with enough power for general household and camping use. It is light, easy to carry and the pistol grip handle is a useful option in many situations. Since power cuts are now a feature of life for many of us, it is always handy to have a torch around, especially one that can stand on its own in a variety of positions.
For more information, please visit http://www.active-products.co.uk