Inova T3R USB Rechargeable Torch-A Solid Performer

Aimed at: Demanding users who need a pure light from good optics and tough body that will take a few knocks.

Pros: The torch has options of low and high power and strobe functions. Very well made alloy body and rechargeable via USB too. 

The choice of products in the torch market is truly overwhelming in my view. We have torches that cost less than £1 and others that are over £200. Relative quality is hard to tell sometimes because the “lumens” (light output) is not always a true measure of how good a torch is. The quality of the optics and the means of focusing the beam have a part to play as well. The general rule that you get what you pay for applies to torches, but there are pockets of good value and high quality to be had for the canny buyer.

With a typical internet retail price of around £65 the T3R is aimed unashamedly at the quality end of the market – typically the consumer who perhaps is a regular torch user – professionally or personally – who needs a reliable and relatively powerful device and who likes the idea of a rechargeable, thus eliminating the need to buy batteries.

The T3R has a reassuring “heft” in the hand. This is because it has a body that has been machined from solid aerospace grade alloy. It also has a US military spec, hard coat, black anodized finish, with a regular deep knurled pattern machined into the body exterior for good grip. The torch has a “made for serious business” feel that will reassure users of its rugged toughness. It is built to withstand a drop of 1 metre onto a hard surface and it also has IPX4 standards of water resistance. These measures indicate a device that is strong enough for tough and sustained use in domestic or outdoor environments. 

Other specs are not too shabby either… The maximum light output is 234 lumens, not a class leader, but as I have said before, the quality of the reflector and the LED are important too. I found that the light was clear and bright. The T3R boasts a nice round halo of light with no dark spots or lines in it with a wider halo of less intense light around the middle. This is an indication of quality optics. The double–sided anti-reflective coated glass lens on the front of the torch must take some credit for the beam quality I guess.

When high beam is not needed the low beam option is a mere 20 lumens, giving enough light for walking down a dark path in the woods for example, but at the same time ensuring that the battery lasts a lot longer.

The specs say that the run time on full beam is two hours and forty-five minutes; while on low beam the run time is 40 hours. A considerable energy saving indeed.

The beam range is given as 152 metres – which because the T3R has a good concentrated beam actually makes sense. In pitch dark from my back window into the fields opposite the centre spot of the beam was clearly visible surrounded by an aura of clear light that was well focused too.

There are rechargeable torches and rechargeable torches – some are easy and flexible, others are more difficult. The T3R provides a lot of options for recharging to suit all the expected needs of the target market. There is a simple charger plug that can fit three different plug types. The UK standard plug is easy to fit on the charger and feels like it is solid enough to be safe and long lasting. Other charging options include a standard USB connection and an in-car adaptor. Optional extra chargers will fit solar panels and computers for an even greater range of charging choices.

The lithium ion battery pack is separate from the torch itself, so it would be possible to replace it or have a spare one if needed. The battery is put into the torch by unscrewing the end cap that includes the integrated switch mechanism. The end cap can be turned half a turn anti-clockwise to lock the switch out so that it is protected from accidental switching during transit, or in a pocket for example.

For initial use, the manufacturers suggest that the battery should be fully charged. This charge takes about 4 hours and is a common thing to do with lithium ion batteries.

After this, it is suggested that the torch is plugged in to recharge after use to keep the battery fully topped up. There is no danger of overcharging. While charging, there is a red indicator light to indicate charging status. In use, the USB charging point on the torch is covered completely. When you need to recharge, simply unscrew the front end of the torch to reveal the USB plug into which the charging lead is plugged.

The multi-purpose press switch on the rear end of the torch controls the various light modes. One firm push means full beam is selected. A slower push selects low beam and a quick then a slow push selects strobe mode. If the switch is pushed only part way in in each mode the light switches off when you release the switch.

Because lithium ion batteries deliver full power until they run out quite suddenly, rather than slowly fading like old batteries did, there is a built-in warning of imminent loss of charge – the light will start to flash quickly before turning off automatically. This should prevent deep discharge, which is the enemy of long life for lithium ion batteries. Time then for a full charge if possible.

There is no doubt that the T3R looks and feels like a quality product and that reflects its quality price tag. The alloy body is good to handle and all the functions work smoothly. There is even a delicate but useful wrist loop that is threaded onto the rear cap. The T3R comes with a limited lifetime warranty covering manufacturing defects.

With its range of charger options, users should never be without a method to top up the battery when needed, so it should suit professional users like paramedics or roadside assistance personnel. 

For more information on Inova Torches and other products from Whitby & Co , please visit www.whitbyandco.co.uk

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