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5547Princeton Tec Impact Reports #1&2

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  • Jeff Widman
    Nov 1, 2001
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      Name: Jeff Widman
      Height: 6'2"
      Weight: 154 lbs.
      Age: 15 yrs
      Area of Residence: Bellingham, Wa (two hours north of Seattle.)
                  Item being tested: Princeton Tec Impact LED Flashlight
      Intro/Description: The Impact is black, about six inches long, and with a highly impact resistant plastic body. I received the flashlight in the mail Tuesday afternoon, a mere six days after it was shipped, according to the included invoice. I opened the package to find the flashlight in the standard plastic style of case that all Princeton Tec lights come in. There was also an invoice, nothing else. The plastic wrapping/case contained the flashlight, four Duracell AA batteries, and a nice lanyard, which even had a Cord lock.
      Test Duration/Location/Conditions: I have tested this flashlight for about four hours total, so far. I used it for three hours last night to read a book in bed, as I share a bunkbed with my younger brother. I've also played with it a bit at different times during the day.
      Price: Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $16.99
      Weight: Manufacturers stated weight with batteries: 5.7 oz(161.5g)
      Tested weight: Lanyard/with included cord lock: 6 grams Flashlight weight w/o batteries:63 grams (2.26 oz) The included four Duracell AA batteries: 98 grams (3.49 oz.) Total weight: 167 grams (5.96 oz) Obviously, the lanyard was not included in the stated weight. I would have been surprised if it was. That leaves my measurements within .5 grams - extremely accurate on Princeton Tec's part.
      Convenience/Ease of Use: I was impressed. When I first got it, I thought that the flashlight was ugly. The trademark Princeton Tec boxy design with huge heads has never appealed to me. It still doesn't. However, I value function far above aesthetics. That is where this light shined (pun intended.) The design itself, though seriously lacking visual appeal, provides a great handhold. The four AA design (see Modifications/improvements section,) gives the light a bit of heft, and the rectangular box felt much better than my Mini-Maglite (2AA halogen.) The huge head provides a single simple switch and battery cap. I appreciated the wide head when I tested the light with thick gloves, as I intend to use the flashlight at night, when it is often cold out. I had no problems using heavy-weight fleece gloves. The switch/head was easy to grip and turn. The light was big enough that it was easy to hold.
      Maintenance/Durability: The case is quite strong, and plastic to boot. This results in lighter weight, and no heat sucking aluminum when I stick the light in my mouth (quite common, probably the reason someone invented the headlamp.) The light is also waterproof to 500 feet (according to the manufacturer, as I have never personally been below 20 feet of water. I'm sorry, but I won't be testing the depth rating.) However, a ten minute soaking in the sink created no problems. I was surprised to see that I could even switch the light on and off underwater! Changing batteries is a bit of a hassle. Two of the batteries go in with the plus side up, and two go in with the minus side facing upwards. There are + and - signs on the case, but I didn't see them at first, as they are quite small. LEDs are not supposed to have the batteries go in backwards, so this might be a small cause of concern. Still, now that I know where the +/- signs are, I strongly doubt that I'll have any further trouble. This light has 4AA, which means that you have four possible batteries to burst. On the other hand, those four batteries create a burntime of 150+ hours according to the manufacturer (that's almost an entire week of being left continuously on.) LED's are also pretty much shatterproof, with an amazing 10,000 hours of life before they burn out. The lens is the only possible part that could get scratched, I guess we will see how it stands up in fieldtesting.
      Drawbacks: Very few. The two main ones were the lanyard and the batteries, as well as the obvious; weight. The lanyard has one of those dohickeys that encloses the two ends and holds them together. I found it very tough to pry apart when I installed the lanyard. However, that means that once installed, it is not coming apart with out a bit of help. First time battery installation was a little bit of a problem. See the above section. Weight is a big drawback to this lamp. 5.7 oz is a lot. However, the light itself without batteries is a mere 70 grams. It is possible to reduce the battery weight by using lithiums, however, that comes down to cost. If you are already carrying this light, I kinda doubt you'll have enough of a desire to shed weight that you'll purchase litiums; however, to each his own. The color of the light is a possible drawback. Dark black! (Ever seen light black?) If you drop it, the little sliver of moonlight might not make this visible. Possibly consider a neon yellow/green. Or simply paint your flashlight with reflective paint. I personally prefer the dark black color, as it allows me to paint it if I want to. Possibly Princeton Tec should offer both colors.
      Customer Service: ? The shipping was prompt and the packing professional. Limited Lifetime warranty, however, I STRONGLY doubt that I will ever have to make use of it.
      Possible Modifications/Improvements: Lanyard; I found it nice to have, and worth the 6 grams. Up to you. I also thought that the +/- signs on the case should be a bit larger for ease of battery replacement. This light uses 4AA, but this also increases the weight. If it was made in a 2AA format, and I carried two extra AAs, then there would be less plastic, less weight. However, the shape of the 4AA design fits very nicely in the hand. Much more so than my classic 2AA Mini-Maglite. I prefer this light in the 4AA design.
      Overall impressions/Quality: I am impressed. This light is simply a high-tec version of the classic Maglite. Yet it blows it away. The LED longevity, both bulb and battery is amazing. Even more amazing to me was the price. A mere $16.99. Quite worth it when you consider how much you'll save on batteries. However, this light is not for everyone. 5.7 ounces is a ton of weight. I have a gut feeling that while the battery life is bigger, and is light is better for gloves/cold clumsy hands, and it is the brightest LED flashlight I've seen, that my three Pulsar IIs (Princeton Tec's copy of the Photon's) with their 7 grams total weight each will continue to be my choice for most backpacking trips. I'm quite concerned about weight, and this light is an extra 5 oz. Still, if I want LIGHT than this is the obvious choice. The reflector system coupled with a magnifying lens creates a very bright, focused spot light. This is the light for car camping/anything where weight/size are not a huge deal. If you are willing to carry the weight, than this light will be your Energizer bunny. I was very impressed by the fact that the light itself weighed only 69 grams, as I did not think that batteries weighed that much. If you normally carry a Mini-Maglite or equivalent than get this. If you normally carry the Maglite Solitaire or equivalent, than I doubt that you would be interested in this light, as there are other smaller LED lights, with amazing runtimes, to be sure, but nowhere near 150+ hours. This light would be good for groups as well. I'll be testing this light in that capacity next summer.
      Overall, a great light, the best one around in its category, but it fills a specific niche, and is not for the weight weenie.
      Jeff Widman
      Reputable, Small, Part Time, Internet Dealer in Error/Variety Coins
      Member ANA, CONECA, NCADD, BCC, WINS, Error World
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