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Старый 25.08.2012, 22:15 Автор темы   1
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По умолчанию Object/Subject Review: Niteye TS20 (Batteries Either Direction!) [In Progress]

Review in Progress

Niteye is a relatively new flashlight brand, owned by a company that has been around for a while. For a time, JETBeam lights have been distributed by SYSMAX, but due to a recent disagreement, that partnership has ended. From this disagreement, the company previously producing JETBeam lights began producing lights under the Niteye brand. In the past few months, we've seen quite a variety of lights from Niteye, from small single-cell lights to large multi-emitter lights. Now, Niteye has produced a light in a very popular format: the large head, slim body, 18650, two-switch thrower.


Thanks to Niteye for providing the TS20 for review.

I’ll be reviewing the TS20 in two sections: first, I’ll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then I’ll discuss the light subjectively (my impressions about the light's performance when used for specific applications). This is a compact light geared a bit more to throw than flood, so I'll be reviewing it as such. If you have any other specific applications you'd like the light tested for, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

4-Minute Overview

Below is a video "quick review" you can watch in just a few minutes, if you're not up for reading the full review right now:

[video=youtube_share;IxFu6oKecxY]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxFu6oKecxY[/video]
This video is available in 720p HD, but defaults to a lower quality. To select the playback quality click the settings button (looks like a gear) after you've started the video.


Objective

Manufacturer's Specifications

Price: $74-$86



Packaging




The TS20 comes in a two-piece cardboard box, the light itself resting in a foam cutout. Beneath the foam are the accessories, user manual and warranty card.

Construction Quality




The TS20 is a solid-built light that feels about average weight for a light this size. It has a black HAIII finish to resist scratches and chips. The body is made from aluminum, while the both the head and tail have a stainless steel ring to help prevent dents if the light is dropped. The TS20 uses a single 18650 lithium ion, two CR123 lithium primary, or two 16340 lithium ion batteries, and will work flawlessly with the batteries inserted in either direction. In the case of using two batteries, just make sure they are both inserted in the same direction.

Let's take a closer look, starting at the head and working back.



The TS20 uses a Cree XM-L U2 binned emitter. It seems the tints available in the U2 brightness bin are still getting better, because this one, while being cool white, has no real tint of purple, blue, green, or pink. The emitter is well centered in a lightly textured reflector, which serves to smooth the beam out and reduce artifacts at the cost of a little throw. The lens and reflector are protected by a stainless steel bezel ring.



The head of the light has a raised ring with flat portions around the head, to keep the light from rolling when placed on a flat surface. The head also has several grooves cut out to give the head greater surface area, which help is to dissipate heat more efficiently.



The TS20 uses a side switch to change modes. While I have not disassembled it, it feels like a mechanical switch to me, instead of an electronic switch like many side-switch lights use. You can see that it does extend a few mm beyond the surrounding area, and has the Niteye logo cut into it. Opposite the side switch is a low battery indicator (shortened to LBI for the purposes of this review) marked by a battery symbol.



When the battery voltage gets low, the LBI lights up red and flashes. You can see more about the performance of the LBI in the "Performance" section.



The body of the TS20 is mostly round and knurled, but there are two smooth flat sections, one printed with the Niteye brand and websiite, the other with the model name.



The tail of the TS20 has a wide band of knurling, and another stainless steel ring to help prevent damage in the case of an impact. The switch is a mechanical forward-click switch, which means you can press half way for momentary on, or press fully to click into constant on. The rear switch is only used to turn the light on/off, the side switch changes the modes.

Now, let's take the light apart!



For normal use, the TS20 comes apart into three pieces: head, body, and tail.



The head looks pretty simple. A small spring serves as the positive (or negative!) battery contact, which means this light will accept both button-top and flat-top cells. This is important, because the light also needs to be able to make contact with the batteries when inserted backwards!



The body features a red o-ring on each end to maintain waterproofness. The threads are all triangle cut, and have a very smooth feel. The threads in the front are unanodized, which means they will make electrical contact with the head even when loose, but will tend to wear down a bit faster. The threads in the rear are anodized, which means they will only make electrical connection with the tail when fully tightened, and should wear down more slowly. For this reason, I suggest making a habit of removing the tail cap for battery changes. Also, because the tail threads are anodized, you can loosen the tail slightly for a mechanical lockout, preventing accidental activation during storage or transport. As always, I still recommend taking the battery out when the light will go unused for a long time.



The tail has a larger spring to make connection with the negative (or positive!) battery terminal. Having springs on both ends not only allows electrical connection with the cells inserted in either direction, but will also help prevent damage to the batteries in the case of an impact.



With an 18650 inserted, the battery is still significantly recessed in the body. In this picture is a Callie's Kustoms 18650 battery, which I've found to be one of the largest common 18650 batteries, and it fits just fine.

Now, you can take apart the head a bit without the use of tools, but I believe it might void the warranty, so I don't recommend it unless you are OK with that.



After removing the bezel ring, the lens will fall out, and the o-ring is pressed firmly between the reflector and a groove in the head. You can remove it with a fingernail, and the reflector will then slide out.



I think it's worth noting the thickness of the lens, this seems significantly thicker than other lenses I've seen in similar lights.



Inside the head, you can see fairly easy access to the LED if you'd ever like to replace/upgrade it. ;) Again, I don't recommend opening the head up unless you're OK with voiding your warranty.

Dimensions




Accessories



The TS20 comes with a holster, lanyard, lanyard attachment ring, rubber grip ring, spare switch cover, and two spare o-rings. The lanyard attachment ring fits in between the body and tail section (remove the tail to slide it on) and as far as I can tell, is the only way to attach a lanyard.



The holster covers the head of the TS20 with a velcro flap, and lets the tail just hang out of the bottom. The holster also has a tag sewn-in with the Niteye name and logo.


User Interface

The TS20 has three brightness modes (High > Medium > Low) and two flashy modes (Strobe > SOS). The rear switch only turns the light on/off, and the side switch controls the modes.

To turn the light on momentarily, press the rear switch halfway down, and it will only stay on until you release the switch. To turn the light on constantly, press the rear switch all the way down and it will click into position, and the light will stay on until you click the rear switch again.

When turning the light on, it will come on in the brightness mode that you used last (unless you've done a battery change, then it will come on in High). To change the mode, give a quick click to the side switch, and it will cycle to the next brightness mode in the sequence (High > Medium > Low). To activate the flashy modes, hold down on the side switch for about two seconds, and it will enter Strobe mode. Hold down for another two seconds to switch back and forth between Strobe and SOS. A quick click to the side switch will return you to the last used brightness mode. The Strobe and SOS modes and not memorized, so if you turn the light off (using the rear switch) while in one of the flashy modes, the next time you turn the light back on it will be in the brightness mode you used last.


Action Shots

You can click on any of these shots to see them full size.

Light in Hand



White Wall (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/20"


BeamSlice


MugShot


Indoor Shots (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"


Outdoor Shots (Control, Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 2.5"



Performance

Submersion: I submersed the TS20 in about a foot of water for an hour, turning it on and off and switching modes (using both switches) during that time, and the light shows no sign of water entering or damaging the light.

Heat: On High mode, the TS20 becomes too hot to hold comfortably after just a few minutes. To prevent heat buildup, the TS20 automatically switches to Medium after about 5 minutes on High. You can choose to switch back to High using the side switch if you desire, but it could lead to undesirable levels of heat.

PWM: I cannot detect pulse width modulation on any mode of the TS20 using any method at my disposal.

Drop: I dropped the TS20 from a height of about 1 meter onto various surfaces including grass, packed dirt, carpet, and wood. The light shows no cosmetic damage and still functions normally.

Reverse Polarity Protection: One of the greatest features of the TS20 is that it will work flawlessly with the battery(ies) inserted in either direction!

Over-Discharge Protection: The TS20 also features a low battery indicator (LBI) that will alert you when your battery needs recharged. You can see more about the performance of the LBI further down.

Spectral Analysis



All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. The plot below the picture is corrected for the spectral sensitivity of the human eye. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.

Output, Current Draw and Runtime


ANSI FL-1 runtime ratings are the time it takes for a light to fall to 10% of it's original output (counting from 30 seconds after turning the light on). *My estimate for the Low mode run time is calculated from the current draw measured for Low mode and the battery capacity used on the other modes.

The vertical axis of the graphs below represents a relative brightness measurement using a home made light box. The horizontal axis is time in hours:minutes:seconds. Runtimes are stated in hours:minutes:seconds. These graphs may be truncated to show detail.

Mode Comparison




(I've truncated this graph to show just the first 15 minutes of High mode w/ 18650 in better detail.)


(I've truncated this graph to show the majority of the relevant run time. At a little after 10 hours, the output was so low that the flashing of the low battery indicator caused the main emitter output to dim when the LBI was on.)








As you can see, the TS20 is programmed to step down to lower levels automatically. From the data I've gathered, it seems that the TS20 will step down from High mode to Medium after a 5 minute timer, and will step down from Medium to Low when the battery voltage reaches a certain point. You can choose to go back to the level you were on using the side switch if you desire, but manually forcing it back to High mode after it's already been on High for a while can lead to undesirable levels of heat.


Throwing Distance

ANSI FL-1 standard for stating a light's throwing distance is the distance at which the peak beam intensity (usually at the center of the beam) is 0.25 lux. I calculate throwing distance and candela (lux at 1 meter) by measuring peak beam intensity at five different distances and using the formula lux*distance^2=constant.

Peak Beam Intensity: 13006cd
Throw Distance: 228m

Low Battery Indicator

The TS20 features a red LED behind a glass window opposite the side switch. When the battery gets low, it will have trouble maintaining the higher levels for very long. You can see in the runtime/output plots that the TS20 automatically steps down from higher outputs to lower, and at low battery voltages, these stepdowns happen more quickly. Each time the light steps down to a lower level, the low battery indicator light (LBI) will flash once. When the battery reaches a resting voltage of 3.36V, it will no longer sustain any mode other than low for more than a second. The LBI will begin flashing constantly at a voltage of 3.11V under load, which translate to a resting voltage of 3.19V.

The "nominal voltage" of a lithium ion battery is 3.6/3.7V, and most people like to recharge their batteries when they reach that point or slightly lower. So, when you see the light having trouble staying on the high levels for very long, that's your first cue to check the battery voltage. By the time the LBI activates, that's your cue to re-charge the battery right away. Low mode is still available for some time after the LBI is activated, but discharging the battery below that point should not be done often, and only when necessary.


Subjective Review

Quick break down:

+Mode switch separate from on/off switch
+Low battery voltage indication
+Bright, good throw
+Simple UI (strobe and SOS well hidden)
+Battery can be inserted in either direction
+Perfect size for compact thrower
+Stainless steel ring on both head and tail

-Auto-stepdown a little too aggressive

The TS20 is a great option from Niteye as a compact thrower. Lately, Niteye's become known for their large, multi-emitter multi-reflector lights, in the TS20 they offer something better for more general purposes. It's still high-powered, but it can fit in a bag, on a belt, or even in your pocket (if you don't mind a bit of a lump). While not really anything radical, the TS20 pulls together several great features in a reliable package.

The one thing that really sets the TS20 apart from similar lights is it's ability to take a battery inserted in either direction. When I read about this feature on the spec sheet, I sort of considered it a novelty--"Oh, that's nice". But in practice, I've found that it's actually very helpful for battery changes in the dark. I haven't timed myself, but I'd guess it cuts the time by about 1/3.

Other than that, as I said, the main appeal of the TS20 is that it just pulls a lot of great features together to make a well-rounded light. I love that the switch for changing modes is separate from the on/off switch. This makes the UI much more intuitive than those that require you to turn the light on/off several times to change brightness levels. Also, my personal preference is to click, rather than hold down, to changed modes, because I just find it takes less time, and I appreciate that about the TS20. And I know it's a small thing, but having a stainless steel ring on both the head and the tail just seems like a nice touch, and shows a certain attention to detail.

My one complaint about this light is that the auto-stepdown seems a bit to aggressive for my taste. What I mean by that, is that it the auto-stepdown from Turbo to High comes a bit earlier than seems necessary to me, and an auto-stepdown from High to Medium seems a bit like overkill. If you take a look at the graph of Turbo, you'll see it actually spends most of it's time on Medium. Granted, in practice you rarely run a light that long without turning it off for a time, and it's not that tough to turn it back up when it auto-steps down, it's just not my preference.

Also, for future lights, I would like to see Niteye implement a low battery indicator that activates a little sooner, as 3.1-3.2V is a bit too low for my taste. It's well before the cell's protection circuits activate, but I normally prefer to recharge around 3.4V.

Overall, the TS20 is a great choice for a compact thrower, with all the features you could want in such a light, at a price a bit better than most of the competition.


Long Term Impressions

I'll fill this part in after carrying the light for a while. If nothing get's added here, either I find nothing else worth noting about the light, or I end up not using it often.
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