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Старый 07.04.2011, 13:56 Автор темы   1
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По умолчанию Princeton Tec Byte headlamp review

The Princeton Tec Byte piqued my interest due to its light weight, use of 2xAAA batteries, red LED and white power LED at extremely low cost. I had hoped for some hands-on impressions from some other members but after not seeing any reviews for a year now I decided to take the plunge and try it out for myself. It cost me $20 at Dicks Sporting Goods.

I have read some complaints about Princeton Tec's build quality in their recent offerings (particularly the Fuel) but I was encouraged by the low cost and the attractive features of the Byte.

I have been testing this headlamp for 3 weeks now and now stash it in my laptop bag as it is very small and convenient to have around.

Build Quality and Functional Design
It's clear that Princeton Tec has some very talented designers working on their headlamps. The headlamp is very cool-looking and clearly designed to shave every gram of weight. The result is that the Byte weighs a mere 64 grams, is incredibly compact, and has some nice touches. The Byte is not exactly a delicate flower, but it's also designed to be especially small and lightweight so I wouldn't throw it around either.

The battery compartment latch has a nice snap to it and is affixed by a stainless pin. Accidental opening of the battery compartment should be highly unlikely, although it is easy to open intentionally. I do worry that the battery latch will break, rendering the headlamp useless, since it is a common complaint in the similarly designed Fuel, but there are no indications that it will do so.

The Byte uses Princeton Tec's excellent weight-shaving and seemingly robust asymmetrical arm bracket. The lens is protected by an integral shroud on the body and prevents glare to the wearer. The entire headlamp appears to be made of high quality plastic but there appears to be no water resistant seals on the light.

I find the Byte to be comfortable to wear for long periods of time thanks to the curved base plate and extremely light weight. At times, I forgot I was even wearing the Byte, only reminded by strange looks from pedestrians.

The headlamp can be tilted and activated with one hand and has a very large range of tilt. You can light up the ceiling if you choose. The large range of motion means that you can use this headlamp around your neck instead of on your head if you so choose. One thing I really appreciate about this headlamp is that it sticks out a bit from your forehead, allowing it to just peek out a bit from a hooded sweatshirt or jacket.

I ran my usual heavy rain simulation on the Princeton Tec Byte. The light is rated IPX4 water resistance, which means that it should be fine with a few splashes or light rain. The Byte passed the test with mixed results and I did not wish to test it a second time. The light continued to work fine after the inside got wet, but the switch started acting flaky. I would click and it would skip modes. All modes were accessible, but it did require a few more clicks than usual. Once the light dried out, the switch worked fine and without issues. I may run more water intrusion tests again if there is adequate interest.

The user interface is simple: click once for red, click again for low white, click again for high white. You must always cycle through all the levels to get back to off. This is where I have to ding the Byte, because while red light is thoughtfully provided, you must always go through the white modes before turning it off. Other headlamps, such as the Princeton Tec Fred and the Petzl Tikka 2 Plus have separate red output modes so you can save your night-adapted vision.

Light Output and Runtime
Princeton Tec rates the Byte at 35 lumens and 80 hours. I believe the output rating is fairly accurate but the runtime seems a bit high. An independent test by Woods Monkey corroborates this. PT also claims 146 hours of runtime with the red LED, which I am not inclined to test but am willing to believe.

There is significant enough differentiation between the high and low white modes, although as the batteries weaken the high and low modes become one and the same. I'd like to note that when the batteries are weak enough, the red LED will not light but the white LED still will. I assume that the circuitry boosts the voltage for the white LED and is direct drive for the red.

One thing I really appreciate about this headlamp, is that rechargeable AAA batteries are often sold and charged in pairs, so if you use headlamps for long periods of time it's a snap to pop in new rechargeables. Contrast this to single-cell lights: what do you do with the second of a pair of NiMHs? If you have a nice charger with independent charging banks (I do), that's one thing, but if you're like most people and don't?

The Byte's white LED is a nice Luxeon Rebel power LED and my individual sample of one has a nice neutral tint to it. Compared to a Cree XP-G neutral white it is a good bit cooler but is definitely on the neutral side of cool.

The Byte has a fairly wide and fairly diffuse hotspot. I find it comfortable to read with. The white beam is fairly clean and free of artifacts. The red beam does have some minor artifacts but it's a far cry from being unbearable. I find both the white and the red pleasant enough to read by and in general I just enjoy using this headlamp. I did note that the white beam has fairly narrow spill but I did not feel like I was getting tunnel vision.

Conclusions
The Princeton Tec Byte offers unbeatable value (nothing else for $20 offers the compelling features it does) in a decent overall package. The user interface is my only real quibble with the light and I do not expect many people will take issue with its low water resistance since it is small enough to hide under a hood or hat.

The Byte is definitely a good choice for kids, as a backup headlamp, or to stow in your daily bag for the headlamp convenience without the size or weight or price of a "serious" headlamp. I think it would fill most people's needs for a headlamp but probably not be enough to satisfy a fully-fledged flashaholic as their only headlamp.

Recommended.

Pictures to follow, maybe.
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Старый 16.04.2011, 13:58   2
turboBB
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По умолчанию Re: Princeton Tec Byte headlamp review

Decided to take the plunge anyway given I didn't need the water resistance as my primary use will be for chores in and around the house. I'm realistic as to how many hours of runtime to expect on something that runs on only 2 X AAA so that wasn't a concern as well. Took a look at the Enduro but didn't really care for the style nor size and w/LL Bean sale it was worth a shot.

Package front/back:

As cited previously, note the claim of 80H runtime on High while their website now actually states only 2H.

Not sure what LED this is: (EDIT: looks like a Luxeon Rebel K2 TFFC)


The white led uses reflector while the "red" actually sits behind a slightly diffused "lens" which in no way helps to shape the beam:


Red LED close-up:



Size comparo next to its big bro Remix and AA:


The Byte is supplied w/a slimmer headband than the Remix, also doesn't look like it'll be easily disassembled as it seems its held together w/plastic "rivets" vs. actual screws:


Initial impressions are that it's decently bright for its size which were two of the primary factors influencing my purchase. I echo carrot's, sentiment on the poor UI and that it'll always go from Red - L - H w/no memory. Unlike carrot, I found that it's difficult to adjust the beam angle as it's fairly stiff and I really needed to apply some pressure to stabilize the base against my forehead in order to prevent it from twisting w/the headband. Overall you could probably buy something that better suits your purposes for the price (which with the 20% off sale came out to $17.08 shipped w/tax) like the recent clearnace sale for PT EOS under $10 but for me it suits my purposes fine.

Will conduct some runtime tests in the future and will see if I encounter the other issues around it not shutting off when the batteries run low.

We've now had a pro/con/neutral so take it FWIW and use your judgement as to whether this HL is worth it. For me I had nothing to lose since my son thinks it's rather cool and will gladly put it to use if I don't. =o)

Cheers,
Tim




I conducted runtime tests w/recently purchaed GP ReCyko+ 850mAh AAA LSD batteries as well as Sanyo 1000 mAh (acquired a few years back but w/limited cycles). All batteries were freshly topped off/charged ahead of testing. The Alkalines were fresh Duracell w/exp. date of Mar 2015.


x = Time (min) / y = Overal relative brightness

HIGH
Looks like it runs semi-regulated for just shy of two hours (111 minutes) for the GP's and just over (124 minutes) on the Sanyo's before taking a nose-dive. I stopped the test when the output was less than 1% of starting value for the GP's and trimmed the Sanyo data to match.

As for the Alkalines, during testing, I noticed the Byte was unusually warm. I don't recall it running this hot during NiMH testing but since I didn't take temp readings, can't be 100% certain. However, as you can see it fared quite poorly as compared to the NiMH and V reading at the end of the test showed why .65V/1.2V, so basically there was one bad cell in this pair. I'll need to rerun this just to keep things fair. I actually stopped the test when the readings were hovering around 1.5K Lux. While not bright, it's usuable light for dark adapted eyes. By comparison the single 3mm Red led runs at 1.2K Lux.

LOW
Seems to run regulated for roughly 9hrs (538 min) and then declines pretty rapidly thereafter. I stopped the test just short of 11hrs (647 min) and by this point, there was still some barely usable light. The GP's registered .85V/.92V at this point so really not much left in the tank and highly doubtful they would get anywhere the claimed 96 hrs (which incidentally is still posted on the product's page). I'm thinking of contacting PT to see how testing was conducted in order to achieved the claimed run times.

I have some new Eneloops cycling right now and plan on running that along w/Alkalines in the future.

EDIT: I can confirm that my unit has the same issues in that I couldn't shut the Byte off at the end of the test. By this point the voltage for the GP's were around .9V and the Sanyo's around 1V

Cheers,
Tim
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Старый 16.08.2015, 21:19   3
altur
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По умолчанию Re: Princeton Tec Byte headlamp review

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