Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lumapower Incendio V3+

I have yet to discuss a flashlight and seeing as they were my first love, I thought it appropriate to take a peek a light today. I am working on a scoring system for them as well, but I am not confident I have it set up correctly at the moment. I want to give a shout out to a very underrated light, one I am surprised more people aren't carrying--the Lumapower Incendio V3+. Here is the product page, and here is a good street price. Here is a good shot of the light:



I do not own this light, which is why this not a review, but merely commentary. I do own its predecessor, the LM 303, which is still a good light and lives in my wife's purse as the one truly useful tool in a bag full of lip balm, tissues, and spare buttons. It was a great light three years ago--single cell 123A, clicky, holster. It worked well, had a decent amount of output, a nice beam pattern, and good run times. And it was cheap. It was like $40, even then. As a back up or toss in a drawer light, it is really good.

But the Incendio is a unique light in many regards. First, unlike so many lights out there, this light has been given a chance to evolve. The first version was a neat light, but swung and missed on a few features. It had Type II Hard Anondizing (HAII is like the finish on a Mag Light, HAIII is the finish on a Surefire), swing and miss, a funky clip, swing and miss, and finally, a weird not quite tailstanding clicky, strike three. But Lumapower went back to the drawing board and tweaked. The next version had HAII+, whatever that is, a better clip, and a nicer clicky. Getting close. Then this version upgraded to HAIII, the current nice clip, and a great clicky. The UI morphed too, as did the emitter (there are now emitter choices--high power or accurate color). That sort of customer comment based evolution is rare in flashlights or any consumer product and it is HUGELY beneficial. The end product of this evolution, like the Delica/Endura/Dragonfly updates from Spyderco, is a marvel of engineering and ergonomics. It also shows that Lumapower is a good company--one that values the customer's opinions.

Second, the stats on the Incendio are super impressive--350 lumens in a thumb-sized package with a forward clicky. Now being serious, 350 lumens on a light this big is not all that useful. The size makes it impossible for the light to be a thrower (sending light out far away in a tight spot) and with a flood (lots of light but not that far away) reflector that much light is overkill. Additionally that much juice in such a small package means that you could probably light a cigarette off the end of the bezel after you kill the batteries. Finally, runtimes can't be all that great. But still, it CAN hit 350 lumens (only with rechargeables). It also has three other output levels.

ASIDE

One thing that always irks me about dozens of output levels is that it really doesn't mean anything. In order to detect a change in output, the eye has to see a BIG difference. In all likelihood the naked eye cannot tell the difference between 50 and 70 lumens, especially if you didn't switch back and forth between them, but instead had two different lights on at once. So why bother with bazillions of levels, if you can only really meaningfully distinguish between a few? I guess it allows you to customize the output, but a well selected set of outputs works fine for me.

END ASIDE

Third, this all comes in a tiny package, about the size of a thumb. And this is why, just from the specs alone, this light looks like a home run. It has the tantalizing combination of attributes we all look for an in EDC light: 1) size; 2) output; and 3) runtime. A long time ago, on the old flashlightreviews.com, Doug, the site's owner then, stated the first axiom of EDC flashlights:

"Small size, high output, and long runtime--choose two."

New emitter technology and really good design means that this axiom, unlike its Euclidean brethren, may in the future, no longer be true. And the Incendio V3+ is one of the possible proofs of its demise.

Now I know why this light is not heralded from the hilltops--it has STIFF competition. The 4sevens Mini 123 is a beloved and well-reviewed light. Fenix makes quite a few single cell 123 lights, like this one. Novatac's 120 series and their overseas versions are popular. HDS's Ra Clicky is (was) the #1 light on the informal CPF poll. And the list goes on and on. Everyone and their mother has a single cell 123a light to sell you. But this is a good one, from a reliable company, and it is cheap.

Other underrated 123a lights:

Liteflux LF3XT (I owned this light and liked it, its presentation box was AWESOME)
Zebralight SC30
Aluminum and Ti Bitz (criminally underrated, I own a Ti Bitz and it is awesome, more on it later)

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