Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sunwayman M11R "Mr. Elfin" Review

I wrote a post about selector ring lights, here, and asked Sunwayman for a review sample.  Elaine, over at Sunwayman, sent me an email and we made arrangements for the review.  She was even nice enough to send me a silver version of the tiny light.

If you read this site I don't need to tell you that the market for single cell EDC lights is a crowded one.  Your light needs to do something exceptional to stand out.  Furthermore, the market for single cell lights under $100 is really competitive.  My current favorite light in this price range is the Lumapower Incendio and it is a feature-packed, experience-tested super light.  Using special batteries, the Incendio, which is the size of your index finger, can hit 500 lumens.  It has a very fine clicky, a great pocket clip (which can be removed without tools), and it comes in at around $65.

But the UI, which is a clicky-based UI, has always left me a little cold.  Fundamentally, clickies are not easy to use.  They are easy to turn on, no doubt, but they are not easy to use.  It takes a great deal of timing to get the light to work just right, and in the hands of a novice, they are positively daunting.  The twisty UI meanwhile is so fidgety, requiring multiple quick twists to access different modes.  I had always wanted a three stage twisty, something like the Muyshondt Aeon, but with a low low.  The M11R is not a twisty in the normal sense, but it functions just like one, replacing the mechanical switching mechanisms with a magnetic control ring.  The end result is a masterstroke UI.  The question is this: does the rest of the light live up to this quantum leap in easy-to-use UIs?

Here is the product page for the Sunwayman M11R.  Here is a good street price (from Amazon, benefits to the blog coffers and the Haiku contest):

Here is a written review from CPF, noting that this is the first non-forum review for the light.  Here is a video reference.   There are no customer reviews on Amazon yet.  Here is the review sample I received from Sunwayman:


Design: 2

The design of M11R hits a lot of high points.  It is a really compact light (lengthwise), squeaking past the Incendio by about a quarter of an inch.  The clip is great and positioned well.  I like the selector ring as the only form of actuation.  I also like the texturing.  Something is amiss with the length:diameter though as the light feels more like "Mr. Devito" than "Mr. Elfin."  Slim this light is not.  The length:diameter is not a big issue, but something to note.    

Fit and Finish: 2

If the chubbiness of the light is odd in the hand, it means that in practice this is a super stout production light.  The walls of the EagleTac D25a are scary thin, but here you have some serious aluminum between your hand and the battery.  I was worried that the selector ring would be really slippery or move freely on its own, but it doesn't.  The light's threads are well cut and easy to use.  The emitter is perfectly centered (or so well centered I cannot detect an offset).  The hard anondizing is a matte finish which some people love and others hate.  I am ambivalent about it on its own, but I'd comparatively I'd prefer a smoother, satin finish.  The glass lens is coated and has remained scratch-free throughout the testing period (I will note that I have been doing a lot of spring yard work with this guy, especially dusk grass watering and it has been dropped, soaked, and stepped on with no effect whatsoever).  The only ding I could give it would be the matte finish's tendency to pick up dirt.  It comes clean with a little water, but the light color and the very matte finish make it a dirt magnet.   

Grip: 2

While the length:diameter is a bit weird making the light feel fat in the hand, the clip, the cuts, the texturing, and the anondizing are really amazing at keeping this little booger in your hand.  If you drop it, it is your fault alone.  Amazing. 

Carry: 1

Okay so there are two problems here.  First are the portly dimensions.  But really it is not that bad.  It can't reside in your jeans pocket unless you are this guy, but that is not a killer, especially with the FANTASTIC pocket clip, seen here:


That is, if I am not mistaken, the first true deep carry clip on a flashlight.  The new 4sevens clips are over the top style clips, but they are both friction grip clips (ugh...) and they do not reside at the end of the light.  So even if you do have to carry it on the edge of your pocket it is a great clip.

But then there is problem #2--the lanyard attachment.  It sticks out like a shark fin and is surprisingly pokey in the pocket.  I distinctly do not like it.  It reminds me of the lanyard point for the Ti Bitz (another tiny light).

I went back and forth on this one and here is how I got the score of 1.  Assume a starting point of 2.  Take a point off for Devito-like proportions.  Add a point for bitchin' pocket clip.  Subtract a point for pokey lanyard hole.  Score of 1. 

Output: 2

180 on standard cells is plenty.  230 on regular RCR123As is awesome.  Nothing to complain about here.   Three levels are well spaced and useable.  I like the single digit lumen low (noting that the less than a lumen lows strike me as kind of gimmicky) and the high is fine. 

Runtime: 2

I used this it water my lawn at night (a recommendation when it is very dry and hot as the water evaporates less in the dark) and to work inside of case goods in my workshop.  Both required a long, long time of output and the Elfin obliged.  The stats are good, but the real time experience is even better.  Great power sipping light.  

Beam Type: 2

Standard floody single cell beam.  I like it even if it is the same kind of beam in every single one of these lights.  It works for EDC purposes.  

Beam Quality: 1

How very purple-y of Sunwayman.  The EagleTac really spoiled me with its silky white neutral.  Going from that to this is noticeable, even without a direct comparison.  I like the beam profile though--round with a good hotspot and nice spill and free of holes or artifacting.  

UI: 2

Oh my.

This is it.

The perfect UI.

Here is the source of the Elfin magic:


Now there is another selector ring light out there, the JetBeam RRT001 (See link in first paragraph for more) that forgoes a button and opts for a selector ring.  It also allows for infinite variable brightness, something some people really like.  Not me.  Infinite variable brightness is nice, but it is like moveable shelves on a bookcase--completely unnecessary if you build the bookcase correctly.  If you select the output correctly, like Sunwayman did, there is no need for the showier infinite output.  I like this better than the Haiku's UI, better than the Aeon.  This is it folks--the perfect flashlight UI.  Easy to use, easy to access, easy to explain and completely intuitive.  Even the hidden modes are great--I have never accessed one of them on accident and never FAILED to access one when I needed to.  Think about that.  Can you say that for ANY other UI?  I'd give this light a 3 if I could.  All the flashlight makers out there--the bar is raised.  You have to catch up now.  

Hands Free: 2

Perfect tailstander and perfect anti-roll.  All of the design features make this light a rock steady friend in the workshop.  If it had a magnetized end, like the Preon0, it would be the perfect workshop light.  Loved using this light with no hands.

Overall Score: 18 out of 20

Really this is a UI with a flashlight built around it.  It is an amazing feat of design and engineering.  It is also a perfect example of less being more--really who needs the activation clicky when you can have a UI like this?  It is as fast as a clicky to get to high and as easy to use as a twisty.  It the hands of a novice it is still useful.  In the hands of an aficionado, it is a source of fidgety (more on the Fidget Factor later) delight.  If you are looking for a single cell EDC light for under $100, definitely, definitely consider this gem.  I still like the Incendio, but if I had to choose, I'd probably opt for this light.  Neither is a bad choice and both make excellent night time tools, but the UI gives the Elfin a slight edge.

Now I just need to get a RRT001 for a selector ring shootout.  JetBeam, send me one.


  1. I don't think your amazon ref link is working

    1. What I should have said was the FIRST amazon ref link (in the early part of the review) is not working. The one at the end is.

      I was sold on a v10r Ti+ and now you are posting this. ... Do you think there will be (or "is" - I haven't checked) a Ti version of this light?

  2. Tony,
    Jay is correct; the Amazon link is missing. Thanks for ANOTHER great review

  3. Thanks for the review.

    The M11R's selector ring UI is awesome in principle... but as I said in comments to a previous post, I am not entirely pleased with its execution. I think the dial turns too easily. You can get "lost" between outputs and one time I had the light turn on inadvertently in my pocket.

    With a stronger detent for each mode and a crisp click for each change I would agree with a 2 out of 2. As it is, I would only rate the UI a 1. Great idea, imperfect execution.

  4. With there being an AA adapter for this light, does it make a good AA light? Seems like it'd be kind of... portly.

  5. I Love this his light. The UI is a nice touch. The beam as you say is a bit blueish. I have the M11R Ti with the CREE XM-L U3 LED not the U2 and this pumps out 300 lumens.

    Overall a nice torch for every day use.

  6. Hey Tony do you know which color of this light you were sent, the "Natural" or tan version? I like the look of your light very much and am interested in getting one of my own. Thank you for the great website and reviews!

  7. Great review. I'm going to pick one up, then I noticed there is a "premium" edition. The only difference appears to be the emitter is the CREE XML T6 4C that would have warmer tint. Have you seen this model, or do you have any thoughts on the cool vs. neutral tints? Love your site! link: http://www.hidcanada.com/collections/daily-deals/products/sunwayman-m11r-premium-edition-tan