Sunday, May 27, 2012

4sevens Preon 0 Review

When the light came out at SHOT Show I was a little down on it, see here.  The idea of yet another keychain light was as appealing as yet another singing competition reality show.  Ugh.  But over time, I had a change of heart or at least enough of a change in view that I thought a review was necessary.  I sent an email to 4sevens and a few days later Trevor sent me a Preon 0 for testing.  I have to send it back so no giveaway.

Here is the product page for the Preon 0.  It is not sold through Amazon so there is no Amazon page with user reviews.  Here is a good street price.  Here is a very Aussie video review (I half expected it to be brought to the review table by a wallaby; just kidding, we Americans have been jealous/fascinated by the Australian accent since the first Crocodile Dundee).  Here is a written review.  Here is the Preon 0 I tested:

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Design: 2

There are three things you will notice the minute you open the package: first, the new 47s logo is awesome; second, the packaging is very nice and minimalist; and third holy shit is this thing small.  I mean super small:

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That's my Preon 1 rocking the Zodiac tailcap (my current favorite single cell AAA light) and that's a small light to begin with, meaning that the Preon 0 is a speck of a thing.  Good if you are going to carry it on your keychain.  It bears a striking resemblance, minus the knurling, to the DQG AAA light, found here.  This would not be the first time that 47s is using a badge swapped item, that would be their new Ti pen (for more on the badge swap, see here).  I am less sure about this potential badge swap than I am the Ti pen, but it is something to note.

The light itself is very elegant, with a frosted or matte texture on most of the body, except for a polished section on both the head and the tail.  The light's small size makes it feel dainty, but that is not accurate.  It proved to be quite stout mostly because of the stainless steel body.  Overall, in the intended role of keychain light, this is a great design.  BTW, the magnet does not cause problems on the keychain as very few keys are actually ferrous metal (aka magnetic).

But here is where things get interesting.  I am woodworker, as you may have already read, and I like having a small light in the shop for illuminating all sorts of things, especially the interior of case goods.  In this role the Preon 0 worked exceedingly well.  The magnet in the rear of the light, let be attach it to a tool and use that as a stand for the light inside a wooden box.  And when I needed to replace the power cord on my Delta table saw, the magnet was perfect allowing me to snap this light on to the cast iron trunnions to illuminate the inside of the electrical box on the saw.  Over all, as a shop light this is a marvel of a design.  The magnet is a super awesome idea.   
 
Fit and Finish: 2

The light's fit and finish were very nice.  The threads were smooth and well cut.  The body was evenly finished, the LED was centered, and the lens was scratch free.  Even the tiny little lanyard hole was nicely made.  

Grip: 0

Like with the Steve Ku 40DD, a light this size is perfect on a keychain, but you make a trade for that size.  There is essentially zero grip here.  With other small lights, like my still favorite Muyshondt Aeon, the small size is compensated for with massive amounts of knurling.  I'd be interested to see how this stacks up against the similarly sized DQG with its copious knurling.  

Carry: 2

Part of the size trade off.  This guy vanishes in your pocket.  It vanishes on your keychain (being shorter than most keys).  Loved that.  

Output: 1

The low is a very moonlight-like .25 lumens (full moons produce .2 lumens).  That is fine for wandering around at night.  The 25 lumen high though seems like a huge compromise.  Single cell AAA lights regularly output 70 lumens with an hour runtime.  Here, for whatever reason, 47s gives you one third of the output on high that their competitors do.  Even their own Preon 1 outputs more.  I am not sure why they would hobble the light like that, but I do like the moonlight low.

Runtime: 2

The runtime of the low is really impressive and the one hour output on high is very good too, but still the lack of lumens on high doesn't make sense to me. 

Beam Type: 1


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Getting a single cell AAA light this small involves some major compromises.  Grip is one of them.  But in this case they had to shrink the head considerable, resulting in the loss of a reflector.  It is place is a green surface and a slightly convex lens.  The green surface glows after the light has been illuminated, but the loss of a reflector is a big deal.  This light has both no hotspot at all, making for a very even beam, and no throw whatsoever.  I'd take a little bit more size if it means that I got just a bit of a hotspot, even on a keychain light.  

Beam Quality: 2

The lens cleans up the beam quite a bit, producing a perfectly smooth, clean beam.  I loved it.  Tint was nice as well.  Excellent.

UI: 2

The twist on twist off UI is still fine, but I would have loved to see this light use a two-stage twisty.  Oh well.  In a year though, I am not sure I'd find this UI excellent.  The advent of rotary rings and two-stage twisties make these slightly fiddly UIs seem outdate.  47s you have been warned--time to step up the UIs.

Hands Free: 2

That beautiful tailcap is the secret to this light. 

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That is the thing that makes up for the lack of a pocket clip and makes this light an excellent shop light.  It is also a handy base for tailstanding and a fun metal tester (which came up more than a few times in the two weeks I carried it). 

Overall Score: 16 out of 20

This is a very small, very capable keychain light.  I like it okay in that application.  As a shop light it works very, very well.  It can hide in case goods and shine all over the place.  The pure, creamy, floody beam works well there and the magnet is a big plus.  I think there are about two dozen better keychain lights (ones will legit highs), but as a shoplight, this blows away those junky plastic things at Lowes and Home Depot.

1Y: 15 out of 20

The 25 lumen high is not even par anymore for these tiny lights.  The bar for 1xAAA is much higher, even with a strong emphasis on runtime over lumens.  As such, the score for Output drops from a 1 to a 0.  This is essentially slightly better output than an Arc AAA-P with none of the toughness of that light.  

10 comments:

  1. Notunotme is a New Zealander not an Aussie. Bit like saying Californians & Texans sound the same! Uall kno whatImean ...Dude?

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  2. Respectfully, the Runtime score of 2 out of 2 for this light should be revised and lowered to a 1. This is about as indisputable as anything could be in this area.

    Proof: The Fenix E05 is an exactly comparable light (keychain 1xAAA with very floody beam) that gives double the runtime of the Preon P0 (2 hrs 50 min vs 1 hr 30 min) even though it has a slightly HIGHER output than the Preon P0 (27 lumens vs 25 lumens). And to cap it off, the Fenix is $4.00 cheaper!

    Since the Preon P0 falls almost 50% short of the current industry standard of runtime for this type of flashlight (despite being more expensive than its competitor) it does not merit a 2 out of 2 in that category. Q.E.D.

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  3. It is the runtime on low that got the Preon 0 its 2 rating in runtime. Nothing comes close to the 120 hours on low, in this category. And honestly that is probably how people will use this light 90% of the time.

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  4. I gave the Preon 0 a 2 in runtime because of the runtime on low, which is really incredible at 120 hours (5 days). Nothing that I know of comes close and seeing as the low is the setting that will be used 90% of the time (as is the case with most keychain lights), I thought the 2 was warranted. I agree that the runtime on high isn't great.

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  5. OK; that's an interesting perspective. I might agree if we were talking about a 3 lumen low, but not 0.25 (and in a diffuse beam!).

    IME people use their keychain lights a lot to navigate in the driveway or a dim parking lot, or peer in the garage, and 0.25 spread-out lumens won't cut it. I agree that a super-low low is desirable, I wish the E05 had one, but it's still the less versatile mode.

    The big charm of these mega-floody 1xAAAs is that you can use their standard output (25 lumens) to do a range of tasks. Enough light to walk to your car, but diffuse enough that you can read or do work with it too. It's an output that's not perfect for any application, but 75% good for many applications.

    I really like that output, I think it's what you buy the lights for, so I would find a 1.5 hr high limiting.

    (Actually, I use lithium primaries in AAAs, so we'd probably be talking something like 2.5 hrs from Preon P0. Which is better, but again gets creamed by the E05, a light I've documented at almost 5 hrs runtime with lith primaries.)

    I appreciate the response! Cheers.

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  6. Would the magnet cause any problems if carried in the same pocket with a cell phone?

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    Replies
    1. It didn't for me, but I always keep my keys and my phone in separate pockets. My keys love to destroy my iPhone's screen.

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  7. I really like the 120 hours on low, because that makes it a good nightlight for camping, reading in bed, not disturbing others when in use, less loss of night vision, and in hardship I'd take 120 hours of function on a low level in the dark over two or even five hours at full brightness. I have the Fenix, and I really like it because I figure it would do to change a tire or other darkness-hindered small task. But I could accomplish that on the low setting of the Preon 0, too. I have never yet had to depend totally on a single light source, since I overpack. You know the old saw: one is none. Does anybody who reads about or uses this type of item really not have a second flashlight pretty close by? I have a spare pocket knife in each vehicle, jumper cables in all three, and never less than a quarter tank of gas (enough to get to a trauma center type hospital from my home). This is a nice light, and you could always cut down to the lower level if you found a task eating up too much time. At least you'd get done/have some light.

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  8. This reminds me a lot of the Fenix E-01 I carried for a good while. I like the form factor for certain tasks, but I find that having a flashlight that is that small and unobtrusive isn't always that important to me, since I'm often sacrificing output or beam quality. I know that this has two modes and nearly double the output of my E-01, but I'm not really tempted to buy it (I was actually hoping to be more excited about this light), since for the role it fills, that's not a huge improvement for me. Thanks for the comprehensive review!

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