Saturday, October 13, 2012

Olight S10 Baton

When you try to break in to a market segment as crowded as the single cell CR123a market you need to have something that sets you apart from a massive deluge of competitors.  The Olight S10 Baton just might have that thing--whether it is the super high output on regular batteries (320 lumens on high, which, if I am not mistaken is the record for this product class), its side switch, its tail magnet, or its incredibly small form factor.  Its not titanium and not a selector ring light, so this is a product that depends on a few high idea, low cost innovations.  Only time will tell if it is enough.

A few things make me thing this is not a home run.  First, even with the mode memory on the UI, I am not sure there is any way to make a clicky better than a selector ring.  The selector ring UI is just so easy and simple to use.  The idea that you can reliably differentiate between a click and press in tense or crucial situations seems silly to me.  Why go to all of the effort of carrying a flashlight with a UI that might not work?  You carry this thing to be prepared, so make sure it will ALWAYS work and work well.

Second, the pocket clip bugs me.  Friction grip clips stink.  They are always a bit wobbly and a bit touchy.  Plus this one is weird, putting the light down in your pocket bezel up.  It looks reversible but still, there is no reason for a bezel up clip.  You like damaging the business end of your lights?  Me neither.  A nice bolted on clip would work wonders here.

Third, there is the Zebralight issue.  Zebralight does this form factor, the side switch, so much better.  The lights have better clips, stainless bezels, and pretty close output.  Plus they come ready to be a headlamp.  That's all well and good, but here is the deciding factor for me--the Zebralights are made in the USA.  Better and made in the USA.  Done.

I am not sure if I am just picking nits, but I don't see this light killing it on the open market.  Too much competition and not enough innovation or high end concepts here.  Its nice to see Olight back in the single cell market, but this is just a meh light for me.  I'd love to review one and find out I am wrong, but Olight hasn't been all that receptive and after this post I don't think that will change.

Stick with the Mr. Elfin, the RRT-01, the Incendio or the Zebralight in this product class.  They are all outstanding torches with significant advantages over this light. 

CORRECTION:  Zebralights are not MADE in the US, but the company is owned and operated in the US.  I did some digging and found out that they are not in fact milled here, but overseas, likely in China.  There is a very specific and statutory definition of "Made in the USA", found here, and if Zebralight met that standard, they'd certainly brag about it.

That said, the Zebralight designs are better and while not made here, the profits and the company benefit people here, so absent Made in the USA, this is a good second best.  

7 comments:

  1. Are Zebralights made in the USA now? There were rumors 14 months ago on CPF that the T3 and T5 models would be (and would be released Q4 2011 which obviously didn't happen), but I have seen no evidence of that since. In fact the references to country of origin on their product spreadsheet have been removed. I would loooove it if they were made in USA, and would love to see some good news on that front.

    Other than that: first time commenter, I love your site, great article.

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  2. Zebralights are not made in the USA.

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  3. For folks who prefer to use rechargeables (RCR123) the Olight can reportedly run on the highest mode for extended periods without issue where as the Mr. Elfin, the RRT-01, and Incendio all warn against extended use on hi...and the Zebralight can't match the output of the Olight.

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    1. There is no magic here. There is only a finite amount of heat dissipation that can go on in lights this size. I'd be surprised if the time on high, when normalized across the lights, is longer for any of these lights. I know the RRT-01 has a claimed high of 500 lumens, which is higher than both the Baton and the Mr. Elfin, so I would imagine the runtime then is shorter, but if you normalized the lumens (made them the same) the runtimes would all be pretty similar. So saying something can run on "high" longer is meaningless unless you definie what "high" is.

      Anecdotally speaking the high on the Incendio and the RRT-01, which is roughly equal, made the light get VERY hot VERY fast. I'd say max of 5-15 minutes of time before I felt uncomfortable using the light both for heat reasons and damage reasons.

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  4. The reason the s10 can run on a rcr123 for extended time on max and the others I mentioned can't (Elfin, RRT-01, Incendio) is the emitter and the brightness step down. S10 is not using the "latest" xm-l thus doesn't heat up as fast on max on a 16340 (rcr123) and on max, the s10s output steps down after approx. 5/6 minutes.

    So, no magic here, but for folks like me who only run 16340s and don't want to worry about how long the light has been on max, this is a definite advantage.

    Just wanted to point this advantage (from my perspective) that the s10 has over some of the other lights you referenced.

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  5. OOPS, the s10 does run a XM-L (my mistake). So the output step down after 5/6 minutes is why I suspect the s10 can run for an extended period on a 16340.

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  6. A note on the clip and another differentiator that sets this light apart:

    I DO like the clip. More than many others for one reason: It is oriented and sized to fit quickly and perfectly to a baseball style cap. I happen to wear one often and have attached this light to the brim in a second to go completely hands-free in a matter of a second. I really don't find that the clip gets in the way much inside the pocket on a torch this small. Though I don't carry it clipped to pocket for the reason mentioned above.

    Interesting to note that this light is also available in a Ti version, and IMO is worth the extra $30. The finish is a nice satin/BB.

    One other element that is worth noting as a plus: the tritium bezel ring. Not sure if this is only available on the Ti or on the Al as well. But its is a great asset when light is dropped in the field while turned off.

    Peace - LP

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