Friday, November 6, 2015

Nitecore EC-11 Review

This is not going to be a standard review.  In fact it is not a review at all.  Consider this a public service announcement.  If I could do an EDC version of the NBC Stuff You Show Know it would be on the EC-11.  

After five years and more than 250 reviews it was bound to happen--the EC-11 is a defective design, a fundamentally broken piece of equipment.  This is not simply a piece of gear that is "Not Recommended," it is the flashlight equivalent of the Corvair.  The story of the EC-11 is one of complete and abject failure on the part of Nitecore. It is also a good example of the problem with buying gear from an unreputable source, an unreputable company, and the unaccountability of Amazon Marketplace transactions.

The EC-11 looked appealing on paper. It allegedly hit 900 lumens and it was, at least until the release of the S1, a small light.  Intrigued by these features I ordered one from Eastshine, a dealer on Amazon Marketplace.  By way of background, Nitecore is a subbrand of gear maker Sysmax. 

The EC-11 arrived in about a week and I got an IMR battery.  These batteries are mostly used in vape machines.  They have a higher output than other chemistries, but they are more difficult to charge as few chargers are compatible.  The EC-11 arrives with the usual assortment of shitty accessories--a friction fit clip, a waste of space nylon holster, and a lanyard.  One piece of kit that is nice is the inclusion of a sleeve to allow the light to use CR123a batteries as well as the slightly fatter IMRs.  

Initially the EC-11 did well. It is bright and the two button UI is okay.  There are two LEDs--a white one for normal use and a red one for low light use.  The IMR battery didn't last as long as I expected and I charged it.  I put it in the light and it worked for about ten seconds, then emitter dimmed and the light died.  I switched batteries and it still didn't work.  I tried CR123as and it didn't work.  

Then I contacted Eastshine.  To say that they were dickheads is an insult to the dickhead community.  These people were just uncooperative, stubborn jerks.  I told them what happened and they said that it was my charger.  I told them I didn't think it was because NO batteries were working.  Then they told me to make a movie of the flashlight not working and they would assess the problem.  I told them I just wanted a replacement and they refused.  I then sent and email to Nitecore and about a week later Eastshine said they would send a replacement.  I packaged up the EC-11 and sent it back to them at my cost. 

Just to make sure everything was working properly I upgraded to the newest charger (the Intellicharger, another Sysmax product).  This charger was specifically designed to handle IMR batteries. After the charger upgrade I bought a new IMR battery from a different brand.  This was a total clean swap, none of the parts were the same.

Once all this spending was done, I got the new EC-11.  With the new battery in place, I fired it up and it worked fine for about a week.  Eventually the IMR needed a charge and I put it in the new Intellicharger.  It read as about 3%.  I charged it and monitored it as I charged it.  At 99% I took it out, put the battery in the EC-11 and it fired up and then after about five seconds it dimmed rapidly and then died.  Swapping batteries did not make a difference and recharging the battery made no difference.  This is exactly the same thing happened on the first light.

So about $150 in, I can safely say, giving all of the upgrades and changes, that it wasn't the battery or the charger or just a lemon, its the EC-11 itself.  Aside from the broken design, even when it was working, it wasn't all that special.  The S1 is nearly as bright, half the size, easier to use, cheaper, and has a better beam pattern.  The Sinner Tri-EDC is just flat out better in every way.

But every company makes a mistake or two.  So I contacted Nitecore via email.   I sent them email after email--a total of five and each time they ducked the issue.  When they claimed it was the battery--the classic bait and switch of warranty claims--I told them it wasn't the battery because I had multiples and none worked.  Since then the email chain died.  That was October 12.  This was the worst warranty service I have ever had with any product I have reviewed and I have now reviewed quite a few.  AG Russell has the LL Bean policy--return it for any reason at any time for a full refund--no questions asked.  Instead between Eastshine and Nitecore I was asked to do all kinds of bizarre things.  Here is how this should have worked--"Mr. Sculimbrene we are sorry you having difficulty with your Nitecore product.  Please return it to us using this postage code and we will replace it or refund your money, your choice." 

In the end, the EC-11 is the nail in the coffin for me and Nitecore as well as me and Amazon.  The whole experience was dreadful and all I have to show for it is a new charger and a hunk of aluminum that does nothing.  In short, screw you Nitecore.  I had the EX-10 and it was a decent light, but the clip stunk and I realize now that you shamelessly stole someone's intellectual property to make that like.  Screw you Nitecore, you and your shitty design choices.  You and your copycatting and hiding it behind a brand name shell game (like they did with the Niteye rip off of the Spy 007).  You and your bullshit licensing of the PD from Don McLeish.  I have never done this before but I think I have ample basis to say this: NEVER BUY A NITECORE PRODUCT.  Here are two pieces (Part 1 and Part 2) I did on Sysmax, Nitecore's parent company.  For all the baloney jingoism on the forums about how Chinese companies suck, Nitecore gives an ounce of truth to those claims.  In dealing with them they have been nothing but a hassle.  I have finally given up and now this review gets posted.  Nitecore makes it hard for folks like Kizer and Reate to gain acceptance in the American market.  Those companies have been nothing but awesome and yet with Nitecore pulling all sorts of shading things on top of selling some real garbage and not standing behind it, they all get painted with a bad brush. 

In the end, I hope I save you some money.  I am sure there are good Nitecore products out there, but the EC-11 isn't one of them.  And even if you do find one good product is it really worth the money, knowing the parent company's shady business practice and their horrendous warranty service? 

What a sham.  The only good that came out of this is that I saved you from wasting money on this abortion of a product.

Overall Score: Product FAILURE 

12 comments:

  1. What brand of battery are you using? Got a link to it?

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  2. Sorry to hear about your experience; you really gave it a good and fair (multiple) tries. Surely Amazon A-Z can step in given the seller's bad behavior? On the other hand, Sysmax had me at the double intellectual thievery shadiness but now I will start actively dissuading anyone I see or know. Thanks for the post.

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  3. Wow. While you were writing this, did you by any chance hear the Emperor encouraging you to "let the hate flow through you" and "give in to your anger?"

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    1. Definitely. I spent $150 of website money on a $50 light that never worked. I can't even give it away.

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  4. Dont hate on the Corvair. It got a bad wrap from an overzealous nanny.

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  5. Nitecore messed up by messing w/ Tony. Best reviewer out there imo.

    Have you tried contacting Amazon's customer service? THey've always taken good care of me when I've had a problem with Marketplace seller, giving me either a full refund or a replacement.

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    1. Yeah, I'm curious about the answer to this one too. There are negatives to be said about amazon - but I have had nothing but good experiences with their cs whether my problem was with them or a marketplace seller.

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    2. Amazon is terrible to other companies but generally decent to its customers. I'd always rather take Amazon CS compared to eBay or Walmart. If there were only an e-commerce equivalent of Publix that seems to want to do a better job by everyone, not just their own bottom line.

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    3. FWIW.. Jetbeam and Niteye are a different company from Nitecore/Sysmax. Which batteries were you using? The problems seem pretty bizarre, and I've not had problems like that myself.

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    4. I used three different batteries.

      As for the Sysmax thing--I don't think it is that clear cut.

      http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?341985-Sysmax-posting-notice-on-web-site-about-Niteye

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  6. wow Iam sorry uou had such a bad experience with your EC11,I conversely had the exact opposite I had a Olight s1 and I lost it so I did some research on comparable sized edc and me being a lumen holic wanted more than the S1 and found the nitecore ec11 and I was attracted to the price at chinese wholesaler Fasstech and with my 5%BLF discount bought for about 35.00$ and I love bit it is much fatter or thicker diameter than the S1 ,and I have had no problems at all with it also I want to mention Nitecores MT10A that runs on a 14500 @900 lumens is a great option for a edc as well ,btw I bought a rare earth magnet and trimmed it to fit tail cap of the EC11 so it has th same ability as the olight s1 .I also ended up missing my olight so much I ordered a replacement which now between my MT10A are my favorite edc's

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