Friday, January 6, 2017

Olight S1R and S2R Baton Reviews

These reviews are paired together because the lights are so similar.  One runs on an RCR123a (aka 16340), the other on an 18650, but other than that they are the same light--same side switch, same slightly weird UI, same tailcap charger, same delicious TIR optic, same cool white emitter.  These lights even have similar outputs, which, as you can imagine, makes the choice easy for me.  This is the end of a long line of reviews of the Baton series.  A cynic might think that this is Olight going back to the well one too many times, but the reality is these are amazing lights and you can get them in basically any format you want.  Performance and choice are a winning combination.

One mystery that I need to get out of the way is the UI.  I have now owned 6 different lights in the S series--three different S1 Batons (one when they were brand new and two later), one S1A, one SR1, and one S2R.  At least the two rechargeable have a different feel to the UI.  I am not sure if it is an actually different UI or merely different debounce times, but the result is you have to relearn the UI even if you owned a previous S series light.  Its not really on that fair to deduct a point for that because, if the light is new to you, you will never know that previous gen versions of the light were slightly different.  Furthermore the newer feel to the UI isn't bad by any means at all, it is just different.  In other words it is something that only effects completists and picky gear reviewers like me.  

Here is the product page. The S1R costs $64.95 and the S2R costs $72.95. Here is a written review. Here is a video review.  There are an absolute bevy of variants--Minis, S1, S1A, a few different S1Rs, and the S2R.  Pick your format and they have you covered, except for, oddly enough, the 1x AAA format.  Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find both lights, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Here is my review sample of the S1R:

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and here is the review sample of the S2R:

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Twitter Review Summary: One very good and one very great light.

Design: 

S1R: 2
S2R: 2

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The basic format of both lights is based on the S10 Baton.  It is a classic.  The side switch layout is quite nice and the magnetic, flat tailcap opens up a range of uses.  Some folks complain of accidental activation while in the pocket, but over six lights in this exact format and months of collective carry that has never happened to me once.  There is no real difference in design between the two.  One is bigger than the other, but there is no design difference.  The recharging set up is amazing--easy to use and powerful.  It also lowers the use costs of the lights.  This is the best charging system I have seen on a flashlight. 

Fit and Finish

S1R: 2
S2R: 2

There has not been a single flaw in any of the six S series lights.  For a production light, only Surefire stuff has the same level of consistently great fit and finish.  The anodizing is thick and consistent.  The emitters are perfectly centered.  The optics are clear and tough.  Even the switches have a nice positive feedback.  

Grip

S1R: 2

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S2R: 2

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With a nice, tapered body tube, a bit of knurling, and a great position for the switch, this has always been the magic of the S series.  Even with these most advanced versions, the great attributes carry on.  Combined with all of the performance enhancements that continued improvement and interation brings, both packages are great. Even the S1R, which is the smaller of the two, is big enough not to get lost in the hand.  I like the S2R better in hand, but not by much.  Both are awesome in hand.

Carry

S1R: 2
S2R: 1

Here is where we have the first major difference.  The S2R, by necessity, is bigger in order to accommodate the 18650 battery.  The result, however, is a light that knocks around in the pocket quite a bit.  Its still small, especially compared to other 18650 lights, but it is quite a bit bigger than the S1R.  The S1R, however, is just about the perfect size for pocket carry.

Oh, let me note that the pocket clips, as usual, are 100% garbage.  In fact, the first thing I do after removing them from their package is pop off the clips.  So long as Olight continues with these chintzy clips no S series light will ever get a perfect score.  The fact that they are easily removable means I am not going to dock the lights a point, but being so close to perfection without ever closing the gap is a bummer.

Output

S1R: 2
S2R: 1

So the little guy hits 900 lumens.  The big guy hits 1020 lumens.  One is amazing, the other is less bright than my two year old TX25C2.  The weird thing is that the S1R has cutting edge output in a small package but the S2R, in a larger package, is both behind the times for its format and only a smidge brighter than the S1R.  For me, this is the thing that makes the decision between these two easy.  Given that light is perceived logarithmically, you get two lights that are identically bright, but one is cheaper and half the size of the other.  You could stop reading now and just go buy the S1R if you really wanted to.  It is the clear winner.  

Runtime

S1R: 2
S2R: 2

On low both have runtimes that are second in the production world only to Zebralight stuff.  On high, they both use the drop down trick to juice the numbers, but both are still pretty bright after the 90 second burst of super high.  No complaints here.
 
Beam Type

S1R: 2
S2R: 2



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Given Olight's product line up I will assume that the S2R is basically a big EDC light not intended for long range visuals such as those needed in a search and rescue.  If that is the case the diffuse hotspot and nice spill are both fine and identical between the two lights. 

Beam Quality

S1R: 2
S2R: 2

Not only does the TIR optic save space, but here it makes for a smooth, diffuse beam with zero holes, artifacts, or misshapen pattern. They are identical between both lights. 

UI
 
S1R: 2
S2R: 2

Again, as I mentioned above, the UI is different from my S1s, but it is quite good.  Had I not had the first UI to start out with I would not even think for a second about how good or bad the UI is.  I prefer the cleaner and simpler UI of the original S1s, but this is still well above par.

Hands Free

S1R: 2
S2R: 2

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Antiroll is a bit worse on the S2R because of the fatter battery tube, but other than that they are the same and they are wonderful.  They tailstand, they stick to metal, and they don't roll off surfaces.  Both are great.  

Overall Score: S1R: 20 out of 20; S2R: 18 out of 20

It has been a long slog through the S series of lights.  I probably will never review lights like that again, but the best were clearly last.  The S1R is the best production light out there circa 2016, early 2017.  Nothing even comes close.  This light is three times brighter than the Surefire Titan Plus.  The S2R not the world beater that the S1R is, but it is still a very much above average torch for the 18650 format.  Great job Olight.  Just fix the goddam clips, please.  

The Competition

Really its between the Olights and the Zebralights.  You might be asking why these lights are better than their format counterparts from Zebralight.  This is the answer: even the second gen, slightly stickier UI on these lights is leagues better than the messy two tier, nine level UI baloney Zebralight runs.  If they consolidated their UI in to something simpler they'd best the Olights as the Zebralight clip is way better.  In the end, its a wonky UI versus a crappy clip and since the clip can come off with ease, I choose the Olights.

Nothing from Fenix, FourSevens or Surefire is even close to the S1R.  The Titan Plus is my next favorite light, but it is nowhere near as useful with no tailstand ability and 1/3 the lumens.  

9 comments:

  1. To post a contrary opinion, I use my Zebralight H52 every day and I like and use and appreciate the UI that Zebralight has. The benefit is the difference between what I want when my night vision is adapted versus coming from a bright room: the low level for not tripping/close stuff and the medium for lighting up a room/path. At the brightest level, it's the difference between needing a bright bike light last long enough to get me home or blasting it at the intersection so the difference is useful there too. Given how picky I am about the right amount and distribution of light, I find this implementation less finicky than an infinitely variable UI despite it seeming simpler.

    If I had to do things over again, I might get the H502 which is pure flood since most of what I do is up close and it's perfectly uniform light. Think Mcgizmo Sundrop versus Haiku.

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    1. Neat that you use your Zebralight on your bike. I was thinking of getting one for that purpose. I have a L10C ziptied to my bike helmet and was thinking of adding another light to the other side, probably a Zebralight or Olight for the side clicky.

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  2. The S1R (and I would assume the S2R as well) has a really easy-to-use lockout. They already updated the S1R to add a second turbo level, so I could see them easily adding the lockout to any of the S1 models.
    In terms of the changes in the UI, could you be more specific about what is different? I'm looking at the user manuals for both the S1 and S1R NW/TurboS, and there doesn't seem to be much difference other than being able to access two turbo modes and the lockout. I'm assuming then that you're saying the difference is more in the feel of the buttons with different debounce times. I never owned the original S1, but my S1R's UI is really easy to use. If I picked up an S1, what would be different enough that I wouldn't be able to just use it right away?

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  3. Just want to clarify, again, that the two tier UI in the Zebralight is completely optional and the basic functions are easier to learn the the O-Light.

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    1. Let's be clear--by optional you mean you don't HAVE to drop in to the mode, but you can do it by accident. It is not a mode lock out like on the BOSS 35 or similar lights that have true mode alterations. In the hands of a novice the two tier, NINE mode system on Zebralights is not that easy to get out of if you happen to fall into it. Nothing can happen like that with the Olight UI.

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  4. I have the S1 and the S2R. I went with the S2R over the S1R because I use a pocket sleeve that has a slot that fits the S2R perfectly, so carry is actually better with the larger light for me.

    I haven’t noticed an issue with debounce times, but I do have one problem with the new UI, which is that mode memory now includes moonlight. On the S1, I generally keep the light on low or medium. That way, from off I can long-press for moonlight, regular press for a general utility setting (low/medium), or double-click for a short-burst high setting (turbo).

    On the S2R, I can’t do that. If I long-press to get to moonlight, the next time I do a regular click, the light comes on on moonlight.

    Other than that minor niggle, the light is great. I’m waiting for my Muyshondt Flieger to ship, but that’s the only light I can imagine knocking the S2R out of my pocket.

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  5. Do you have a S Mini? I have a S1R Turbo S and I'm considering getting the S Mini for the neutral tint and titanium options. I'm wondering if I could put the both the higher drain 16340 and the magnetic tailcap of the S1R onto the S Mini to achieve ~750 lumens with a more neutral tint. Perhaps you can test that if it works.

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  6. This might be a silly question, but I'm not sure how to carry the S1R without losing it. The S1 Baton seems to have a keychain loop. I don't really trust myself to not lose something without having a (worthwile) clip or the ability to put it on a keychain.

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    1. The S1R does have a keychain loop. If you look at the pics above, see the first in-palm picture and you can just see it right next to the pinkie. It's pretty small; mine came with an insertion tool to help guide a cord or something through it.

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