A rising tide lifts all boats. In the gear world this is more true with flashlights than anything else. The heart of a light--the emitter--is actually not that expensive of a piece. In fact, they are pretty much commodities. How you power that emitter, how you select modes, and what you house the electronics in, all of that is very much a matter of design choices, labor, and materials. That is where the expense comes from in a flashlight. But the emitter--its pretty much the same across the board.
And so when a new emitter comes out it is more expensive than the older ones, but the costs drops rapidly and so, the rising emitter tide lifts all lights. The Torch Lab BOSS 35 is one of the best lights in the world. But the emitters that power it are found in all sorts of lights. This is why even inexpensive lights have good emitters. Every once in a while it make sense to check in on the low end of the price spectrum of flashlights. Sometimes you get lucky and find an Eagletac D25AAA in and amongst the heap of aluminum tubes not worth another look.
The Xtar Venus is a budget light that runs on a 1xAA battery, either primary or rechargeable cell. Thanks to the rising emitter tide, it has some pretty good performance numbers. The class leader right now is the absolutely dreadful Klaurus Mi7, which hits 700 lumens. But most of the best performers in this format hit around 500 lumens, right where the Xtar Venus tops out. But unlike the Zebralights and Eagletacs of the world, the Venus will be relatively inexpensive.
The Xtar Venus has yet to be released so are no reviews and no purchase links. Here is the product page. Also, I have no idea what the price will be, but history tells us this kind of light from Xtar comes in at under $50. If it is more expensive, I will revise this review.
Here is the review sample:
Twitter Review Summary: Punchy emitter and good body tube make a solid budget light.
One secret to making a flashlight great is to design a good body tube--something that is comfortable in the hand, something that gives you access to the switch, and something prevents the light from rolling away. The Venus's body tube does all three of these things. Its not overly knurled nor does it look like the official illumination tool of the Klingon Empire. Well after the lumens cease to be impressive, this light's tailcap will still be great. And so, the design, overall, is a two. There are two flaws with the light, but they are better addressed below.
The total lumens output is 37,800, found on medium (200 lumens for 189 minutes). The lumens:weight is 275 (550 lumens/2 ounces). Both are, of course, better than previous flashlights because these numbers always get better. I am debating the utility of these performance ratios as all they are really telling is that emitters are getting brighter.
Fit and Finish: 2
Its weird that in a light not that expensive, you'd almost no machining errors or sloppiness. In evaluating flashlights, its a good idea to unscrew the parts and screw them back together again. On occassion, you will find some grittiness to the threads or slop between the parts. Nothing like that exists here. The emitter is likewise, well-centered and clean. The clicky is snappy and firm. The boot is substantial and protective. In short, despite what will almost certainly be a sub-$100 price tag, the Venus's fit and finish is quite good. As the third wave of the Golden Age of Gear continues, stuff like this shouldn't be a surprise.
The body tube is quite excellent, with a tailcap that promotes easy use and a sure hold. Add to that a tube has that magic ratio of length to diameter, and the Venus is quite good in the hand.
Done with friction-fit clips. Just done. I hate the ones on the oLights, I hate the ones on Fenix's EDC torches. I hate them all. The alternative--a washer style clip like on the EagleTac TX25C isn't more expensive or more complicated to make and it works 100 times better. This clip, like all friction fit clips, was a puck and chuck clip--I pulled it off immediately and chucked it in my gear storage. The reason I take off a point for it here but not on the S1R is because unlike the S1R, this light is a bit big to carry in a coin pocket or other small pocket. In fact the Venus is a bit big for its format (1xAA) and so its getting a 1 instead of a 2.
The Klaurus is brighter in this format, but few other lights, even the tweaked gems from Zebralight can keep pace with the Venus. At 550 lumens you are getting a 1xAA firebreather that runs with the oLight beasts that set the bar for the market. In fact, this light is about the same as the S1A, which hits 600 lumens. And this maker of photons comes in cheaper than the S1A. The real weakness is not with the high, but with the low. A competitive low, a single lumen or so, would have put this light in the very upper echelon of sub-$50 lights (assuming that is where the MSRP ends up). As it is, the 10 lumen low is only okay, probably too much to preserve one's night vision.
Again the Venus comes in with numbers close to the S1A--max runtime is around 48 minutes, 12 less than the oLight's max. The low's runtime isn't great, but it is more of a function of the low's output than anything else. With 10 lumens instead of a whisper low, the Venus is decent but not competitive.
Beam Type: 2
I am slowly moving away from liking the pure flood beams. It is too hard to get anything out of these beams outside. Stumbling around your house going to the bathroom in the middle of the night isn't tough, but if you are taking out the trash or checking for raccoons (or, god forbid, skunks) the flat short throw of many EDC lights isn't all that appealing. Here you get more than that and it makes the 550 lumens punch above its weight.
Beam Quality: 2
I am really at a loss now with this category. It is a rarity that a light these days comes up with a bad beam pattern or reflector. With the advent of TIRs I am fairly certain this category is going to only get harder to score. For now, this gets a two, but look for a revamp soon.
One of the last places of reform on budget lights is in the UI. Instead of updating the modern output spacing and hiding or, better yet, eliminating strobe modes, these legacy features just hang around. Its probably cheaper to upgrade the emitter than the motherboard controlling the light. As a result, on more than a few budget lights you get some of these "features" that more expensive lights have long-since abandoned. In particular, here you have a strobe mode in the main menu of the UI. This is, was, and always will be a terrible idea for an EDC light. Maybe you need this on a SAR light or on a lantern, but when the light is likely to be on your nightstand, a trip to the bathroom that results in blinding and awakening the rest of your sleeping family will not be well received. The L10C from Illumination Gear is a budget light with modern output spacing and no stupid strobe/SOS in the main menu, so there is no excuse for it to be part of the Venus's UI.
Hands Free: 2
It tailstands. It doesn't roll. It works well in every way that matters.
Overall Score: 16 out of 20
The Venus is a damn good light. Its body tube is very nice and will make the light useful long after its been lapped in the lumens race. We live in an age when a light can be cheap and good and while it has a few pointed flaws, none make it a bad light, especially compared to other lights on the market for the same price or a bit higher.
The light crushes the Mi7, which is a fundamentally broken design. It hangs with the S1A quite well, the only problem being the UI's inclusion of a strobe in the main mode selections. The lack of a true low isn't all that good either, but not as bad as the strobe. With a few tweaks, this light could be great. And if they decided to go with a washer-style clip, things could get really interesting. As it is, I still prefer the S1A in this price point, but for what will almost certainly be a $20 cheaper light the Venus is worth a look if cost is an issue.