Wednesday, January 20, 2016

OLIGHT S1 Baton /1x16340(CR123A) battery REVIEW

I am happy to review for you one of the most pocket-able 16340 flashlights.This is the Olight S1.
It is a flashlight from Olight's Baton series lights and shares the same well known design of this series.
The S1 is almost identical with the S10,which is a preferred EDC flashlight by many people.
Very short body,easy user interface,good beam useful for every day use,tailcap magnet.
These were the main advantages of the S10. The new S1 features all of the good points,but now in even shorter body.
I was "testing" it for quite long time and it became my first choice for an EDC pocket flashlight.
It even displaced my MecArmy 10180 miniature light,just because the side switch allows me much faster and comfortable operation. 

The S1 is much shorter than many AAA flashlights,which makes it a perfect choice for everyday carrying.

Shortening the length is possible thanks to the redesigned battery tube and changes in the reflector.
The aluminum reflector is now replaced with a smaller TIR(total internal reflecting) acrylic reflector,which is the main part allowing less length of the head.
The other main update is the position of the battery,which have to be inserted in reverse position,with the negative pole going to the head. The plus pole contacts the tailcap. This is probably a result of redesigned driver board.

The side switch is also redesigned. It is now much less protruding compared to the S10L2 in its first design.The new switch cover is made of rubber(maybe silicone).
The diameter of the switch cover is a little larger than the S10's plastic button(my version is S10 L2,it was updated with a different switch later).
The new rubber button is a little uncomfortable at first touch.It is almost not protruding and feeling soft.These two characteristics of the switch have the purpose to prevent or at least to reduce the possibility of accidental activation. I was carrying the flashlight for quite a long time and in my opinion the design of the switch is successful. Yes,a 100% protection is hard to be promised,but after testing it by carrying in a pocket,I did not feel worried that the flashlight will start accidentally in my pocket.
The switch is hard to find in the darkness and requires a lot of touching to find it. But here comes the pocket clip,which will guide you with the position of the switch and will help finding it more quickly.
Pressing the switch with my thin fingers is relatively easy.I can't confirm it will be the same with bigger fingers than mine.

This is a picture from the user manual,explaining the UI.
It is very convenient and easy to operate. 
Great news is that the direct access to High and Moonlight mode is still available.

As any other flashlight with an electronic side switch,the S1 draws some current in Off state,which is actually Standby. I am happy to see that Olight is keeping this current at very low value.It is just 1,1uA (according to my measurements).

This is a run-time graph showing the performance of the S1 on its highest mode,powered by Olight RCR123A battery.
Pretty good performance for such a small flashlight. As expected for a small flashlight,there is a timed step down to prevent overheating. It comes about 1,5 minutes after activation and does decrease the brightness gradually.

My lumen measurements with freshly charged RCR123A battery:
High mode 600Lm,320Lm after step down
Mid mode 100Lm
Low mode 12Lm
UltraLow mode-I can't measure it with my equipment.

In my test,the discharge was terminated by the low voltage protection of the battery.
I am not impressed to see that the S1 has no low voltage protection,or it is not programmed correctly.
I prefer flashlights that feature low voltage protection,no matter the battery I use.
I am not a CR123A user and have no much knowledge about using this type batteries,but I suspect that many 16340 flashlights do not feature low voltage protection,because of their compatibility with the 3V CR123A batteries.Talking for CR123A batteries,I can only test Olight S1 with a 16340(RCR123A) battery. 

Below is a comparison of the reflectors of Olight S10 L2(left) and Olight S1 (right)

I have used TIR optics in flashlights many years ago and what I know is that most of them produce a beam with well defined hotspot(wide or tight) and the beam angle is usually limited in a defined circle.
It is hard to get the well flooded spill as with the conventional aluminum reflector.
The beam of the S1 can be defined as a big hotspot with not much spill around it-smaller angle of the beam with less bright spill compared to the S10L2.
I personally prefer the old beam from the conventional reflector,but looking at the difference in the length,I am thinking much less for the beam. The S1 is very comfortable for carrying and this dominates any other point of the flashlight.

Below is a beam angle comparison Olight S1- Olight S10L2

1 meter, 1/20sec

Beam color is clean Cool White. No visible tint.
As you can see from the picture below,there is a huge difference from the S10L2's greenish beam.
1 meter, 1/20sec

1 meter, 1/250sec

The S1 performs well on close to medium distance.

5 meters, 1/6sec
Olight S1- Olight S10L2- Olight S30

5 meters,1/50sec
Olight S1- Olight S10L2- Olight S30

The pocket clip has the same form,as only the length is slightly reduced.
Generally,I don't like the position of the lanyard loop.It is limiting the width of the clip and its main function,to fit on various objects as a thick belt or a backpack shoulder strap.

Below is the S1 disassembled. Only the tailcap is removable. You can see also the correct direction for inserting the battery.
The strong tailcap magnet can be removed,if you don't want to risk damaging electronic devices.

Battery tube length is very limited. It is recommend to use the shortest protected 16340.
Olight recommends using only protected batteries in the S1.
After testing the 16340's from Olight,with no doubt I highly recommend these batteries.They are specially designed for flashlights. Build quality is very high,as unlike all other protected Li-Ion batteries,the protection board is on the top end,allowing as compact dimension as possible. I like to see that the very controversial external connection between the plus and minus poles is not needed here,thanks to the smart work by Olight.

There is easily visible form difference between Keeppower's protected 16340 and Olight's 16340 batteries.
Keeppower 16340(protected) / Olight 16340(protected) / Generic 16340(unprotected)

Using the flashlight is easy,thanks to the side switch.
Absolutely sufficient hand grip.
Other flashlights that operate by twisting the head are hard to use in many scenarios.

Here is the plastic packaging,standard for Olight.

The S1 is a great choice for people that prefer CR123A and 16340 batteries over the AAA/10440.
As advertised,the S1 is very compact and easy for pocket carrying.
I used it for quite long time after receiving it for review. I was a little reserved about the short,hard to find/press switch,but after some time using it,I don't meet any trouble using it.
Good user interface.I don't feel need of  different modes-the programmed ones are well selected.
I carry the flashlight in a pocket. Depending on the clothes,I would choose the S1 or a single AAA flashlight.
But in many cases,I found twisting the head of an AAA flashlight by only one hand,rather hard(especially if the flashlight has a thick O-ring for proper sealing). I have to have my both hands free,to be able to turn On and cycle the modes. So the S1's side switch in many cases is much more convenient.
Thanks to the high voltage of the Li-Ion battery,Olight S1 is able to provide very high lumen output.
It is always impressive to see that small flashlight to produce so bright beam,which could be very helpful sometimes.
My only concern is about the switch cover,which seems very thin and soft and I would not recommend to press it with a nail.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful information.

Thanks to Olight for providing the test sample and patiently waiting for the review!

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