Last Christmas, my friend Gary Lee at EliteLED.com sent me a great little iTP LED (light-emitting diode) flashlight as a gift. My wife picked it up, played with it for a couple of minutes, announced that it was in fact, hers, put it on her keychain and said that I should tell Gary “thank you.”
Deprived of that toy, I purchased a different iTP model from Gary, one for me and one for my brother. That one has proven to be the one that stays in my pocket (despite owning a ridiculous number of other flashlights).
At the time I intended to review the two lights and actually started writing, but life got in the way and I didn’t get it finished. When I realized some months later that I had actually never published it, I decided to wait until early December so that you folks could benefit from the information, Christmas-wise. Herewith, re-written….
The flashlight on the right is my wife’s A3 EOS Titanium model, which uses one AAA battery to power its LED emitter. I got a chance to try it out briefly before it was commandeered, and we both think it is a kickass little keychain light. It puts out 90 lumens at the high setting (for 55 minutes), 18 at medium (4 hours), and 1.5 lumens for 50 hours on low.
Roughly speaking, 1.5 lumens is entirely adequate for finding your way around an area that you know pretty well; 18 will handle most close-up chores that require a decent amount of light, and 90 will handle searching the yard for the cat, illuminate a room by bouncing off the ceiling in the event of a power failure, or get you through changing a tire on a dark road, and that sort of thing. I wouldn’t choose it as a primary light for shining gators, but it’s all the light you need for most purposes, on one of its three settings, and it runs on cheap AAA alkaline or rechargeable cells.
Operation is simple: remove the front portion, insert one AAA battery with the positive end up, screw the end back on. The light is turned on by twisting the head all the way down. One twist on gives you the medium power setting; on, off and on again sets it on low, and doing that twice gives you the 90 lumen stage. Turn it off for two seconds and the cycle begins anew. I have another pocket AAA light that has essentially the same specs (and is about 1 oz. heavier in stainless steel). I carried it for a year before switching to the one described below, and I can tell you that it is all the light you’ll need for 95% of the things you use a flashlight for.
Personal note: I don’t like flashlights with switches on the back end for everyday use. They’re difficult to turn on and off (and adjust) with one hand.
The iTP A3 EOS Cree XP-E Q5 LED Flashlight (the name is, literally, as long as the light) is 2.6 inches long and 0.55 inches in diameter. It weighs 22.5 grams (0.8 ounces) with its keychain attached — without AAA cell — and every gram is worth its weight in gold. It will set you back $44.95 in titanium. A similar, but somewhat larger, model using an AA cell is available in stainless steel for $32.95.
It’s worth mentioning here why I’ve stopped using “beamshots” (photos of the flashlight beam in a dark room). They look good — very scientific — but mean very little because they aren’t standardized. It’s quite easy to screw them up and mislead readers, or even fudge the results a bit, and you as a reader have no way of comparing them with anything meaningful.
I use every flashlight I review under real world conditions until I have a good feel for what it can accomplish, then I describe the power settings according to what they’re good for. Flashlight nerds may not agree with this, but I don’t agree with non-standardized images of white spots on a wall that may mislead folks. So there!
My brother Ted and I have, for the past year, been carrying the iTP A1 EOS LED Flashlight (again, a flashlight about the length of its name). It’s the one on the left in the photograph. This little black-anodized blowtorch uses a single CR123A cell.
Our iTP A1’s are black hard-anodized aluminum. They sell for $24.95. (A stainless steel version is $32.95.) The one in the photo has been riding in my pants pocket constantly for a year, along with a large pocket knife with some very hard surfaces exposed, and shows very little wear except for the edges of the pocket clip. This stuff is tough!
Gary sells Energizer CR123A lithium cells for $2.25 each in lots of 10, or $2.50 singly. $22.50 sounds like a lot to spend for 10 flashlight batteries (the flashlight is only $2.45 more), but read on. Ten cells is a 10-year supply for most people, and guess what: the shelf life is…around 10 years. Believe me, when you hear what this flashlight can do, it won’t seem like much at all.
To put it bluntly, for my purposes this is the perfect pocket flashlight, period, although it’s a touch bulky for a keychain. That statement takes into consideration size, price, power, and the practicality of the available settings. There are lights that cost twice as much with fancy settings that flash S-O-S and stuff like that. I don’t need those functions, although they do appeal to the inner geek. If you want one, Gary sells them as well.
The A1 puts out 1.8 lumens on low — slightly more than the little A3. It will do that for one hundred and fifty hours of continuous use, with no drop-off. (That’s 6 and a third days of continuous usable light, folks, on one cell!) As stated above, that’s plenty of light for short-range navigation, perfect for reading, and you’d be amazed how much light 1.8 focused lumens is, once your eyes have adapted to low-light conditions.
If you need more light, the next setting (adjusted the same way as the titanium) will give you 35 lumens for 8 hours. Now 35 lumens is about the output of a three-cell “old fashioned” incandescent torch, and generally speaking it’s about all the light you need for darned near anything.
Just in case, however, the A1 has a third setting: 190 lumens for about an hour and a half! This is area-lighting capability, my friends. This is the first pocket-sized flashlight I’ve ever owned that is capable of doing anything one can reasonably expect of a flashlight. Except for public service, boating and law enforcement use, it is difficult to imagine anything (including survival situations) that this device won’t handle.
There are tactical lights using two CR123A’s that will beat it. There are multi-cell “police” style flashlights that will kick it all the way to the curb. There are even lights the same size, that will do more — for a lot more money. But unless you need a flashing strobe, or S-O-S signal, they’re not worth the extra bucks. As to bigger and more powerful lights: try keeping one of those one-half to three pound hunks of aluminum in the pocket of your jeans or dress pants, 24/7.
I am totally serious about this. The iTP A1 is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the best choices for an all-around flashlight that you can buy and, since it’s the least expensive of the lot, you can buy one, plus a bunch of batteries, for what you’d pay for its more expensive cousins by themselves. And if you lose it, you’re out 25 bucks. Big deal!
Both the A1 and A3 come with a keychain, pocket clip, extra o-rings and a user manual. They are boxed up nicely for gift-wrapping. Your family and friends will be surprised, then amazed. My friend Gary will be happy. I’ll be happy that I was able to help all y’all. What’s not to like?