Review: NITECORE TM26 QUADRAY (4 x XM-L U2 | 1-4x18650 / 2-8xR/CR123)

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turboBB
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Review: NITECORE TM26 QUADRAY (4 x XM-L U2 | 1-4x18650 / 2-8xR/CR123)

Nitecore raises the stakes in one-upmanship with the latest in their Tiny Monster series, the TM26:

Five well-spaced output levels with range between 3 to 3500 lumens easily accessed via a two-stage electronic switch? - Check!
OLED display that can indicate: battery voltage/gauge, estimated runtime, internal temperature? - Check!
Built-in active thermal management, charger and tripod mount? - Check!
All this in a light not much bigger than a can of soda? - Check!

Suffice to say, the TM26 is currently one of the most technologically advanced flashlight in production. However, cynicists would point out that extra features just means extra things to potentially malfunction. Will they be right in this case? Let's see...


MFG SPECS
- The world's smallest 3500 lumen LED flashlight
- Integrated multi-function OLED display
- Thermal protection circuit prevents overheating
- Compatible with both 18650 Li-ion and CR123 batteries
- Intelligent charging circuit with voltage detection charges safely and rapidly
- Exceptionally long runtimes using 4 × 18650 Li-ion or 8 × CR123 batteries
- Capable of using 1 × 18650 or 2 x CR123 batteries in emergency situations
- Eight rapidly switchable brightness levels and modes to select from
- Innovative single button two-stage switch provides a user-friendly interface (Patented)
- Toughened ultra-clear mineral glass with anti-reflective coating
- Integrated “Precision Digital Optics Technology” provides extreme reflector performance
- Stainless steel bezel ring protects core components from damage
- Constructed from aerospace-grade aluminum alloy
- HAIII military grade hard-anodized
- Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (submersible to two meters)
- AC charging cable included


PACKAGING / CONTENTS
The TM26 arrived in the following box and ample foam cushioning:
  

Additional accessories included are:
- 1 x o-ring
- spare rubber charging port cover
- wrist strap
- 100-240V ~50/60Hz charger (Output: 12V/1000mA)
- silica gel (yes, it's worth a mention, always nice to see this included w/electronic equipment)



VIDEO SUMMARY
Here is a complete video summary of the TM26 while while I work on fleshing out this review:
 


SIZE / HANDLING


L to R (both pics): NITECORE TM11 | Shadow SL3 | NITECORE TM26 | Sunwayman T60CS | Niteye EYE30 | APEX 5T6

The above shots demonstrate just how compact the TM26 vs. other multi-emitter and multi-cell (w/exception of the SL3) lights.

Here are some direct comparo's vs. the TM11:






BEAMSHOTS
Indoors (5m)

L5




L4


L3


L2


L1

For details of the above indoor shots and comparo vs. many other lights, please check Epic Indoor Shots Trilogy

OUTDOOR COMPARO VID
 
Please see this thread for commentary on this vid.

RUNTIME & OUTPUT
The relevant battery stats are provided above each runtime graph along with: 
- Voltage of the battery at the start and end of the test
- Current draw
- Actual runtime using ANSI FL1 (first in HR and then in M so for the RL3400 on Turbo, read this as 3.0hrs or 181min)
- As of May 2012: Lumens measured on my PVC LMD @ 30 seconds
- Also for Turbo, captured the temperature: ambient, the head/fins at start and the max it reached (fan was used for all bats)


Max output measured @ 30 seconds was 3560lms w/4xRediLast 3400's (note: although I calibrate my PVC LMD before each runtime/lumens testing, the ambient temp will also cause deviations in readings).

There is a general mild decline in output from the moment the TM26 is first turned until the thermal management kicked in at 3.75 minutes and the TM26 stepped down to L4. This is maintained in perfect regulation until the cells can no longer sustain output at which there starts a gradual decline. I didn't capture the tail-end of the run (the nose dive portion) since my logger cut out but total time to 10% of initial output was about three hours. 

In L4 (High) mode, the TM26 will run nearly perfectly regulated for the full duration without stepping down:




CHARGING ALGO



  • The TM26's built-in charger doesn't exhibit a true CC/CV curve given that the current starts declining at a good clip a little over an hour into the charge
    • this prolongs charging by a bit; case in point, four fully depleted RediLast 3400's took ~9.4hrs to charge
  • Termination current is ~122mA (30.5mA if charging four cells)
  • In general, charging has been quite conservative; as it stands I haven't been able to get any cells charged above 4.18V
    • pro is that it'll lead to longer overall life of the cells used and is generally very safe
    • con is that if max runtime is desired, then one would need to charge the cells externally with a different charger to 4.2V (or whatever is the max for the cells in use since there are some newer batteries that can be charged to 4.35V)
  • Upon termination, there is a current draw of 8mA (due to the charging indicator light and the OLED display)
    • this isn't exactly trivial especially if less than four cells are used so I'd recommend always unplugging the charger when charging is complete
    • otherwise stand by current drain is respectable @ ~1.5mA w/spikes to 4mA due to locater beacon
  • Is able to reset a tripped PCB's
  • There is a weird voltage spike approximately 25min into the charge; it's likely due to my wiring config but I'll report back if I run another charging test in the future
Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:19
blueb8llz
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awesome review as usual. but itll be more awesome if you had just one picture of comparison beamshots just so i know if this tm26 is worthy.

iron potato
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Awesome review from TurboBB yet again, man the thing is small with such output.

Looking forward for the beamshots !

Do you think the OLED display will suffer in time (exposed to such heat) ?

I would feel great when I can afford one to stand in line along with my EYE30, SL-3 & 5T6 Big Smile

arjay
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Thanks for the review!

Quick question though, how safe is it to charge the 4 cells in the light? Does it have a balancing feature?
whokilledJR
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Thanks once again for another up and coming great review TurboBB. :bigsmile: It’s even smaller than I thought, and seems to look cooler in your pics. I’d be really interested if nitecore made a more compact version similar to the NiteEye 30 with 3 cells and 3 emitters, perhaps driven less with a “not so” aggressive thermal stepdown. Still, this is one compact powerful monster with the latest nitecore advancements.

jmpaul320
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very nice review!

a little expensive – but im sure they will release an xml2 at some point Smile then i will be all over this one! I loved my TM11… nitecore has been making some great lights recently!

Would you mind keeping the wrong flashlight?
Best wish, May
Tmart service team

 

Soumil wrote:

PLEASE HELP ME GEARBEsT! IM LITERALLY CRYING!

 

turboBB
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blueb8llz - comparo beamshots forthcoming but for now, in case you haven't already seen, please check out Patriot36's you tube vids

ironpotato - not sure since it's still relatively new technology but I'll definitely report back in case I notice anything adverse through prolonged usage

arjay - again, provided you are reasonably familiar with LiIon usage & safety/handling and use protected cells (as extra precaution) it's safer than charging cells in series. The TM26 doesn't feature any active balance charging since all cells are connected in parallel with no separate nodes for discharge (to perform balancing). I'm in the midst of testing the charger and should have the vid up in a few days.

kreis - lol, oh gosh... you didn't go there...  Anyways, play nice now ;o)
FWIW, I just did some informal measurements on Standby:  Fluke 289 = 3.6144 | TM26 = 3.6
 
UPDATE: Charging initiated at ~1.9A so if four cells then that's 475mA each.  This will be a little high if just using one cell (of course depending on battery in use).
 
Cheers,
Tim
turboBB
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Indoor 5m shots now added

sb56637
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Thanks very much for the review! Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

Mia_Aurabuy
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nice review…

AuraBuy offer the brightest led flashlights at lowest price.

jacktheclipper
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Cool

FlashlightDude
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If Only Nitecore would produce a diffuser cap, similar to the ones that Fenix puts out, for the TM 26!

Given the wide variance of lumens, and the longevity, it is a perfect light for camping, and a small filter/diffuser cap would be wonderful.

I have not found any items at home that would do the trick, due to its unusual shape. The Thrunite filter works perfectly with the TM15, as if it were made for it.

If anyone has any ideas, please chime in! it is a wonderful light.

picrthis
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Haven’t tried one yet, but the shape is not that odd; in-fact something square like a lid from a container I would think would work. Look around for a translucent container lid.

Fenix TK12, TK15, TK21-U2, TK61, TK75 Olight M20S, M21<span style="color: #0000ff;"

FlashlightDude
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picrthis wrote:
Haven’t tried one yet, but the shape is not that odd; in-fact something square like a lid from a container I would think would work. Look around for a translucent container lid.

Thanks; I have. I would gladly pay someone who does this kind of work on lights for a good cap, diffuser, lantern.

1700 lumens is very powerful and even placing a plastic cup (we still call them ‘paper cups’) over it makes for a marvelous ambient light that can light a large room or a complete tent for campers.

Fenix makes very nice ones, and I would love to see something that would also offer protection to the TM 26, as it is not cheap. (I say that now, with one eye on the new lower price and a tinge of regret for not waiting).

I have read that people are even using the temperature gauge to measure room and outdoor temperatures and are finding it, on low light, very accurate. (I have to translate C to F in my head!).

It has a wonderful, sturdy feel to it and feels so well made, it is worth having the nice accessory of a diffuser/filter, perhaps with a rubber protection trim in place.

If anyone has any ideas, please post!

picrthis
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turboBB wrote:

 

blueb8llz – comparo beamshots forthcoming but for now, in case you haven’t already seen, please check out Patriot36’s you tube vids

ironpotato – not sure since it’s still relatively new technology but I’ll definitely report back in case I notice anything adverse through prolonged usage

arjay – again, provided you are reasonably familiar with LiIon usage & safety/handling and use protected cells (as extra precaution) it’s safer than charging cells in series. The TM26 doesn’t feature any active balance charging since all cells are connected in parallel with no separate nodes for discharge (to perform balancing). I’m in the midst of testing the charger and should have the vid up in a few days.

kreis – lol, oh gosh… you didn’t go there…  Anyways, play nice now ;o)
FWIW, I just did some informal measurements on Standby:  Fluke 289 = 3.6144 | TM26 = 3.6
 
UPDATE: Charging initiated at ~1.9A so if four cells then that’s 475mA each.  This will be a little high if just using one cell (of course depending on battery in use).
 
Cheers,
Tim

Thanks for doing the comparison measurements, it’s good to see them…..keep them coming I love reading these type of reviews considering I just bought a TM26 myself and was wondering how acurate the readings are, charge rate etc……Thanks!

Fenix TK12, TK15, TK21-U2, TK61, TK75 Olight M20S, M21<span style="color: #0000ff;"

FlashlightDude
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With the TM 26 specifically, what level do you reach that you recharge the batteries?

arn357
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What is the nylon thread included in the accessories package used for? I just figured it out while typing. It’s used to thread the lanyard through the tail cap openings for the lanyard.

ChangchungLeds
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Good review, thanks a lot, do you know if this batts fir in the light?

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/18417

Thanks

Zebralight Spark Princeton Inova Petzl Maglite Bushnell a lot of Cree XM-L Lights 18650's Intl-outdoor 3400 Panasonic 3100 Hobby Charger

xmint
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ChangchungLeds wrote:
Good review, thanks a lot, do you know if this batts fir in the light?

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/18417

Thanks

I use both the 3400s and 3100s in mine BUT they scrunge (deform) bottom contact plate, so you can’t use 123s unless you pull the contacts up again. No biggie for me as I only use 123s for emergences but would not like to do that more than a few times.

The flattop with a smidge of solder on top might help but I have not tried it. Flattop without solder won’t work.

The performance of the cells is excellent in this light.

The views in this post are mine, they are views and beliefs only, and not to be taken as facts.

ChangchungLeds
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xmint wrote:
ChangchungLeds wrote:
Good review, thanks a lot, do you know if this batts fir in the light?

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/18417

Thanks

I use both the 3400s and 3100s in mine BUT they scrunge (deform) bottom contact plate, so you can’t use 123s unless you pull the contacts up again. No biggie for me as I only use 123s for emergences but would not like to do that more than a few times.

The flattop with a smidge of solder on top might help but I have not tried it. Flattop without solder won’t work.

The performance of the cells is excellent in this light.

Thank you very much for the info…

Zebralight Spark Princeton Inova Petzl Maglite Bushnell a lot of Cree XM-L Lights 18650's Intl-outdoor 3400 Panasonic 3100 Hobby Charger

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Man! I was so curious for days now to find out if the Fasttecs would work forced into the TM and got my answer just by stumbling across this thread! Thanks guys! Great review!

"Do not Weep. I shall draw all Things which perish into myself When I am lifted from the Earth." ~ Begotten (1991)

ChangchungLeds
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Anzycpethian wrote:
Man! I was so curious for days now to find out if the Fasttecs would work forced into the TM and got my answer just by stumbling across this thread! Thanks guys! Great review!

Definitely this is the best forum related to flashlights…

Zebralight Spark Princeton Inova Petzl Maglite Bushnell a lot of Cree XM-L Lights 18650's Intl-outdoor 3400 Panasonic 3100 Hobby Charger

Hikelite
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That first photo is awesome.

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The perfect light for the nearly blind whitewall hunter. :bigsmile: I guess it turns to ashes if taken outdoors… HINT, HINT!!

Franz
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The real monster (I dont think its tiny) :bigsmile:

turboBB
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FlashPilot wrote:
The perfect light for the nearly blind whitewall hunter. :bigsmile: I guess it turns to ashes if taken outdoors... HINT, HINT!!

Point taken Wink finally found a decent spot that I can be left alone for comparos off a boat dock:

https://maps.google.com/?ll=40.866043,-74.001044&spn=0.001734,0.004128&t...

Currently editing video and should have it up by tomorrow night. I didn't have a whole lot of time so lights were limited to the big guys: TM26, 7G10, SP6 & TN31

EDIT: Vid (uploading) posted in new thread here: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/21763
 

Cheers,

Tim

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I know its a real pain trying to take descent meaningful outdoor beam shots. But now your reviews will be complete.

turboBB
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Given the vid (still uploading) wasn't specific to the TM26, I've posted a new thread here:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/21763

Also, ignore my estimates, correct ones w/new map are in that thread.

Cheers,
Tim 

carry_yang
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This video very good, thanks a lot.

turboBB
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Charging algo section added.

beamshot
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Hi everyone, i have the Nitecore TM26 and i have an important note to say.
UNprotected battery is too SHORT in this flashlight, no contact with the drivers or they move.

I don’t no if it’s just my flashlight or if it’s all flashlight??? With nitecore NL188 18650 protected all is good.

thanks