Review: Maglite Solitaire LED

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brted
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Maglite Solitaire LED

Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Maglite Solitaire LED

 

Summary:

Battery: AAA
Switch: Twisty
Modes: 1
LED Type: Luxeon C
Lens: Plastic
Tailstands: Yes
Price Paid: $16.99
From:All Spectrum
Date Ordered: 12 October 2012

 

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Adjustable focus
  • Much brighter than old Solitaire
  • Candle mode
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Not as bright as many lights
  • No knurling
  • No clip
  • Plastic lens and reflector

Features / Value: ★★★☆☆

Maglite has been behind the LED cutting edge for a while, but they are finally introducing some new LED lights, including a much needed refresh of the 2-lumen incandescent Maglite Solitaire with this 34-lumen LED version (based on Mag's ANSI test, which they helped formulate). A lot of people like Maglites and this a huge improvement. Also it is an affordable American-made light which will appeal to some.

The light is very, very simple, with one mode of 34 lumens (slightly less on NiMH). The light is switched on by twisting the head, coming on with a wide focus and then being able to tighten down to a smaller hotspot as you continue twisting.

The price of the light isn't bad at $16.99 and I would guess that it will eventually drop below the retail price, especially if it can be found on sale. This light arrived very quickly from All Spectrum. I ordered this Friday night, they marked it as shipped not an hour later, and it arrived from California to Georgia by Monday morning, just using first class mail. The light is packaged in a nice plastic box and includes a lanyard and a Duracell battery as well as instructions in French, Spanish, and English. It also has a lifetime warranty, though it doesn't cover the LED (maybe left over from the incandescent days?) and you pay $3 for return shipping on warranty service.

Here is the light disassembled. O-rings at the joints. You can see the unusual electrical contacts in the tail piece along with the heavy duty keyring attachment. Most of the pictures can be clicked for an image twice as large.

Maglite disassembled

 

Design / Build Quality: ★★★☆☆

Maglites are generally built tough. This light is a little more delicate, I think. There is no knurling and nothing to stop the light from rolling unless you attach a lanyard to the heavy duty lug on the tailpiece. While most lights are two pieces, this one has three, which makes it a little longer than other lights. Like other Maglites, you can unscrew the head and the light will stay lit, offering a candle mode (though the head doesn't act like a stand as it does the others).

AAA Lights: iTP A3 EOS, Tank007 E09, Thrunite Ti, and Maglite Solitaire LED

The light is designed for alkaline use though the instructions do not say that you can't use NiMH or a lithium primary. Playing around with it using NiMH batteries, it seems to work okay, but it does flicker some. I can't imagine that is because of the NiMH batteries. Some are saying it has something to do with the tail spring.

Maglite uses plastic lenses and reflectors in their lights, which I'm not crazy about, but I don't know if it matters that much.

Here's the Luxeon C LED, mounted to the head.

Luxeon C LED in Maglite Solitaire

 

Battery Life:  ★★★★★

The Solitaire uses a Luxeon C LED, a little brother to the Rebel LED previously used in some of the bigger Maglites. This LED can be drive at a maximum current of 350 milliamps, which is pretty low. But the big advantage of the low current is long battery life.

The first time I did a runtime test, I only got 85 minutes or so, but I think the battery I used must not have been fully charged. I can't measure the voltage during the test, so I leave the light on and then stop every now and then and test the at rest battery voltage and current draw at the tail of the light. This light is hard to get a tail current because the inside of the body tube has anodized threads except for a band of bare threads where the tail piece makes electrical contact. Knowing from my previous test that it would last a while, I didn't even check on it for an hour. Using a 800 mAh Duraloop that I had charged the night before, I ran the test again and got 2 hours, 19 minutes, and 27 seconds before the light finally blinked off.

So based on my objective scale of 1 star for 0-15 minutes, 2 for 15-30, 3 for 30-60 minutes, 4 for 1-2 hours, and 5 for anything over 2 hours, this is the first light I have ever tested to get 5 stars.

Time (hh:mm)VoltageCurrent (mAh)
0:001.425360
1:001.253300
1:201.243300
1:401.228280
2:001.193290
2:101.149300
2:19  

 

Light Output: ★★☆☆☆

Light output is not great compared to my other AAA lights, which feature brighter Cree XP-E LED's driven harder than this light. But the advertised 34 ANSI lumens (which seems correct to me) is still reasonably bright and since it only has the one mode, it might be a good all-purpose brightness level, more of a Medium than anything. The original Solitaire was only 2 lumens, so this is a huge upgrade in comparison to that poor thing.

The Luxeon C has a flat lens over the LED and for some reason there seems to be some color separation in the hotspot of the light with some yellow and some cooler white areas. It's only noticeable on walls and not as pronounced as the Cree XT-E drop-in I have.

Here are some indoor comparisons to other lights. The pictures below are taken with the lights 50 cm from the wall at 1/100th second exposure. If you mouse over the pictures you can see the same shot at 1/1600th exposure. The Solitaire is always on the left.

First, with the Tank007 E09 on the right. This is a great light, but draws almost 5 times the current and eats a battery in 25 minutes:

Solitaire vs. Tank007 E09

I can't measure light output, but I think the light is brighter with alkalines, so here is the same comparison with the Solitaire using an alkaline battery. All other pictures have both lights using NiMH batteries:

Solitaire (alkaline) vs. Tank007 E09

Next up is the Solitaire against my EDC, a XP-E version of iTP A3 EOS. This shows how even though the Solitaire doesn't have as much output, the ability to focus the beam as well as the smaller die LED help give the light a tighter hotspot:

Solitaire vs. iTP A3 EOS

Lastly, here is the Solitaire vs. the Thrunite Ti:

Solitaire vs. ThruNite Ti

 

Outdoors, I set up a houseplant about 25 feet away, and the lights are aimed at the fence posts in the distance about 100 feet away. The exposure is 3.2 seconds to best match what I was seeing by eye. I may do these over again at 4 seconds because in these pictures it looks like the Solitaire is hardly putting out any light.

Here is the Solitaire on NiMH with a mouseover of the light on alkaline batteries. I'm not seeing a huge difference in output, but I'm not seeing a huge amount of output either.

Maglite Solitaire on NiMH

Next, I'll compare to different lights and the mouseover will always be the Solitaire on NiMH. First up the Tank007 E09:

Tank007 E09

Now here is the iTP A3 EOS:

iTP A3 EOS (NiMH)

Now here is the Thrunite Ti:

ThruNite Ti

I haven't tried the Solitaire on a lithium ion battery, but I usually use one in the iTP A3 EOS, so here is what happens when you do that:

iTP A3 EOS (Li-Ion)

 

Summary: ★★★☆☆

I think people who like flashlights tend to go for the maximum output, but there are those who appreciate long runtime. When it is dark, it only takes a few lumens. While I prefer my other AAA lights, which can achieve longer runtimes by using Medium, I always run them on High, so this guarantees you will get good runtime. Also, hey, it's a Maglite which is meaningful for a lot of people. Still made in the USA. And I hope that it will eventually be widely available in retail stores, like other Maglites.

So I think there is an audience for a light like this, but I have other lights in this price range that I think have some significant advantages in build quality and brightness.

Slim Pickens
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Cool. Thanks for the review.

brted,
I have 2 of the new-ish 2xAAA LEDs. The flickering seems to be related to the spring holder doodad. It holds the battery spring in place and serves as contact to ground-I think that’s asking a little much (and adds contact resistance). I stretched the spring out a little; it seemed to help. I’m going to de-anodize all threads related to the tailcap and leave them in the car with lithiums.

I look forward to more of your review.

brted
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Okay, the review is done. I

Okay, the review is done. I may re-do the outdoor shots a little later, but the ones I have are good enough. This is already my third try at those pictures. This could be a great light for power outages. A few AAA’s and this thing could go all night.

Chicken Drumstick
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Thanks for the review. I

Thanks for the review. I guess it’s a little unfair to compare it to massively higher powered lights although I understand why you have.

In retail stores I suspect the Solitaire will be pitched against Led Lenser keychain and other ‘x’ branded keychain lights. All of which are more like the 10-25 lumen range.

Also aren’t some of the popular Fenix keychain lights quite low powered? 27 lumen EO5, 30 lumen EO5 R4, 13 lumen EO1.

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brted
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That’s true. It seems like

That’s true. It seems like most of the main brands have a low-powered keychain light that might be a better comparison, but I never saw the point in those either. So I just compared it to what I have already.

Old-Lumens
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Yes, it's a key chain light

Yes, it's a key chain light and even though you (or I), don't understand what that's all about, that's what it is. I don't see a use for keychain lights myself, but lots of people have them and use them daily. I guess some people need to light up a key hole to get in the house or the car. Also, Maglites are not designed to run on NiMHs and should be tested with Alkalines, as that is what they are designed for. NiMHs will leave the light dimmer than what it was intended to be. Plastic lenses don't break as easily as glass do, when the light is dropped or smacked on something, which a key chain light would probably see a lot of, but are you sure it's a plastic lens? All my solitaire lights have glass lenses, but they are incan. Even the new incans have a glass lens.

Maglites never have been and never will be powerful lights. Their purpose is to provide "enough light", but also to provide long run times, where a powerful light would not last as long. Plus, they never will be designed for Li-ion, (until the old man dies and the kid takes over, or just sells it off) and I'm glad they won't. I can't imagine how bad it would be for emergency services people to carry Li-ion, like firemen. Alkalines are so much better for that, but I digress. Maglites are timeless and for that reason they will never be out of date for some of us, even with their lack of brightness.

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I use lithium batteries in

I use lithium batteries in maglites with no problems( not lithions) , and for the solitaire led at 30 lumens when its dark its more then enough to navigate not just a key hole light in my opinion

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parnass
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Lifetime vs. 10-year warranty for the new 2AAA Mini Maglite LED

Thanks for the review.

I wonder why the new Solitaire has a lifetime limited warranty vs. the 10-year limited warranty for the new 2AAA Mini Maglite LED flashlight I bought.

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JohnnyMac
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Really nice review on a

Really nice review on a decent little light. For fairness though, your outdoor shots should be taken with it running alkaline cells like it was designed to use.

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brted
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JohnnyMac wrote:Really nice

JohnnyMac wrote:

Really nice review on a decent little light. For fairness though, your outdoor shots should be taken with it running alkaline cells like it was designed to use.

There is a rollover of NiMH vs. Alkaline. The alkaline is very slightly brighter. I don’t use alkaline for anything and if this was truly an alkaline only light, I would take another star off. If I re-do the outdoor shots, I may also throw in a lithium primary.

I couldn’t remove the lens, so it could be glass, but I said plastic because other Mags are plastic and the reflector is definitely plastic.

Chicken Drumstick
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Not all Mags have plastic

Not all Mags have plastic lenses and reflectors. The MagCharger has glass and aluminium.

That said, I truly struggle to see a real a issue with a good quality plastic reflector? Any heat from the LED is not transmitted into a reflector and the coating on the plastic and aluminium is pretty equal.

For beam shots, I’d love to see some close up ones, such as using it as a map light (something I’d use it for) with and without the head in place vs your other AAA keychain lights.

Some in door shots such as a staircase/landing would be good too as I think this is another typical use of such a light. Outdoor use for me would likely be the last thing I’d use such a light for.

Thanks for the review and pics though, enjoyed it very much. Smile

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Old-Lumens wrote:I guess some

Old-Lumens wrote:
I guess some people need to light up a key hole to get in the house or the car.

Yep, me. I use these… house key plus LED light in one:

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/catalog/servlet/Search?storeId=10051&lan…

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Thanks for the review, Ted

Thanks for the review, Ted and nicely done. ~ $15 pricepoint at retail ain't too bad and it will probably go below $10 on sale. Not bad at all. I wonder how long before we start seeing this in the box stores? I still have yet to see a Mini Mag Pro or Pro+ in a retail outlet and it's been 7+months since they came out.

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Thanks very much! Frontpage’d

Thanks very much! Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

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Thanks, brted. I may have to

Thanks, brted. I may have to get one just for the nostalgia.

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Thanks for the review Ted! 

Thanks for the review Ted!

 

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Thanks for the review brted.

Thanks for the review brted. Maglights are not as big here as they are in the US and rarely seen. I will have to keep an eye out and check this one out.

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brted
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This light has been nearly

This light has been nearly impossible to find, even in the US. Supposedly they were re-tooling or something, but they seem to be showing up at some online stores now.

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Old-Lumens wrote:(…) I don’t

Old-Lumens wrote:

(…) I don’t see a use for keychain lights myself (…)

I have a DQG A III on my set of car keys. Why? Backup light! Just because it is nice to know to have something else when every other thing has failed on you. Same reason I carry a lighter everywhere (well, d’uh, might be because I haven’t quit smoking, yet)

Old-Lumens wrote:

Also, Maglites are not designed to run on NiMHs and should be tested with Alkalines, as that is what they are designed for. NiMHs will leave the light dimmer than what it was intended to be.

I’m feeding LSD-NiMH to all my torches which would take them. The Mini M@glite Pro+ takes them well; yet, a generic solarforce XP-G dropin (the one generally recommended for 2xAA) is noticeably brighter. Can’t complain about the Pro+, though, I have just started to EDC it at work, again, for two weeks now. lithium primaries are for emergency lights put into storage, and alkalines are out of question for me.

Old-Lumens wrote:

Maglites never have been and never will be powerful lights. Their purpose is to provide “enough light”, but also to provide long run times, where a powerful light would not last as long.

sort of like “jack of all trades, master of none”. Hmmm, let’s take a closer look…. no, I cannot see anything wrong with that! Smile

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Where can I purchase one?

Are any of these available for sale here at a local Target store, or maybe a Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid store here in the USA?

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I got my 2xAA pro at

I got my 2xAA pro at Homedepot, and my 2xAAA at Target.. Still looking for my Solitaire.. I dont want it bad enuff to order online..

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I always liked Maglites, but

I always liked Maglites, but its time for Mag to step up a bit with a good coated glass lens and better knurling. Some of my Mags i had to replace the lenses after some use due to scratching and bluring of the lens. and the smaller ones need a bit of knurling on them espceially the Solitare. Also maybe add a couple modes like a hi & Low to make them more versatile like a Ti2 or E09 Tank007.

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Good flash light

Good flash light

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Backpacker Light wrote:Are

Backpacker Light wrote:
Are any of these available for sale here at a local Target store, or maybe a Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid store here in the USA?

Both target and Wallmart carry them here and Wallmart has free shipping to your local store so you can order online and they’ll email you when it comes in.

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I just picked up two for 5

I just picked up two for 5 bucks each. Claimed instantly by my wife and daughter. I have no idea how rufusbduck could modify these things. I for one wont be.

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oliver
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nice review

Hi guys!
Fair review. I bought one of these for myself, mostly based on the price and the good battery life. It might not be as powerful as other lights on the market, but enough for my personal needs (general use or backup). Overall I am pleased with it. Thanks for the review it helped a lot!

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