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Review: NIWALKER Vostro BK-FA01 & BK-FA02 (XM-L2 U2 / MT-G2 P0, 4x 18650...)
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NIWALKER Vostro BK-FA01 & BK-FA02
LED: CREE XM-L2 U2 / CREE MT-G2 P0
Battery: 18650 4x / 8x CR123
Modes: 7 (6 Light leves + strobe)
Switch: Magnetic Ring
Price: BK-FA01 $159.95 / BK-FA02 $179.95
Date: August 2013
Niwalker / RdL / Thread in ForoLinternas
Today we will get out a little from the standard pattern of EDC flashlights to deepen a pair of high-performance flashlights recently launched by Niwalker.
This is the Vostro series, which is focused to reach unprecedented throw thanks to its huge reflectors and the use of latest generation LEDs.
The series consists of two models, BK-FA01, which uses a CREE XM-L2 U2 CW as emitter, and a second model called BK-FA02, which equips a CREE MT-G2 P0 NW, a LED rarely seen in flashlights so far and promising figures close to 2500LM to a single emitter flashlight.
Being both flashlights models virtually identical in external aspects I will not differentiate between the two.
The presentation of these Vostro Back Lights is excellent, coming in a cardboard box in which inside, aside the flashlight we also find a sleeve for transport, textile bag, spare O-ring, instruction manual and warranty card.
The sleeve, open both at the top and the bottom, is designed to carry the flashlight in the belt, being easy and comfortable access, but not preventing damage by dropping.
The bag is a good accessory to prevent scratches or damage to the flashlight when we carry it in a backpack along with other belongings that can scratch with anodizing.
As I mentioned above, both Niwalkers are virtually identical in their construction so this description applies to both models, BK-BK-FA01 and FA02.
By taking the torch from its box the first thing that caught my attention is its robust and powerful appearance. No need to turn on the flashlight to realize that the long distances are their field.
The exterior finish is really good, both in machining free of any mark or imperfection as in black anodizing, really porous matte and very elegant.
The flashlight has several laser engravings on his body, including the usual hot surface warning to the head, some funny symbols along the magnetic ring to differentiate the different levels, and logo and model, along with their respective serial number on two opposing flat spots of the tube.
The head is in its base topped with six huge cooling fins, which give way to the magnetic ring which will control both the ON/OFF and the desired level simply by turning it to jump between the different modes. The ring is provided with a distinctive machining will facilitate its localization to the touch, without having a visual reference.
The tube, in addition to those already mentioned opposite planes in which we find the logos and serial numbers, is equipped with a diamond knurling well marked but without being too aggressive to the touch, including three flat tracks that add even more grip to whole.
The tail is integrated in the tube, not removable, and features a design that allows us to place the flashlight in tailstand smoothly. Also Niwalker has put three anchor points for straps or accessories on the sides, which will not interfere when the tailstanding light.
The optics of the Vostro is really impressive and very well finished. A huge and immaculate smooth reflector of ~ 90mm deep and 70mm in diameter show us the emitter at the bottom, perfectly centered on both models. The lens is glass with anti-reflective coating treatment.
Inside, we also can see the details of quality not only limited to what we can see at a glance. The threads come perfectly square cut anodized, clean and greased.
The head can be removed easily by accessing the reflector and lens by just removing the bezel. Called my attention pleasantly the type of seal used on the lens, with a gasket sealed in glass on both sides to be literally circling, as if it were a collar, the edge of the lens.
The middle section contains the emitter and electronics. The LED is soldered on a copper oversized star, and covered by a plastic molding as a centering mechanism. On the opposite side we have contacts with the battery holder, being a pivoting contact for the positive in the center, and a flat contact in the pill for negative. This enables the possibility of lockout the flashlight with only slightly unscrew this thread.
The battery holder is built in a 2S2P configuration, so we can use the flashlight with 2 or 4 18650s, or with 4 or 8 CR123. The space is more than enough to accommodate protected batteries as the popular Panasonic NCRs.
For the design of the battery holder it is indifferent the orientation we puty it into the flashlight, so you do not need any protection against reverse polarity.
Finally, the spring that contacts the negative of the battery holder, located at the bottom of the tube, shows his thick section.
Both Vostro Niwalkers share the same user interface, easy and intuitive thanks to the magnetic ring through which will turn on and off or and select the mode or desired level or mode.
Niwalker endowed six different levels (L1, L2, L3, L4, L5 and L6) and a strobe mode for Vostro selectable by rotation of the magnetic ring located at the base of the head.
This ring has a very good touch and features detents at each position, so that the action is smooth and comfortable. Surprisingly, considering the size and weight of the Vostros, the one-handed operation is easy and comfortable.
The ring has 8 positions, in the following order: Strobo-Off-L1-L2-L3-L4-L5-L6. This leaves a very intuitive and not at all annoying way to select modes without having to go through the strobe involuntarily, because from the off position by turning the ring to the left we have the strobe and to the right the 6 different levels, sorted from lowest to highest output. By having clear detents in each of the positions is very easy to find the desired level simply by touch.
Now let’s take a look at the distribution of the intensities in the two Vostro:
As you can see, Niwalker has done a great job with their specifications, being very accurate and honest. Low modes are really low and the distribution of intensities is well spread over on both lights.
By the nature of the magnetic ring the flashlights uses an electronic switch for off, it would be rather a sort of standby. With the flashlight off we have a small parasitic current, around 500uA (0.5mA) in both models, we can stop it by just slightly unscrewing his head to break the circuit.
The performance version of the XM-L2 is spectacular. Not only pushes the XM-L2 up to the +1100LM output for ANSI-NEMA figure, but maintains the output in a flat regulated manner without any step-down during the life of the batteries. The runtime as suffers for this linearity at the output range is required supercharge LED along the entire running time. One detail I liked is that, upon arriving at the final minutes of battery life, the flashlight steps down to a lower level, not turning off suddenly even having used protected batteries for measurements.
The MT-G2 version is not far behind …
We can see at a glance that this version has a radically opposed regulation to we have seen in the BK-FA1, being a kind of curve that reminds us of a Direct Drive. The interesting thing about this release is the insane amount of LM that the MT-G2 is capable of spitting, and thanks to the kind of regulation to beat the XM-L2 in both the runtime and output . Again I see with satisfaction as the behavior in last minutes is the same as the version XM-L2, staying in lower mode without actually turning off.
Here you can see a direct comparison chart between the two models:
Although both Vostro are powerful flashlights, Niwalker clearly focused each of the two models for a specific use. The BK-FA1 with the XM-L2 is the one that achieves greater throw range and the BK-FA2 with oversized MT-G2 achieves greater flood, but still a decent throw through a combination of brute force and huge smooth reflector.
The tint is also radically different, with the XM-L2 being cold white, green or bluish hues free, showing good consistency between the hotspot and spill. For its part, the MT-G2 has a neutral white tint, pulling warm very very nice.
There remain some outdoor shots, which for lack of time will have to wait.
The same design for two different models, thanks to the two different power LEDs are able to cover two uses, one dedicated to getting the greatest throw range possible and the other to provide a good balance with a nice and pleasant tint.
The construction and finish left me pleasantly surprised with quality anodized, pristine optical, magnetic rings with great touch …
The size and weight are considerable, but after seeing how well they behave in the performance test, I have to tip my hat to this design since it not only has the necessary mass to absorb and dissipate the heat generated by the LEDs, but also exceed any expectation that one may have.
Not surprisingly, even with the high temperatures we are experiencing these days in Spain both flashlights have passed, with note, the continuous performance test showing two radically different but amazing results.
The BK-FA1-L2 with XM-L2 offers over 1200LM for more than an hour and a half with a flat linear regulation with a throw absolutely bestial around 150.000LX@1m, while the BK-FA2 gives us a way more gradual, in the projection and in its regulation balanced along the continuous use, thus achieving a greater runtime for this new MT-G2 believed that even with the gigantic emitting surface is provided with which hardly exceed its scope , and thanks to use a reflector of this size is around 70.000LX@1m. Furthermore the neutral tint is really good.
In short, two flashlights to keep in mind when looking for future acquisitions into the high-performance range capable to deal with the highest throw or the single-emitter super-output.
- Quality finish/built.
- User Interface.
I do not like:
- Something heavy.