Review: Lumintop SD10 (2nd generation) XM-L2 NW 1xD/3xAA/1x32650/1x26650/1x18650
Lumintop SD10 (2nd generation, NW emitter)
Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
|Battery:||1xD / 3xAA / 1x32650 / 1x26650 / 1x18650|
|Switch:||Electronic Side Clicky|
|Modes:||Low - Med - High - (Hidden Strobe)|
|LED Type:||XM-L2, neutral white 3C bin|
|Lens:||"Coated tempered glass"|
- Incredibly versatile battery compatibility
- Superb runtime
- Generally excellent design and build quality
- Beautiful neutral white tint now available
- Smooth beam profile with new orange peel reflector
- Tailstands perfectly
- Mode memory
- Cool illuminated switch with much improved tactile feel
- Somewhat expensive
- No reverse polarity protection and no orientation marking
- Briefly holding switch to turn on/off feels unnatural
- Hidden strobe mode can still be activated by accident
I have long preferred AA compatible flashlights due to the availability of AA cells almost everywhere. However, the D cell is quite possibly the most ubiquitous battery format around the world, being even more commonly available than AA batteries. I have personally seen zinc-carbon D cells being used in the remotest parts of the jungle, and they are commonly sold even in the smallest and poorest villages imaginable. As a flashlight enthusiast, I of course have a nice stock of alkaline, NiMH, and Li-Ion batteries charged and ready to go at all times. However, something about the possibility of buying replacement cells absolutely anywhere in case of an emergency really appeals to me. However, the selection of D cell compatible flashlights unfortunately doesn't really appeal to me. I find D Maglites to be too big and bulky to carry around, and single D cell flashlights have been virtually nonexistent up until now. Enter the Lumintop SD10. The minute I saw it in a post here on BLF I was immediately interested, and Lumintop was kind enough to provide me with two review samples. I also bought another one from HKequipment.net. Why three in total? Keep reading to find out...
Features / Value: ★★★ ☆☆
The version that I am reviewing here is a new second generation model. The first generation SD10 was already reviewed here on BLF. I also received a review sample of the first generation model, and bought another one from HKequipment.net. But I didn't love the standard fare cool color of the beam. Lumintop was surprisingly responsive to my suggestion of a neutral white version, and I now have one in my hands. It is possibly the same as this one sold at HKequipment.net, but the picture there doesn't show the new orange peel reflector that mine has.
Incidentally, the new orange peel reflector is another great feature that solves my original complaint of the ugly white wall beam profile of the original version. Apart from these features, the SD10 has a really cool electronic side clicky switch, which emits a pleasant green light while pressed.
So, a modern XM-L2 neutral white emitter with a good reflector and a fancy button are all nice features. But as mentioned above, the most important feature of the SD10 is its amazing battery compatibility. It is quite simply compatible with almost anything. I have personally tested it with a zinc-carbon D cell, an alkaline D cell, 3 AA Eneloops using the included 3xAA carrier, 3x cheap chinese AA NiMHs with two of the three cells completely dead, 3 AA alkalines, a flat top Panasonic 18650, a button top Panasonic 18650, and a Trustfire 26650 cell. I don't own any 32650 cells, but it's also compatible with those. There's really nothing else like this out on the market today, and I really like it. Unfortunately, these great features do come at a bit of a premium; the Lumintop SD10 retails between $43.00 - $53.00 depending on the retailer and whether it's a first or second generation model. This is not exorbitant by any means, and as far as I know Lumintop does not have any stupid MAP schemes to artificially maintain high prices. But it's still rather more than I would like to spend. So I'm giving the SD10 three out of five stars for it's blend of nice features with a slightly elevated price.
Design / Build Quality: ★★★★☆
The Lumintop SD10 is an extremely attractive light. I would dare to say that it's possibly one of the nicest looking lights in my collection, even when compared to other attractive options of the same size, such as the Nitecore EA4 or the Sunwayman D40A. The SD10 has no useless visual flourishes, no gaudiness, no garish fluff. It gets points for using very attractive and nice-to-the-touch matching cross-hatching on both the body and the tailcap, which is often neglected on other flashlights. Closer to the head, there is an approximately 3cm wide section of mildly ribbed heat sinking. It isn't visible in my pictures, but the white rubber side switch boot has a nice molded power symbol, which is a nice flourish. Additionally, the feel of the switch is much improved on the second generation model. The original switch was mushy and imprecise. Now, the second generation sports a visually identical switch boot, but with a nice positive "click" sound when pressed and much less concavity. The entire package is incredibly lightweight (115g), but exudes a feel of quality. The tailcap threads are smooth and well lubricated. There appear to be O-rings in all the correct places. The light tailstands very stably, and it includes a nice lanyard and an extra O-ring. All three of my samples arrived clean and free of scratches in a nice padded, compact box:
So, why not give it five stars for design and build quality? Well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I can personally attest to the fact that the SD10 does not have reverse battery polarity protection. When I received the original first generation sample from Lumintop, (which they sent by DHL (!!!) all the way from China) I promptly inserted a flat top Trustfire 26650 cell backwards and fried the circuit. To be precise, I fried just one of the three circuits that Lumintop tells me this flashlight has inside. Unfortunately, it was the one for 1xD compatibility, which most interested me about this light. The Li-Ion and 3xAA circuits continued to work, but there were occasional problems with the light continuing to glow dimly when turned off and abnormally high power consumption when turned on. So, I decided to pay for my mistake and ordered another first generation SD10 from HKequipment.net. Shortly after it arrived, Lumintop informed me that they wanted me to test the second generation neutral white edition, which I gladly accepted. So now I have a damaged but still functional first generation SD10, a good first generation SD10, and a good second generation SD10. In lieu of reverse polarity protection, I would like to see at least a polarity label inside the battery tube. The 3xAA carrier does have a "back<->front" label, but the battery tube itself does not. Apart from this major omission, there are three other minor niggles. There is only one slot on the tailcap for threading the lanyard, which means that the light tailstands on top of the lanyard tie. It's still very stable as the lanyard tie is very thin, but two holes side-by-side would have been better. Additionally, I don't like to hold the switch to turn the light on and off. And while it's nice to see that the light has a hidden strobe mode, accessible by double-clicking the switch, I find that I sometimes activate it by accident when cycling through the modes. So in summary, this is a very well constructed light that lacks reverse polarity protection. Four out of five stars for this category.
Battery Life: ★★★★★
I would give the SD10 6 out of 5 stars if I could. Battery life is absolutely phenomenal on a single D cell. I have been putting off writing this review, because the regular Energizer alkaline D cell I put in the first generation SD10 almost 6 weeks ago simply will not die. It looks like Lumintop's battery runtime claims are actually correct:
The most incredible thing about the runtime is that the lowest mode is not strictly a moonlight mode. I would say that the manufacturer's 2 lumen claim is approximately correct for the low mode, which is more than adequate for many night tasks. So I am absolutely floored by its ability to produce a substantial amount of light for months on end using a single battery. All this time, I haven't noticed any change in output, which is very impressive performance on an alkaline cell. The light is significantly brighter (10 lumens) using the 3xAA carrier, but even so the runtime is still quite good at 150 hours. It's also interesting to see that it can produce 200 lumens for more than 7 hours using a D cell, or 500 lumens for 6 hours using 3 AA cells. Any way you look at it, the Lumintop is a runtime champ, and would be my first choice for being trapped in a mine shaft. I'm highly impressed.
Light Output: ★★★★☆
The color and beam profile are drastically improved for the second generation neutral white version of the SD10. The standard cool white version uses a standard XM-L2 emitter that produces a dreary color with touches of green on one of my samples and touches of purple on the other. On the other hand, the neutral white version produces a beautiful warm, creamy light that renders colors very naturally at night. The light color appears to be the same as its neutral white peers, the Nitecore EA4W and Sunwayman D40A in neutral white. I would highly recommend the SD10 in neutral white over the depressing and sickly light of the standard cool version. Additionally, huge improvements are perceivable in the beam profile of the second generation SD10 with its light orange peel reflector.
It should be noted that the first generation SD10 (left) is running on low with an Energizer alkaline D cell, whereas the second generation SD10 (right) is on low with 3xAA Eneloops. Also, the right beam seems to have a distorted oval shape in this picture that doesn't exist in real life. But the differences in beam quality and color are quite obvious. The first generation model has a noticeably ugly ring, with murky color and shadows in the center. On the other hand, the second generation neutral white SD10 has a smooth, buttery profile, albeit slightly less focused due to the textured reflector. As for maximum brightness on high, it's quite good, but slightly less than the competition. On a single D cell, it in fact has no competition, and I would say that the manufacturer's 200 lumen claim sounds pretty accurate. On 3xAA Eneloops, the output is noticeably brighter, and further improvement is observable with three 1.5V alkaline cells. However, it can't quite match the astonishing output of the EA4 or the D40A, which run on 4xAA cells. To my eye it appears that the SD10 with a Li-Ion 18650 or 26650 cell is almost as bright as the aforementioned competition, which corresponds with Lumintop's maximum 800 lumen claim. So for almost all intents and purposes, the maximum output of the SD10 with any sort of battery configuration is more than enough. But the EA4W and the D40A still set the standard for brightness with multiple AA cells. I'll give the SD10 NW a very respectable four out of five star rating for this criteria.
Overall, I would qualify the second generation neutral white Lumintop SD10 as a must-have light. It combines wonderful versatility with excellent build quality and good brightness and astonishing efficiency. The overall average comes to four out of five stars. Many thanks to Lumintop for producing and letting me review this excellent product.