Review: Wuben I331

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gchart
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Review: Wuben I331

Packaging: normally, I don’t pay any attention to packaging. But Wuben went over the top here with a beautiful, magnetically closing box that is reminiscent of a sci-fi hardback book. Every part of the kit had it’s own spot. Speaking of kit, the package includes the flashlight, a stated 600 mah 14500 battery, braided USB charging cord, paracord lanyard, and spare o-rings. Everything you’d need to get up and running.

LED Tint: the LED tint isn’t specified by Wuben, but it is on the cool side. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s around a 1A Cree tint with a tendency towards blue. In the white-wall beamshot picture, the lights (from left to right) are a Convoy S2 Smooth with XP-L HI of unknown tint, the Wuben I331, and a Convoy S6 Smooth with Nichia 219C 5000K (neutral tint). I’d prefer a neutral tint, but it’s not too bad when I’m not comparing it side-by-side with other lights. Shifting of tints between the corona and hotspot can sometimes be a problem with Cree LEDs, but this is not a problem on the I331 – an even tint all the way around.

Beam Pattern: the I331 has a moderately sized hotspot and largish corona, as you’d expect from a small tube light. Great for short to mid-range distances. I could see this useful for taking a dog for a walk, walking around the yard, etc. There is a bit of ringy-ness to the beam, probably due to the stainless bezel.

Modes: the I331 has five evenly-spaced modes. Hidden strobe and SOS modes are access through double clicking the side button. In tactical fashion, the modes progress from High to Low, and there is no memory. Not really my cup of tea, but there are some the like (need?) this kind of UI. The rear switch is a forward clicky and is used solely for turning the light off and on. Physical lockout is possible. The side switch is used for changing modes. I appreciate that strobe and SOS are hidden. I like having them as an option, but rarely use them.

Charging: you have to remember to turn the light on to charge. Deceptively, the indicator alternates red and blue if you have the switch off and the charger plugged in and solid red if you’ve remembered to turn the switch on. Might have been more clear if there were no indicator lights if you’ve got the switch turned off. I had to read the instructions to check to see which indicator pattern (solid red vs alternating red and blue) meant that charging was actually taking place. When charging was complete, I measured the battery voltage at 4.22. That’s a bit high, but within the li-ion acceptable range of 4.20 V +/- 0.05.

Low Voltage Protection: the indicator light (behind the side button) glows blue to indicate a strong battery, solid red to show that the battery will need charged soon, and blinking red to say that the battery is almost dead. While the brightness decreases as the battery is about dead, the light does not shut off. When I pulled the battery it measured 2.74 volts (which is lower than you want to go with li-ions, 2.8 V). So when the indicator light starts blinking, it’s about time to stop using the flashlight.

Styling: when I saw the I331 online, I was intrigued with it’s styling. I’m not a big fan of crenelations, but they do fit the “tactical” nature of this flashlight. The stainless bezel looks very nice. There is no knurling, but it grips well. The machined lines are very unique and striking. Overall, a nice step outside of the box. The included clip is not a deep-carry clip. But it is heavy duty and blends in with the rest of the light; not some flimsy piece of junk that some lights come with. In regards to the size, I’ve got to be honest… it seems too large for a 14500-powered light. The Wuben I331 is about ⅛” longer and ⅛” slimmer than a Convoy S2 (a 18650 light). This seems less than ideal: approximately the same size as a 18650 light, but accepts a battery that has about ⅕ of the capacity. Also, the reflector seems a bit small given the size of the head. The overall proportions of tube-to-head size are good.





Build Quality: the Wuben I331 seems very well built. Good attention to detail. The anodizing is even and sort of a satin finish. I own lights of from various companies including Nitecore, Convoy, ThorFire, Brinyte… but the body of this Wuben seems just as nice as than any of them. Yes, I said it – the overall feel of the light seems every bit as good as my Nitecore P12GT. The only flaw I’ve seen is a small inclusion in the reflector. Nothing that would have any effect on the beam, but noticeable if you look at the reflector just right. The threads are square and anodized; not lubed but very smooth.

Mod Potential: The head and tube appear to be a single piece, so no access to anything that way. But the bezel was easily removed without any tools, just my fingers. Doing so gives you access to the reflector and to the LED, which seems to be sitting on some sort of floating brass pill. I tried pulling on the pill, but it felt like I was tugging on wires. Perhaps if I desoldered the LED I could get underneath it and to the driver, but I didn’t want to go that far. At least know that if you want to replace the LED (say, with a warmer tint), you could do so pretty easily.


Miscellaneous: the instructions don’t say anything about being able to use AA batteries, but I thought I’d give it a shot. As expected, it didn’t work. Which is too bad because 14500 have a limited capacity. In emergency situations, AA’s are readily available. 14500’s not so much. I can’t hold this against the light, nowhere is it claimed to be compatible. But it would have been a nice surprise. I also need to say a big “thank you!” to Wuben for making the indicator light red & blue. All too many dual-color setups are red & green, but I can’t tell between red & green.

Conclusion: if you light tactical lights (styling and the UI), then this light might be for you! I’m not a big fan of the UI (I prefer Low to High, and with memory). But I really do like the unique styling and overall quality. To me, the biggest draw back may be it’s overall size in comparison to the 14500 – it just seems too big for such a small battery. I’ll gladly keep it around, but might just grab it when I need a light for short periods of time. Oh, and I might swap the LED out for a warmer one or dedome the existing one.

I purchased this light, but with the promise that I would be refunded my money once I posted a completely honest review. I have made my best attempt at keeping all remarks honest and fair. Thanks for tuning in!

Edited by: gchart on 11/14/2016 - 10:48
Lexel
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No pictures

If you desolder the LED board you will see the driver in some sort of plastic tray that is way too tight to pull out
There was no thermal grease in my I333 netween pill and body, the contact area is not really big so it would help a lot.

gchart
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Agreed, with how the thermal path being designed as it is, I’m glad it’s only pushing 500ish lumens.

Not sure what would be up with the pictures. I just resized them; realized they were 3-4 MB each. Downsized them to around 300 KB each. They’re in a public folder on Google Drive and show up in an incognito window for me, so they should be working.

RobertB
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Thanks for posting the review. I agree, for the size, they may as well have made it an 18650 light