Review: Imalent HR20 XP-L HI Rechargeable Headlamp

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JohnnyMac
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Review: Imalent HR20 XP-L HI Rechargeable Headlamp

Imalent HR20 XP-L HI Rechargeable Headlamp

* Imalent HR20 provided courtesy of Imalent in exchange for my unbiased honest review.

IMALENT'S MARKETING DESCRIPTION

The HR20 is a versatile USB rechargeable headlamp with extensive runtime, extremely light weight and impressive output for outdoor use. A CREE XP-L HI LED delivers 1000 lumens impressive flood light. Powered by 1 pcs of 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery or 2 pcs CR123 Lithium batteries which will provide the runtime of 360 hours to the headlight. Rotary infinite brightness adjustable, which practicality enhances outdoor applications. Utilizes patented reflector vacuum coating cup with floodlight and spotlight, can be called as “outdoor lighting artifact”.

Features

* An easy to carry light weight and compact aluminum headlight
* Utilizes CREE XP-L HI LED with maximum output up to 1000 lumens
* Powered by 1 pcs of 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery or 2 pcs CR123 Li-ion
batteries which will provide the runtime of 360 hours to the headlight
* Instant adjustable brightness, which practicality enhances outdoor applications
* With built-in USB charging port, the battery can be re-charged at any time so the
battery will never running out of power
* Built-in thermal control module will automatically adjust the output of brightness
according to the working state and outer temperature
* High efficiency constant power circuit will maintains constant brightness
* Anti-reverse battery protection
* Combination of toughened ultra-clear mineral and anti-reflective coating glass
* Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy body
* Wear resistant Type III hard-anodized surface treatment
* By using the comfortable, breathable and elastic material in the making
of high quality nylon headband
* IPX-8 standard waterproof (2 meters submersible)
* 1.5m impact resistant
* Tail stand function

AT A GLANCE

PROS

  • Compact size
  • Excellent build quality with very good machining and anodizing.
  • NW beam tint and good throw for a small light with SMO reflector and Cree XP-L HI LED
  • AR coated lens
  • Super easy to use infinitely variable output
  • Welcome change to micro-switch instead of touch sensitive button used on Imalent's DM21
  • Zero visible PWM
  • Temperature controlled step down.
  • Waterproof
  • Included 18650 cell
  • Comfortable headband with both side and top straps for secure wear when active.
  • Safe internal charging to 4.19V via included USB cable.
  • Street price of under $50

CONS

  • Horrible pocket clip
  • Very small USB cover

^  Great looking EDC capable headlamp here!

^  Sweet SMO reflector and AR coated lens make good use of the Cree XP-L HI NW emitter.

PERFORMANCE

This little headlamp is a fantastic thrower for it's size.  The "infinitely" variable control with the smooth rotary knob in the head is a joy to use.  The HR20 (and the new DM21T) have their UI based off the older DM21 that had the same rotating knob to control output but used a touch sensitive electronic sensor instead of the more physical electronic micro-switch used in the HR20 and DM21T.  This is a HUGE improvement over the old DM21 UI.  The touch was unreliable, easy to accidentally turn off/on...I HATED it.  I recall recommending to them at the time that I didn't like the touch controls and to switch to a physical switch that provided tactile feel.  Wouldn't you know it?  Along comes 2016 models and they create this awesome HR20 and added the DM21T, a variation of the touch controlled DM21 but with a tactile, physical switch.  W00T!

Output is very competitive.  The tint on my HR20 is NW (neutral white), especially compared to the tint of the XP-L HI in the DM21T (up for review in the near future) which is CW (cold white).  The HR20 and the DM21T utilize the same controls and, I'd imagine, the exact same drivers as well but for some reason, my HR20 has ZERO visible PWM while my DM21T has barely visible PWM.  I'm sensitive to PWM and even though the PWM on the DM21T is fast enough to be visible when viewed against a fan but not slow enough to bother my eyes, the HR20 and it's lack of any visible PWM is most welcome.

Let's take a look at measured output now.  It's hard to get a headlamp of this type into the Integrating Sphere for an accurate reading but I think I managed to get pretty accurate readings.  Measurements were taken with fully charged Imalent 18650 cell that comes with the HR20.  The Integrating Sphere is calibrated for accuracy and highest output is measured at both startup and after 30 seconds of being On (ANSI/NEMA FL1 standards).

^ It is very important to note that measuring headlamps with the side-mounted LEDs is very difficult to do accurately in the IS.  Readings will not be as accurate as with flashlights with regular front-mounted LEDs.  The results should only be used for relative comparison with other side-mounted LED lights like the Skillhunt H03 for example.  Throw measurements are as accurate as with any light I've tested and the HR20 is very close to the claimed lux and throw distance.  The XP-L HI certainly helps keep the beam optimized for throw.  The BLF A6 was chosen for its reflector which is very close in diameter and depth to the HR20.

Let's take a look at the beams next...

^  Here is a little white wall hunting with the HR20.  The center spot is very tight and well focused.  The NW tint of the XP-L HI used, while not high-CRI, is still very pleasing to the eyes indoors and out.

^  A look at the beam profile shows the pretty tight focus of the beam.

^  Now for a look at the HR20 outdoors.  Due to the infinitely variable output I took shots at it's lowest output, 1/3 output, 2/3 output, and 100%.  You can really see how well this throws for a headlamp.

^ Above we have some comparison beams with 2 other 18650 headlamps, the Skillhunt H03 and Ultrafire H6, as well as with the BLF A6 which has roughly the same size reflector.

^  There is a lot of debate on the forums as to the HR20 being waterproof with it's control knob and port cover.  Even I had my doubts and one way to rule them out is to test it.  I dropped my running HR20 into a container with 4" of water in it and left it there for 80 minutes (originally the plan was 30 minutes but I forgot about it).

^  So what was the result?  A headlamp that was, as my dad would say, "dry as a popcorn fart" inside.  Not a trace of vapor or moisture inside the lens and reflector and not any inside the battery tube either.  I would not hesitate to get the HR20 wet.  Not my sample anyway.

USER INTERFACE (UI)

The UI is about as easy to use as it gets and about the only thing easier to use would be a single mode light.  The switch on the top of the light is small but easy to find by feel and activate.  The switch (and charging port) is mounted right on the large rotating top of the light.  This rotating knob allows for super simple output adjustment from a low of 1 lumen to a claimed 1000 lumens and any level in between.  What I really like about this is that you can set the output of the light before you even turn it on.  The grooved and ribbed texture machined into the sides of the knob make it easy to operate one-handed.  Need extra modes?  There are 3 hidden flashy modes: Strobe, SOS, and Beacon that are dead easy to activate when wanted.  Here is a quick rundown on the UI...

From OFF

  • Click to turn On
    • Output can be adjusted before turning the light On.
  • Long press for instant access to Strobe

From ON

  • Click to turn off
  • Long press to activate hidden Strobe
    • Long press to switch to SOS
    • Long press again to activate Beacon
    • Long press once more to return to regular output
    • At any point a single click will turn off the HR20
  • To adjust output simply rotate the knob on the top end of the light.

^  The HR20 is super easy to hold in a reversed cigar grip.  It allows your arm to hang freely at your side with hand relaxed and have the side-mounted LED shine right where you need it when walking in the dark.  This, and the ability to tail stand and aim where needed from a few inches above the work surface, is why I love to carry this style of light for EDC use.  It's especially handy when working in the garage/shop.

A CLOSE LOOK

Let's have a look at what you get if you purchase the Imalent HR20...

^  The HR20 arrived in a nice full color retail box.

^ Back and sides list details and specs.

^  Standard plastic tray. Mine was a bit torn up in the corner.

^  Included with the light is a head strap, pocket clip, USB charging cable, and spare O-rings.  The dual strap head strap is very comfortable and secure.

^ Here is a shot of the included User Manual.  Click for large image that is easier to read.

A CLOSER LOOK...

^  The HR20 is only a few millimeters longer than the Skillhunt H03 and fits nicely in my front jeans pocket, clipped or loose inside.  The clean simple design and rotary output design make it a joy to use. While not a potentiometer under that end knob, it seems to be a digitally controlled dimming circuit.  While not true infinitely variable output, it has a lot in microsteps in output that make it very close to infinitely variable.

^  The Cree XP-L HI emitter is perfectly centered in the smooth reflector.  Imalent makes fantastic smooth reflectors that give very focused hotspots and silky smooth spill and the reflector on the HR20 is no different.  If you are looking for a super compact headlamp with great throw this is one of few games in town.  The HR20 is really more than a headlamp.  It's a fantastic EDC light.

^  The sides of the head have a nice machined relief design machined into them.  Looks very futuristic and reminds me of the styling cues on the Imalent DDT40.

^  The knurling is nicely done and provides adequate grip.  The clip attaches very securely with no play.

^  Power switch, indicator LEDs, and USB port are all located on the end of the head.  This is fantastic for the power switch but it doesn't leave much space for the USB port cover.  It's very tiny and doesn't feel the most secure.  You really need to make sure it is seated properly after charging the light or it may not be so waterproof.  Some feedback I've seen from a couple other HR20 owners is that the control knob came off when they pulled in the rubber USB port cover.  I tried several times and the control knob on my sample is extremely secure.  I have no worries about it coming off in use.

^  Yes, you are seeing right...Tmey misspelled "USB" as "USD".  LOL.

^  The rotary output knob is my favorite feature on the HR20.  It rotates smoothly on my sample and allows super easy adjustment of output with a turn of the thumb.  The ultra fine knurling allow excellent grip and dead simple use with one hand..

^  The cover over the charging port lifts up to access the micro-USB charging port.

^  Micro-USB charging works well and shuts off when the cell is fully charged.  Indicator LEDs glow red when charging and glow green once fully charged.  The cell charges at around .86A and my cells stopped charging at 4.19V.

^  Threading is smooth as silk as I've become accustomed to in Imalent lights.  The O-ring seals well and the threads came nicely prelubed from the factory.

^  A look at the driver end of the battery tube.

^  The tail spring is the new standard type seen in many lights these days.

^  The HR20 comes with a 2600mAh cell.  I don't have any complaints with it but I do wish they would include a cll that had a bit more capacity to it.

COMPARISONS

I've chosen a few of my other headlamps I have with which to compare the Imalent HR20

^  The first two are 16340 lights, the Armytek Tiara C1 and Xtar H1.  The others are the Skillhunt H03, Ultrafire H04, and Imalent HR20.

^  A look at the different AR coatings.  The Tiara C1 has a more pure blue color to it while the Xtar has the more common purple.  The HR20 looks tan pr blue depending on how you see it.

^  A direct comparison with the other currently hot competitor, the Skillhunt H03.  The charging circuit and rotary knob on the HR20 makes it a bit longer.  Two completely different beam patterns though with the H03 being a pure flood.  The HR20 is designed for more throw with a smooth spill.

^  The power switch on the HR20 is on the head making it much more pocket friendly than the H03.  The H03 was always getting turned on in my pocket and once I got the HR20 it's taken the spot in my pocket for EDC use.

^  The shot above illustrates my biggest complaint with the HR20 - it's pocket clip.  Worst clip ever.  The friction bump is right where the lip for the clip is making it almost impossible to clip onto my jeans pocket (or anything for that matter).  I don't know what they were thinking and they obviously didn't put much thought into it.

^  Fortunately the clip from the H03 fits perfectly on the HR20 making it perfect for carry.  I use the H03 in the workshop as extra lighting.  If it had the tail magnet of the H03 it would be nearly perfect all around.

CONCLUSION

Pocket clip aside, I love this light! It does everything well and is very well made. Great output and intuitive UI make it fun to use. No visible PWM and NW tint are easy on the eyes. Price point is good as well at under $50 online if you check around. Based on my review sample I am very comfortable recommending the HR20 to anyone in need of a focused headlamp or a very versatile EDC light..  Others have experienced issues that my sample does not exhibit.  My DM21T has a CW XP-L HI emitter and as my HR20 does not claim to be NW but is, LED tint appears to be a lottery.  Expect CW but be happy if it's more neutral?  There are quite a few people who are unhappy with the issues on their HR20 but mine has been quite good and I'm not alone from what I've read.  Take that however you wish when considering for purchase.  I will say that Imalent has to tighten up on their QC when it comes to internal components.

Edited by: JohnnyMac on 11/29/2016 - 10:16
MRsDNF
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Thanks for the review JM. How long is the strap that goes over the top of the head. The headlamp I have now this strap is to short which does not allow the strap that goes around the head to sit low enough.

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

Patrickbateman
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Just got mine from gearbest and sadly it’s flickering…. Facepalm

nachtwesen
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Did you buy any special edition which is NW? Because mine ist very CW with very bad CRI. Thats the only negative on the light to me!

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I was one of the lucky ones who got one that didn’t flicker or the rotatory dial fall off.

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I gave mine to a buddy of mine because it flickered. He didn’t seem to mind. Since then the cover fell off on the usb side. About a week later the headlamp failed all together. Imalent needs to get their act together with their QC.

Boycott Nike

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Yikes, that’s sad to hear the issues. I’ve been using mine for about a month before writing this review and never had an issue with mine. As for tint, I think it must be a lottery. They also sent me a DM21T which has the same UI design but the emitter on that is CW and the difference between the two is night and day.

The DM21T also exhibits PWM, albeit very fast and not enough to bother me, but there regardless. There definitely does seem to be inconsistencies in their stuff but I can only base my reviews on the samples at hand. The review on the DM21T won’t be as flattering due to the very CW tint and PWM. I also haven’t used that light much at all since getting it, unlike the HR20 reviewed here.

Imalent’s machining and finish are among the best mass produced lights I’ve ever handled. Threads consistently machined with tight tolerances and silky smooth feel, hosts free of nicks and machining crisp and smooth, anodizing always flawless. If there is an issue I have with them it is in the internals, mainly PWM and inconsistent LED binning. These variable output knob versions use a very delicate design that would keep them from being my only light. I’d hate to drop it and have it land on its head in the wrong place but for a backup light I love it. As said in the review, the HR20 has lived in my pocket and used regularly since I got it and, knock on wood, no issues with it.

JohnnyMac
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Also, in regards to the flickering I’ve heard from some, these lights don’t use an analog pot as some have suggested which is why I state in the review that it’s not truly “infinitely variable” in output. All Imalent’s lights, even the touch screen versions say they are infinitely variable but they aren’t. They simply use many micro steps in output. IIRC from the touch screen models from a few years ago the steps are on the 40-60 range. Rotate the knob on the HR20/DM21T slow enough and you can see these steps in output. I can’t help but think that maybe some people see this as flickering because, on my two lights at least, the LED never goes off in between these steps to be viewed as flickering. But as I don’t see the flickering on mine I can’t see that someone else’s doesn’t flicker on and off visibly when adjusting output levels. YMMV I suppose.

JohnnyMac
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Patrickbateman wrote:
Just got mine from gearbest and sadly it’s flickering…. Facepalm
That sucks. What exactly is this flickering you speak of? Is it PWM or does it flicker when adjusting output levels? Are you sure you are just not seeing the slight steps in output since it is not truly infinitely variable? Or is it literally visibly turning off and on as you rotate the output knob?
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Johnny, mine would flicker intermittently even on the highest setting.

Boycott Nike

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atbglenn wrote:
Johnny, mine would flicker intermittently even on the highest setting.

Well, that sucks. Where did you buy it? I hope you were able to get your money back
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JohnnyMac wrote:
Yikes, that’s sad to hear the issues. I’ve been using mine for about a month before writing this review and never had an issue with mine.
They probably sent you a thoroughly quality checked one.
Or maybe even specially assembled.
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JohnnyMac wrote:
atbglenn wrote:
Johnny, mine would flicker intermittently even on the highest setting.
Well, that sucks. Where did you buy it? I hope you were able to get your money back

I bought it on a group buy. I didn’t bother trying to get my money back. I just gave to a friend of mine who thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He didn’t even notice the flickering until I showed it to him. It really didn’t bother him until the cover fell off, which he fixed. Then it stopped working entirely. I ended up giving him my Crelant CH10 and an old Xtar WP2 charger.

Boycott Nike

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Seemed like half of the people who bought them on Freeme’s GB had the flickering problem. One person made a video of it flickering. The cap falling off can probably be cured by some super glue. As far as waterproof? I wouldn’t trust it in anything more than a light rain. Like you said in your review, the rubber usb cap is wonky, and the potential for the top cap to leak is there.

Mine has had no problems, and the tint is a little on the cool side, but otherwise quite nice.

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MRsDNF wrote:
Thanks for the review JM. How long is the strap that goes over the top of the head. The headlamp I have now this strap is to short which does not allow the strap that goes around the head to sit low enough.

Mine sits very low. I wear a size large hat and have lots of forehead. With it fully expanded if sits low enough to push into my ears and cover my eye brows.
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Thanks for the review! Thumbs Up

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light --- Plato

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Thanks.

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

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About the flickering, this is what I wrote in a post in the GB20 thread (freeme’s group buy #20):

“as someone else mentioned, it’s not an infinitely adjustable output; there are just many discrete output levels. When you rotate the dial slowly you can see the steps. So I think the flickering some of us are seeing is just the light switching back and forth rapidly between two output levels. Turning the dial slightly in one direction or the other “centers” the output on one output level and the flickering stops. Not sure, but that’s how it seems to me.”

Of course I could be wrong. Smile

I relegated my light to crawlspace duty. There, it’s fine for the few minutes I need it every now and then. I think the idea behind this light is great, and if Imalent has ironed out the problems that many buyers reported in the GB20 thread, then this should be a good headlamp. Even still though, I prefer the beam pattern of one of my other headlamps so even if my HR20 worked perfectly, it would still be my 2nd-best headlamp.

tenohfive
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Anyone tried short tubing this light?

And how is the spill – I like the hotspot, I’m just not sure if enough lumens have been chucked into the spill to be usable for what I want (trail running.)

vresto
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so what….is this headlamp ok,or still issues?

EDC- Jetbeam E40R,Emisar D4V2 XPLHI

Headlamp-Thrunite th30

raycandylei
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Awesome review!! I also made a simple review for this camping headlamp Imalent HR20 on my blog http://www.afguy.com/lightweight-multi-purpose-camping-headlamp-imalent-....

vresto
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i heard about many issues with this headlamp….

EDC- Jetbeam E40R,Emisar D4V2 XPLHI

Headlamp-Thrunite th30

Ronin42
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Glad to see Rotary switches getting some love.

I feel like my Nitecore P36 is the Rodney Dangerfield of lights.

Its a great Light but it just doesn’t get any respect.

GO Rotary switches!!!

(“It’s good that most people can’t remember their previous lives. Otherwise
things would be a lot more complicated than they already are.”
Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo)

Lexel
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its not a rotary switch

its a normal momentary switch

the rotary is only to move the variable resistor which controls brightness