Review: United PALIGHT Z3 EDC (CR123/16340)

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Cythras
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Review: United PALIGHT Z3 EDC (CR123/16340)

Disclaimer: The product in this review was purchased and paid for by myself, for personal use. No compensation will be awarded for giving a positive review, nor would anyone pay anyone for a shitty review like this.

First off, an apology. If you came looking for a in-depth and detailed (and accurate) review, you might as well leave. While I consider myself a flashlight enthusiast, I am a amateur modder at best, and I do not have the resources, tools or knowledge to write a review like those by the likes of Pilotdog and whonot. I have no integrating sphere for measuring output, and no camera outside of my cell phone for photos. I don’t even have a DMM. Or any multi meter, for that matter. What I do have, is a lust for shiny lights, and I found a shiny light that I cannot seem to find mention of on the internet, one that some of you guys may be interested in. So without further ado, I introduce to you the United PALIGHT Z3.

Ok, I lied. One more thing to get out of the way. There appears to be 2 variants of the Palight Z3 around, both of which are 16340 SS EDC style lights. The more common one appears to be older, and does not utilize a traditional switch, but appears to change modes/turn off on current disconnect, and has loose springs inside. You simply tap to cycle through modes and power off. I do not have this one.
My light uses a much more traditional setup, and appears to have been produced late November of 2016. It was found on and purchased from Aliexpress.

OK. First off, the box.

Having never heard of United PALIGHT before, I was expecting it to ship in a small sleeve of deflated bubblewrap inside a small, white, rectangular cardboard box, long since deformed by my fantastic postal service. So when my doorbell rang yesterday and I was handed a rather large and heavy box, I assumed it was another light I had ordered, or perhaps the replacement head for the S41S I’m still waiting on. I was quite surprised when I opened the wrap and saw the Palight box, but the surprise did not end there.

BOX CONTENTS

As far as I had known, I had ordered a flashlight by itself, but I got much more than that. Besides the light, I also got a Silicon mounting strap, a single bay US plug battery charger, a “700-800 MAH” (as per battery wrap) protected* 16340, small USB LED light and a stainless steel linked lanyard with a quick release claw.
*More on battery and charger later.

THE LIGHT

This damn thing is beautiful. Pure stainless steel with laser etched accents. I generally dislike lots of words on my lights, but despite them, it is still very clean looking.


Here she is beside my other 16340 only lights; a Klarus XT|1C, OTR M3, and my Jetbeam JET II PRO.

She is a very thin light, and relatively short as well. By far the heaviest though, outweighing a loaded up XT|1C even without a battery inside her. Such is the life of SS lights.


At the head is a smooth bezel and the sadly uncoated lens,

and at the tail a single clicky with a small GITD cover, held on by a SS retaining ring. (That I scratched up. What the hell is with star shaped patterns on retaining rings and bezels, give me an even number god dammit.)
Enough of that; time to get cracking.

GUTS

This light is easily disassembled with nothing more than a pair of split ring pliers and some opposable thumbs. Preferably 3 of them. Non of the threads are glued, and they are all relatively smooth (for SS), and trapezoidally cut. There are O-rings on every part that unscrews. Not a spec of lube to be found though.
Here’s were things get real interesting. Once again, I was expecting either a crudely made light, or at best a decent host with garbage shoved inside. But boy was I wrong. Let’s start at the tail.

The switch PCB is thick, with heavy gold traces on it, as well as PALIGHT STAR branding. Clearly custom made. But what about the switch itself?

Yes, that says OMTEN. No, I couldn’t take a better picture. I tried >.<

Ok, so all looks good on the butt. Lets move up.

The body itself is a single piece of machined stainless steel. Not super thick, but sturdy. No metal shavings on threads to be found, all good here. (Note: I realized that my FENIX protected 16340s are a very tight fit in this light, for some reason the bit with the PCB is wider than the actual cell. It works, but its a tight fit and very difficult to get out. Scuffed and slightly scrunched the wrap, but no real damage)

Now for the important part.

The head of the light has a thick brass button acting as a positive contact, and a brass retaining ring.

Removing this ring gives another look at the dark red PALIGHT.STAR branded PCB. The driver does not move at this point; it appears the ring is a contact for the negative pole.
Thankfully, the head unscrews further, and behind the glass, GITD O-ring and a polished aluminum reflector, we get this.


So the light and box both share the same text: “X-LAMP R4 LED”. However, the only Cree LEDs with a R4 bin (as far as I can tell) are XP-E and XP-Gs, but the LED here appears to be an XM-L2. However, I could be very mistaken here, so feel free to correct me.
The LED is centered by a large white gasket, and the ‘star’ is fairly stable, with that goopy white thermal paste anchoring it to the integrated shelf in the head. And while I do intend to mod this light, I am kinda shit with a soldering iron, and did not want to risk breaking anything, so this is as far as the teardown goes. So moving on, onto the useability of the light.

OPERATION/U.I.

So at the beginning, I expected your standard Low>Med>High>Disco>S.O.S.>Repeat, but once again, I was surprised. Obviously, this light functions solely from the single mechanical switch in the back and there appears to be 3 modes, Low, High, and Strobe.

The light always starts in low. Long (1/2 second) half presses will swap between low and high. Shorter half presses (or smacking the light to cause battery disconnect) will do nothing. Aaaaand, thats it. Unless of course, you want that strobe, in which case you can make 3 rapid long presses (Low>High>Low or High>Low>High), and it will start to strobe, and with varying frequencies I might add. Since there are only 2 modes and you know what it starts from, it is nigh impossible to accidentally trigger the disco mode, which is quite nice.

OUTPUT

And, here’s where the review gets real sketchy. I have no integrating sphere, so I can only guesstimate, and I am also very tolerant of differently tinted lights, so take this with a grain of salt.

The tint is a cool white. Nothing that I find offensive, and not glaringly blue. No weird colours around the hotspot either, unlike some of my XP-L Hi lights.
Brightness is… good? Judge for yourself.

LEFT TO RIGHT: OTR M3, JET II PRO, XT|1C, PALIGHT Z3
Here are the lights pictured above, all on max output, about 4 feet from the wall.
Brightness is definitely the lowest of the bunch, I’d guess 350-450 lumens or so. Beam intensity is also the worst, but that’s to be expected with the shallow reflector and the large die LED. As you can see, the spot is very large and even, despite the SMO reflector. The beam transitions to spill smoothly as well, but the edges of the beam are plagued by shiny-bezel-syndrome, with a brighter ring surrounding it (Not really visible in pic). Overall, very serviceable light.

BATTERY AND CHARGER
Just some pictures of the included charger and battery. The charger is different than the usual crappy single bay wall warts you get with cheap lights, and appears to be relatively well made. It reminds me of a branded charger I have seen before, but I can’t place it. I have not yet tested the charger.

The battery looks like crap. The wrap is not well done, the insulating disk looks like cheap plastic, and what appears to be the protection PCB is not centered on the cell perfectly. However, I ran it through a 1 Amp discharge test a couple times in my Engineer 500, and I get a just shy of 600mAh capacity every time. Once again, very useable and much better than expected. I have however, not yet tested the protection circuitry, or even confirmed that it is indeed there, though I suppose I have no good reason to distrust PALIGHT for their claims.

CONCLUSION
This light blew me away. The performance is OK at best, but that didn’t matter. I purchased from a brand and seller I have never heard of, and I honestly expected little. But the little light came through. The thing was designed and engineered. It’s not a parts light, thrown together with whatever parts they had lying around (that R4 Bin though), it was well thought out, and well executed. It’s not perfect, but for what I paid (Slightly over $20 USD), I feel like I am nitpicking.

PROS

  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Very mod friendly
  • High quality internals
  • Realistic claims (300 Lumens, IPX6)
  • Integrated shelf for better thermal dissapation

Cons

  • No AR coated glass
  • No grease on threads
  • Visible PWM on low
  • Integrated shelf means less modding options (Yeah, you just can’t win…)
  • It’s not an R4…

I still intend to mod this light, I want more modes and a PWM-less (or invisible PWM) driver, and possible an XP-L HI, as I am currently infatuated with those things for some reason. Should be relatively easy to do, as both the driver and star are 16mm. If you guys have any suggestions for mods, let me hear them, but remember that I’m an ill equipped scrub at this stuff.

If you want to pick up one of these lights, I purchased it from Mr. FASHION SEXY LIFE on Aliexpress. All the others I saw were selling the weird switchless design.

Well, thanks for sticking it through to the end of this crappy review, I hope it was somewhat useful to some of you. Feel free to leave feedback regarding anything here, I’m still kinda new at this.
Cheers!

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 12:11