(Review) Astrolux S42

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Tahts-a-dats-ago
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(Review) Astrolux S42

I received the Astrolux S42 from Banggood.com for evaluation purposes. I’d like to thank Banggood for the opportunity.

Banggood Link

I was provided with a coupon number that I could pass on. I believe using that code will save you a few bucks – anyway that is my understanding.

The code: ECFKL

This was my first experience with Banggood.com and I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch upon it briefly. I hadn’t expected the item to arrive nearly as quick as it did; as I recall I had it in my hands in five days. Not only was the shipping much faster than I expected, but the packaging itself was very well done, with attention given to protecting the item inside.

I’m going to concentrate on my thoughts with regards to the Astrolux S42. Those who wish to read more about the product should follow the link to the product page. Banggood has done a decent job of explaining the product and how to operate it.

At $29.95 (US) the Astrolux S42 is affordable to nearly all. It is a very attractive little light and it arrived in a nice, although plain, presentation box. From end of the clip to the top of the head, the S42 measures 3.25 inches in length; making it ideal for everyday pocket carry. The diameter is slightly larger than a US quarter. Included with the S42 is a clip, a spare O-ring, lanyard, and an owner’s manual. Oh, there’s also something called a “survival hammer.”

That “survival hammer” amounts to a sharpened metal cone that screws into the threaded slot found on the back of the tail cap. To my mind that “survival hammer” is a useless trinket that serves no real purpose but to fuel the fantasies of wanna-be special ops types who see themselves flitting from one spot to another; slaying potential assailants with a few flicks of the hand, in between smashing every pane of glass in the area. Frankly I think the “survival hammer” cheapens an otherwise very good product. I disposed mine in the trash – where it belongs. And should I feel the need to smash windows, I’ll find a suitable rock. I do think the threaded slot will mount to a tripod though – so that may well prove to be useful in the long run.

While I’m talking about the things I don’t like, I might as well go ahead and cover the included clip. The clip itself isn’t bad – it’s reversible and removable, and it carries face down (my preference) deep in my pocket. The clip has a good feel to it as well; with good strength and retention capabilities. The issue is that the end of the clip extends beyond the bottom of the tail cap – by about ¼ inch – making the S42 less than stellar when it comes to tail-standing. Yes, the clip can be removed, and without the clip (attached) the S42 tail-stands like a champ. But the clip shouldn’t have to be removed to tail-stand the light.

The flashlight is compact and features cross-hatched grooves on the tail and the main body (tube). The head had deep cooling grooves machined in, with the switch located on a raised platform. It is a “grippy” flashlight (that’s a good thing) and feels good in my hands. Fit and finish are excellent; giving the S42 a quality appearance and feel.

Both the tail cap and the head will unscrew from the tube body. The threads, on either end, are square cut and screw/unscrew with ease. The tail threads were properly lubricated, but the threads on the head end (of the tube) were dry. The clip does make things a bit more difficult when it comes to unscrewing the head. The flashlights demands that both ends are screwed on tightly. The tail cap has an attachment point for the included lanyard, and it’s done right (so the lanyard doesn’t affect the light’s ability to tail-stand. The tail cap is not magnetic though – a feature that I generally want on flashlights of this size. I do think the S42 would be more useful if it did have a magnetic tail cap.

The S42 takes either a 18350 battery (not supplied) or a 16340 (not supplied). I used a 16340 (I don’t have a 18350 battery) for my use. One can also purchase (via Banggood) a tube so a 18650 can be used (I like that option a lot).

There is but one switch – it sets on a raised platform of sorts (on the head of the light). With the “breathing light” on (a location feature) the switch glows a soft green. That is a nice feature when one is trying to find a flashlight in the dark, but it does use the battery. The switch is surrounded with a copper bezel, and helps make the S42 a very attractive flashlight. The switch itself is decent, albeit ever so slightly mushy, and provides decent feedback in use. There is a slight audible click when using the switch.

The “breathing light” can be turned off, but you have to lock the flashlight to do that. Locking the flashlight is easy: just press/hold the switch (from the off position) for three seconds. To unlock the light, press and hold the switch (from the off position) for three seconds. The website shows a diagram of the switch light changing colors (from green to red) when the battery is below 50% – but that did not occur during my use (I depleted the battery a couple of times). What did happen, when the battery got low, was a reduction in output and an inability to go into higher outputs.

Opposite the switch is the micro USB port (charging port). It is very well sealed with a rubber covering, yet remains easy to open when charging is necessary. I didn’t measure the time needed to recharge the S42, but will note that I did have to charge the battery several times over the past month (due to using a 16340 battery). My best guess is that it takes 1.5 – 2 hours to recharge a 16340 using the USB port on my computer as a power source.

Looking through the toughened mineral glass lens one sees 4 LED’s (there are two LED options – Cree XP G3 or Nichia 219C) set back just a bit in their own small reflectors.

The beam is very much a flood beam, with a barely discernible hotter center that oozes outwards and doesn’t lose intensity until the very outer edges of the beam. Visibility is excellent throughout the range of the beam. The top output, per Banggood, is 2023 lumens – an amazing feat considering the small size of the item. I cannot test actual output, but I can say the highest setting is very bright (amazingly so).

The S42 will get warm when running in the highest outputs, but I never experienced it becoming uncomfortably hot (despite the warm temperatures of summer). Oddly enough I never experienced the light ramping down (from turbo) either, but the manual claims it does.

Light temperature depends upon which LED option is chosen. Mine is a cool white (6,000 – 7,000 K) but the Nichia option is claimed to be 5,000K (neutral or slightly warm). I do like the temperature of mine: it provides excellent visibility over a broad area.

Operating the S42 took me a bit to get used to it. To be honest I wasn’t thrilled with the way the S42 worked for the first couple of times, but I’ve grown used to it and now like it very much. There are two “programs” and each has it’s own modes. I prefer the first program; mostly because it contains more output levels and I like the varying options. Program one does not have mode memory though – so some users may prefer program two (it has mode memory). In program one, the S42 always turns on in the lowest setting (moon) – a feature that I like very much. Going to turbo is simple too – just press/hold the switch and you leap to turbo. From there the user can enter the special modes (including battery check mode). The S42 cannot be shut off while it is in program one (press/holding the switch takes the flashlight to turbo mode). In all other output modes (program one) pressing/holding the switch shuts the flashlight off.

As mentioned earlier, there are a few things that should be improved (on the S42) – the length of the clip being the most important change needed. I’d also like to see the tail cap be magnetic, as I think that would make the S42 far more versatile for those who carry a flashlight everyday. I’d definitely lose the “hammer” but that’s simply a matter of not using it. Of course there will be others who love the “hammer” and believe it to be a valuable feature.

I do find the Astrolux S42 to be a very good flashlight. The build quality and finish is very good (no issues at all) and it is easy to pocket-carry. The “floody” beam covers a wide area and does an excellent job of providing visibility over a wide area. The operating system took me a bit to grow comfortable with, but after using the S42 for some time now I like it very much; it provides the user with 7 output options (not counting special modes) and always turns on in the moonlight mode. Turbo mode is easily accessed too – another feature that I find very useful.

The option of ordering a longer tube so a 18650 battery can be used is wonderful, and one that I’m going to exercise (that will solve my issue with the clip as well). I think the S42 will still be a great pocket-carry light, even with the extra length.

At $29.95 the S42 is priced very attractively and should be a strong consideration for those who are interested in an EDC flashlight. I see this light as a good fit for hikers, walkers, and campers too, although I’d recommend the larger 18350 battery (or the tube and a 18650 battery) so run-times are longer and the time between charges is extended as well.

I apologize upfront for the lack of nighttime shots. I had taken them, but apparently lost them when Microsoft once again forced an update that got stuck ¾ of the way through and my computer was all but bricked. This is the 7th or 8th time that has happened and I’m lucky that I managed to get the computer back at all (it took many hours of effort to get it back up and running). A new machine will be here sometime later this week – hopefully that solves the problem for years to come.

I re-shot the product pictures, but didn’t have an opportunity to shoot the nighttime beam shots. I use a model for the night shots, and she wasn’t available.

power911
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Nice review. I’ve been very worried about UI ever since this came out.

Glad you’re able to convince me to consider

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Theodore41
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I have a S42S with the XP43s and I like it very much as for its high lumens,but I don’t like its UI.It is very difficult for me.
Is it easy to change the UI,the driver or both?

Qwertus
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Oh Gods! Someone else wants to buy this piece of shit?!

djozz
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Nice to see a fresh objective (so it seems) review a year or two after it entered the market, pointing out the same shortcomings as back then. We were not crazy apparently.

Nevertheless, although at the time Astrolux has provided some improvements (like a better cover for the USB port, which you already have), they never did anything about the other flaws like the clip sticking out and most annoyingly the counter-intuitive user interface that ends with turbo in your face when you are trying to switch it off.

link to djozz tests 

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duramax
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Thanks for the review!
There were rumors about a custom UI/driver for this, IIRC. Was there an outcome?

Warburrito
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So many haters of this flashlights UI…so I went ahead and ordered one anyway since they’re on sale for $25 right now with the 18650 extension for $3. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.