[Review} WOWTAC A4 V2

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jeff51
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[Review} WOWTAC A4 V2

An almost EDC thrower. A coat pocket light that can double as a hand warmer/branding iron.

I got this light on Amazon when it was on sale at the end of Jan 2020 for $39.95.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081JL73Y8/ref=twister_B08135W316?_encoding=UT...

I’m not providing a link to the WOWTAC page as two different browsers tell me the page is not safe to visit (insert coronavirus joke of choice here).

A friend of mine was looking for a budget thrower and I showed him the WOWTAC A4 (first version) that used 2×18650 cells.
It was a “Shut Up And Take MY Money!” moment.
Unfortunately that version is no longer available.

I saw the WOWTAC A4 V2 and it looked like it was a 26650 version of the first light. And the price was right. So into the shopping cart it went.
When it arrived I found that my assumption was incorrect. The head on the V2 version is nowhere near as large or deep as the first version.

But is it worthy in its own right?
It comes in a cardboard box with a foam cutout for the light.

Included are spare O-rings, extra USB cover (nice), 5000mAh WOWTAC branded battery, Micro USB charging cable, instruction sheet, and the ubiquitous lanyard strap.

Size
125mm (4 15/16”) long
32mm (1 ¼”) wide at the body
48mm (1 7/8”) wide at the head
40mm across the lens (1 9/16”)
34.5mm (1 3/8”) wide at the button area.
It weighs 8.3Oz with the included battery.

The LED is a CREE XHP35 HI. I picked the NW color.

The instructions

Parts is Parts

The head, tube, and cap.

The threads are square cut. Notice the threads on the front of the tube are anodized but the threads at the tail are not. The light is locked out by unscrewing the head.
The threads and O-ring were dry and needed lubing.

The double springs at the tail cap make closing the light a challenge with the included 26650 (“26700”) battery.

You can see the scuff marks on the bottom of the cell from just a few openings.
Most will simply leave the cell in there and use the charger.

A shot of the business end of things

Good thick brass contacts on the PCB.

USB Port is covered.

But It’s not isolated from the insides. The cover comes off easily. Loose the cover and you better stay out of the rain. I’m not a fan of this design.

What’s it like?
It’s nice and compact and fits my hand quite well. I’d call it a coat pocket light. It’s just a little too big for a pants pocket carry.
There is nothing to keep the light from rolling on its merry way when places on anything other than a flat surface. All the roundness makes for a smooth experience – But I wish it has something to keep it from running away.
It tail stands with ease.

Rounding up the unusual suspects
The Sofirn SP36S, WOWTAC A4 V2, WOWTAC A4

And again

More usual suspects.
C8, A4 V2, Refreshing beverage, BLF Q8

The power button is just a hair above being flush with the body.

The button is quite small. It’s a soft translucent material (silicon?) that lets an internal LED shine through.
The power switch LED turns on when the light is on. Except when in firefly mode – then it’s off.
The switch LED is very dim. It is almost invisible in daylight.

The color changes to indicate battery state. Blue for charged, red for low battery.
This doubles as a charge indicator. Red for charging, blue for charged.
It flashes purple to indicate abnormal charging (according to the instructions).

One of the things I do when evaluating a light is to put it on the night stand and use it for a while.
Any idiosyncrasies soon show up.

This is the first light that fails the bare hand test. In the dark it is almost impossible to find the switch by feel. The original A4 had a metal switch that was way easier to find.

This light cries out for an option to have the power button illuminated all the time.

In Firefly it is very usable for dark adjusted eyes. On a floody it would be too bright. On this light the hotspot and spill are so tight it’s easy to keep it pointed away from others.
It would not make a good reading light. Too tight a beam – thinks I.

The UI
The A4 V2 has the standard WOWTAC UI.
From off – Press and hold for Firefly (power LED stays off).
From Firefly – Press and hold to cycle Low, Med, High (Power LED indicates charge).
From off – Click to go to the last mode (L-M-H). It has memory except for Turbo, Firefly, or Strobe.
Double click from any mode to Turbo.
From Turbo – Double click for strobe.
From any mode – Single click for off.

This is a quite usable UI that’s easy to learn and intuitive to grasp just by playing with the light.

Measurements
The battery measured 3.92V as it came from the box. The battery was locked out by the head being unscrewed.
SanyoGA 18650 vs WOWTAC “26650”

The battery is just a hair over 70mm long. It has a slightly protruding top. I assume there is a protection circuit in there someplace.
I can just manage to get the thing in my LiiKala but it won’t make contact. I’ll need to do some tricks to test it properly.
Other WOWTAC batteries I’ve gotten with lights have all met specs so I believe this one should also.

The extra long battery fills the tube to the brim. As I said the double spring is REALLY tightly compressed when closed on a battery this long.

An unprotected flattop 18650 will work in an adapter tube. A 21700 should work also as the included battery is that same length.

While charging the light using the included cable, I measured just over 2A when using a QC3 USB power source.

When the charge finished, I saw no current being passed to the light.
When the charge completed I measured 4.16V on the battery.
So the charge cutoff seems like it quits at a safe voltage.

LUMENS
My home built lumen box is wildly inaccurate with throwers. Here is what the manufacturer claims.
Firefly – 0.5 Lumens, 208 days
Low – 28 Lumens, 89 Hrs.
Medium – 205 Lumens, 12 Hrs.
High – 1050 Lumens, 8min + 150min
Turbo – 1890 Lumens, 3min + 140min

To me Firefly seems brighter than 0.5 Lumens. It’s so throw(ie) It’s hard to judge.
Medium also seems a bit higher than 200. High seems close. Turbo seems a bit overrated.

Runtimes
On Turbo (cooled with a fan) in RED, High in GREEN

The light holds Turbo well and only dims a bit.
It starts dropping out of turbo at 2m 15s and fully steps down to around a 1000Lm at about 3m 30s
The light quit at: 1H 19m

I gave it a double click after the first stepdown just to see what happens.
It returns to Turbo and then steps down again.
Notice after the stepdown the light gets a bit brighter. I wonder if this is some temperature related function.
The light was close to the 3m stepdown as listed by WOWTAC.
I only got 79m of total run time. WOWTAC lists 143m. I don’t know how much the extra kick into Turbo altered the outcome.

On High (fan started after stepdown (I forgot to turn it on at the start)).
Stepdown starts at 20m 45s and fully steps down at 21m 10s or so
The light starts to dim quickly at about 1h 56m
It turns off just short of 2H.

Once again the light seems well regulated holding high then stepping down. Once again there is the small increase in brightness after the stepdown.
It’s interesting that the specs think high will last 8m before stepdown. That’s not what I observed.
Total run time was not close to the 8m + 150m listed in the specs.
But mine stayed brighter for far longer than the 8m.

Low Voltage
When the battery discharges to a point the light just shuts off.
Notice the slight dimming then nada. Darkness falls.
Pressing the button again gets you zippo. No light at all.

If you break the connection by loosening the head and retightening it the light will function again.
It won’t hold high for any length of time. Low or Medium could be used to “Walk into the light” as it were.

I measured 3.22V on the battery after the light decided to quit. So it seems like WOWTAC wants to protect the cell from deep discharge.

PWM
A light is useless if the PWM is nasty. The WOWTAC A4 V2 has none.

On Turbo, Med, Low all I see is a DC offset, with some driver ripple just seen on the trace in Low.

In Firefly mode the scope reveals an interesting waveform. The light is still running a DC offset.
But look at the strange goings on. In my very limited experience with lights – this is new to me.

I thought something was wrong with my test setup. I ran a normal light and got the expected PWM waveform. So it is what it is.
I can’t detect it when using the light.

Temps
I was going to include a nifty temperature reading along with the run times, but my thermometer battery died and I didn’t have a replacement on hand.

So I’ll just use the included picture from the ad.

Notice the glove. It should be included in the kit.

Using my moderately calibrated hand – It get’s DAMM HOT!
The whole frigging thing cooks. There is no way anyone is holding onto the head area during a Turbo or High mode run.

What’s it Look Like?
The instructions claim 80K candela with 565m throw.
Comparing it to the original A4 the hotspot is not as sharply defined. I suspect the original version would reach out further.

The NW of the V2 is noticeably warmer than the CW of the original. I like the warmer tint better.

Setting it next to a C8 with the SST40 gives a slightly larger hot spot.

The greater output of the WOWTAC might help it out, but to me the cold C8 looks more “throwy”.
The color temp differences are not as dramatic using mere eyeballs.

Beam Spread
Taking a look at the beam profile


On the rug next to a C8 with SST40. Sofirn SP36S with a wider softer cutoff for comparison.
Not as tight a hotspot as the C8 but has a wider Spill.

Conclusions?
Other than the impossible to find in the dark switch, I like the light.
(But you should not need a light to find the switch on your light!)
It could use a better USB port seal and something to stop it rolling away.
A pocket clip that could be positioned next to the switch would solve the rollaway and finding the switch issues.

The “Are you in Turbo or is my hand on fire” mode is something we have to live with in pocket rocket lights.

The WOWTAC A4 V2 is much lighter and easier to carry than the BLF SP36 (3×18650) and has more output than a C8 and has a larger battery.

I really really like the first version of this light with the 2×18650 cells. I wish it was still available with a NW. The long slim tube is very easy to hold and the larger head handles the heat better.
The larger Convoy L6 or the larger still Sofirn SP70 overpower it with simply more light output at the expense of portability.
I’m not sure what role this light fills, but I like it.
But then again I seem to like them all (and therein my problem).

Still on a quest for a budget thower for my buddy. I’m keeping this one.

All the Best,
Jeff

Swabs
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Great review!

It is a great little thrower. One of my favorites to EDC. BUT, yes the button is way to small. And, being flush to the body of the torch, makes it that much more annoying. That is my only gripe with it, though.

My Future's So Bright...well, my flashlights are anyways.

jeff51
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Swabs wrote:
Great review!

It is a great little thrower. One of my favorites to EDC. BUT, yes the button is way to small. And, being flush to the body of the torch, makes it that much more annoying. That is my only gripe with it, though.

Thanks for the kind words,
I managed to get the WOWTAC battery to make contact in my charger.

The 5000mAh cell tested to 5398mAh with a resistance of 28mOhms.
That quite a bit better than the spec.
Even though the tester only can pull .5a.

So the battery isn’t the source of the large discrepancy between the WOWTAC spec run times vs. what I got.

Notice the low resistance. These chargers are not known for great accuracy, but 28mOhms is very low.
It’s as good or better than I get from a Samsung 30Q.
Whenever I test a protected cell, I usually see something in the 85+ range.

The battery is so long that I’m sure there is a protection circuit in there someplace.
I wonder what the deal is?

All the Best,
Jeff

sarge12
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I would regard it much more highly if not for the fact that I have a Sofirn C8G to compare it to. I like the Sofirn better in nearly every category except battery capacity and the ability to charge it in the light. Neither of those two things are important to me. The C8G is almost as small, and also an outstanding pocket thrower. It does not get as hot quickly as the Wowtac, and is usually a bit less expensive. I also prefer the 1 button approach of the Wowtac better, but that too is not high on my preference. The specs are nearly identical for throw of the 2 lights. The Sofirn has a slightly higher maximum lumens at 2000 lumens. Now here is a huge advantage in my opinion. The Sofirn has all the protections that are on protected batteries built into the light itself, so there is not a need for protected batteries. That is really good because 21700 protected cells will not fit in most chargers. Being a vape user, I have many unprotected samsung 30t and 40t batteries. In my opinion, Sofirn lights are nearly all extremely high quality for the money. Don’t get me wrong, the Wowtac is a very nice light, and I have 2 of these exact lights. I also have 2 of the Sofirn C8G. Both are IPX8 rated for water resistance, but that is provided the rubber plug over the mini usb port is properly seated on the Wowtac. The Sofirn is on average about 10 bucks cheaper, which is significant since in my opinion it is the better light. The throw of the Sofirn at least matches the Wowtac, and unprotected batteries are significantly less costly, as is the light itself. Two of my favorite budget lights are the Sofirn C8G, and the Astrolux FT03 SST40-W, which is in my opinion the best thrower for the money period. How Astrolux sells that light for less than 40 bucks is a mystery to me. There is a lot of bang for the buck with that Astrolux, which is rated about 300 meters higher in throw than either the Sofirn or Wowtac. I also believe it will do the 875 meter rated throw.

jeff51
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sarg12.
I just got a Sofirm C8G.
Except to the warmer tint of the WOWTAC, I like the C8G better in most aspects.
The WOWTAC gets so hot in Turbo or high that it’s scarry.
The slimmer 21700 body fits my hand better.

All the Best,
Jeff

sarge12
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jeff51 wrote:
sarg12.
I just got a Sofirm C8G.
Except to the warmer tint of the WOWTAC, I like the C8G better in most aspects.
The WOWTAC gets so hot in Turbo or high that it’s scarry.
The slimmer 21700 body fits my hand better.

All the Best,
Jeff

Yes, I do too, but to be fair…Sofirn makes outstanding value flashlights. I have quite a few, and they are all really well made. What Sofirn is not so great at is product shipping and delivery. They actually make FastTech look fast. That is very hard to do. I have multiple shipments being walked over from China now. I live in S.C. One of my orders left New York on June 3 according to tracking. It then was maybe 1000 miles from me. It then arrived in California today June 25. So now it is over 3000 miles from here. Since the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line, why is it taking the N.Y. to California route to South Carolina? Can anybody reading this explain why it is being shipped 2000 miles further than it was? What kind of transportation are they using that takes 3 weeks and a day to travel 2000 miles. Who exactly is this Pitney Bowes that is shipping partner in this folly? Any answers are appreciated.

sarge12
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jeff51 wrote:
Swabs wrote:
Great review!

It is a great little thrower. One of my favorites to EDC. BUT, yes the button is way to small. And, being flush to the body of the torch, makes it that much more annoying. That is my only gripe with it, though.

Thanks for the kind words,
I managed to get the WOWTAC battery to make contact in my charger.

The 5000mAh cell tested to 5398mAh with a resistance of 28mOhms.
That quite a bit better than the spec.
Even though the tester only can pull .5a.

So the battery isn’t the source of the large discrepancy between the WOWTAC spec run times vs. what I got.

Notice the low resistance. These chargers are not known for great accuracy, but 28mOhms is very low.
It’s as good or better than I get from a Samsung 30Q.
Whenever I test a protected cell, I usually see something in the 85+ range.

The battery is so long that I’m sure there is a protection circuit in there someplace.
I wonder what the deal is?

All the Best,
Jeff

It is in fact a protected battery. It is also a fairly high quality battery compared to those sent by many flashlight producers. Both the Wowtac and Sofirn light batteries have been honestly represented in my experience. That is not the case with the cheaper made lights out of China. If I am remembering correctly, it is protected for under voltage, over voltage, short circuits, reverse polarity and over temperature. Most Sofirn lights ship with un-protected batteries, and these protection circuits are in the lights. The advantage of that is cheaper, and more powerful batteries are readily available. The dis-advantage is it is another possible failure point in the light itself. Being a vape user, I have rarely had a vape mod or flashlight that had protection circuits fail when so supplied. On very cheaply made lights, you often received cheap un-protected batteries, in un-protected lights. If you had ever witnessed the thermal run-away on a lithium ion battery, you will take my advice and get good batteries. If it has insanely elevated mah, and current ratings, do not use that lying battery. The market is full of depleted, and cheaply made re-wrapped batteries. You risk burning your house down to use those batteries in those lights. Buy batteries from a trusted source and use a high quality charger that can test the batteries. If the battery is notably lighter than quality cells, don’t even bother testing it…it is trash. I do not understand why companies are not prosecuted for overstating their battery capacity or current rating. It is very dangerous with lithium batteries. It has even been known to bring down planes.