Review: Quark Mini AA2

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jekostas
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Review: Quark Mini AA2

4Sevens Quark Mini AA2

Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Quark Mini AA2

Summary:

Battery: 2xAA
Switch: Twisty
Modes: 7
LED Type: XP-G R5
Lens: Coated Glass
Tailstands: Yes
Price Payed: $28.75
From:
4Sevens
Date Ordered:12/10/10

 

Pros:

  • High Output
  • Common Battery Type
  • Type 3 Hard-Anodizing
  • 10 year warranty
  • IPX-8 Waterproofing
  • Compact for the format

Cons:

  • Price I paid no longer available
  • Bad battery rattle issue
  • Awkward shape prevents one-handed operation
  • Dirty and gritty threads
  • Useless add-ins
  • Ugly tint

 

Features / Value: ★★★

4Sevens is actually a relatively new maker on the flashlight scene, and very similar to Fenix, they specialize in high quality, foreign-made lights with long warranties.  Similar to Fenix, they also tend to go with the "kitchen sink" method of feature inclusion.  Quick list of the feature set of the Quark Mini AA2 (and all the Quark Minis):

-IPX-8 waterproofing

-Type 3 Hard Anodizing

-10 year Warranty

-T6061 Aircraft Aluminium build

-Dual-coated optical-grade glass lens

-Low-Med-High Modes plus "Hidden" Strobe/SOS/Beacon1/Beacon2 (you have to do two full runthroughs of the standard modes to get to the hidden modes)

-Included lanyard, batteries, spare o-rings in the package.

I'll have to apologize now as these pictures are NOT the best - my dSLR is currently off getting a much needed cleaning and these were taken with a point and shoot camera.

Anyways, some pictures:

Comparison Picture

Quick comparison picture for you - the Quark Mini is in the middle, bracketed by a Maglite 2xAAA on one side and a Maglite 2xAA on the other.  As you can see, the Quark is quite compact for a 2xAA format light.

Emitter and Reflector

Picture of the Cree XP-G R5 Bin emitter.  It is perfectly centered in the body, and rests in a rather heavily textured OP-type reflector.  It does give a very nice beam.

Driver Backing

Picture of the driver in the head.  There is no reverse polarity protection, but the electrical contact was very good.

While I'm generally happy with the feature set, outside of the somewhat poor knurling on the head, there is one other caveat - the included extras in the package (which I don't have a picture of, sorry) are kind of useless outside of the spare o-rings.  4Sevens included 2xAA Duracell Alkaline batteries (yeah for my TV remote) and what is actually a pretty quality neck lanyard.  Unfortunately, with batteries loaded this particular light is way too heavy to be worn around the neck.  A decent belt sheath rather than the batteries and lanyard would've been much better.

 

Design / Build Quality: ★★☆☆

Unfortunately, there are some issues with the design and build quality that really need to be addressed with this light, especially considering the normal price point (~$45 shipped). 

The first issue is the knurling on the head of the flashlight.

Head Knurling

Picture of the knurling on the head of the light.  While it was decent, it was not spectacular and could be more "grippy".  I'm going to have to take a bit off here - the somewhat slippery head and odd format of the light makes it difficult to operate one-handed.

The second issue was the the threads (two sets at head and tail) came only very lightly lubed, and extremely gritty.  I ended up having to take the light apart and completely cleaning/relubing it before it stopped grinding.

The biggest issue, and one I find completely unacceptable in a light of this price point is that there is a really bad battery rattle.  I tried the light with 4 sets of AA batteries - the Duracells that came with the light, a set of hi-cap Energizer standard NiMHs and two sets of LSD NiMHs (Eneloop and Rayovac Hybrid).  All of them exhibited the battery rattle.  4Sevens has claimed in the past that the extra room in the battery tube is to take in to account thermal expansion of the batteries under heat, but I have a feeling that a strong spring in the tailcap portion would've nipped this problem in the bud.  I tried stretching out the existing spring, but it's not strong enough, so I ended up having to add a piece of paper to the battery tube.  If this were a cheaper 2xAA light (like the recently reviewed Tank TK566-3) I might not have cared so much, but as I mentioned - this light retails for three times as much.  Unacceptable!

 

Battery Life: ★★★★★

For some reason, my cheapo multimeter didn't want to take any reliable tailcap readings, so I'm going to have to rely on the manufacturer's information for this section.  4Sevens rates their lights thusly:

180 lumens (high): 1.8 hours

35 lumens (medium): 3.6 hours

3 lumens (low): 3.4 days

These are just slightly behind the new S2 emitter numbers and if they are true, they are quite good.

Light Output: ★★★☆☆

In terms of light output, there are a couple problems to note.  The actual lumens readings are very nice - 4Sevens is known to use OTF (or ANSI) readings in their lights, and as such the stated output on their webpage can generally be taken as accurate.  The ratings for the R5 emitter were 180 lumens, 35 lumens and 3 lumens OTF.  This is a very nice mode split.

However, there's more to light output than sheer lumens numbers.  In terms of beam quality, pretty good.  The heavily textured OP reflector gives a very smooth beam with a reasonably well-defined hotspot and smooth spill.  The XP-G emitter in the short reflector also gives a VERY floody beam - there's little throw.  If you like floody lights, well this is a good from that perspective.

Beamshot

The other part of output is tint and sorry for the language, but it's fucking ugly.  It really is.  4Sevens has a bit of reputation for sending out greenish or blueish tinted emitters, and this one is no different.  I normally wouldn't complain that much about the tint but:

1.  It is noticeable since you're going to be using this light at short distances, and

2.  They charge more for neutral-tint emitters, most of which are no longer available anyways.  Blech.  Talk about nickel and diming you to death.

Summary: ★★★☆☆

At the end of the day, I'm kind of undecided on the absolute value of this light.  I got it at a pretty good discount to regular price (about 40%), but that price is no longer available except used.  There are also some annoying build quality issues (rattle rattle), as well as the ugly tint to the beam.  If it were still available at the price I paid, my recommendation would be whole-hearted.  At it's current price point however it competes with lights such as the Fenix LD25, and I think the latter might come out ahead.

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 11:43
Don
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Thanks for the review. I think I'll be avoiding this one.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

old4570
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4 Sevens does not really make lights ...

They contract out to makers to make the lights to a certain standard , and with there 4 Sevens logo ...

Anyone who wants to can contact Chinese manufacturers and simply have there Logo / Brand put on a light ...  

If you submit your own design , expect it to go out the back door under a different name .. 

 Always remember , the easiest thing in the world to do , is to expel hot air from your lungs and through some vocal chords ..
The resulting sound may , or may not be worth listening too ….

 

jekostas
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old4570 wrote:

4 Sevens does not really make lights ...

They contract out to makers to make the lights to a certain standard , and with there 4 Sevens logo ...

Anyone who wants to can contact Chinese manufacturers and simply have there Logo / Brand put on a light ...  

If you submit your own design , expect it to go out the back door under a different name .. 

Oh, I understand this - I'm a business consultant by trade and I just finished a four month consulting project for a client on the pocket/hunting/sporting knife industry.  Same modus operandi, same problems.  What you're supposed to be paying for when you get items from an American company is proper quality control.

sb56637
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Thanks for the great review jekostas! Very thorough, and those pics aren't bad at all. Sticky'd and Frontpage'd.

So, this basically confirms my beliefs that most critically acclaimed name brand lights come from the same place as our budget variety lights. I like the looks of the Quark Mini series, and I like that 10 year warranty. But I think that a careful buyer can save a lot of money and even try out a lot of cheaper options for much less money. Very interesting review here.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

jekostas
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Thanks for the kind words.  In the last three days we've had snow, sleet, hail and rain in my part of the worlds so when it eventually clears up, I'll try and get some outdoors shots.

sb56637
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Ah, great, I'd love to see the outdoor shots too if you have time for it.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

Boaz
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Flipping , fargging,frigging ,damn ,stinkin ,awefully ,exceedingly ,horrific ,attrocious ,unacceptable,F***ING, So ugly it makes you wanna f***ing cuss...

That's pretty ugly ..and the tank is pretty sexy colored compared to that "carp"...

BUT the tank is slick and people say the indentation  makes a big difference .. gives you something to grab onto .

I'm mixed .. I think i want huge knurl..all knurl .. but part of me likes the slick tank and other lites too ..At cheap prices who cares if you bang em around .. it friggin hasn't happened yet .

       καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν

                            

       Dc-fix diffuser film  >…  http://budgetlightforum.com/node/42208

Match
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Wow Boaz!  Where did the Bad Quark touch you?  Show me on the doll.....

fishinfool
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Match wrote:

Wow Boaz!  Where did the Bad Quark touch you?  Show me on the doll.....

ROFL  Now that was friggin' funny!

Don wrote:

"But as I said long ago, you are more likely to be killed by a dead fish dropped by a seagull in the Sahara Desert than by a lithium ion

danceswithferrets
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Cheers for the balanced review, I agree that faults we would tolerate on a $10 light should not be present on a $30 light. Oh, and (I assume) we are all adults here so if something bugs you to the point where swearing is the only way you can honestly express your true displeasure at the object of your review then I for one have no problem with it. That is what swearing is for after all, have you ever missed the nail and hammered your thumb ? Did you say gosh darn it ? Exactly Wink

jekostas
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As sort of an update, I should say that I sold this light about a week ago - while the output was nice given the common battery type, the shortcomings present in the light drove me nuts.

On the plus side since I didn't pay a heck of a lot I didn't lose any money on the deal, which I guess is good.

Piers
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I was unaware of their 10year warranty. That makes it certain then, these are not aimed at me (or most of us).

While LED's are often quoted as having 100,000hour lives I don't imagine any of mine will have the chance to use all that up. They will be gutted and upgraded until they beg for death! Silly

Don
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I have always wondered why 4Sevens doesn't make more of this warranty - I'd have thought it was a big selling point.

Not that most of my lights would be under warranty for much beyond 48 hours by which time I'll have dismantled them if only to photograph them.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...