Review: Xtar R01 XM-L Rechargeable Light (Pic Heavy, Beamshots)

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SirJohn
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Review: Xtar R01 XM-L Rechargeable Light (Pic Heavy, Beamshots)

XTAR R01 XM-L Rechargeable Flashlight

 

The Xtar R01 is very new to the market so here is a review for those that are looking for more choices in rechargeable lights. Even if you are not looking for a rechargeable light, this light has some features that you may find of interest. The light retails around $60-$70 without battery. Xtar was running a promotion for their previous version of the light, the A01, which is equipped with an XP-G R5. While in contact with them about the details of that promotion, they informed me about this new light. Miles at Xtar graciously provided this light to me at a promotional price of $44 including one of their 18700 2600ma batteries with Sanyo core. So is the light decent for something modestly priced? Read on and find out.

 

Manufacturer Specs:

CREE XM-L T6 LED with a 50000h Lifespan

Max Output Flux: 800 Lm

Runtime: low 18-lumens(180 hours)/ middle 320-lumens(200 minutes)/ high 800-lumens(80 minutes)

Max range: 118m

Powered by 1 x 18650/18700 Li-ion or 2 x CR123A dry battery

Waterproof Degree: IPX-6

Switch: Tailcap Switch

6061 durable aircraft-grade aluminum alloy

Size: 160mm(length) x 37.0mm(head diameter) x 25.5mm(body diameter)

Netweight: 124g

Creative design with 5 modes: High100%, Mid40%, Low10%, Strobe, SOS mode, can cancel or recover

Mid, Low, Strobe, SOS mode at will.

Built-in Charging Management Module, Can charge for 1X18650/18700

Input C&V / Output C&V: 5V 500mA / 4.2V 500mA

 

The specs are a little thin, so I inquired of Xtar some additional information:

Type III hard anodizing

2.5v~8.4v

2.0A driver

800 lumen claim at the emitter measured in Integrated Sphere

 

Features 4/5

The R01 package included a holster, lanyard, USB recharging cable, spare o-ring, spare clicky switch, manual and a wall adapter. My package also included an Xtar 2600ma battery, but apparently this is not included in the basic stock package. Because this light is brand new, Xtar had not finished a retail package of it so my sample came with each component heavily bubble wrapped and then sent in a box. The new manual also had yet to be finalized for mass printing so my copy was clearly done as a one-off. I have to say that it is nicely detailed, but was for the XP-G R5 version of the light. The warranty claims to be for 24 months.

 

Xtar offers the light in both XP-G and XM-L editions. The LED module is easily removable and replaceable. As of now, I don’t see Xtar selling modules by themselves for user upgrades, but perhaps this is coming. In fact the entire light is able to be disassembled by the user. The bezel can be unscrewed to access the lens, reflector, and led module. The recharging module can easily be unscrewed from the light. The tailcap can be fully disassembled. In fact, the manual gives a full exploded schematic of the light. Its highly mod friendly if you find parts that fit. One issue I ran into though is that the reflector does sit loose in the head. It is not secured or screwed in to anything. If you unscrew the bezel, it is a pain in the butt to get the reflector and emitter lined back up again. You’ll see that in the emitter shot that the emitter is very slightly off center because I had a heck of a time lining it back up after unscrewing the bezel.

 

This light is pretty unique currently in the flashlight world. To my knowledge, it is the only rechargeable light currently available with an XM-L. This is also one of the few lights with a USB rechargeable option. Since it also comes packaged with a wall adapter you do have the option of plugging into either a USB port or the wall right out of the box. Further, there is a car adapter as an optional accessory so you can pretty much charge this light anywhere.

 

One huge feature that gives it an advantage over just about every other rechargeable light is that you can use just about any 18650 in it and still fully use the rechargeable feature. In most other lights of this type you have to mess with a proprietary battery to be able to use the in-light charging. In this case, if the battery quits, just get another 18650 and you are good to go. The downsides are the fact that since the charger module is entirely self contained in the light, it must be a little longer than a typical 1x18650 style light to accommodate the circuit, and that Xtar does not feel it necessary to include a battery in stock form. Dealers do tend to offer the light with battery as a package, however. It is sort of puzzling why they don’t just price the retail price slightly higher and just include the battery. In actual operation, the charging system is unusual in that you must turn the light on and then plug in the cord in order for it to work. An led light just below the port on the flashlight comes on red while charging and turns green when finished. So far I have tested twice and it seems to turn the light green at 4.14 volts, which is actually consistent with Xtar’s normal chargers. Xtar claims termination, but I am not sure how to test this and I haven’t had time to leave a battery on a few extra hours to see what the voltage would be.

 

An issue I have with the charge system is that that they do not use a standard micro usb attachment for the flashlight itself. It instead uses one of those round mini-plugs that we used to see to plug in the AC/DC adapters in older electronics/cell phones. This means that the USB cable is not a standard USB to micro USB cable, but pretty much proprietary. It’s a rather silly oversight for a device that is USB rechargeable.

 

Another unique feature is the DIY mode circuit. If you have basic soldering skills, you can easily adjust this light to remove any of the modes you don’t won’t. It’s a simple, but somewhat crude solution to the fact that so many people want so many different mode options on their lights. You can make it a 1 mode light, or a 3-mode without flashies, or leave it in stock 5-mode form, or do any other combination you want. Simply unscrew the head and the PCB has four accessible contacts. Each contact is for a different mode (there is no contact for high obviously). If you want to remove a mode, just put a blob of solder on the corresponding contact. To restore that mode, just remove the solder. Its basic enough that you don’t need to know anything about electronic circuits to do it and it allows the light to be customizable to your needs. Its not nearly as graceful as a nice programmable interface, but I do give Xtar credit for providing such a feature on a light of this price point. If its unclear how this works, here’s the page from the manual:

 

Operationally, the light uses a forward clicky and it has mode memory. All the modes are controlled via the lone tail switch. While Xtar is not the only manufacturer to do this, the combination of a single switch that controls modes as well as turn the light on or off in a forward arrangement is a little odd. This arrangement makes it impossible to change modes while the light is still on. You must instead turn the light off and then back on. The best thing to do is to select the mode before fully turning on the light. You go through half depressing until you find the mode you want and then fully depress the switch for it to remain on. It does take a little getting used to. However, the forward clicky is nice for momentary on should you need it and if you are to eliminate all the modes you do not want, you will probably really like this. The light does have memory that appears in my testing to take effect after three seconds. The switch is fully recessed within the tailcap, which helps with accidental activation and allows the light to easily tailstand.

 

The light is capable of supporting 1x18650, 2xcr123a, or 2x16340. Obviously, if you plan to use the recharging function, you can only use the 18650, but you can use the other batteries to power the light.

 

Build Quality 4/5

The light is pretty well built. It is hard anodized as claimed. The threads were all nice and smooth though in need of a little more lube. There are orings everywhere you would expect. Anodizing is fairly smooth and uniform as is the gnurling. However, the gnurling is on the shallow side. I prefer a more aggressive, deeper knurling. I didn’t see any excess debris other than the retaining in the tailcap looks a little grimy. The soldering seemed pretty clean and well done. There is a tiny imperfection on the outside of the tailcap. Eagle eyed viewers will be able to spot in the photos. The light feels very solid in hand and I detected no rattling or other issues. The tailswitch itself has a reasonable tactile feel. It did not strike me as particularly troublesome or blow me away as fabulous.  The threads on the tail end of the battery tube are anodized so it does have lock out ability. The included holster is one of the better ones I’ve seen in this price range, but still nowhere near heavy duty.

 

A minor nitpick: While I wouldn’t say the cable for the charge is too thin, it is a little thinner than most of my standard USB cables. I do wish that it was a little thicker. Of course, if Xtar would use a standard micro USB port for the charge module, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

 

The design seems like it would dissipate heat fairly well for its size. The pill does make contact with both the head and the battery tube so it should provide plenty of metal for heat dissipation. The light did get a little warm but I have yet to run it on high for more than about five minutes at a time. After five minutes it was a little warm, but not hot.

 

 

Light Output/Battery Life 4/5

I do not have a light meter or an IS. I do have a pretty crappy DMM so I will start with those figures. I can’t guarantee that these figures are reliable, but they do make sense given the beamshots and from what I saw visually.

Low 20ma

Med 0.57amps

High 1.75amps

 

Two things off the bat. The low is pretty low. Not moonlight low, but in the neighborhood of 10 lumens and with only 20ma draw, that 18650 is going to last a very long time. Yes, its on the large side for EDC, but with the real, usable low, this does become a feasible EDC option. The other, is the high draw. Given that Xtar claimed that it would be a 2amp driver, this reading is low. At that current level, it would not reach the claimed 800 lumens at the emitter. Again, I can’t trust the accuracy of my meter. However, given the output, that current number seems reasonable. Based on the comparison shots and my own eye, OTF lumens is close to 500 lumens. The output is very slightly more than what I am seeing with my Xeno E03 XM-L on high with a 14500. The medium mode seems to come in pretty close to 200 lumens judging by my eye and the beamshots. I’d say the modes are pretty well spaced.

 

UPDATE: I've retested the draw and got the following, more reliable figures:

Low 20ma

Med 0.71amps

High 2.01amps

 

Output is on the floody side, but with still some throw. As you’ve seen, the reflector is orange peel but measures roughly 33 mm wide and about 26mm deep so it is bit larger than a P60 reflector. Close up on a white wall, you actually see a slightly brighter small hotspot within the hotspot. However, at any sort of distance, I don’t see this affect. Outdoors, I did see some reflection of light off a building over 200 meters away, but I wouldn’t really think of it as reasonable. A house at 120 meters was reasonably lit so it will give you at least 100 meters of effective range. The color on my sample was surprisingly warm. This is the warmest LED light I own. Perhaps I won the tint lottery on this one as Xtar makes no claim on bin colors or of a neutral or warm white emitter. I wouldn’t say that it’s a warm white, but it is clearly more of a yellow than my Xeno E03 cool white or my Fenix LD20 Q5. I wish I had a neutral white light to compare it to.

 

Indoor beamshots: Xeno E03 XM-L 14500, Fenix LD20 Q5 Nimh, Xtar R01 XM-L 18650

 

Ceiling bounce shots:

LD20 Q5

 

R01 Low

R01 Medium

I changed up the ceiling beam shot a bit to compare the E03 XM-L on 14500 and the R01 on high. I found these shots to be a little more informative than the ones taken with the others. To my eye, the R01 is the slight winner.

E03 14500

 

R01 High

Outdoor Beamshots - 40 feet to crabapple tree

LD20Q5

E03 14500

R01 High

R01 medium

R01 low

 

The output modes are clearly controlled by PWM. The light does make some audible noise if you hold the light close to your ear on the medium mode. On the low mode, the pwm is on the low side, but I did not find it bothersome in any way. I could wave my hand rapidly in front of the light and see some strobe effect. However, the clearly audible noise of the medium mode is not present.

 

Overall 4/5

This is a solid light. I do, however, feel somewhat like Foy did in his review of the Xtar Wk25. It is in many ways sort of vanilla. I don’t find anything particularly objectionable about the light. Some may not like particular features of this light that would make it not feasible for them, but others may want those features so I can’t judge on that basis. However, there was nothing about this light that blew me away or stood clearly above other lights. However, this light does provide a collection of features that does make it unique. Yes other lights are better in areas, but don’t provide some of the other things this light provides. I do like the light and would recommend it as another option in the rechargeable light field. Actually, I would still recommend it just as a stand alone light given the reasonable price.

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:22
Match
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Very nice review, SirJohn.  The ceiling bounce tests do give a pretty good comparative indication of light output.

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Hands down, Sir. Excellent review Wink Only one question: why not SMO reflector? :~

BTW, would be great to see those 2-in-1 pic comparison (don't know if we still have that feature) 

 

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My guess is that current reflectors tend to put out an uneven (even ugly) hotspot w/ smo reflectors designed for smaller emitter. I wish I had an OP for the MF XML dropins.

Also, for people who wanted a thrower anyway, their A01 xp-g is SMO and focused really well. Almost as small of hotspot as c8/mrv lights (which are necessarily smaller spot just because they're xr-e emitters).

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SashiX wrote:

Hands down, Sir. Excellent review Wink Only one question: why not SMO reflector? :~

BTW, would be great to see those 2-in-1 pic comparison (don't know if we still have that feature) 

 

Good question. The picture over at szwholesale made it look like it was a smooth reflector with some of the concentric ring texturing that you are seeing with some of the higher end lights now. I was a little disappointed that it came with an OP reflector. I tried not letting that affect my review in any way. I think a smooth reflector would be a positive addition to this light. I wonder if Xtar would provide me with one. Since the previous A01 was with a smooth reflector, they must have them.

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Nice review SirJohn, thanks a lot! I like the ceiling bounce shots, since that's what I most use my lights for. Frontpage'd and Sticky'd.

Looks like a pretty solid light. I like the built in charging feature, that's really slick.

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agenthex wrote:

My guess is that current reflectors tend to put out an uneven (even ugly) hotspot w/ smo reflectors designed for smaller emitter. I wish I had an OP for the MF XML dropins.

Also, for people who wanted a thrower anyway, their A01 xp-g is SMO and focused really well. Almost as small of hotspot as c8/mrv lights (which are necessarily smaller spot just because they're xr-e emitters).

Could be, yup. IMO, they should create a new one instead of using old OP reflector for XPG. One reflector for Q5/R2, other for R4/R5, other for XML T6, etc.

Agree, A01 with R5 throws very well Wink 

 

@Sir

Ask them if they can send you A01 reflector. 

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I seem to recall that Xtar's forward clicky switch is rated at 3amps. I think I ran across it doing a google search at one point. Actually, its here from some videos that someone at Xtar posted:

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjUwOTIyNDIw.html

Yes, that is a rivet. The spring is actually riveted to the tail switch so it is one piece.

Wrote an e-mail to Miles about a smooth reflector. I'll see what he says. I can't imagine he'd send it for free, but maybe for a small fee he'd send one.

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Just to add, an hour and a half after the light turned green, the battery still tests at 4.14 volts. I didn't want to go any longer initially in case it overcharged for some reason, but so far it seems like it is pretty safe and no danger of overcharging. Given that Xtar's regular chargers do a good job of not overcharging, I expected there wouldn't be any trouble, but its good to confirm. I may go longer next time, but I'm not sure if its really necessary. With a good protected cell, this may actually be giftable to the average joe who wants just a rechargeable light without having to worry about cell condition, DMM readings, etc.

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Charged once (A01 R5), 4.23V after turned green Undecided (no more 15 min)  

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That's odd SashiX, mine seems rock solid at terminating at 4.14volts. Most people who have Xtar's chargers also find them cutting current at the 4.12-4.15 range. Maybe Xtar has a few quality control issues to still work out. The longer I have the R01, the more I like it.

Miles said that the smooth reflectors didn't work very well with the R01 so they decided to go with the OP when they went into production. He said they will look at a smooth reflector again for the next production run.

One comment that I didn't include in my review. When I asked Miles for the adiditonal specs, he mentioned that the driver is capable of being set at 2.5amps. I don't have the knowledge to be able to look at the circuit board and figure out how this might be accomplished, but it is within the design capability of the driver for those that like to mod. Hmmm... An R01 XM-L special edition with a smooth reflector and driven at 2.5amps. That could be fun.

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Nice review, thanks. Looks like the A01 with OP reflector and XM-L to me. Smile

The charging mechanism along with the disable/enable modes is absolutely the strong point of this flashlight. Robably also HA anodized as the A01 are.

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The tailcap has been changed from the A01. Its very subtle, but if you compare pics, you can see the difference. Specs indicate that the R01 is a tad longer than the A01 and I'm guessing that is due to the change in tailcap. obviously the switch is different as the new one is a forward clicky and I believe the A01 had a reverse clicky. Otherwise the body does appear the same as the A01 and they just changed out the emitter and reflector and maybe revised the driver. Here's the pic of the A01:

as opposed to the R01:

It also almost seems that the indentations on the head are also a little elongated on the R01 vs the A01. Not sure why that would be the case. If they went so far as to change that and it is truly a different head, why didn't they change the design a little more to differentiate the new model.

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My WP2 cuts at 4.18-4.20V Smile

Already gave my A01 to the friend of mine, he loves it :bigsmile: Will tell him to check the cell with DMM next time.

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If anyone cares, I just retested the draw with a better DMM. The readings I got previously were a little low compared to the new readings:

Low 20ma

Med .71a

High 2.01a

This is more in line with the 2amp driver claim.

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Noobie here. This is a great review, and a very nice light that I am interested in getting. Anyone know where one can be purchased? I am on a waiting list for the A01 presently. Appreciate a reply, thank you.

 

patrick

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Nice review, SirJohn. As for the light itself...ehhh. Certainly nothing special and even at the discount price of $44 I still think it's overpriced compared to what you can get for that money.

Definitely not 800 lumen though. 2A at the tail plus 20% loss through the driver would leave you at around 600 lumens. I actually preferred the beam shots of the E03 compared to it.

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I got this and concur with everything SirJohn posted in the review. It's a very competent light in every single category: user changeable modes (no strobes), charger, ha-iii, great finish, regulated (rare for 1 cell xm-l's), nice beam/output. 2A draw is also what I got and IMO 2-2.5A is best for an XML on high. Mode memory @ 3sec could be a bit better. The same quality from a major name brand would cost twice as much.

I suppose you can call it vanilla, but I think in part that's just because it doesn't really have deficiencies that give it "character". Very excellent light to put where you will need/depend on it.

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