Last time I did a review on a free sample from Banggood (an impressive three-barreled head/bikelight) I was pretty disappointed by it, it was a badly thought-out light, and I said so in the review. That did not discourage Banggood (to their credit, or their ignorance ;-) ) to ask me to do another review, and of a nice looking light :-) .
The Archon D10U has been around for almost 2 years, and although it is mentioned here and there, I had not seen a review on it, probably because it is quite expensive (40+ dollars). I am not a diver, so I can not judge the diving performance of this light (it should go up to 60 meters deep), but because it looks like a well build aspheric light, I will see how well it compares it to the BLFstandardaspheric: the Uniquefire UF-T20.
It comes in a pretty nice box, with two small jars of silicon lube, two extra o-rings for the tail-cap, a lanyard and two big diving lanyards.
The Archon looks very sturdy and has a perfect shiny anodised finish that looks thick and tough. It is a tail twisty and so the UI is kept simple, but still proved a bit confusing. The sequence is high, low, slow-strobe, with next mode memory . But it took me some time to find out that in order to go to the next mode you need a 2-seconds off, any shorter and it will stay in the current mode.
Some numbers: the tail current at high setting is 2.15A. Zoomed out, the output is 420 lumen, zoomed in the output is 235 lumen. The throw when zoomed in is 23 klux @ 1 meter.
So the D10U is moderately driven, the output is pretty avarage for a xml-zoomie, and the throw is nothing special, as you expect from an XM-L led. The beam on a white wall looks pretty clean, nice even flood and good led-projection when zoomed in, but zoomed-in there are some (nothing annoying) rings around the hotspot. On my test-tree (Populus canadensis ) at 25meter distance zoomed out and zoomed-in it looks like this:
On the picture it looks a bit more impressive than in reality, the light throws ok, but it is not for really long distances (which is probably no use underwater anyway).
Nothing special on the driver-led assembly, I'm no expert but it looks like a resistor-controlled (20mm) direct driver with PWM for low mode and strobe (pretty low PWM-frequency on low). The threads for screwing in the pill are on a free rotating separate ring around the pill, held in place by the screws that hold the led-board as well, a bit odd solution, but it is needed to keep the pill from turning and twisting the led wires, because the driver floats under the pill. The plus-battery spring is soldered through a hole in the board, it first goes through a thick plastic thingy that is there to spread out the impact of the battery to the side of the driver board when the light is accidently dropped. There is also a spring in the tail cap.
Concerning the physical build, it looks like it can handle some water pressure, the glass front lens is nice and thick (uncoated), the aluminium bezel-ring can screw the lens very tight onto the o-ring that sits on an edge. There is a brushed aluminium spacer between the glass lens and the aspheric, in flood modus it causes a dim and even spill around the flood beam which can be quite useful. The aluminium spacer presses the (plastic) aspheric lens onto a second o-ring:
The tail cap is very robust, many well lubed anodised threads inside the cap and on the body (after all it forms the switch) and two fat o-rings for water proofing. Under the sliding mechanism for zooming the the light, again two lubed o-rings and lubed threading.
Not sure how well it adds up to underwater performance, but as a layman I am impressed :-) .
Now comes the section where I am not impressed, a comparison to the Uniquefire UF-T20. The Archon is slightly larger, but the effective lens diameter is almost exactly the same (31mm vs 32mm):
The aspheric lens of the Archon has a considerably longer focal length, that does not make the Archon throw less but it does give less output by making the hotspot smaller, when zoomed in. The flood of the Archon is a bit wider than the Uniquefire. (left lens is from the Archon, right lens is from the Uniquefire):
I can not do a direct beam comparison between the two because though I have many pills for my UF-T20, there is not one left with an XM-L in it (who started the unsane trend putting XM-L's in aspherics anyway??). But because of the shorter focal length (glass) lens and the lack of an extra thick lens in front of it, I the UF-T20 will beat this Archon on every aspect (physics can't be defied).
The Archon D10U is a nice looking and very robust light with an output performance that is worse than the comparable and well-build Uniquefire UF-T20 that costs half of it. That leaves two reasons to buy it:
1) it looks really well build, if you want an ok performing 18650 zoomie for very rough (and wet) use, this might be the one (I'd mod it with a more suitable led and better driver though).
2) you are a diver.
To finish the review I am looking for a diver who wants to put the light to some underwater testing, preferably up to 60 meters :evil: , and report in this thread (with pictures please :-) ) . Please respond in this thread, the first serious responder who is willing to do the testing will receive the light. To limit my shipping costs, I will send the flashlight to anywhere in Europe for free (jay, one of those scarse giveaways not for US-members, though I love all of you americans all the same :love: ), and the tester can keep the flashlight afterwards. Perhaps before testing, all the seals have to be checked/lubed because I have disassembled the light fully for the review.
Thanks for reading :-)