Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★★★
|Switch:|| Digital "soft" pushbutton
|LED Type:|| Cree XR-E Q5
|Price @ Order:||$32.90|
- Runtime, runtime, runtime, runtime!
- Infinitely variable brightness
- SOS not easy to activate by accident
- Perfect last brightness memory
- Excellent quality
- Great, sturdy, practical pocket clip
- Tailstands perfectly
- Clipstands perfectly
- Refrigerator-stands perfectly with magnetic tailcap
- Rather pricey
- Parasitic drain of battery from digital switch
Features / Value: ★★★☆☆
Let me start by prefacing this review with a disclaimer: Manafont.com was kind enough to send me a sample of the Ultrafire UF-H2 headlamp for review. Nevertheless, I will still try to be objective with this review. I am not receiving any monetary compensation from Manafont.com for this review. All opinions are my own.
The Ultrafire UF-H2 is the first headlamp I have ever owned. I was never interested in headlamps for wearing on my head, and I'm still not interested in them. However, after running across the Ultrafire UF-H2, it dawned on me that it still would be incredibly useful for me, in fact even more so than a straight flashlight. I strongly prefer flashlights with a pocket clip, and the UF-H2 obliges with a superb, sturdy, attractive clip. I also realized that when I clip a regular flashlight somewhere onto my shirt, it usually ends up pointing straight down to the ground, instead of illuminating my path ahead. The UF-H2 solves this problem, featuring a lens that projects a wide flood beam along a plane at 90° relative to the flashlight body. So when it's clipped somewhere onto my shirt with the flashlight body parallel to my body, the light shines straight ahead. This is a major advantage and a perfect fit for my work style. The Ultrafire UF-H2 also throws in another unique feature that no other flashlight of mine has, boasting a magnetic tailcap, which works outstandingly well for sticking it sideways on a refrigerator or any other ferrous metal object. One final feature that sets apart the UF-H2 is its switch and mode setup. Instead of the usual reverse clicky mechanical action switch, the UF-H2 has a digital "soft switch" that feels approximately similar to the action of a pushbutton on a modern car radio and makes a muted "click" sound. While holding down the switch, the digital circuitry oscillates the brightness level back and forth from low→high→low. Releasing the switch sets the level. And happily, after turning it off, even for less than a second, it remembers the last setting perfectly. Very well done. It does have a superfluous SOS mode, but fortunately it is accessed by quickly double-clicking the switch, so it's not easy to activate by accident. I wish that the ramping rate was a bit slower, and I wish there was a pause at the highest and lowest levels of the range to make it easier to set those two common extremes. Overall, this headlamp boasts a plethora of useful, unique features. So why not give it 5 stars for this category? The price. $32.90 is a tad bit pricey for my budget oriented preferences. If they could get the price down to about $25 I would give it 4 stars, or anywhere under $20 would easily earn a full 5-star rating. But for some, it may well be worth the premium pricetag for a premium product with these very desirable, well-executed features.
Build Quality / Design: ★★★★★
The build quality and the overall design of the Ultrafire UF-H2 are top notch. My first impression of this light centered on its pleasingly compact size. You can see from the following picture that the Ultrafire UF-H2 is one of the smallest lights I own, and by far the smallest 1xAA light in my collection. In fact it's practically the same length as my smallest twisty 1xAAA flashlight.
Top to bottom: Trustfire F20, Eastward J09, MXDL 1xAAA, Ultrafire UF-H2
Another extremely important feature for me and most other flashlight buyers is that the Ultrafire UF-H2 is tailstandable. And thanks to the switch on top of the light above the right-angle lens, the bottom of the light is left to tailstand by design. Therefore, buyers can order with the confidence that it isn't subject to random manufacturing variation as is the case with other cheap flashlights that occasionally ship with a slightly protruding tailswitch that prevents the light from tailstanding. But the Ultrafire UF-H2 doesn't only tailstand. It also clipstands. Thanks to two thoughtfully placed flats on the pocket clip, on a flat surface the UF-H2 can easily lie on on the backside of its clip with the lens facing upwards to illuminate a room. The pocket clip also reflects thoughtful, careful design in its judiciously placed holes that allow for a lanyard to be threaded or attached. Specifically, it has one hole in the tip of the clip, a metal loop that protrudes from the trough of the clip to which a small metal clip could be attached without affecting the clipstanding, and farther up the clip another hole. This affords the user numerous options to attach one or more lanyards however he wants. Again, very very well done Ultrafire! This tailclip has many truly unique, useful features for my daily usage.
In addition to clipstanding, the UF-H2 even refrigerator stands sideways, thanks to the reasonably strong magnet in its tail. All these feature make it a very fun, flexible tool that I am enjoying very much. Fortunately, all these nifty features are complemented by excellent overall quality. Careful inspection of the body reveals excellent color uniformity. There is a nice knurled section in the middle, although if I rotate it I can see the sparkle of two or three knurl points that apparently didn't quite come out right. The inside of the lens arrived clean. I didn't have to tighten anything. For some reason the tailcap seems to close the circuit more quickly by inserting the battery with the flashlight pointed down. Otherwise it requires more force to really tighten down the last threads until it makes contact. The light signals a closed circuit with a single brief dim flash. The threads on the tailcap are quite smooth and well oiled, although it felt a bit gritty until I wiped off the threads a bit. There is an O-ring in the correct spot on the tailcap. I'm not sure about the area around the lens. I'm sure it's water resistant at least for rain or a brief drop into a puddle. Overall, the design and quality of the Ultrafire UF-H2 is superb, with many thoughtful touches that really make for a pleasant user experience. An easy 5-star rating on this criterion.
Battery Life: ★★★★★
Battery life for the UF-H2 is excellent beyond my wildest expectations. I would give this light 6/5 stars if I could for this category. Thanks to the aforementioned infinitely adjustable output system, the light can be set to a very low level. I have no equipment to measure it, but comparing it to other lights with known values I would estimate the lowest level to be approximately 1 lumen. It is low enough that I can almost comfortably look directly at the LED. At this level, the UF-H2 turns into a veritable battery miser, resulting in off-the-chart runtimes compared to my other lights. With an Eneloop, the UF-H2 ran for somewhere between 80 and 84 hours nonstop. That's more than 3½ days on an Eneloop! The runtime results were even more impressive with a common Rayovac alkaline AA battery-- it ran for more than 116 hours, almost 5 days. During the entire duration of the runtime test output was impressively flat; even with the alkaline I noticed very little battery fade toward the end of the test. It finally just shut off. I should mention that the output on this low level is actually very usable indoors at night. If I had to pick a single light to use while trapped in a mine with just one battery, I would pick the Ultrafire UF-H2 hands down. The only caveat related to battery life on the UF-H2 has to do with the digital "soft" switch. Since the switch is electronic and thus always connected to a closed circuit, it causes a certain amount of parasitic battery drain. Theoretically the battery could run dead just by being installed, possible within a month according to some estimates by other sources. The obvious solution to this issue would be to unscrew the tailcap a few turns to break the circuit. At any rate, the Ultrafire UF-H2 easily receives a class leading 5-star rating here and has become my long run endurance standard for all future flashlights.
Light Output: ★★★★★
The Ultrafire UF-H2 uses a fairly run-of-the-mill Cree XR-E Q5 emitter. However, the lens is much more interesting, since it produces a pure flood beam. For a headlamp (or when clipped onto clothing) a flood beam is the most practical, since precise aiming with the hands is unnecessary with a very wide beam. And wide it is. At about 30cm from the wall, it produces a beautiful, huge circle of uniform light approximately 50cm in diameter.
For me, this is the most usable, practical beam of all my flashlights. Additionally, the light is a pleasant neutral color, and the beam is perfectly uniform all the way out to the very outer edges, where it finally shows a bit of a halo. The beam pattern is perfect for working around the house in the dark on the lowest setting without precisely aiming a hotspot at the most important area. It's worth mentioning that my rather sensitive eyes can not detect any PWM flicker on the lowest or any other output setting. As for the highest setting, I have no exact lumen figures, but it does an impressive job on high of illuminating a dark kitchen or office with excellent detail. It also worked great on about 70% output for a brief walk down a fairly dark, rocky path with some diffuse residential light pollution. The Ultrafire UF-H2 is not the light to use on a search and rescue team, nor would it be a good backup for the main beacon in your lighthouse, but it's a great multipurpose instrument for almost any other mundane task. 5-stars here.
So here we have it. In summary, the Ultrafire UF-H2 averages out to 4.5 stars, being slightly knocked down only because of its relatively high pricetag. But I will follow my normal rules of rounding up, which results in a perfect 5-star rating for the UF-H2. And it's a well deserved rating. The Ultrafire UF-H2 has become my favorite flashlight, combining jaw-dropping runtime with a smooth, wide beam and a superb array of minute details that combine to make it a real pleasure to use. The Ultrafire UF-H2 is a valuable instrument that every serious flashlight fan should have in his toolkit. Highly recommended.
Do you own the Ultrafire UF-H2 headlamp? If so, please give it your own star rating below!