I think I'm about done collecting for the time being; seems like I have a little of just about every type of LED light and that there isn't a huge difference in results with other lights out there, just aesthetics.
It also seems like technology in LED's has reached the limits of what current batteries and heat-sinking capabilities can do. Unless someone invents a new LED that surpasses Cree in terms of lumens, or stays cooler, or runs longer, not sure what advances can be made in the short term.
My plan is to take a look again at the market in about 6-8 months and see what advances have beem made in reflectors and bodies with better heat dissapation, and maybe in battery technology as well. 18650-sized batteries with higher voltage or capacity might help the situation, or even smaller batteries with better capacities. Nothing along those lines would surprise me.
What I would really like to see is for Cree XM-L's to drop in price, and start seeing them optimized in larger lights, say regular maglites or other "classical" flashlight body sizes, rather then the "tactical" sized pocket lights. I'm also a sucker for a good side-clicky, I hate tail switches when I'm using a flashlight under normal situations. Who wants to hold that thing at chest or head height and have to use your thumb to switch modes?
I really like this forum, so I'll still be hanging out around here. Previously I took a 4-year vacation from flashlight forums and was totally blown away when I came back and found out about cheap Cree lights. I wonder what the market will be four years from now? I don't want to jump into it then cold-turkey, so I'll probably keep up-to-date around here with new stuff.
Maybe instead of buying 6 cheap flashlights a month I'll just buy one semi-nice one, not sure what would tempt me at this point.
I do anticipate that some of you guys here will end up being very successful selling inexpensive modded lights on this forum. That "other place" has some success stories, but those guys want your wallet. I think there is a place for custom lights in the $40-50 category, so if you can do some nice mods to a $10 host with a $13 dropin and sell it for $49, you will make some money.
For instance, I'd pay for a 504B with a realiable switch and a 3-mode clicky, with XM-L power and a good optimized reflector, that pulls a consistent 3.5A on high. Where do you find a light like that? Not on DX or Manafont... I'd pay even more if it had a waterproof side-clicky.
Just my Sunday morning ramblings, wondering where this hobby will take us in a year or two.