Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Nitecore EZ AA R5 Review (The best EDC light on the market)
The detailed specs
The Nitecore EZ AA is a tiny light for its power, coming in at only 3.3 inches in length, .67 inches in diameter and only weighing .81 ounces without the battery. This makes the AA around the same size as most aaa lights, without sacrificing anything in power and performance. One of the nicest features is the ability to tail stand, allowing the unit to be used as an emergency light for camping or home use. The nitecore also features some of the highest quality components, including an anodized aluminum exterior, covered in a type 3 hard coating to resist wear and tear. The same coating is wrapped in a nicely textured knurling, allowing for easy operation of the light and a firm grip in the hand. The AA features an O ring, which allows the unit to have an IPX-8 waterproof rating. It also features an impact resistant, optical grade glass lens with an anti reflective coating, allowing for the most efficient light output possible. The rating states that the AA can be under water at a depth of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes, without any water penetration. This makes it perfect for the occasional accidental drop in a puddle. Beneath the lens is an orange peel textured aluminum reflector, which allows the nitecore to project an even spread of light over a wide area. At the heart of the unit is the 10mm neutral white cree xpg r5, which delivers up to 160 lumens while still being extremely power efficient. Powering the led is a sophisticated dc to dc power converter. The converter not only boost voltage from the power cell to the led, but also limits harmful amounts of energy from damaging the bulb. The nitecore can handle a variety of different battery technologies including, alkaline cells, Nimh, NiCD, disposable lithium and the rechargeable 14500 lithium ion battery.
Over the course of a month I put the EZ AA through a variety of battery tests. The first was on it's ability to provide maximum light on a NiMH cell. For my testing I used a combination of an 1800 mah and 2600 mah NiMH cell. The 1800 mah cell provided around 20 minutes of maximum output and around 1.5 hours of useable light while locked onto the maximum setting. The 2600 mah cell provided around 1 hour of bright light and around 3 of usable light. The run times for the lowest setting are 13 hours for the 1800 mah cell and 25 hours for the 2600 mah cell. During some tests I switched to a normal alkaline cell, which had much lower overall performance. The alkaline was only able to achieve around 30 minutes of bright light at the max setting and around 35 minutes of useable light. On the lowest setting, the alkaline cell was able to achieve a good 23 hours of light. I was unable to get a NiCD or 14500 battery for testing.
Operating the AA is quite easy, first you need to fit it with your choice of battery cell then twist the knurled head all the way to the left. Once twisted, the light starts out in it's low 6 lumen mode. To get to a different mode, the user should turn the light on, then off within 1 second to activate the ramping user interface. The light output will increase from 6 to 160 lumens, with medium and high settings indicated by 1 or 2 flashes. Once you find your desired output, just twist the light off and the setting is locked in. What I like about this UI is that the setting is saved, regardless of if the light is left off for a period of time or has the battery totally removed.
The EZ AA is rated for 160 lumens of light, but that light is spread evenly over a large area. When testing I found the light output to throw as far as 50 feet of useable light (426 feet rated throw), which is less than most spot focused competitors featuring less lumens, but perfect for it's intended use for general illumination. When testing indoors, around 10 feet from a 10 foot high wall, I found the coverage to be quite well, with around a 6 foot diameter in the highest output mode. In comparison I performed the same test with a 105 lumen led lenser p5 in spot mode and only achieved a 2 foot diamater, although with a much more focused main beam. As far as the color temperature, the xpg r5 puts out a nice netural white light, between 3,700 - 5,000 depending on output mode.
In my opinion the EZ AA is the best light out there to use with a single AA battery. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the other guys have, but that allows the AA to be easier to operate and smaller to carry. It is plenty bright, has desent battery life and pushes a large amount of light out to a broad area. The build quality is flawless, which will also contribute to extended reliability and a great in the pocket feel. Over my useage the AA never failed to perform and also held up to my in the pocket abuse. I honestly feel that it will be a great choice for anyone who needs to carry a small but powerful light and would definitely recommend it. The only negative thing I can say about it is that the tail stand mode is not as stable as I would have liked it.
You can buy a nitecore EZ AA R5 of your own from a variety of online retailers including, amazon.com and ebay.com.
*prices may vary