Saturday, November 21, 2009

Energizer LED Penlight, BIG value for small dollars

In the last decade or so, LED (light emitting diode) flashlights have flooded the personal lighting market, and with the exception of certain mega hot xenon or halogen light makers (Surefire for example), LEDs are becoming the standard. Even Surefire and Streamlight, known for their more traditional superbright bulbs, are ever expanding their selection of LED lights. The advantages are obvious, they are more energy efficient, cooler running, and more durable than traditional flashlight bulbs, as well as lasting virtually forever. LED technology just keeps getting better. Regardless of the flashlight manufacturer, you'll hear company names like Cree, Nichia, and Luxeon, when reading specifications pertaining to the actual LED "bulb" used in various flashlights. Nichia is highly regarded in this category, as one of the finest leaders in LED technology, and you'll find their diodes in dozens of manufacturers brands. Along with companies like Luxeon and Cree, Nichia LEDs are very highly regarded for brightness and quality. It surprised me that this little $7.00 (avg. US price)penlight from Energizer comes equipped with a Nichia LED "bulb".

Model PLED23AE, is one of the few "pen lights" that is actually very close to the dimensions of an actual writing pen, only very slightly thicker and longer,it's about 6 and 3/4 inches long, with a single Nichia LED bulb protruding slightly out of the tip. There's no reflector housing, or cover, as LEDs are generally very tough. It's got a nice pocket clip which works well, and some lightly engraved "checkering" toward the front, where you might grip it like a writing utensil. The body is likely made of aluminum, as seems to be the pocket clip. It's activated by a simple plastic clicker button, very much like many ballpoint pens. It comes with two AAA batteries (Energizer brand of course), and the last inch or so where the switch and clip are located, unscrews, and batteries are dropped in positive side down. I originally bought one of these at my local Target store for my teenage nephew as a little extra to give him with his birthday gift about a year ago. He's pretty mechanically inclined and clever, so I figured he'd find a use for it, after we opened it, I was a bit remiss about giving it to him, as it's such a cool light for the price. I mean, realistically, this little tool is about the same price as a fast food combo meal, batteries included, and loaded with a super premium Nichia LED!!

It was with this in mind, that I picked up my own a few weeks ago. I have a ton of flashlights in all different quality and price ranges (hence the "Bright" in my blog's name). Because I own so many lights, I didn't open this one right away, as I've been using my little Fenix E01 (I actually have 2! of those!)
I'm glad I finally did crack open the little Energizer though, as it's been immensely handy in the car, as my dome light is pretty shitty. I was at a stoplight, and my can of Swedish snus slipped out of my hand and onto the floor, pulling out and activating the Energizer very quickly, I was able to spot my tobacco can on the floor and retrieve it before the traffic light changed. I have a few generic yet high quality LED flashlights which have a super focused spot beam, and they're alright, but I actually prefer a wider, more diffused beam like the one produced by this little Energizer. With the tightly focused lights with a thick glass lens, fine work up close can be tough because of the precision of the beam, whereas the little Energizer throws light not only far, but rather wide, since the tip of the "bulb" sticks out a bit from the tip.

This little penlight might also work well as a last ditch defensive impact weapon, kubotan or yawara stick style. I'm not so sure how the light would hold up after using it to jam into some part of an attacker's body, but it is thicker, and heavier than a good ol' ballpoint pen, and I'm sure could definitely be used in a manner similar to a koppo stick or the current self-defense writing pens being sold by companies like Benchmade, Mil-Tac and many others.

If I had any real clout, aside from being a blogger, and gave out awards for "editor's choice" products or something like that, this Energizer LED penlight would certainly earn a "Best Value" ribbon among budget flashlights. No, it's not going to blind an attacker, but you could certainly poke him in the eye with it, or slam it into his jugular! No, it's not IPX-waterproof-dive-rated, but it's certainly weatherproof enough to use it to change a tire in the rain if you get a flat. I'm a big proponent of "you get what you pay for", but this is a situation where for less than the price of lunch, you can get something that works as promised, and will certainly last you several years, if not more. It should also be noted that Energizer claims it will run for just over 100 hours on a single set of (2) AAA batteries, and they also cover it with their limited lifetime warranty. This is the type of flashlight that's likely to be swiped a by a rotten co-worker, or misplaced because of its small size before you'd ever have to think about it malfunctioning, or sending it in for a warranty repair/replacement. Of course, such value for such a low price has a potential ethical's Chinese made, like pretty much everything else these days, so if you're hellbent on buying American, you can go with the oldschool Maglite, and have an indestructible light with severely outdated (except for their newer LED line) and underpowered light output, or go with something a bit more pricey, like any number of excellent flashlights from Inova or Surefire, both of those companies manufacture right here in America, and have some budget models available as well.

Foreign manufacture aside, this bad boy sports a Nichia LED, is EXTREMELY energy efficient. It's reasonably durable and has a pocket clip in addition to its light weight. Best of all, you should be able to find 'em at places like Walmart, Home Depot and Target (where I got mine). For far less than $10, this would make an awesome stocking stuffer for pretty much anybody, from DIY folks, to hobbyists, mechanics, outdoorspeople. Who doesn't need a good flashlight, especially this time of year in North America! Energizer is here, and Optics Planet has them for about 8 bucks.

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