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Friday, 03 July 2009

Quark Flashlights by 4Sevens

Written by  Nick Atlas
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A while ago, I wrote a review of a pair of Fenix Pocket Flashlights. At the time, these were being distributed in the United States by a small company called 4Sevens, run by David Chow. Recently, I got back in touch with David to see if there were any new developments in the field of portable photonic generation. He told me that in response to all the customer feedback they’d received, as well as their own thoughts on how to improve the product,. 4Sevens decided to design their own series of flashlights. The result of this design effort is the Quark line of LED flashlights. David was kind enough to provide four flashlights (the entire Quark line) for review. These are the AA, the AA2, the 123, and the 1232, all named for the type and number of batteries they use. After experimenting with these lights over a couple of weeks, I found that these extremely bright, durable, and flexible flashlights are as far from your simple Maglite as a blowtorch is from a book of paper matches.


A while ago, I wrote a review of a pair of Fenix Pocket Flashlights At the time, these were being distributed in the United States by a small company called 4Sevens, run by David Chow. Recently, I got back in touch with David to see if there were any new developments in the field of portable photonic generation. He told me that in response to all the customer feedback they’d received, as well as their own thoughts on how to improve the product,. 4Sevens decided to design their own series of flashlights. The result of this design effort is the Quark line of LED flashlights. David was kind enough to provide four flashlights (the entire Quark line) for review. These are the AA, the AA2, the 123, and the 1232, all named for the type and number of batteries they use. After experimenting with these lights over a couple of weeks, I found that these extremely bright, durable, and flexible flashlights are as far from your simple Maglite as a blowtorch is from a book of paper matches.

Quark Flashlights by 4Sevens, flashlight review, LED flashlights, gadget review, Nick Atlas

A Word about LED Flashlights

In recent years, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have become a kind of gold standard in the flashlight world. They can go for 50,000 hours without burning out; they use less power, and generate less heat than your standard incandescent bulbs. In addition, they can be produced to put out very clear colors, such as actual white, rather than the incandescent yellowish shade we’ve come to expect.

Still, there are down sides to LEDs. First, they were not as bright as an incandescent bulb. Second, LEDs have a curious property: they are more efficient the cooler they are. As they heat up, they become less efficient. When they become less efficient, they draw more power, causing them to gain more heat and so on. This “heat spiral” can lead to increasing battery drain and LED burnout.

What's in the Box

Aside from the flashlights themselves, all of the Quark line include the appropriate type and number of batteries, a nylon belt case, and surprisingly strong lanyard with a really sturdy clip, a rubber hand strap (so you can basically strap the light to your hand and use it without gripping it), and instruction manual (which is positively essential), and a pair of spare O-rings. Each flashlight varies in size and brightness. The chart below gives the differing specifications on each model:

Model

AA

AA2

123

1232

Max brightness (lumens)

90

170

170

190

Life at max (hours)

1.2

1.3

0.8

1.5

Length (inches)

3.8

5.8

3.2

4.5

Weight (oz.)

1.8

2.2

1.4

1.8

These rather dry specifications don't do justice to just how ridiculously bright these lights are. They are in fact considerably brighter than other, similarly rated lights due to the method by which they're rated. It seems that, in the flashlight biz, there are a number of ways to rate the output of a light. Most brands rate their light by emitter output -or to put it simply- how many lumens the LED is rated to emit. This discounts any loss of power through reflective loss at the lens, or any other factor that might reduce output. The Quark line is one of the few that rates their lights using a measurement of actual output known as "out-the-front”. I didn't think this would make all that much difference, but after testing the Quark flashlights against the flashlight that I carry with me most days, a Nitecore D20 which is rated at 180 lumens. To my surprise, the AA model Quark with its 90 lumens of output was actually considerably brighter than the Nitecore.

 

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