WUBEN G344 Mini USB Rechargeable LED Flashlight
An elegant shape but built like a tank with more light that the average flashlight
The new CREE LED technology just keeps getting better with every new generation bringing us more light with less power draw.
The good stuff up front:
~3.7v Li-ion battery for longer running time and brighter light
~Silicone O rings rather than rubber
~Overall length is shorter than a AAA battery
~Packaged so that it makes a very nice gift
~Two brightness levels without the need for a switch
~Red and green LED’s to indicate charging and full status of the battery
~Micro USB charging port inside the unit means its sealed against water ingress
~Included chain is long enough to slip over your head when wearing around your neck
This little light is built about as solid as you could make something this small. At first glance it appears to be one piece but that’s just because the three main components fit together so well. The fit and finish is excellent. There are no rough edges or imperfections that I could find. The anodized finish is consistent across the whole light. While these are items I don’t generally care about in a light I use myself, if however I was to gift someone a pocket light this would be a first choice. Even the packaging it comes in is not your typical card board box or plastic blister pack, the gift box is more like that used for displaying watches and other jewellery items. Very nice.
When I turned it on I was genuinely impressed with how much light it throws. The beam is wide and there is no way to zoom the it and this is what gives it the IPX8 rating. Anytime you make something more complex it creates a world of problems to keep water out of a device.
The two power levels are available in one smooth twist of the LED module. As you turn it the first level is low, keep turning it another half round and it switches to bright. The is the best way to provide two levels of light and still keep the whole light water tight.
I was also expecting the usual black rubber O rings that are used almost exclusively on flashlights to give them moisture resistance. What I found are high quality silicone O rings, one around the battery cap and one used to seal off the LED bezel. These tend to last for years where as rubber gets hard and brittle usually within the first year. These O rings are what give this light its water proof rating.
The included chain is a nice touch, not something I will be using but I can see where some people may appreciate having it. I’ve already got it attached to a keychain in my pocket where I know it will be when needed.
For power and in order to keep the light this small using an alkaline battery wouldn’t work. Even a standard AAA battery is slightly longer than the overall length of this light. By using a Li-ion 10180 rechargeable it keeps the size minimal and keeps dead batteries out of the landfill. I hate the endless cycle of buying batteries, tossing them and then buying new ones. The Li-ion is also a 3.7v battery which allows the LED to run brighter than the standard 1.5v AAA.
I found that I could get about 7 hours of light on low, but it was then to the point where the light was just about unusable. On high I was able get a useable amount of light for about 75 minutes after which it tapered off fast. Because I’m a curious kind of guy I ran the tests three times each and found that these times were consistent. For me this is plenty of light especially since the low setting still provides a good deal of light. Charging time from the point where the light will no longer come on at all to fully charged is roughly 70 minutes. Even the charging [process has been made simple. Take the LED module off, plug in a micro USB cable and there’s a small red LED that indicates the battery is being charged. Once charging is complete the LED turns green.
What I really like here is the charging port location. You have to unscrew the LED module to expose the micro USB port. At first this may seem like a hassle but it’s actually a smart move. This is the only way to properly seal off the charging port against water. If they had put the port so you could get at it from the outside it would mean some sort of flap or plug would be required to cover the port and like so many other items (think Bluetooth speakers that are meant to be used outside) these flaps or plugs never fit tight enough to keep water out and they have a tendency to seal even less over time as they become hard, that’s if they don’t fall off first. This method is a far better idea. You can use any existing USB cable that has a micro USB connector to charge this light.
The only recommendation I could make is to put a little silicone grease on the O rings so that the LED module is easier to turn. The lubrication will keep the O rings from being worn down plus it helps to provide a better seal against water ingress.
Overall this is a powerful and tiny light that nicely suits my needs.