Author Topic: ReviewTheLight: Imalent DD2R (Touch Screen + USB Charger + Inf. Var. Brightness  (Read 898 times)

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Offline Bigmac_79

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Imalent is a relatively new flashlight manufacturer, and has debuted with a set of lights that feature a touch screen based user interface. The DD2R is the simplest of their lights that I've reviewed, featuring a single emitter controlled by a touch screen, with a USB charging port built-in.


Thanks to Imalent for providing the DD2R for review.


Iíll be reviewing the DD2R in two sections: first, Iíll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then Iíll discuss the light subjectively (my impressions about the light's performance when used for specific applications). If you have any other specific applications you'd like the light tested for, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Video Review

Below is a video review of the DD2R. Due to my old image hosting site closing down, I've got new restrictions on image uploads and have replaced the "Construction" section of my reviews with a more detailed video review.

[video=youtube;Za2crNzePrY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za2crNzePrY[/video]
This video is available in 1080p HD, but defaults to a lower quality. To select the playback quality click the settings button (looks like a gear) after you've started the video.


Objective

Manufacturer's Specifications

Price: 72 USD





Product Manual




Dimensions




Plus, here's a few shots with some good detail.










User Interface

The DD2R uses a single side button and a touch screen to control a single emitter.  The operation is fairly complicated, so instead of trying to type it I will ask you to watch the demonstration in the video above.


Action Shots

You can click on any of these shots to see them full size.

Light in Hand


MugShot


BeamSlice


White Wall
ISO 100, f/3.5, 1/20"
Shots taken at Max, Min, and two in-between brightnesses


Indoor Shots
ISO 100, f/3.5, 1"
Shots taken at Max, Min, and two in-between brightnesses


Outdoor Shots

ISO 100, f/3.5, 2.5"
Shots taken at Max, Min, and two in-between brightnesses



Performance

Submersion: The touch screen makes me too nervous to attempt the submersion test, I'll update this if I do the test after getting more comfortable with the DD2R.

Heat: The DD2R steps down from it's max brightness after 3 minutes, so heat is not an issue.

PWM: I detect no PWM on any output level of the DD2R.

Drop: I dropped the DD2R from about a meter onto various surfaces (including grass, carpet, dirt, and hard wood), and found no cosmetic or functional damage.  However, it never landed directly on the touch screen, which I consider is likely the most sensitive part.

Reverse Polarity Protection: The DD2R does not claim reverse polarity protection as far as I can find, so be sure to insert the battery correctly.

Over-Discharge Protection:  The DD2R features a battery level indicator on the touch screen that begins to flash when the battery needs to be replaced or recharged.


Offline Bigmac_79

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Spectral Analysis


All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. The plot below the picture is corrected for the spectral sensitivity of the human eye. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.

Output and Runtime


ANSI FL-1 runtime ratings are the time it takes for a light to fall to 10% of it's original output (counting from 30 seconds after turning the light on).

The vertical axis of the graphs below represents a relative brightness measurement using a home made light box. The horizontal axis is time in hours:minutes:seconds. Runtimes are stated in hours:minutes:seconds. These graphs may be truncated to show detail.

Mode Comparison


Max


Arbitrary Middle Setting


Throwing Distance

ANSI FL-1 standard for stating a light's throwing distance is the distance at which the peak beam intensity (usually at the center of the beam) is 0.25 lux. I calculate throwing distance and candela (lux at 1 meter) by measuring peak beam intensity at five different distances and using the formula lux*distance^2=constant.




Subjective Review

Quick break down:

+ Variable brightness
+ Built-in charger
+ Touch screen
+ Large brightness range
+ Comfortable to hold
+ Battery level indicator
+ Simple interface
+ Mode memory
+ Smooth beam
+ Flood/throw balance

- Weird regulation
- Not 1000 lumens

As my third Imalent light to review, the DD2R has the quality and the quirks I've come to expect from Imalent. ;)  The DD2R seems to be their simplest model currently offered, and was easy to pick up and use right away without any special effort to learn the UI.  The most obvious distinguishing feature of the DD2R is it's touch screen that controls the variable brightness, so I'll begin with some notes on my evaluation of the touch screen.

Many of us are familiar with variable brightness flashlights. Almost all high-end modern flashlights have multiple brightness levels to choose from, and there are now many options for lights with "infinitely variable brightness" - so many brightness levels that the transition between them appears smooth and stepless. The biggest contributor to the usefulness of an infinitely variable brightness light is it's user interface. I've already covered the SA04 interface in detail in the video review, so I won't re-hash how it works, but I do want to make some comments. Until now, there have just been two ways to adjust infinitely variable brightness that I can think of. The first was done by holding a button, and the light would ramp up or down, and you'd give a signal to stop when you wanted, kind of like playing a slot machine . Obviously not them most convenient method for controlling infinite brightness. Then, we saw the magnetic control ring, which allowed a user to rotate a physical ring in either direction to increase or decrease the brightness at will. This was an infinitely superior method of controlling infinite brightness, because the user was given complete control to fine tune to the desired output, and you never had to pass through settings too bright on your way to a dim setting, or vice versa. Now, we're seeing control of infinite brightness using a touch screen, similar to what many of us are familiar with on our modern phones or tables, but on a smaller scale. There are quite a few advantages and disadvantages of the touch screen interface, and because I see the control ring as it's main competitor, I'll focus on that comparison. First, the control ring has the advantage of being easier to manipulate with gloves or cold/wet fingers, etc., being a physical mechanism. The control ring also is more intuitive for the same reason, and so far has been easier for me to use without really thinking about it. The touch screen has the advantage of giving visual indication of the chosen output level, and also requires no moving parts. I am very curios to see how the screen holds up under long term use and abuse, but so far it has survived my drop test, and of my three Imalent light's I've tested, only one has a small scratch on the screen from being in my bag with other objects. It seems to me that the screen will be more resistant to things like dirt and grit, where the ring would be more resistant to impacts. I've never yet had a failure of a control ring on any of my lights, but I've read several reports of such, so we'll see how well the touch screen holds up in comparison over the long term. Next, so far the control ring has the advantage of smoothness of control, as the touch screen can make the output a bit jumpy due to my large fingers and it's relatively small size. In the end though, the biggest possible advantage and disadvantage of the touch screen is going to be it's versatility. So far, Imalent has used the screen to adjust infinitely variable brightness, make mode changes, and display the battery level. However, there are potentially many more was of implementing the screen to display various information, control various functions, etc. Depending on how well these functions are implemented (or not), the screen has the potential for surpassing usefulness, as we've seen in the area of mobile phones.

Compared to the other two Imalent lights I've tested (the SA04 and the EU06), the DD2R is much simpler to use because it has fewer functions.  With only a single emitter and single physical button, it's much easier to get the hang of it.  Pretty much the physical button turn the light on and off and the touch screen controls the output.  As with the other Imalent models, the range of output is excellent, with a minimum output of less than one lumen.  Unfortunately though, the DD2R's max doesn't hit the claimed 1000 lumens, but I measured closer to 725 on several tests using 18650 or 2x16340 batteries.  The only other real negative for the DD2R is that the regulation pattern is a bit weird.  I prefer to see a more flat regulation, where the DD2R kid of has this series of kicks back up after the output drops a bit.  It works, but is just a bit weird.

Other than that, Imalent has done well at putting together all the little things that contribute to a well polished light.  The construction is sturdy, the threads are smooth, the beam has no artifacts, it's comfortable to hold, has mode memory, etc.  The beam pattern is a good balance of throw and flood, making this a pretty good general purpose light for mid-range use.  It also has a built-in USB battery charging port, which is becoming more more common on a lot of high end lights these days.  Over the past few months my appreciation for the charging port has really grown, especially in situations where I might be out of the house or out of town for a while, because it means I don't have to pack my whole battery charger, I can just grab the light and it's charging cable.  I do wish that the charging port on the DD2R was a micro-USB instead of a round port, because the micro-USB has become such a great standard and I already have quite a few of those cables around the house.  But I won't be picky, just having the charging port is great ;).

Overall, the DD2R is a light that's a real pleasure to use, and a great introduction into the touch screen flashlight idea.  If you're looking to try out the new touch screen UI, the DD2R is a well designed light that's simpler and cheaper than the other Imalent models, making it a great place to start.


Long Term Impressions
I'll fill this part in after carrying the light for a while. If nothing get's added here, either I find nothing else worth noting about the light, or I end up not using it often.