Eternalight Elite X-Ray LED Flashlight
Company: Technology Associates
Platform: Your hand
Suggested Retail Price (SRP): US$65
Street Price: $45
Battery Juice Rating: 5
Special Awards: None
The Eternalight Elite X-Ray is the most unusual flashlight I've ever owned. It has an odd shape -- sort of a rounded rectangle a bit smaller than a deck of cards. Then there are four LEDs, which I'll talk about in a moment, lined up along the business end. It has three multifunction buttons on the top side. Its translucent, water-resistant body might seem like an iMac-inspired design flourish, but it lets you see the blinking internal LED that makes the flashlight easy to find in the dark. It has seven modes of operation, and comes with a 4-page instruction manual.
Most flashlights use incandescant bulbs, which generate light by heating a coil of wire until it glows. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) skip the wasteful heat and produce light more directly, which means that your batteries last longer. A LOT longer. I'm not sure how long the X-Ray will run on a set of 3 AA batteries; I ran out of patience after leaving it on for two days -- in a pitcher of water. It was noticably less bright, but still perfectly usable. You can dim the flashlight before leaving it on, potentially extending the battery life for *weeks*. LEDs can have a lifespan of about 100,000 hours (not a typo) more than incandescant bulbs, so for all practical purposes you'll never have to worry that they'll burn out or fail.
The mad scientists at Technology Associates must have spent many late nights brainstorming the flashlight, because it has a mind-boggling list of features and functions. The Elite X-Ray's modes are:
-Timer (turns itself off after 10 minutes)
-Strobe ("fast blinking")
-Dazzle (the LEDs flash in patterns)
-Momentary on (on only while you're holding the button)
Almost every mode can be adjusted somehow. Some of the modes are more fun than useful, so there's also a "simple mode" that disables the flash/strobe/blink functions. This means your significant other won't throw the thing out the window because they can't figure out how it works. By the way, it's durable enough so that it'll work after being thrown out a window, unless you live several floors up.
If you use lithium batteries (it comes with a set), it floats. The Elite X-Ray stands on its end for use as a room light. It has a magnet on the back and comes with a lanyard, so you can carry it around your neck or attach it to a metal surface. It's got a battery meter function. The internal LED can be on continuously, blink, or be turned off. Even the shape is functional: it won't roll, is easy to hold, and can be held between the teeth if necessary (caving, anyone?) It also has a lifetime warranty.
The X-Ray is BRIGHT. Those four LEDs put out enough light to make people complain if you point it their way accidentally. The light is unfocused, and the slightly blue tint takes some getting used to. There's one inconvenience, but it's a minor one: on the rare occasions when you need to change the batteries, you'll need a small Phillips screwdriver to do it. Thoughtfully, Technology Associates includes one with the flashlight.
I may have missed a couple of functions or features, but you get the idea: the Eternalight Elite X-Ray is the best flashlight I've ever owned, and I use it constantly. I keep one in the glove compartment when I drive, and toss one into my suitcase when I travel. It costs more than most flashlights, even the aluminum Brinkmans I once favored, but trust me: go out and get one. It's the last flashlight you'll ever need.
PS - I was only half kidding when I called the Technology Associates people "mad scientists." Who else would sell a BB-shooting gauss gun disguised as a disposable camera?
Andrew Sasaki 10/2/04
Andrew -[Saturday, October 02, 2004]