Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Excellent Construction, Poor User Interface
on March 4, 2011
Click once for "on". Click three more times for "off".
I can't believe I'm offering several paragraphs on a flashlight, but this item has such promise that I'm compelled to elaborate.
I have an enduring affection for C-cell flashlights. Slim enough to grip together with another object, they also feel good alone in your hand, and are a more maneuverable choice than D-cell flashlights with no meaningful battery-life penalty in the age of LEDs. I set up and break down large telescopes at dark-sky sites, so the light will get a lot of use; because of night-vision issues, the light must only be on intermittently. The weakness of this design is that you must push the button four times during each on/off cycle.
The build of this item makes me happy. It is so solid that the MagLite design now seems a little flimsy. The finish on the barrel sticks to your palm; you could hang on to this thing with oil-soaked hands.
The problem: we live in an age of features and options. Cell phones have cameras and full QWERTY keyboards, and steering wheels have ten buttons. So here we have a choice among three modes: 3 LED lamps, 6 LED lamps, and a single xenon bulb. I would be happy with the 3- or 6-LED option only: "Click once and it's on; click again and it's off. Classic. Understated ..." - read this in the voice of Sam Eliot - "for a man who gets things done, and knows what he wants: just a pouch of Red Man, a Dodge Ram, and a flashlight in the cab."
I don't mind choices, but I shouldn't have to cycle through all of them each time I use the object. This is an industrial design failure. Worse, the switch seems to be the one slightly flimsy part on this light, and the difference in brightness among the three choices isn't that pronounced, particularly between 3 LEDs and 6 - it's so marginal that I just don't care.
A tour of the Streamlight website suggests that management or marketing thinks quite well of themselves: every product is touted for its high number of cutting-edge, turbocharged features - someone is eager to be seen to add value and incent market granularity through bleeding-edge customer-focused synergies. News flash, Rolex Rick: most of what you learned in your MBA program was insipid splattertalk. Put down the Blackberry, back away from the PowerPoint, and remember: you have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk. And it's the CAD guy or machinist you should be listening to here, because they absolutely know what they're doing. I hope you're paying them enough.
It's a flashlight, guys. Maybe the market won't buy it if it isn't sexed up, and maybe you're selling plenty of these because customers think "Twin-Task" and buy it mainly for emergiencies, but extra features are good only if you can ignore them: when I make a call on my cell phone, I don't have to cycle through camera mode, and then text mode, before reaching phone mode.
I like this product, but it's better for an emergency light in your vehicle, or for occasional long sessions, than for lots of on/off as-needed use. A shame: the design and execution are otherwise excellent.
How about a special edition of this product, for actual users? You can even couch in in the fancy talk of the Streamlight website: call it the Super-C4® Aztec Commando Quick-Off Edition, designed for use under enemy fire in the jungle, with no Bluetooth and no MP3 capability. What do you say, Streamlight?