The Fenix E01 is a little light trying to fill a big role. Hardly bigger than the AAA cell that powers it, this little light seems to be designed around the ability to be completely forgettable, but only until it is needed.
Meat and Potatoes
The Fenix E01 utilizes a Nichia 5mm LED to provide consistent low levels of illumination for extended periods of time. The fact that the E01 has a flat discharge curve over the first 10 hours of battery life is fantastic. This light is the perfect key chain companion ready to serve in a moments notice, even for just an average Joe who wouldn’t normally take to carrying a larger, higher powered flashlight at all times.
The simple twisty switch supplements this intent by performing as a no frills reliable and out of the way switching mechanism that doesn’t add any unnecessary bulk to the light at all. With no extra parts at all, it literally cannot get any simpler than this.
One of the most interesting features of this light has been proven through numerous documented accidents and destructive testing. Through the combination of quality building materials and light weight, this light appears to be nigh unto indestructible. Tales have been told of E01’s surviving falls from multiple stories in height, apparently unperturbed by the precipitous drop, nor the concrete impact awaiting the end of the trip, that would invoke the demise of lights with more gargantuan proportions.
My E01 does have one glaring fault that I find slightly disconcerting. The bad news is, it’s big. The good news however, is that it is quite likely my individual unit rather than a design flaw for the entire run. The LED is angled quite severely off to one side shedding a beam that is disturbingly out of alignment. The further away from myself I shine the light, the further off center the beam shows up. Navigating my way around a dark room, I find myself having to consciously aim the light away from my intended target. Whether high, low, left, or right of center depends entirely on how I happened to extricate it from my pocket on that particular occasion. I know that this is not likely to be a design error, and that Fenix is probably not exactly intending this to be within tolerance, however apparently some further care needs to be taken when inspecting the final product before it leaves the factory destined for the hands of the consumer.
Another point of contention where this light could stand to improve somewhat is the tints. No, that is not a typo. The beam of the E01, though it still classifies as white overall, is actually a varying duo of two different tints throughout the beam. The diffuse hotspot appears with a strong blueish hue fading extremely smoothly into a yellow toned corona/spill. Admittedly, this concatenation is only apparent when hunting down the elusive uninterrupted stretch of white wall, but it is there none the less.
I have read of some high end, semi-custom lights in this category sporting a Cree based high color rendition 5mm LED. While I suspect it will be some time before that caliber of LED begins to show up at this pricepoint, it would be quite a feat if Fenix were to be able to become one of the first mass production lights utilizing this technology.
This little light has an occasional use or emergency use mindset that benefits it greatly. It’s long lasting low level light is probably better suited to a disposable Lithium AAA cell rather than rechargeables of whatever sort, due to its ability to not be in your way until you find yourself in need of light. From finding a keyhole in the dark, to navigating a prolonged power outage, these are the situations where this light really shines. My E01 has found it’s way onto my keyring, where it is likely to endure for some time to come.