Time for a TaoTronics take two. AA cells, that is. The ThorLite line makes a return showing that there’s more to see than simply a one trick pony.
Meat and Potatoes
After a somewhat disappointing initial showing with the TT-TF02, I will admit I approached the AA variant of TaoTronics initial foray into portable illumination with some trepidation. Its not that my previous experience was bad, but it definitely had some rough edges that needed to be smoothed, both literally and figuratively.
The ThorLite TT-TF01 is a completely different animal from the TT-TF02. For starters, it is a AA powered light, though still converting that electron flow into photons through the use of the Cree XM-L LED. While maybe not the absolute newest and brightest, let me assure you that this diode is no slouch. This light is still good for a claimed 180 lumens on high. May I once again remind you, we’re talking about AA cells here.
Every time I see one of these larger die lights paired with a small textured reflector like this, I find myself hopeful. That combination usually results in an incredibly smooth floody beam that proves itself useful in so many situations. This TaoTronics torch does exactly that. It is a wide spot, with a bright transitional corona that fades continually all the way to the edge of the spillbeam. There aren’t any artifacts at all to distract you during use. This is a quality beam.
UI is the biggest change between the TT-TF01 and the last light I wrote about. Where that one had a clunky, confusing UI with two possible mode lines, this model sticks with a simple H-M-L with mode memory and no portable discotheque to offer distractions. You know where you are, you know what mode is coming next, it’s very straightforward and unconfusing.
The most notable feature of the TT-TF01 is the inherent customizability, right out of the box. This torch arrives in the guise of a 2 cell light, but has an extra feature allowing you to choose a single cell mode instead. This shortens the light considerably (obviously) and created both a light that is significantly more pocketable for filling the EDC role, as well as more useful in a legitimate emergency. Who wouldn’t be able to lay their hands on one partially used AA from somewhere in their house if the power went out? The drawback to this feature is the inherently shortened runtime, as well as the reduced output stemming from the reduction to a 1.5v power source instead of 3v. Thankfully, if the lower top end performance is a deal breaker, the TT-TF01 is also capable of accepting a 3.6v 14500 li-ion rechargeable cell for a screaming 325 lumen output.
The user interface change between the oddball, unpredictable interface of the TT-TF02 and the simple and familiar interface of this torch was a relief, to be sure. It did however highlight the drastic differences between these two lights. These differences are further shown by TaoTronics use of PWM to control the output of the TT-TF01. Thankfully, the flicker rate is quite high, and thereby not terribly intrusive, but my eyes seem to be particularly sensitive to it, spotting it out of the corner of my vision even when I’m not looking for it. I’m sure this method helps keep the price down somewhat, but in this market, consumers are really starting to get used to constant current regulation being more ubiquitous.
Fit and finish here is exactly on par with what we’ve seen out of TaoTronics already. There is no question that these lights are from the same company. The two tone finish again has the same allure as in its larger sibling, and the anodizing is very thick and uniform, protecting the light quite well from the rigors of daily use. Unfortunately the converse is also true. There are still the occasional sharp edge, and the tailstanding crenellations are unnecessarily harsh. The light could stand just a touch more spit-polish to really keep pace with the more major players, but on the whole it isn’t bad at all. I didn’t have any trouble using it exclusively for the time I carried it for testing. As a bonus, the available “candle mode”, accessed by simply removing the reflector ala Maglite, is definitely available and functional as advertised here.
TaoTronics is definitely starting out on the right foot with this light. It is bright, durable, and has an incredibly beautiful beam pattern. I’m not a personal fan of mode memory, but that’s not an issue, just a preference. I wish they had chosen better regulation, and did away with my pet peeve, the crenellated tail cap, but neither are deal breakers. On the whole, this is a pretty darn good light, especially as a method to help introduce the unenlightened to a larger world, and brighter horizons in lighting.
TaoTronics has requested that I let you know these lights are available on Amazon, Ebay and Newegg. They have offered the Amazon Discount code “FLF10VGD” for 10% off any ThorLite tactical flashlight. If you are interested, I have an affiliate link to their Amazon store as well available HERE.
Provided for review by the kind folks at TaoTronics.