The current premium flashlight market is so mature that it is rapidly becoming a walled garden, nearly impossible to break into. TaoTronics is making a valiant effort with their new line of familiar looking torches.
Meat and Potatoes
My initial impression, upon seeing the TaoTronics Thorlite TT-TF02 was one of instant familiarity. This light is an absolute dead ringer for the Balder BD-2. Many of the individual details differ ever so slightly between these lights, but to even a casual observer, the similarities are striking. According to TaoTronics, they have a very close working relationship with Balder as the exclusive global agent for that company.
Aesthetically, the ThorLite TT-TF02 is quite attractive, though I suppose that is open for interpretation. I personally love the channels opening onto internal heat sink fins. It makes for a nice touch, despite the obvious drawbacks for efficiency of heat dissipation. The two-tone design also works for me, since I rather enjoy something that actually draws the eye a little, unlike the myriad of standard black knurled lights that swamp the market.
Evaluated as a light in its own regard, the TT-TF02 is not a bad light, if relatively basic in most aspects. Powered by a single 18650 or pair of CR123A cells and sporting the powerful Cree XM-L LED, this duty-carry sized light is very adept at illumination. The LED sits nestled in a relatively deep textured reflector creating a fairly tightly focused beam for such a large die. Thankfully the natural side effect of the die size is a wide and useful corona preventing you from the tunnel vision extremely throwy lights are prone to cause. This combination of power source and LED is good for a claimed 500 lumens on high, with more economic Medium (200 lumens) and Low (30 lumens) modes available.
The ThorLite TT-TF02 comes with a 3-mode/6-mode user interface with mode memory that I haven’t exactly found myself loving. If we could stop with the 3 mode user interface, my review would be favorable indeed. Unfortunately simple, reliable operation doesn’t appear to be the design intent here. When you leave the light on in low mode for 2-3 seconds, it will blink once indicating it has done something with the mode setup. Unfortunately, that “something” isn’t always easily identifiable. Sometimes it appears to lock into the 3 mode UI again, but at others it changes things over to the far less desirable 6-mode ui.
The 6 mode ui still maintains the single path with mode memory model used by the 3-mode option. Now though, you are forced to cycle through all the blinky modes in order to get back to constant output. This means that if you are using low and want a little more light, you must first pass a hyperactive strobe, a unique strobing beacon, and an S-O-S before arriving back at high. Combine this with not ever being sure whether you are using 3 modes or 6 and you can imagine the frustration.
Fit and finish on the TT-TF02 are generally solid. The thick anodizing seems to hold up well to minor scuffs and dings, even a few major ones (I carry these lights daily during testing; unintentional drop testing seems to be the norm). There are a few places though that are less polished than others. The stainless steel bezel ring for instance has a few rough spots. The roughest section however is my own personal pet peeve, the aggressively scalloped tailcap. I’m not entirely certain I have used a tailcap that is less user friendly than this one. The sharp crenellations are some of the sharpest I have yet seen. Please, manufacturers, choose either a full tailstanding or “tactical” protruding switch. Straddling the line makes for poor user experience.
This torch has also been touted a having a relatively unharnessed feature in today’s market. The ThorLite line has the ability to remove the head of the light and use the bare LED in candle mode. When I first attempted this though, I discovered a strange ridge on the inside of the head of the light that catches on the o-ring sealing those sections against the elements. One single disassembly and reassembly resulted in a destroyed o-ring. If you are going to brag about a feature, I think it needs to work a little better than this.
TaoTronics has definitely made inroads into the flashlight market with the ThorLite TT-TF02. It’s a very bright light that looks good and is relatively durable. Unfortunately, the user interface and level of polish leaves a bit to be desired.
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.
Power for this review supplied by PTS-Flashlights.