A flashlight that is more computer than machine? You sir, are living in the future.
Meat and Potatoes
Once again Nextorch releases a light that takes the term programmable flashlight to a new level. You aren’t simply required to push and twist your way to your desired setup, but rather you plug into your PC and run a completely graphical, simple to use programming interface. You get to select your outputs, mode sequence, and even program your own custom flashing pattern if you so desire. All the while, this USB connection also is used to charge your depeted battery.
In concept, this light is barely different than the previously reviewed MyTorch 18650, but there are really quite a number of changes and improvements since that light. Most notable is the battery. While the battery in the MyTorch XL still maintains the label 18650, it is most definitely not. As far as I can see, it is actually a pair of 2200mAh 18650 cells that have been assembled together in electrical parallel to form a single 4400mAh battery. This proprietary cell still measures 3.7V nominal voltage, and Nextorch has informed me that the MyTorch XL is not suited to running the 7.2-8.4V that two of your own cells would supply. This is once again a proprietary battery light. I don’t necessarily find this to be a bad thing, but definitely something you should know going in.
The fit and finish on the XL is spot on, even better than the I’ve seen before. The smooth matte black anodizing is (in appearance at least) almost approaching that seen on lights like Armytek and Elzetta. I don’t know that it would be that durable, but it sure looks good. There have been some pretty serious improvements in material quality as well. Previously, the MyTorch 18650 used a plastic lens and where now we have beautiful antireflective coated glass. I also can’t be sure that the chrome bezel on the 18650 wasn’t covering a plastic insert, but here Nextorch states that brass is the underlying material. This is more than just a good looking light, it’s actually quite well made also.
The USB connection in the XL has now been changed to the much more ubiquitous USB Micro offering that is seen on a very large number of devices today. It appears that any USB Micro cable is fully capable of charging the light as well, since the charging indicator is now located in the neck of the light next to the communication port. This section is recessed beneath the head of the light and protected by a fat o-ring when in normal use mode, unscrewing to expose electronic access only when charging or programming. This should prevent at least moderate splashes from ever shorting out any sensitive electronics.
Sporting a Cree XM-L LED, the MyTorch XL is able to crank out a screaming 780 lumens on 100% output. Thanks to a nicely stippled reflector, these lumens are spread across a beautiful, multipurpose beam pattern. Not truly floody or throwy, this mid-range focus has a wide corona complementing the bright hotspot almost all the way to the edge of the spillbeam. One particular complaint I had about the previous model has also been addressed, though PWM is still in use as the dimming method of choice, the frequency has been much increased to the point where I don’t find it nearly as distracting as other lights. It’s rarely noticeable unless you are looking directly for it in fact. Even when the light is put into 1% output moon mode (which is impressively dim, by the way) the PWM is difficult to detect.
Operation of the MyTorch XL comes in the form of an unusual switch that operates like a standard forward clicky about 50% of the time. Called their patented Duo-switch, this side mounted pushbutton has a feature I’ve not seen on any light prior to this. It appears to be able to differentiate completely between the momentary press of the switch when off, and a momentary press of the switch when on. While off, the switch gives you momentary activation just like a regular forward clicky, but repeated momentary activations in rapid succession will not change the mode. Only after you have fully clicked the switch on will these half presses allow you to change modes, very much like a reverse clicky. This means that literally every time you actually click the light on, the XL will start in its first programmed mode. This operation feels so natural, that it was a full week into carrying this light around for review before I really noticed that things were more intuitive than usual. I would suggest that this is one of this lights most innovative features.
Just as before, though this light is “fully” programmable by its Nextuner application, there are some glaring shortcomings in what you are able to program. Modes are selectable between % luminance, strobe frequency, and “customize”. There are still no options to vary the brightness in the fully customizable outputs, just duration of on, vs. duration of off, with as many steps as you desire before repeat. There is also not a preset SOS mode that you can select (again selectable brightness would be a benefit here as well), you simply have to use the customize setting and create your own.
The biggest complaint however I have is also in regards to the unique switch. This light seems to suffer from a serious case of preflash, however I am not entirely certain this isn’t by design rather than happenstance. Whenever you activate the light in momentary mode (regardless of 1st mode brightness setting) it comes on at full power. Even if you have your initial mode set to the lowest output that this torch can emit, you are treated to all 780 lumens for as long as you hold the light in half-click before locking it all the way on. I’m sure this is something you could grow accustomed to if necessary by simply covering the bezel when you turn the light on (and some might actually laud this decision). I for one have had to force myself to only use 100% output as my initial mode. Momentary output level should also be a programmable option in my opinion.
This light definitely isn’t an EDC model. Its enormous size and billy club appearance prevent that. However, it is a very capable torch that has a lot of good going for it. It certainly feels even more polished than its predecessor.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Nextorch.
Help support Layman’s Flashlight Reviews by using this link to buy Nextorch MyTorch XL on Amazon. It doesn’t cost you anything extra!