SUNWAYLED M10R Review (1xCR123A): RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, PICS, etc.

Originally posted: July 14, 2010
Last revised: August 17, 2010

Reviewer's Note: The pre-release M10R was provided for review by SUNWAYLED. Please see their website, their CPFMP thread or batteryjunction.com

Warning: pic heavy, as usual

Manufacturer Specifications: (taken from the SUNWAYLED website). The M10R is one of the first lights released by the new manufacturer SUNWAYLED. My review of their M40C model is also up, and the M20C model will be posted shortly.

Note that my sample was a pre-release version, so I don’t know what the final shipping packaging looks like. Circuit performance should be unchanged on the shipping versions, though.





From left to right: Surefire CR123A, SUNWAYLED M10R, Dereelight C2H, 4Sevens Quark 123, Novatac 120P, NiteCore Extreme.

M10R Weight: 46.0g (no battery), Width (bezel) 23.1mm, length 83.4mm

This is just a personal preference, but I find the overall external styling of the M10R very attractive.

Overall size is in keeping the other lights of this class – despite the dual control interface on the M10R (i.e. forward clicky switch for on/off and a magnetic control ring for output levels). The light can even tailstand.

The control ring has good feel, with noticeable detents at every level (although no identifying labels). I would describe the feel as very similar to JetBeam RRT-series lights. For that matter, I would describe the overall styling as very JetBeam-like as well. I am not sure what material the control ring is made of, but the feel and anodizing color are an exact match to the rest of the aluminum frame.

The light comes with a removable pocket clip. Although the clip seems to be good quality, it is not quite as tight as I would like in its attachment against the body (i.e. may come off if given a good yank). Note you want reverse the clip for bezel-up use by attaching it just below the head. Nice to have the added flexibility this offers.




SUNWAYLED is using the older Cree XR-E R2 emitters for these lights, presumably to maximize throw. Still, I would encourage them to switch to the newer XP-G emitters. Scroll down for beamshots.



The forward clicky on/off switch has a good feel, if slightly stiff. It also has a slightly longer traverse than typical – but not unreasonably so. Both these characteristics are common with small switches, and the M10R isn’t unusual in this regard. But since the switch is also recessed within the tailstanding ring, this can make it a bit tricky to activate (i.e. need to use the tip or edge of a finger/thumb, you can’t do it from a finger pad).





The overall build seems very good – the light uses square-cut machinist screw threads (although I would have liked to see a few more threads on the head portions). Screw threads are anodized, so lock-out is available.

Fit and finish on my samples are outstanding. I really like the color – a rich, dark grey – very similar to some of the earlier NiteCore lights (e.g. Extreme, and some particularly dark D10/EX10s, etc.). The luster is just right – not too shinny, not too dull. Frankly, this is one of the best anodizing jobs I’ve seen - absolutely no flaws or chips on any of the SUNWAYLED samples I’ve received.

Despite their small size, the labels were sharp and easy to read.

The ridge detail helps with grip, but not as much as aggressive knurling would (the removable clip also helps). Still, I experienced no problems activating or controlling the light even in its bare form (the control ring slides fairly easily).

Beamshots

And now for the white wall hunting. Here are some up-close shots comparing to the Dereelight C2H (which has similar dimensions and a XR-E emitter), about 0.5 meters from a white wall (all lights on AW protected RCR).






As you can see, beam profile is very similar, but with a more defined hotspot and greater throw on the M10R. But note this is on RCR – on primary CR123A, the difference isn’t so noticeable. And the revised specs for the M10R do NOT support running 3.7V Li-ion RCR.

Scroll for some output/throw numbers on both batteries, or visit my 1xRCR/CR123A Round-Up Review to see how this beam profile compares to other lights on RCR.

User Interface

On/off is controlled by the tailcap clicky (press for momentary on, click for lock on). Mode switching is controlled entirely by the magnetic control ring in the head.

Basically, this will seem familiar to anyone who has used a magnetic control ring light (e.g. JetBeam RRT-series, NiteCore SR3, Eagletac M2C4). There are four defined levels the ring can be turn to – and you feel the resistance change when it falls into place (these are typically called “detents”). The M10R feels (and looks) most like the JetBeam RRT-series control rings.

The four control ring levels on the M10R are Lo – Med – Hi – Strobe, arranged counter-clockwise if you have the light in hand pointed away from you. The total traverse of the ring is ~1/3 circumference of the light, so you can switch back and forth with ease one-handed. Note there is no “standby” mode – you turn the light on or off by the tailcap clicky only. There is thus no parasitic drain to worry about.

One small point – the control rings on the M40C and M20C operate from Lo-Hi in a clockwise orientation (when pointing the light away from you). I found that to be more intuitive than the counter-clockwise arrangement on the M10R – especially when holding it right-handed.

There is no sign of PWM flicker by eye or with my sound-card oscilloscope on any level. SUNWAYLED claims the light is current-controlled.



Strobe was measured at a fairly typical “tactical” 12.2 Hz.

Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlight reviews method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan.

Throw values were taken at 1 meter for all lights shown below.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:




As you can see, the M10R is much brighter on RCR – but RCR is not officially supported (the revised voltage range is now listed as only 0.9-3.2V). But since I did all my testing before that was posted, you will get the benefit of finding out what happens if you try (scroll down to runtimes).

On the supported 1xCR123A, max output is within the range of most XR-E Q5-R2-equipped lights, but the min output is lower than most.

Output/Runtime Comparison

Note: Effective January 2010, all CR123A runtimes are now performed solely on Titanium Innovations batteries sponsored by BatteryJunction.com. You can compare the generally excellent performance of these CR123A cells relative to the Duracell/Surefire cells used in all my earlier reviews here. I have marked all the new runtimes of lights with Titanium Innovations CR123As on the graphs with an "*".

Ok, first off, does this light take RCR? Officially no, but I did all my testing before I knew that. Let’s take a look at how 1xRCR and 1xCR123A compares on all modes.



If you look at CR123A performance, you can see the benefit of the restrictive circuit – the light is fully regulated on all levels.

But on 3.7V RCR (which is NOT supported), 2 things quickly become apparent – the light is basically direct-drive, maximally driven on Hi, and you loose the Med mode (basically, it is just a touch less driven than Hi – not enough difference to see by eye). Oddly though, Min output is still there – and is at exactly the same low level as 1xCR123A.

Actually, the performance on Hi and Med is somewhat similar to what happens on the classic Fenix PD20 on 1xRCR – the light is direct drive until the regulated level is reached, at which point regulation kicks in. But that usually happens just before the battery is exhausted.

How does it stack up to the competition?









On 1xCR123A, relative performance is excellent – you get superb regulation and runtime on all levels. I haven’t done Lo mode runtimes, as the level is so low I would expect quite a few days runtime.

On non-supported 1xRCR, you basically just get maximally-driven direct drive on Med/Hi.

Potential Issues

Doesn’t officially support 3.7V Li-ion RCR (and you lose regulation on Med/Hi if you try it). Direct-drive levels are also quite high, so I don’t recommend you try to run it this way.

Limited number of screw threads holding the head on the body (i.e. only two full turns) - although I didn’t experience any issues.

Forward clicky switch is recessed, making it a bit more difficult to access for on/off.

Clip is decent quality, but could be more firmly attached to the body.

Final packaging and extras are unknown at this time (except for the clip and wrist strap shown here).

Preliminary Observations

In my introductory remarks, I described the M10R as one of the first lights released by a new manufacturer. But based on the build quality of my samples, it is clear that SUNWAYLED has previous experience making quality flashlights.

I think what we are looking at here is the launch of a new flashlight brand - by experienced flashlight makers - under a new company name. SUNWAYLED confirms that their designer and factory have previous OEM experience for other makers (but they don’t want to impact those brands by naming them). While there are some similarities here to other brands, the M10R is a distinctive light in its own right.

I am impressed with the overall build quality of the M10R. This is a nice looking light that has performed reliably in my testing. Anodizing is top-notch, and I personally like the color and styling of the body. Hand feel is good, and the light is easy to use (although the tailstanding feature limits access to the clicky somewhat). The magnetic control ring has one of the best feels out there - with sharp and clear detents. It is also stylishly integrated into the design – well done.

Performance (on the supported 1xCR123A) is excellent – they have struck a good balance between output and runtime, with top-notch regulation.

Lack of direct 3.7V Li-ion RCR support will no doubt be disappointing for many, but I would point out that the Med/Hi performance is actually similar to a few other current-controlled lights with restrictive circuits (e.g. the classic Fenix PD20). Although I don’t recommend you run the light this way (due to high direct-drive level), no one seems to listen to me here when I say that on other lights anyway.

Use of the older Cree XR-E emitters seems an odd choice. But here again, I suspect this is simply from the long experience of the designers with that particular emitter. I’ve no doubt that future generations of SUNWAYLED lights will incorporate newer emitter types.

Bottom line, this is a very impressive “first showing” from a new company with a lot of apparent previous expertise. Check out my M40C and M20C reviews for additional comparisons.

To follow the online discussions for this review, please see the full review thread at CPF.




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