JetBeam PA01 (XP-G R5, 1xAA) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, Comparisons and more!

Originally posted: January 14, 2011

Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :whistle:

Specifications:


It has been awhile since I’ve reviewed an AA-based JetBeam light. The PA01 is part of a new series of lights, and something of a departure from the traditional JetBeam build (more on that later ;)).



Packaging is fairly unique, with printing directly on the plastic exterior packaging. Inside, you will find the light securely packaged inside a piece of hard pressed-foam material. My sample came with only a wrist strap, manual and warranty card.


From left to right: Duracell AA, Jetbeam PA01, Nitecore EZAA, NitecoreD10, Jetbeam Jet-I Pro, 4sevens Mini AA, Zebralight SC51

PA01: Weight: 26.9 g (no battery), Length 92.6mm x Width 17.0mm (bezel) 25.2mm (near switch)
D10SP: Weight 45.8g (no battery), Length 89.7mm x Width 20.7mm (bezel)
EZ AA: Weight 20.9g (no battery), Length 85.0mm x Wdith 16.6mm (bezel)

As you can see above, the light is quite a departure for JetBeam. In fact, overall appearance is more reminiscent of the Nitecore line of AA lights. :whistle:




Build of the PA01 shows some unique features (e.g. stainless steel collar and screw threads). Overall build is very good, and the light does feel like something of a cross between the Nitecore D10 and EZAA.

Screw threads are not anodized, but the negative contact ring in the head is clearly isolated from the body – the light will only come on with the head fully tightened. The positive contact ring seems to have a raised metal ring around it, likely to prevent reverse battery orientation (i.e. flat-tops cells won’t work).

The head features a stainless steel “collar”, presumably to protect the screw threads and base of the head (styish too. ;)).

The tailcap switch seems to also have a stainless steel ring holding it in place (again, likely for additional protection). The switch is a reverse clicky, with a somewhat stiff feel (common on these sorts of small body lights). As the switch is fully recessed, I found it hard to activate with my thumb (although you can switch modes easily enough once on, due to the reverse clicky nature). The click sound is fairly loud on my sample.

The light tailstands easily.

Knurling is relatively fine and not overly aggressive, but it is present over most of the light’s surface. I found grip reasonable for this size light – but it could slip out of your hands if wet.

Anodizing is excellent on my sample, no chips in the flat black finish (HA = type III).

Lettering is minimal, and only on the stainless steel collar (which has a brushed finish). Very classy and understated looking, IMO. :)


The PA01 features the Cree XP-G R5, with a medium textured orange peel (MOP) shallow reflector. I would thus expect more of a flood light than a thrower.

Which brings us to the requisite white wall hunting ;). All lights are on Hi on Sanyo Eneloop, about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.





As you can see, the PA01 has a broad hotspot and reasonable spillbeam width. This is not unlike the 4Sevens Mini AA beam profile, but with higher max output on the PA01. Scroll down to my Summary Tables for more specifics on output.

User Interface

The UI is strait-forward. Turn the light on by pressing and releasing the tailcap clicky. Switch modes my soft-pressing or clicking off-on.

The mode sequence is reversed from most lights: Hi > Med > Lo > Strobe, in repeating order. The light will memorize the last mode used, and return to it upon re-activation.

Memorization delay is reasonably short – you have to leave the light on for ~3 secs in a given mode for it to be memorized. Less than that, and you will advance to the next mode upon re-activation.

PWM and Strobe

The PA01 uses PWM for its low modes, but at a visually undetectable frequency of over 20kHz. :thumbsup:

Interesting, there seems to be a secondary pattern detectable within the PWM, running at around 3kHz (i.e. the intensity of signal rises and falls periodically, over 330 microsecs or so). First time I’ve seen this, so I’m not really sure what to make of it. In any case, none of this is visible to the eye. :)

Strobe is a fairly typical 11 Hz.

Testing Method:

All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com 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, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.

As you can see, output levels and throw in my testing seem very consistent with the ANSI levels Jetbeam claims on the packaging. :)

Output/Runtime Comparison:





Given that Jetbeam used a higher capacity 2500mAh NiMH in their runtime testing, their reported ANSI runtime values seem very believable to me (based on these results with a lower capacity 2000mAh Eneloop).

The Med runtimes are fairly good for a XP-G R5-equipped light that uses high-frequency PWM (e.g. at least as good as the Crelant 7G1 or DST TLR). Of course, current-controlled lights can produce longer runtime for equivalent output.

Potential Issues

The head must be fully tightened to work reliably. Several times, I found the light dimming in output or flickering – cranking the head tight resolved the issue. But this is tighter than I normally need to do.

Strobe is on the main sequence (i.e. you must pass through it to get back to the beginning). Also, the sequence is reversed from most lights (i.e. goes from Hi to Lo).

Light uses PWM for lower output modes, but at a sufficiently high frequency to be undetectable in use.

Reverse-clicky tailswitch can be hard to access, due to its fully-recessed nature and relative stiffness.

There is no mention of support for higher voltage Li-ion (14500) batteries in the documentation. I therefore presume these are not supported.

Preliminary Observations

The first observation you may have is that this light looks more like a Nitecore light than a Jetbeam! ;) Actually, there are features and characteristics of both makers to be found here, plus a few new elements. I suspect the reason for this is that both Nitecore and Jetbeam are now owned by the same parent company. As a result, there is presumably some degree of cross-talk between the brands.

The PA01 certainly has distinctive styling. I personally like the minimalist look, and the brushed stainless steel collar is a nice touch. The light is surprisingly slim, but still solid feeling. The beam profile suits a small carry light such as this (i.e. more flood than throw). In fact the beam profile is similar to the 4Sevens Mini AA, but with higher max output on the PA01.

Output and runtime performance are good for this class of light (i.e. XP-G R5 with high-frequency PWM), but of course current-controlled lights would run longer. As a side note, I am glad to see that Jetbeam seems to be quite accurate in all their ANSI specifications for this light. :thumbsup:

My main quibbles are with the interface – I personally don’t like seeing Strobe on the main sequence, and I found the switch a bit stiff and difficult to access (although the latter point is not surprising on a light this size). I also found that you need to have the head screwed on very tight to insure consistent operation. Oh, and the bundled extras are decidedly minimalist as well (i.e. no belt pouch, spare o-ring, keychain clip, etc.). :rolleyes:

But otherwise, this light suits its stated purpose well. While there is nothing particularly innovative about the interface, performance is reasonable and it is a very solid light for its slim size. Coupled with an elegant and refined look, I can see this light being popular on several fronts. In some ways, it reminds of a more stylish Mini AA, with a tailswitch and stainless steel reinforcements. :)

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PA01 provided by Jetbeam for review.

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




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