Concept: 4 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: We'll see how it holds up.
The Long Version: I'm a sound engineer for rock bands, so dark nightclubs are my "office" and a flashlight is not just handy to have, it's absolutely vital.
For almost 20 years the 2xAA Mini MagLite has been my choice, and a large percentage of musicians and techs concur mostly due to the excellent build quality for the price.
The LED revolution has impacted MagLite's market dominance with brighter lights that don't kill batteries nearly as fast, and MagLite has finally fought back with LED versions of their old favorites as well as LED replacement bulbs, but at premium prices.
An alternative I'm enjoying is by Nite Ize, a maker of many useful flashlight accessories.
It consists of a 3-LED bulb section, a matching reflector, plus a tail cap switch.
The tail cap switch is important to me because without it the Mini MagLite requires two hands to operate. Like a gun, when you really need light you need it fast, and quite often my other hand is busy with the sound mixer or light board, a beer, etc.
I really love this part of the upgrade kit and in fact had been using a different flashlight for the past year because of it's tail cap switch, but found it too bulky in my back pocket for comfort. The MagLite fits into the space next to my wallet very nicely, with the head sticking out so I can grab it easily.
As for the LED part of the kit, installation is a breeze as long as you're aware that the LED module is polarity sensitive--if it doesn't work just turn it 180 degrees so the pins swap holes.
What kind of improvement can you expect?
The LED upgrade is maybe 40% brighter (a quick estimate) and also tends more towards the blue spectrum than the original incandescent bulb as seen in this daylight-balanced photo.
More importantly, the light is also much more uniform and you no longer have to bother turning the flashlight's head to focus the beam, which saves time.
The LED conversion is available separately for around $5, while this kit goes for $10 at Target and WalMart but only $7 at Academy, making it a steal.
My only complaint is that the tail cap switch feels a little flimsy; the button rattles around in it's housing in both on and off positions.
Having used it for only two nights, durability is a big question mark but I'll be sure to update this review should any problems arise--for now I carry the original tail cap in my toolbox just in case.
I've had the LED conversion in one of my MagLites for two years and it's still going strong.
Note, and I quote: "Replacing the original components with the Nite Ize Upgrade components will void the Mag instrument LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY covering the AA Mini Maglite flashlight.
Made in China"
My thanks to Matthew for inviting me onto this site. I'm already having lots of fun with it and look forward to reviewing more of the things that are important to me for one reason or another. Keep in mind that I'm always after a killer deal and carefully weigh price versus performance. This will play a big part in my future reviews of items such as vodka, computer monitors, collectible toys and food.
I quit using this flashlight a few months ago.
The LED conversion seems to have a connection problem somewhere, and despite my best efforts at fixing it the light would dim or go out until I gave it a good whack. I'm a sound and light engineer and KNOW about fixing bad connections, so have concluded that there's a design or materials flaw somewhere.