Altus Lumen’s PAD-L LED Light Review

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RAY: (With theme music) Welcome back to Flashlights Today. I’m your host, Ray O’Vac and we are talking to PAD-L, the new guy from Altus Lumens. So, Pad, tell us a bit about yourself.

PAD: Well, I am a sustainable lighting option built with intelligent energy management from 75% renewable materials, so I am eco-friendly. I also support a variety of causes and initiatives, so I am socially conscious as well.

RAY: Wow! Impressive! According to your resume, you passed the famous Gadgeteer Stress Test with flying colors. It says here that you are rock solid and well-built. Being water resistant (but not waterproof), you are a great option for the outdoorsperson, huh?

PAD: It would not do much good to build a ‘green’ device if no one used it, so I was designed with great versatility. I have a small form factor- about half as thick as a deck of cards. I have a swiveling cover, a wire support, and a case designed so I can be positioned, hung, clipped, or held in almost any position you need.

RAY: Sweet- but the proof of a flashlight is the actual light. What is yours like? I see you use four of those square, flattish .5w high intensity LEDs and are powered by four AAA batteries.

PAD: Right. My Intelligent Power Management gives me four light levels-

  1. Power Saver, almost a ‘night light’ that can run 100 hours,
  2. Low Power, brighter than most pocket-size flashlights, with a 12 hour life,
  3. Medium Power, which is brighter than most other flashlights and gives me a 2.5 hour life, and
  4. High Power, a brilliant light that lasts for about an hour.

I bought some clips, if we can roll them…

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2D flashlight (top), PAD-L 'Power Saver' (bottom)

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Power Saver setting in a corner

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2D Flashlight (top), PAD-L 'Low' setting (bottom)

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Low setting in a corner

2D Flashlight (top), PAD-L 'Medium' setting (bottom)

2D Flashlight (top), PAD-L 'Medium' setting (bottom)

Medium setting in the corner

Medium setting in the corner

2D Flashlight (top), PAD-L 'High' setting (bottom)

2D Flashlight (top), PAD-L 'High' setting (bottom)

High setting in the corner

High setting in the corner

PAD: All you need to do is to click the one button to walk through the levels. Not only that, but if you hold the button for three seconds, I go into a flashing mode at the selected level- half a second on, half a second off.

RAY: I can see where that would be useful for signaling or marking a spot at night. Wow, I am still seeing spots from those last three levels- gotta watch out for that!

PAD: Additionally, the Intelligent Power Management signals a small red LED on the side to let you know the battery is fading, and the main light will flash when there is about a minute of life left so you are not going to be caught by surprise!

RAY: I see you are a wide-angle light. No focus, huh?

PAD: With several power options to choose from, if you need more light on the job you can just use more power. At the mid-levels, I make a great area light and after all, usually when you need light, you need it in more than just a single focused area.

RAY: Fair enough! As a lover of nice cases, that little nylon case you come in interests me. Two big zippered compartments and a mesh pocket in front. You fit in the mesh pocket with the light fully exposed so you can shine out, and you have a belt loop and a ring on back so you can be worn several ways. I also see that both compartments are big enough to hold you, which means you can carry spare batteries, supplies, and more. Handy!

PAD: Thank you. I also come with a cord and headphone manager that looks oddly like an oblong Altoid gum tin with a rubber bottom.

PAD-L, case, headphone manager, instructions

PAD-L, case, headphone manager, instructions

RAY: Ah, yes, the headset manager. In your instructions, it suggests carrying a cord in this to help hang you up with, which seems kind of silly- a metal and rubber contraption to hold some string seem like a contradiction to your environmental focus. If its main job is to hold headphones, it seems like a rather random inclusion.

PAD: Er, ah…

RAY: Now, I have to admit that you DO hang neatly- the way your wire loop sort of traps the cord, and when you wrap the cord around the cover as shown, it works well and is nicely adjustable- but I do sort of feel like a simple hook would have done as much. Let’s talk about your swivel cover for a moment too- what is it supposed to do?

PAD: Well, it protects me when it is closed, gives you more of a handle when it is opened straight back, and can be angled to support me in several positions…

RAY: But it really does not do those jobs very well, does it? As a handle, it is more awkward than just holding the housing. As a brace, it positions you with the light on the bottom and can hold you pointing slightly up, about 15 or 40 degrees from flat, but the cover does not really hold any position between them. What’s up with the light being at the bottom of the unit in these positions anyway?

One of the angles it works at

One of the angles it works at

PAD: I also have the wire support if you need me pointing more downward.

Forward positioning

Forward positioning

RAY: Yes, it lets you point down about 30 degrees from level. In your user’s guide it shows someone taking a picture with the light up on a convenient rock, pointing down on the subject. Does this happen often in real life?

PAD: Using it for photography? Certainly. The very slightly bluish, 240 lux at about 18” I put out in high power mode is great for photography.

RAY: I meant the conveniently placed rock, but my photographer daughter felt that the light was a bit harsh, although she thought it would be OK through a thin filter. Let’s move on. Eco-friendly, huh? Your company offers a solar cell and rechargeable lithium batteries on a more expensive model, but you can ONLY use batteries- how eco-friendly is that? Does it really matter that you are 75% recyclable if you use a handful of batteries every few hours?

PAD: You can use rechargeable batteries, especially the better lithium ion versions to reduce impact, but remember that we also use eco-friendly manufacturing processes to help in ways that you cannot as easily see in the end product, like my tough finish that reduces heavy metals in…

RAY: Well, thanks, Pad! I think that is about all of the time we have to…

PAD: But wait- I want to talk about my causes, my values and mission, my…

RAY: Yes, we can easily see how dedicated you are in your packaging, user’s guide, and website. Join us next week when our guest will be… (fades to black)

Shucks, mistimed my exit line. Oh well. So, Dave, what did you think? Nice enough little guy, huh? A few odd design elements, but a good guy. Heh, did you read his package and user’s guide? It is kind of hard to figure out what he is from it- no where does it call him a flashlight. On the other hand, he comes with a year limited warranty.

I think what I like most about the PAD-L is that it is small, bright, and tough enough to replace so many of the lights in my life- camping area light, reading light, household emergency light, portable work light, hiking light, closet light, and so on.  Huh? Good point Dave- if I could clip it to a pocket, lanyard or headband, it would be even more functional- maybe adding a spring steel clip to the main body. Being able to plug in a solar panel or other charger would be nice also. Yeah. I gotta go too, Dave. See ya!

 

Product Information

Price:$39.90
Manufacturer:Altus Lumen
Pros:
  • Overall good design- tough, compact
  • Great lighting at all 4 levels
  • Can be fully accessed through cover
  • Admirable goals and mission
Cons:
  • Cover and wire loop do not allow as much positioning as I would like
  • Inclusion of a headphone manager seems odd
  • No alternative power options
  • Light is at bottom of unit when cover is supporting it
Posted in: Gear

7 comments… add one

  • Smitty March 3, 2009, 9:47 am

    With all that paper (users guide, statement of beliefs in sustainability, lists of causes, etc.), I can’t take them seriously as environmentalists. Packaging should be almost nothing, with a link to that information on a website. Those who care will go there and read and be encouraged to do word-of-mouth advertising. Those who don’t care will only toss the paper aside anyway – and won’t recycle it! Either way, we’ve lost trees to paper for no real purpose that couldn’t be better done electronically. To quote from their website: Preventing pollution is more effective than cleaning up the mess after it has already been made.

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  • Bill Tsang March 3, 2009, 8:35 pm

    I am Bill from AltusLumen.
    I would like to answer some of the questions that posted
    1. The headphone cable manager included is for winding the wire that use to hang the light on tree and turn the light into area light. The headphone cable manager will add some weight to the wire and let user can flow the wire to the branch of the tree of hanging it.
    2. Packaging is just part of our consideration in sustainable design. We already avoid plastic in our packaging and only use paper and simple packing. It is not a perfect packing for enviroment, any people have better suggestion please advice us and we will consider.
    3. The most important measure of sustainable is we try to use limited no of material, The plastic body is not ABS but higher cost Polycarbonate and we use the same material as the cover for the LED since we will avoid trouble in recycling. We know there is still a long way to go for “Total Beauty” but we will try hard to do it. The road will never end but we will get closer and closer to the end.

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  • solar light March 3, 2009, 11:31 pm

    That’s pretty good stuff. I found one which make sustainable further, that use solar energy from the sun, no need battery. Here is it, solar lantern light

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  • Mark March 5, 2009, 8:50 pm

    Hi, Bill!

    I did not find that the headphone manager was very necessary as a counter weight, although it is a well-made peripheral. I think I would rather pay a bit less and have that as an optional purchase.

    I did not bring it up in the review, but one of the oddest things about this light is that I really did not know what it was from the packaging or first part of the instructions. Someone buying one on-line would already know what it is, but it is not really a ‘shelf sales friendly’ package.

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  • Daniel S March 9, 2009, 8:05 am

    Hi,

    I’m sorry, but I found the fake interview method of review annoying. Ultimately, I didn’t find it that clever and I was forced to skim the review due to its format. Please stick to standard review styles.

    5
  • Mark March 9, 2009, 9:59 pm

    Hi, Daniel. Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate knowing what people think of my styles, feeble attempts at humor, etc.

    I had fun writing this but it won’t be happening like this again. But… maybe you just need to read it with the right cheesy theme music in the background? :-)

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  • Greg April 6, 2009, 7:50 pm

    I actually thought the interview style was pretty funny, well-written, and made the review of what is otherwise a fairly boring product more interesting. You can’t please everyone, I guess…..

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