I must admit that I have not, until this review, really joined the LED flashlight revolution. I do have a pen knife and other little knickknacks with LED lights incorporated into them, but they are not what I would call full-fledged utility flashlights. So getting a chance to review the True Utility TrueLite Maxi 3W is my chance to step into the new LED flashlight age.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am no stranger to flashlights, having been in law enforcement for over 15 years prior to my career change, but flashlight technology has changed in the 13+ years that I have been out of the police game. It was not that I was against the new LED technology; it was that I questioned the reliability of it. But in recent years I have seen the technology and reliability of LED flashlights improve to the point that it is time for me to expand my flashlight arsenal as well as my mind. The TrueLite Maxi 3W (hence forth referred to as the TrueLite) looks like a good choice for my first LED flashlight, so let’s have a go at it.
The TrueLite has the following listed specifications on the True Utility website:
- 3 x 1 watt – 120+ LUMENS
- Power save mode – lasts up to 12hrs – Normal Mode – up to 240mins
- Aircraft grade anodized aluminum body with shockproof, water-resistant build quality. High quality neoprene sealing ‘O’ rings throughout
- Tactical ON/OFF tail button
- Lens protector
- Belt Clip
- Water proof up to 5 meters (16.4 feet)
- 3 x AAA batteries not included
As you can see in the preceding photo, the TrueLite has 3 main sections when disassembled: the front containing the LED light assembly, the back or tail containing the on/off switch and belt clip, and the inner battery holder.
The TrueLite has a nice compact size that fits easily in my hand. I must say though, for something so small, it does have some heft to it. This is not a bad thing, as it gives the flashlight a solid and robust feel. The belt clip is a nice touch; it is rather stiff but appears to be removable.
The on/off switch for the TrueLite is a rubber-covered push button that has a solid clicking sound and feel when depressed.
This brings me to my one complaint about the TrueLite: it is not the materials, but the lack of instructions on how to use the power-save mode. Now I consider myself to be somewhat tech savvy, but it took a lot of trial and error to finally figure out how to get the TrueLite into the power-save mode. The TrueLite did not have any instructions on how this is done, and I could not find any when I searched the web. As you might expect, you depress the on/off switch fully (until you feel and hear the click) to turn the TrueLite on. After it’s on, you can switch to power-save mode. Once the light is on, you slightly push the on/off button again, and the light will switch to power-save mode.
The business end of the TrueLite houses a substantial looking LED capable of 3 watts of output producing 120+ lumens, as stated in the specifications. The lens over the LED is protected by six raised sections as you can see in the picture above. Besides being a nice way to protect the light housing, I can also see this a being useful in a self defense situation. One feature about the TrueLite that is pointed out on the True Utility website is: “By developing a special lens that sits directly on the light source we have eradicated the need for the standard torch reflector. In turn losing this reflector has enabled the loss of considerable length from the torch. Whilst doing this to make it smaller it is has also enabled it to be a lot brighter.”
Shooting a beam of light from the TrueLite down my hallway, you can see that it puts out plenty of light. At about 18 feet, I could not really see a different in brightness when the TrueLite was in regular mode or power-save mode. To me, the flashlight produced a nice wide spot close up and provided good lighting at a distance. I did not really test the waterproof abilities of the TrueLite, but I can say that I did drop it a few times, and other than a minor ding, the flashlight held up well.
So, for my first steps into the LED flashlight world, I will say that I am impressed with the True Utility TrueLite Maxi 3W. The compact size makes it easy to carry on your person or in a bag. The aluminum body means it should last a lifetime. The dual lighting output means you can conserve your batteries for longer use. This to me is a great little flashlight.
Now to the downside of the TrueLite, the price and the lack of or poor instructions. At $40.71 (£ 26.99), it may be at the upper end of the pricing spectrum for this type of flashlight. I am not saying that the TrueLite is not worth it, considering the quality and design, but it may put a few folks off. The bigger issue to me is the lack of clear instructions or a user manual. People will always pay for quality, but we tend to get turned off or frustrated when we cant figure out how to use all the features of a product. If there are instructions, I could not find them, online or in the packaging, so from a usability stand point that is a big miss.