XTAR UL1 Multi-usage Mini USB light

XTAR Multi-usage Mini USB Light UL1

*XTAR UL1 provided for review by Xtarlight.com

PROS

  • Best USB light I’ve ever seen or used
  • Really nice tint and smooth beam
  • Solid but lightweight construction
  • Included goose neck extension is long enough to position the light where you need it.
  • 4 excellent modes
  • Doubles as a flashlight if plugged into an external power charger
  • Can be used as a laptop light, map light in your car if plugged into a USB adapter, or versatile room lighting if plugged into a wall wart charger.
  • Excellent heat transfer from emitter to outer body.
  • Choice of two colors: Silver or Electric Blue

CONS

  • Can put a lot of stress on the USB port of a laptop if hung out further from the side.
  • Gooseneck, while just tight enough, could be a just a little stiffer to be perfect in my opinion
  • My sample had a small bend in the male end of the extension but was easily corrected

MANUFACTURER SPECIFICATIONS

ANSI Illumination levels: Turbo High Mid Low
Luminance: 180Lm 120Lm 60Lm 3Lm
Max Range : 47m
Max Intensity: 555cd
Impact Resistance: 1.5m
LED: CREE XP-E R3 LED
Working Voltage: 2.75-5.5V
Battery: USB 2.0/3.0
Switch: Clicky Side switch
Size: Ø 22.0mm(Head dia)x Ø 48.0mm(Length)
Net Weight :18.0g(Excluded Metal Hose)
Hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
Features:
1.Optical PMMA material
2.The groove around the switch is good for positioning
3. Multi-usage, could be used as flash light (connect with the power bank), desk lamp (with the computer), wall lamp (with adaptor)
Street price: Around $15 USD

ADDITIONAL SPECIFICATIONS

Number of modes: 6
Mode Order: Main modes: High/Turbo/Mid/Low
Hidden modes:  Strobe/SOS
Lens: TIR (diffused)
Extension length:  14″

CONSTRUCTION

The UL1 is actually very well made but considering it is made by XTAR it should come as no surprise.  If you are used to the normal USB laptop lights then the quality will truly surprise you.  The main head is fully finned and anodized aluminum.  Machining and anodization is impeccable.  The back half of the light is made of plastic but doesn’t really feel cheap. The switch is very small but easy to operate and has a nice feel to the click when pressed.  The USB male connection is something that always has a little bit of looseness in most USB powered accessories where they are attached to the body of the accessory but this one is solid with zero play or slop.  The entire light feels like it is one solid piece and does not disassemble for service.  I doubt you would ever need to take it apart for repairs.

Below is a picture from XTAR that shows the driver board, TIR optic and Cree XP-E emitter on it’s MCPCB that are used in the UL1.

The fins are nicely spaced and well machined.  The switch is small but has good feel and the tapered edges surrounding the switch make it easier to press.

Below you see how the end of the extension arrived with a crimp in it.

A couple seconds with the tip of my pocket knife and it is better than new.

The ends of the extension are sturdy and fit the UL1 well.

All lettering is cleanly laser etched with clean edges and solid fill.  The model name of the light and the Serial Number plus the obligatory “Hot Surface” warning.  In this case it’s needed as extended runs on Turbo leave the head very hot.

The XTAR logo and website URL are molded into the rear of the UL1.

PERFORMANCE

XTAR claims ANSI lumens of 180, 120, 60 & 3 lumens OTF and my tests in my Integrated Sphere confirm those number pretty closely.  Nice to see a manufacturer claim accurate OTF numbers on their lights. Here is what my tests showed.  Please note that the actual mode order is High, Turbo, Medium, and Low.

Mode OTF Lumens
High 131
Turbo 173.1
Medium 69.8
Low 3.46

The hot spot is nicely diffused and large.  Unlike most TIR optics the beam is still round and not square.  The tint is neutral and very creamy vanilla in tint.  The modes are nicely spaced.  A click of the switch starts the light in high mode.  Subsequent clicks cycle through the regular modes.  Once on and in any regular mode, a double-click of the switch puts it into blinking mode where it flashes twice per second.  A second double-click puts it into SOS mode.  A single click when the light is in either blinky mode will return the light to High mode.  To turn the light off just press and hold the switch for 1.5 seconds.


The included goose neck extension allows you to direct the output of the UL1 pretty much anywhere you need.  It hold it’s position very well but in my opinion could be just a tad stiffer.  I think with use it will slowly loosen.  Being a bit stiffer from the start would allow it to hold up to extended daily (or nightly) use.

Plugged into a wall wart if makes for nice auxiliary lighting and would be great in a small room like a bathroom instead of a night light or to light up a desk or workspace.

The UL1 comes in a choice of two colors: Silver and Blue

CONCLUSION

This is a pretty sweet little light.  Arguably the best USB light you can buy and for just $15 it’s a hell of a deal.  Add in the fact that it turns into a versatile flashlight if plugged into an external backup power supply and it is the perfect accessory for the laptop bag or glove box.  I can recommend this light without any reservation!

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