Pros:Tiny, waterproof, brighter than hell.
Cons:Short battery life, replacement bulb assemblies cost a mint.
The Bottom Line: Tiny and brighter than all get out, but it eats batteries and the bulb can't be economically replaced.
I've checked out some other Princeton Tec flashlights before - incidentally, a pair of LED models. The general consensus was that the LED lights were nifty and lasted bloody forever, but couldn't quite cut it on the brightness end of things when compared to the incandescent lightbulb crowd.
Recommend this product?
What do you use when you need something small, ridiculously bright, and waterproof?
Easy. One of these.
There's no point in mincing around the issue. The Princeton Tec Blast is really cool. It's a miniscule little thing, too - It's designed along the very same lines as the Attitude (a Princeton Tec model I've reviewed previously), but is a mere 3 and 1/8 inches long (including the little keyring flange) and only a hair over an inch wide at its thickest. It uses a pair of AAA batteries in Princeton Tec's characteristic double barreled body design, and could probably stun a moose at ten paces if you got it in the eyes.
The Blast, unlike the flashlights reviewed previously, is not an LED light. It uses an incandescent bulb - Good old fashioned firebottle technology. It either sports a halogen or xenon bulb, depending on who you ask, but in any event puts its studly high tech bulb to good use casting an amazing amount of light downrange.
In case you haven't noticed, the defining feature of this thing is that it's bright.
In a highly unscientific side-by-side test, the Blast easily casts ten times more illumination than a single AAA cell Mag Lite, dwarfs the ubiquitous 2AA cell Mag Lite by a margin of about 400%, and easily outpaces Princeton Tec's own 4AAA cel Attitude (an LED light). The Princeton Tec Impact beats it, but only on a technicality, since its beam is far more tightly focused.
A 3 cell Mag Lite could probably successfully tangle with the Blast, but you can't fit one of those in your shirt pocket, now can you?
The Blast's power comes at the price of a high current draw, especially for the pair of AAA's that powers it. The smaller a battery is, generally speaking, the lower its capacity and the more trouble it has dealing with high current loads. Because of this, the Blast will burn through a set of batteries in something like 2.5 hours - This is where you 3D cell Mag Lite users can gloat.
Of course, the Blast weighs less than 50 grams with batteries installed, so while you Mag Lite users are busy gloating we're packing another 135 grams of spare AAA cells and still coming out ahead in the size and weight.
The Blast's body is constructed of the usual thick high impact plastic of origin unknown, with a shatterproof (allegedly) plastic lens and double O-ring sealed collar assembly that you twist to turn the light on and off. The light is alleged to be waterproof to 1000 feet. It fears not my kitchen sink or being rained on, but I haven't got scuba gear to fully test that claim. The Blast does not have an adjustable focus, unfortunately, but its beam has a relatively tight focus with a hot spot in the center that's big enough to be useful while small enough to appear very bright, and a not totally useless corona of about 30 degrees outside that. Overall, it casts a very versatile beam - Not too wide and not too narrow. It also sports a pocket clip on one side for affixing it to your pocket (natch), belt, backpack strap, headband, or what have you. It comes in any color you like as long as that color is black or white, apparently.
Here's the real kicker, though: The bulb in the Blast is not replaceable. It's soldered right into the little circuit board in the lens/battery contact assembly and anchored quite firmly into the reflector. I imagine an enterprising soul with a soldering iron could install a new bulb, if he or she could find one of the proper specification, but Princeton Tec wants you to buy a new bulb assembly - bulb, lens, contacts, reflector, and all - when your Blast dies. For the cost of that plus shipping you could just go to the retail outlet of your choice and buy a new light, really.
Included is a pair of Duracell AAA's and a split ring to affix the light to your keychain. There is also a small foldout pamphlet with some propaganda and operating instructions.
If size and brightness are primary to you and battery life is a distant second, the Blast may be the light for you. It's versatility, power, and durability are definite plusses, but don't come crying to me when your bulb finally croaks.
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