NiteNumen NE01 Flashlight Review

Preface

Yet Another review light from GearBest! This time it’s the Nitenumen NE01. Yes it’s another Nitecore MH20 clone. But it’s also much cheaper, so let’s see if it’s worth buying instead of the MH20!


Nitenumen NE01 Official Specs and Official Claims:

Nitenumen NE01 18650 flashlight
Battery Type 18650 (protected or unprotected)
LED XM-L2
Reflector Smooth
Max Output 1000 Lumens
Max Runtime 320 Hours
Max Beam Distance 232 Meters
Peak Beam Intensity 13500 cd
Impact Resistance 1.5 Meters
Waterproof IPX-8

World’s smallest Smallest USB 18650 flashlight
LED: CREE XM-L2 U2 LED
Max output: 1000 lumen
Smart constant current drive circuit
Aviation aluminum vacuum electroplating reflecting system
Max luminous flux: 12600cd
Max beam distance: 230m
Precise temperature control system; monitor working temperature;adjust brightness reasonablely to performance best
Friendly red and green battery indicator
Long run time: up to 320h
Smart model control; one press to active super bright
Super transparent toughened lens
Aviation aluminum provided
Military grade anodization processing
Waterproof: IPX-8(underwater 2m)

Nitenumen NE01 18650 flashlight
Ultra Bright 1000 Lumens
High 650
Middle 320
Low 80
Shimmery 2

The above section contains the manufacturer’s descriptions and claims, not my impressions or results.


Nitenumen NE01 Review:

Key Features

  • Onboard charging (with indicator in dual red/green)
  • Reasonable size for rated output

What’s Included

  • Belt pouch
  • USB/micro-USB cable
  • Pocket clip
  • Lanyard
  • Spare o-ring
  • Spare USB port cover

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Pictures

Might as well get right to it, so as always, here are all my pictures of this light, etc. Here you go!. All the pictures below are reused from this album.

Quality

The NE01 has a solid feel. It’s smooth and comfortable to hold. The reflector is metal and very clean, and the glass is nice and thick (but appears uncoated). The bezel unscrews nicely and is clean, but feels gritty. My micro-USB port worked for about 5 minutes, and has not worked since. So the quality of the internal connections is suspect at best. The anodizing seems nice enough but when carried in the pocket with a Convoy s2+, wore off very quickly (while the s2+ was undamaged). The anodizing damage can be seen clearly here. It’s not much but that was literally probably 15 minutes in a shared pocket. I’m all for a solid worn look but…. this would be too much too soon.

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Sideline note but it’s worth mentioning: The USB cable provided is very low quality. It worked for a while, and then didn’t. I tried other cables too, and they also didn’t. So probably both the light’s micro-USB and this cable are borked.

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As a consequence of the built-in charging not working, I only ever saw the red LED behind the switch activate once. So it’s there, but I wasn’t able to photo it. And I never observed the green “charge complete” light either (though, I’m sure it’s there). That picture also displays the blue led behind the activation switch. I’d love to mention it elsewhere than “Quality” but there’s no need; the blue led literally does nothing. Not even like the Manker U11, in which the blue LED is nearly useless too. In the NE01, the blue led is just on, as a kind of locator beacon (I suppose) but it’s not even good for that. It hides behind the thick part of the switch, and is hard to see around the red rimmed edge.

The decision is still out on whether to send a replacement for this light or not, but I’d rather finish the review and note the not working parts, than wait on a replacement for a trivial (to me!) part of how this light functions. I’d have noted it in the review anyway….

Manual

The manual is a single piece of paper with English printed on one side and not English printed on the other. The warranty card is the same way. The manual more or less adequately describes the very simple UI, which I’ll talk about later. Also, here’s the box, in case you’re one of those people to whom boxes are important. I’m not; I’m a Zebralight guy.

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Power

The light is powered by a single 18650, and will accept both protected and unprotected cells. The manufacturer makes no voltage claims, so I am not sure if two 16340 batteries would work. Since the micro-USB charger will not work on my light, I can’t say if this light will work while charging or not. Though I see no reason why it wouldn’t.

User Interface and Operation

As far as UI’s go, this is not the worst. It’s not the best, and I found myself frustrated by it more times than not. What it IS is simple. There are 5 modes, and 2 strobes.

From off

  • click to turn the light on, and then subsequent clicks cycle through the modes from low to high. When high is reached, further click turns the light off.
  • double click: does nothing
  • long click enters strobe modes

From on (in regular or strobe modes)

  • click to advance modes and finally turn light off
  • double click to turbo (from any mode)
  • long click to turn off (from any mode)

Strobe Modes

  • Fast strobe
  • SOS
  • (that’s it – no beacon, no locator, no activity with the blue led like some other lights).

LED and Beam

The XM-L2 U2 is really not a bad emitter or tint (my distaste for U2 the band notwithstanding). A little cool for my tastes but that’s not a deal breaker. The beam has a very nice hotspot and plenty of very defined spill.

Blue Led, indicator of nothing. You’d wish it did something, like indicate battery voltage, or do some neat “breathe” mode like the Manker U11, or blip for locator. But no, all it does is light up when the light is on. Yes, only when the light is on. Should I repeat it again??

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PWM, at 1/320. PWM showing at 1/320 is very, very bad PWM. If you don’t know what PWM is, then have a look here. It’s kind of interesting. Basically lights which use PWM for modes, have two states: on and off. In order to achieve anything but off, or 100%, the light turns off and back on [ideally imperceptibly] fast. Thus, a light can have many modes with each being “on then off” for different ratios.

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With that little bit of background, one could surmise that PWM would be most noticeable in the low modes (it is) and ideally disappear at the highest mode (it does). “Good” PWM isn’t typically noticeable even in the low modes on good lights. One way to test PWM is to shine the light at a computer fan. PWM shows up at a kind of stop-motion…

Anyway, this PWM is very bad, and noticeable all the way up to the second highest mode. Obviously “Ultra Bright” mode won’t display it because it’s at 100% all of the time.

The PWM in this light is an absolute deal breaker for me.

Retention

Pouch. Pocket clip. Lanyard. That’s basically all the bases covered. Yet here I sit with the light completely bare of any of that, carrying it in the depths of my pocket. But that’s just how I roll. Speaking of rolling, the light doesn’t very much.

Build and Disassembly

This light is reasonably well built. The threads on the battery tube seem reasonably smooth (and lubed) and are square cut. Like the Nitecore MH20 (which I no longer have, unfortunately for comparison’s sake), the tube is completely open at both ends and I enjoy that (having gotten a battery stuck in a Zebralight before, which is only open at the tail end). The tailcap has a thin spring for connection, but no magnet – though there seems to be plenty of room for one. Especially, I’d guess, if you use unprotected cells. There’s a nice rubber boot cover over the micro-USB port, which seats very securely. A replacement is provided.

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To the best of my ability to tell, the driver is pressed in, and resisted my attempts to be removed. The bezel does come off very easily (just unscrews!) and the guts can be taken out from that side. Here are those guts. I like the clear o-ring. It’s thick and feels high quality. The glass lens also is very thick (as thick as I’ve seen? Greater than 1.5mm if I was forced to guess). Then the emitter side of the light is accessible. The little black blob at about 7 o’clock is the point at which the rubber boot enters the head.

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It will tailstand easily, and securely: The tail is flat. (Unlike the Manker U11, which – while it will tailstand – has very rounded base.)

It doesn’t really roll, though I wouldn’t really push my luck with it.

The bezel has some nice crenelations which allow light to spill out. Good if that’s your thing! It is mine.

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Size

As we know about this light and whole genre of light, it’s a great size. It’s similar in size to a MH20, and all the MH20 clones. Is it the “world’s smallest USB 18650 flashlight”? I doubt it – I’m not even sure it’s really smaller than the MH20. But

Front, back, and Side to side.

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Here’s a whole bunch of lights to compare it to.

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  1. Astrolux A01
  2. BLF-348
  3. MecArmy PT16
  4. Olight S1
  5. Manker U11
  6. NiteNumen NE01
  7. Convoy S2+
  8. Convoy S2+
  9. XINTD C8

Maybe ever so slightly smaller than that Manker U11. But the U11 is better in every way I can think of, except that it’s a two piece body. The NE01 is a three piece body. And between the 18650 lights shown there, the s2+ is still my favorite for pocket carry.

Now, I don’t have an MH20 anymore (sold it when I got the Manker U11). I’d love to be able to compare the two but I can tell you anyway, there would be no comparison (MH20 better in every way. $40 better? Yes probably.) So I’ll just compare this to the Manker U11.

9 - VTl8tUF.jpgThey are very similar in size. As stated, the U11 is a 2 piece body, while the NE01is 3 pieces. The U11 has a lightly orange peeled reflector, and the NE01 is smooth. Head to head the NE01 looks slightly bigger, but I think the U11 tapers slightly right at the very end — the difference is negligible.

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15 - vQbFLqn.jpgHowever where the body transitions to the head, the NE01 juts out with the anti-roll parts, while the U11 is much much more gradual, and the body of the U11 tapers even more than this picture shows. That alone makes the U11 vastly more comfortable in pocket than the NE01. And finally and most important to me, the low modes of each (U11 Right, NE01 Left). NiteNumen says that’s 2 lumens but I’d guess it’s more. The U11 says it’s 0.07 lumens (going from memory on that one). NiteNumen didn’t claim it was a moonlight mode so I don’t fault them for that. But I like a lower low and so their low doesn’t do it for me. (Also note from that picture, the NE01 emitter appears to be unlit. That’s because of PWM and shutter speed (in this case 1/4000), something I’ll talk about later.)

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Conundrums

  • Rebranded as even cheaper lights, really? (Soonfire, looking at you.) I guess one or the other is what didn’t make the cut for quality and gets branded as the cheaper one. I can’t imagine holding that light in my hand (I’d guess the anodizing would rub off just looking at it!)
  • PWM. Why oh why is it so bad in this light. It’s practically unusable on low modes for me.
  • The blue light, what is it for.

Summary

Should you buy one?

No. You should not buy this light. Even if you kind of think it’d be a fun project light, there are better hosts you can buy. And in this market – if you don’t want to buy an MH20/MH20GT – you should buy a Manker U11. Even if you want to buy this size host to swap the emitter, buy the U11. You’d drop the horrible PWM. Even if you wanted to change the driver and emitter on the NE01, buy the U11 and do both for the difference in build quality.

Edit to the mod section: Since the review is done, I was willing to take it apart destructively: The driver and mcpcb appear to be separated a part of the body of the flashlight. I’m not sure if this is good or bad but it does make it quite difficult to work with inside there. The wires they used are QUITE short, and soldering to the switch looks like I’d be a nightmare. Skip this as a host for modding (unless you’re a pro)!!

Pros

  • Built in micro-USB port with indicators
  • Will tailstand
  • Does produce light

Cons

  • PWM is so, so bad
  • Tint (too cool)
  • No moonlight
  • PWM is bad.
  • Anodizing is not good

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ll support GearBest because they sent me this light for review, but I hope you’ll do that by buying some other light. Maybe the Manker U11? It’s listed there at $45, but you can certainly find a coupon if you look, or just use the code “Reddit” for 10% off that price.

Parting shot.

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Coupon Codes

If you do decide to buy this Nitenumen NE01, save yourself a few bucks with coupon: NE01GB. That makes the price $22.69. All things considered, probably still not a bad deal.

Thanks to GearBest for sending this light for review. All the links in my review to GearBest aren’t “ref” links but they do have tracking [full disclosure]. Of course GearBest wants to know how much traffic these kinds of reviews drive. Please support GearBest, and remember the coupon code “Reddit” for 10% off regular price flashlights.

Thanks again to GearBest for providing this light for review! Upcoming is a review of the Opus BT-C100 charger!

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