Lumintop SDmini Flashlight Review

Preface

After reviewing the bigger brother to this light, the SD26, I was very interested in having a look at the 18650 version, the Lumintop SDmini.  Thanks to GearBest for sending this light to me for review!


Official Specs and Features

Versions

There’s only one body and colorway, but there are two emitter options.  There’s a Cree XM-L2 U2, and an XP-L HI.  Here I’m reviewing the XM-L2 version.

MSRP

Lumintop’s amazon.com price for the SDmini is $59.90, with cell.


Short Review

I love the styling on this light – the body and build is absolutely fantastic.  I’m less than enthusiastic about the operation of the light.  It works well enough though, and I can recommend it if you like cool white lights, and don’t mind moderate speed charging.

Long Review

What’s Included

  • Lumintop SDmini
  • Nylon holster
  • Lanyard
  • Spare o-ring (2)
  • USB boot cover
  • USB to micro-USB cable
  • Manuals and paperwork

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Pictures

Here’s a photo album, some indoor beamshots, a runtime and a chargetime.  Enjoy!

Package and Manual

The package is typical for this class of Lumintop lights: A slip-fit cardboard box, which has little relief for grabbing and opening.  This one did open more easily than previous iterations, though, and that’s appreciated.  Inside, the pieces are held securely in cutout foam, with no room to move.

The manual is … well there are a lot of papers in the package, but the manual seems to be a bit spread out over the parts of the whole package.  Some info is on the back of the box.  Some is on papers – and not all of it seem to be in one place or on one paper.  That’s not too bad but it lacks the coherence normally seen in the Lumintop manuals.

Build Quality and Disassembly

I can lead this section by saying: I’m extremely pleased with the build of this light.  I love it, in fact.  I love the diagonal knurling, I love the size and shape… This is a nice looking light.  And it feels like great quality, too.  The threads are thick and square cut, and also nicely lubed.  The knurling provides great grip without being too aggressive, and also provides a nice somewhat unusual look.  The clip is simple without feeling cheap.  The reflector is deep and aberration free.  The switch is a nice knurled rubber switch, with dual indicating leds underneath.

Now about disassembling this light.  The bezel unscrews easily and the lens is then free.  But after that …. access must be made elsewhere.  The head should unscrew from the body tube, but I wasn’t able to make it.  I didn’t use more than two hands, so while I do feel it could be done, I wasn’t able.  I’ll add that I hope it can be done, because I like this light [almost] enough to drop a 219b in there, and make it my go-to light.  More on that later.

20170518-IMG_1294.jpg

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Size

Pretty typical size for a “pocket thrower” light.  I’m able to carry this light easily and comfortably in my jeans front pocket.  I doubt you’d want to carry this in slacks, though.  The head is girthy enough and long enough that it might be noticeable.

It’s slightly bigger than the Zebralight SC600Mk III HI shown here.  I have yet to put the ZL to the meter, but I’d imagine the throw to be similar.  Of course that light lacks charging, and cost more than twice as much (but the tint is better!).

Wish I still had a Nitecore MH20 or MH20GT to compare to this light.  I think they’d compare in size quite well.

Retention

The three “normal” options are all options here:  Pocket clip (shipped installed), holster, and lanyard.  The clip is technically reversible, though it has only one reasonable installation direction.

20170518-IMG_1289.jpg20170505-IMG_1076.jpg

The lanyard is the [now] standard orange Lumitop lanyard.

The holster is a nice nylon model that holds the light in a bezel-up orientation.  I have little use for holsters, but this one seems nice enough.  It has a velcro closure.

Power

The SDmini is powered by a single 18650, but is also equipped to operate with two 18350 cells, as well.  In fact I found performance to be a little better with two 18350 cells!  Throw is improved, at least.

Results from runtime tests are as follows

Turbo: Started at 4.25V.  Finished at 2.66V.
High: Start at 4.25V, finished at 2.58V.

The light appears to not have low voltage protection (!!)

runtime.png

Also performed a charging test.  So once the cell was depleted and I’d checked the V, I used the SDmini to charge the same (3400mAh) cell.  Final voltage using the light to charge is quite low,  at 4.06V!!

chargetime.png

User Interface and Operation

There’s a single side clicky, which has a rubber cover and very noticeable knurling.  Nice about this light is that the rubber boot for the USB port is completely different in feel.  So if you’re like me and often confuse the feel of similar covers, be aware that this isn’t a problem with the SDmini.  (The shape of these two rubber bits are also completely different, which furthers to help the distinction.)  ((In fact, they differ in 3 dimensions, not just 2.  The USB cover is a bit domed, and the switch is flat.  The switch is round, and the USB cover is rectangular.))

The UI isn’t actually included in any documentation I found in the box.  Usually Lumintop puts that info on the back of the box too but I don’t find it there, either.  So here’s my exploration of the UI of this light.

State Action Result
Off Click On (Memory)
On Click Mode cycle (L>M>H>T)
Off Hold Strobe group (Strobe>SOS>Beacon)
On Hold Off

The UI is very simple.  I like that I won’t accidentally get any strobe modes.  And changing modes in the regular group is nice (can be done very quickly).  Unfortunately all this means that there are no shortcuts to any mode.

The manual also doesn’t really describe the charging features of this light, either.  The light charges at about 0.8A max (more like 0.5A average).  When the cell needs to be charged, the indicating switch blinks green quickly.  So far as I can tell, green is the only color emitter under the switch (and there are two green emitters).  As the light is charging, the switch still blinks green, and when charging finishes the switch lights solid green.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much else that this indicating switch actually does.

Modes

Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lux*
Low 50 36h 857
Mid 320 5.5h 6290
High 489 3h 10550
Turbo 1000 2h 19050

* This category is as yet meaningless since I don’t have a calibrated sphere.  I’m still recording these values, and working on calibration.

LED and Beam

A single CREE XM-L2 U2 emitter is utilized in this light.  I sometimes get careless when I agree to review items…. I didn’t note that there is an XM-L2 and XP-L HI version of this light, and just assumed I was getting the HI version.  Unfortunately I didn’t.  I’d 100% recommend the HI version for this light.  Everything about it should be better for the use-case of this light.  I’d imagine the throw is much better, and the tint probably some better too. (And in fact, the XP-L HI is rated at 300m.)

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That said, the HD version isn’t too bad for tint.  I don’t love the cool white, but it could be just what you’re looking for!

Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

Lumintop SD Mini
Emitter Cree XM-L2
Emitter Notes U2
Cell 18650 18350×2
Runtime 18650
Chargetime 18650
Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k] 18650
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1000
Lux (Measured) 1057 1162
At (m) 3.821 3.817
Candela (Calculated) in cd 15432.24334 16929.74622
Throw (Calculated) (m) 248.4531613 260.2287165
Throw (Claimed) (m) 210 (website) / 224 (box)

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

This is a common style light nowdays…. Most similar is probably the Nitecore MH20, or MH20GT.  There’s the Manker U11, and honestly, a slew of others.  I’ve had the MH20 but it’s been a long time so it’s hard to remember/compare.  I think the build on the SDmini is better, but the internals probably lean toward the MH20.  That said, if you’re inclined to mod your lights, I’d probably start with the SDmini.

Conclusion

Normally I like to think positively, but I’d just like to say – I can’t honestly recommend this light as a stock user.  No low voltage protection, slow charing that terminates at 4.06V, no thermal protection….  This light should be better than this.  The build is absolutely fantastic.  This would make a great host but it’d need a driver swap, and emitter swap too.  This really disappoints me – I’d been looking forward to this light for quite some time!

What I like

  • Build quality is very good
  • Cell versatility
  • Throw is good (better than rated, too)
  • Indicating side switch

What I don’t like

  • No low voltage protection
  • Mode spacing
  • Charging is on the slow side
  • Charges consistently to 4.06V
  • Side switch indicating is not actually all that useful
  • No thermal protection that I could notice

Up Next

I’ll probably have the Lumintop Elfin up fairly soon.  Possibly an abbreviated review, due to similarities with the Torpedo 007.

Notes

  • This light was provided by GearBest for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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