DealExtreme C78 Torch

C78 FlashLight

Jan 20 2010


A couple of months ago LED(Light Emitting Diode) flashlights were not even on my radar of interesting things to research. I already have a 4D Maglite which was pretty good I thought. I've seen LED flashlights at Home Depot and Target stores and thought they were cool-looking and some were spec'd up to 5 watts output. Wow! I thought. That certainly seems bright but one quickly look at the price tag and my excitement is quickly tempered and back on the shelf it went. It's hard to justify spending $30 for a flashlight. Then I came across a discussion on the internet where people are literally going gaga over their LED flashlights. There's even forums dedicated for such discussions and I was surprised. How much could one possibly talk about a flashlight I thought. These discussions are akin to people modding their computer rigs and wanting to eke out every bit of performance out of them only it's all about how bright can I get my flashlight to be. After reading a few posts I was instantly hooked and began my quest to find my very own LED torch, as some would call it.

Cree Q3 What makes these LED flashlights so interesting are the next generation LEDs they use from companies such as CREE, SSC, et al. These aren't your typical LEDs either that you find on most electronics. These are high-powered LEDs that are blindingly bright. The image on the right shows one example of a LED from CREE. The yellow square in the center is the light emitter and a lens encloses it. It certainly doesn't look like your typical LED does it?

Most are familiar with an incandescent bulb with a yellow hue and generally burn-out after a few hours of use. We've all learned to live with these defeciencies for years. LEDs on the other hand can last tens of thousands of hours longer. Some flashlight manufacturers even claim it never needs replacing. I won't hold my breath on that one. The light hue is also typically white which allows you to view objects close to their true color. But the most important fact I think that make LEDs superior to incandescent bulbs is that they are far brighter and energy efficient at the same time.

Today I will be reviewing the C78 Torch Light, a $10 LED flashlight from It uses a CREE Q3 LED. It is inexpensive but not much information is available on the internet about this flashlight which may deter people from buying it. I'll be your Guinea pig and share my hands-on experience.

First off, I would like to say that after using the C78 for two months I still like it very much. It's not perfect and rough on the edges and I've got a few ideas on how it could be improved. As a matter of fact I like it enough that I bought a second one.


DealExtreme C78 Flashlight


The C78 is roughly 4.5" in length with the thickest part around 1" in diameter. The body is made of anodyzed aluminum. It is lightweight thanks to its use of a single AA battery. Yes, one AA battery. I didn't believe it myself. It employs circuitry that boosts the input voltage upto the working voltage of the LED, which is just over three volts. So you end up with a flashlight in a small package and with the power of a 2-cell flashlight.


DealExtreme C78 Torch


The neat thing that drew my attention to the C78 is the zooming head. Instead of a traditional reflector it uses a lens that you can move in and out. This movement effectively adjusts the projected beam of light and provides an all flood light at one extreme and a spot beam at the other. A typical flashlight with a parabolic reflector on the other hand would give you both beam profiles at the same time. The advantage of the C78 is you do get a brighter flood and spot beam with greater throw(how far the light can reach). At full extension the C78 adds another quarter inch to its total length. Zooming is a one handed operation, which I really like. There are other zooming flashlights that I passed up simply because the zooming mechanism is a twist-action which requires multiple turns and not comfortable for one handed operation.

DealExtreme C78 LightDealExtreme C78 Flashlight


I captured two beamshots at both ends of the zooming range. The images are proportional to give you an idea of the size of illumination. At 10 ft from the wall the flood beam on the left is 6.75 feet in diameter and the spot beam on the right is roughly 81 inĀ². My other C78 showed slightly smaller dimensions so yours may vary as well. The spot beam is actually the projection of the LED itself which explains the odd shape. Also notice how smooth the flood light is. I find this very pleasing. I'd say the flood is usable upto 40 ft while the spot beam is usable upto 40 yards. The square beam grows to a few yards in diameter at 40 yards. Anything further the light is too dim and my eye sight isn't sharp enough to discern much of anything.

C78 beamc78 beam


Notice also the holes around the side of the head. Some light shine through them which add to the cool factor, but they can also interfere with your night vision when all you want to see is what's ahead. This is not a water resistant flashlight due to the fact that it has a sliding head. Air needs to freely move in and out by design. Water can get inside the holes as well as the gap between the head and the main body.



Over the next few pages I will be dissecting this flashlight to see what makes it run and what makes it so good and not so good.



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