Aimed at: Pro and demanding users of torches.
Pros: Rechargeable, compact with a powerful and adjustable beam.
In the increasingly competitive market for torches, consumers have been spoiled. We can get torches from the £1.99 petrol station special up to devices costing £200 or £300 with beams like lighthouses. We have come to expect bright LEDs, focusing optics and some degree of weather and shock protection as standard. It seems as if we are all lumen hungry now, where 15 years ago we didn’t even know what a lumen was.
Pitching unashamedly into the quality end of the market is the new LED Lenser P7R – part of LED Lenser’s Professional Series of torches. If you want to shout quality these days, then the torch (or whatever) has to be presented in a well made and striking presentation box into which the product is nestled like a piece of expensive jewellery. The P7R is no exception – as the picture shows.
Printed discreetly on the lid are the key specifications of the product – 1000 lumens beam strength, a maximum beam distance of 210 metres and a battery life of up to 40 hours at Eco setting. Not bad for a torch that is 15cm long and will fit comfortably into a wax jacket pocket.
Underneath the dense foam packaging is all the stuff you need to get the torch working. There is a well made ballistic nylon belt pouch with elasticated sides to hold the torch securely. With its red stitched highlights and hook and loop fastening, the pouch looks like it has been specially made for the P7R and is not just a “generic one size fits all’. There is also a nylon wrist strap that can be attached to the base cap if needed. And then, of course, there is the all-important charging base. There is definitely a touch of the “designer” about this base. Made out of strong black plastic it has complex curves like a shoehorn, with the USB charging lead on one end.
This base is designed to be attached vertically to a wall with the screws and plugs supplied. There is about a metre and a half of cord attached to the charging end, so it should be enough for most users to find a convenient place to put it. Although there is only the USB option to plug into the charger this may not be too limiting. Apart from being able to charge from a laptop or desktop computer, mains plug sockets with USB fittings are commonly available nowadays.
Once fitted to the wall, the torch has a strong magnetic cap that holds the torch vertically while it is being charged. This charging solution, I have to say, is neat, efficient and stylish and minimizes the clutter that usually surrounds the “charging stations” that are a feature of modern life with all our rechargeable devices.
Unusually, the rechargeable battery was not in the torch when it arrived for testing. It was packed into the nylon pouch for protection. All it takes to mount the battery is to unscrew the back cap of the torch and mount it into the removable cartridge, taking care to observe the polarity. When the rear cap is removed it is an opportunity to have a close look at the design and engineering of the product, the body is made of alloy, and there is no doubt that it is high quality. The milled grips are well done and the black finish is thorough.
The rear cap also contains the switch mechanism, and I am pleased that the designers have adopted a simple switch system that does not entail switching through all modes whenever you use the torch. A simple hard press on the bright chrome switch will turn on full beam and another firm press will switch it off. However, a quick double press will select Eco mode that is significantly less bright than the main beam.
The beam focusing system is similarly simple. To unlock the torch head simply twist it to the right and then it will slide smoothly backwards and forwards, using your thumb and forefinger. The user can choose whatever setting he wants between full beam and flood beam and then lock this position by a simple twist to the left.
Not all LEDs are created equal, and I was pleased to see that the quality of the LED Lenser LED was good. Shining it onto a wall, at full beam, there were no black spots or rings. This shows that the focusing optics are doing their job and the intense spot needed at the end of a beam will be there. Similarly, at full flood setting, there was a good even spread of light with no spots or rings. In the full darkness of my back garden (no street lights out here in deepest Sussex) the flood beam illuminated a wide area that made it possible to work over the whole 12 metre wide garden.
The spot beam is powerful too, and shone right across the playing fields opposite with a noticeable centre to the beam.
The P7R is positioned at a very competitive centre of an already competitive torch market so is up against some stiff competition both in terms of price and quality. In my mind there is no doubt about the quality of the LED Lenser P7R – the designers have done a good job designing a torch with an LED that is super bright and then allied it to a simple patented focusing system with quality lenses that make the most of the bright beam.
The packaging and accessories reinforce the quality message, as does the elegant charging system. As usual, quality does not come cheap, so the target market is not those who would be happy with a cheap copy. Regular users might be police and emergency services etc, who need a reliable, robust torch that will deliver the light needed as well as being easy to carry and hold and then recharge at the end of a shift.