By: Jonathan Kwan
October 25, 2008
In today's world, the term [electric] torch is often used simultaneously with flashlight. But remember why torches were called 'torches' in the first place? Because these portable open fires have some real burning power (After all, it does carry real fire and fuel) in addition to, well, some lighting ability. On the other hand, a conventional flashlight has practically zero designed fire power, as its purpose is to provide light; and depending on what you have, most consumer units have a very poor range. When I think of 'torch', Wicked Laser's The Torch comes into my mind. Why? It's called The Torch for a really good reason -- simply put, it can burn things, and no, I'm not kidding. But unlike conventional fire torches, it has nothing short of incredible brightness and range. Carrying a 100W bulb powered by a massive nickel-metal hydride battery, anything within several inches of The Torch will definitely begin to heat up like mad in seconds. Meanwhile, other than its insane ability to transfer heat over short distances, The Torch is also insanely bright with an amazing range. We'll show you some photos in just a moment. With a brightness rating of 4,100 ANSI lumens, it's roughly twice as bright as an average home theater LCD projector. They call it The Torch world's most powerful flashlight (As currently reviewed by Guinness World Records) with a very good reason. Excited? We won't keep you waiting. Not excited yet? That's also a very good reason for you to read on.
Wicked Lasers used USPS as the carrier of the Torch to send it to us. It's kind of interesting how the Canadian customs held it for a week, maybe they were wondering what the heck this was. I don't blame them. Once it was out of the customs from Eastern Canada, it quickly flew here and we received it a couple days later. Everything arrived in great condition, and Wicked Lasers themselves had done a great job and packing it securely.
Out of the box, we received the following:
- 1x Wicked Lasers The Torch
- 1x 14.4V/1500mAh Ni-MH battery
- 1x Battery charger
- 1x Manual
Everything was neatly placed in custom shaped foam brackets and variously sized boxes. The manual was quite helpful in areas such as how to use the unconventionally designed charger, how to maintain the battery and the flashlight (After all, it's not your run-of-the-mill product), and the such.
Despite what some people imagine The Torch as, its size and weight is actually nothing quite out of the ordinary. Reasonably sized, cleanly designed, and relatively light even with the huge battery, the Torch is actually a very well designed unit. Measuring at approximately 23cm in length, 5.5cm at its widest point and 4.4cm and its least widest point, I would like to say that it is actually small for this type of power. The body of the Torch features full "military grade" aluminum construction for excellent durability and heat dissipation (Considering how much heat this thing generates, it'd better be). The textured handle improves grip for the user, so this $300 flashlight won't slip out of your hand.
The battery occupies pretty much the entire volume beneath the Torch's handle.
The real magic comes from the 100W halogen light bulb (Replacements are $9.99 from Wicked Lasers). Don't be fooled by its size -- it converts chemical potential energy into insane amounts of light and thermal energy like, well, no other flashlights. They claim it to be 'world's most powerful' without a good reason, and this is it. The bulb sits behind a specialized heat resistant glass lens to prevent it from shattering from all this power. With all this power comes at a price, however -- the battery will only last 15 minutes when it's fully broken in. Initially we've only been able to get around 1/3 to 1/2 of that above until several charge cycles later.
Other than that, I'm still quite surprised about how there's no refractors in the middle of the lens, so at relatively close ranges there will be a dead spot in the middle of the illuminated area.
The battery is to be inserted at the back of the unit by removing a screw-on cap. The cap has a push-button switch at the back to turn the Torch on and off. The triangular shaped Ni-MH battery goes into a correspondingly wedged tube inside the flashlight so the battery will remain in its place at all times instead of rolling around. The spring loaded screw on cap keeps it secured, but the spring will scratch the negative side of the battery. Other than that, it's not a problem, but considering how the Torch lasts a maximum of 15 minutes on a charge, be prepared to really scratch the battery up. Good thing it is only $20 for a replacement.
Here's the unorthodox-styled charger I was talking about earlier haha. The brick has an LED to indicate charge status, while a switch allows the user to choose between 1.8A or 0.9A. Apparently you're only supposed to use 0.9A otherwise it will 'damage the battery', according to the manual. I used 1.8A on my first charge by accident, but thankfully nothing happened haha. Oops.
Anyway, the charger looks normal until it's past the AC to DC power supply, where three odd looking wires lead away from the brick. Good thing they have standard labels, where the red wire goes to the cathode and black wire goes to the anode. The tips are both magnetic and sticks really well to the battery. The third wire has a temperature sensor at the end for the user can tape it to the battery during its charge cycle -- just so the battery won't overheat during charges. Full charge time is around 30-45 minutes. By the way, just a warning, if you snap on the magnetic tips too quickly, the battery would love to make some sparks.
One thing I don't really like about the battery is its declining linear rate of voltage output -- a few minutes before the battery is fully discharged, the light will become dimmer and dimmer.
It's 7:43AM in the morning, in a small university lecture theater. A few weeks earlier, my friends and I were checking out the Torch during class on my computer. It finally have one, and it's in my hands right now. My friend Dan walks into the room and is approaching me.
Me: "Hey Dan, check this out!"
Dan: "Wha-? AHHH MY EYES!!"
Me: (Turns off the Torch after a second) Isn't the Torch awesome?
Dan: That thing is so bright!
(Note: Don't try this on your friends. You might actually blind them.)
Anyways, back on topic. For each independent set of photos below, the camera resides at the exact same position as it's placed on a tripod.
So what does 4100 lumens mean to you? You might think that the photos below may be Photoshop tricks, but trust me, it's not.
It's 10:00PM at night, and I'm standing beside my house where it's leading to my backyard. Do you see anything? I can see only so slightly in the photo above.
Now, I'll turn on my Torch. Check that out!
Note that dead spot in the middle though, but other than that, it's still insanely bright!
I think it's pretty dark out in the shot above as well. Take a look at the houses across the street, as well as anything in the foreground. Take a close look before the Torch lights up the entire night.
Not only do objects such as the tree in front become intensely saturated by the light generated by the Torch, but it's also quite evident that the houses across the street are also affected. I can show you farther, but my camera won't pick it up significantly. Incredible lighting power and incredible range. Immmppppresssive.
So, we just talked about the illuminating ability of the Torch. But what makes Wicked Lasers try to claim the title of the Torch being the world's 'most powerful flashlight'? It's super bright, but it's super hot too. Let's see how it goes about it burning some paper.
I've set a stack of paper out of the recycle bin and placed them on my driveway. A garden hose is up and running nearby, just in case. The Torch is ready to do its job.
Although the Torch heats up anything that's within half a meter or so, it's not enough to burn something until the surface desired to be burnt is touched -- anything else will just be some really good heating. Some of my friends didn't believe how much heat this thing can radiate, so they've stuck there hand in front of the lenses. I recommended around 30cm around, and a few seconds later, everyone felt the heat. Anyway, I would recommend some kind of eye protection since even the light reflecting off the surfaces will be insanely bright. So the paper begins to burn.
And they weren't lying when it can be used to burn stuff.
Wicked Laser's The Torch has amazing versatility in what you can do with it. For example, let's say that you're at school or work, and you really need to heat something up. But the microwave and toaster ovens are all occupied by a line of twenty people. Oh no!
But you have The Torch in your backpack. You take it out, and shines it on the food at close proximity (But not so close that they will burn) for a couple minutes. The food is ready to eat now!
(Ok, maybe the heating won't be so even. Only for emergencies haha.)
Now here's a more realistic one: You parked your shiny, new red Ferrari, get out, and lock your vehicle. You begin walking down a street that's quiet, and not very well lit. Even the street lights nearby doesn't provide adequate illumination, and your heart begins to beat faster. Fear not -- take out your Torch. Turn it on, and it's like driving a car with high beams on, except you are walking, not driving. Half of the environment around you is brightly lit up by your Torch.
Good (And most likely) scenario: You get to where you want to, and all is good, plus it's always nice to see everything in view -- not to mention that it's really enjoyable to have something ridiculously bright.
Bad (Hopefully that you will not encounter) scenario: You continue walking. As you approach a corner, someone large and fit approaches you aggressively. Some light hits his face, and suddenly, with a bit of delay, you recognize his face from some public safety poster, or the news, or something like that. You stand in shock. Then begin to move to a safer position where, well, you can at least try to do something.
The person reaches into one of his pockets, and takes out something that appears sharp and shiny.
"GIVE ME THE KEYS TO YOUR FERRARI AND ALL YOUR MONEYS OR DIE!!!!!!!", he shouted authoritatively.
Before you can reach for your cell phone, he's already closer than you would imagine. Then you remember you have your Torch.
"Look at THIS", you yell back, and aims the Torch at his face. You can almost see his eyes glow red and the effect is almost instant. He tries to move, but you continue to readjust your aim at his face. He tries to cover his eyes, but only in in vain. He tries to move closer; this time, a little less aggressively due to impaired vision from your 4,100 lumens Torch.
The person points the knife and you and moves within an alarming proximity of you. You take the Torch out, gives it some circular momentum, and lean forward as you whack the solid and nicely weighted, military grade aluminum product across his face. Because your Torch has been on for quite a while now, the tip of the flashlight is quite hot. He holds the left side of his face with his left hand, while still holding his knife in the right, in pain. As he falls and turns around 180 degrees, he momentarily drops his knife. While he attempts to grab it back as fast as possible, you quickly kick the knife away. The person is in awe and paused for at least a second. During that time, you quickly shove your flashlight towards his body. He screams in pain once more, and smoke begins pouring out of his pants. Fire starts coming out of his pants and continues burning. He stops, drops, and rolls, while you quickly run back to your Ferrari and call 911. The cops arrive a couple minutes later; the person was lying on the ground, and got arrested.
A sergeant come to you and appreciates you for your braveness and for assisting the police capture a long wanted rapist and serial killer.
Okay, I admit it: Some of my stories above may be a "bit" ridiculous, but let's face it: the Torch is an incredible product. With its intense lighting power and amount of heats it can produce, it can be a lot of fun to use simply for recreational purposes or just to impress a few. When I brought it to one of my Engineering lectures a few weeks back, I sat at the middle of the lecture halls before the professor came in, and turn it on. The entire front of the room was lit up distinctively, and everyone looked at me with a surprised look at what I have in my hands. On a few occasions, as I leave the university and walks on a sidewalk with not a lot of people to the train station, 100% of the people has a surprised look on their face when I turn my Torch on and light up everything. The trees reflect the light, and the ground and background is affected. It's incredible. And when you're walking at night and can't see much, the Torch will help.
On the other hand, it can also be an extremely versatile product. Yes, it can be a food heater, or some kind of unorthodox weapon to burn things or blind someone -- I've even used it for lighting when I'm taking certain indoor photos. The intense white light can serve as an external 'flash' too! Think of all the ways you can use it, and feel free to email me about it!
That said, with all the cool stuff you can do with the Torch, it's impeded by its very short battery life, and it's not a cheap product. My other complaint is the dead spot in the center. But it's very well designed and built with quality otherwise -- and for all the things you can possibly do with it, it's money well spent for those who use it well. Oh yeah, you can buy extra batteries for the Torch, and $20 a piece is pretty reasonable in my opinion.
I would like to thank Wicked Lasers for providing us with the Torch for us to mess around with!