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MD Product Evaluation: Duracell Daylite Flashlight

Traditional Sized Flashlight on the Right, With Two Duracell Daylites on the Left

A day in the life of a motorcycle journalist typically includes wrapping a greedy paw around the key to any number of the latest, greatest, rolling two-wheeled expressions of corporate pride currently available. That is, if you’re healthy. A recent trackday miscalculation on my part left me with a rashed (but not broken) track bike, decidedly second-hand protective gear and a broken collarbone. Said collarbone is now augmented with a medical-grade stainless-steel plate and several screws holding it all together. I’m no professional racer, but that’s not to say I didn’t try to convince myself that with the orthopedic jewelry in place, I was okay to ride, but I knew better, and so did the editor. Dirck already had something lined up for me to test, given my current condition, ahem….

“How are you feeling?” Dirck asks. “Pretty good.”, I respond, with a harness firmly holding my left arm in place…. “Yeah, you look like you’re in pretty good shape.”, he answers sarcastically, but openly smiling. “I’ve got something new for you to test.” Immediately, my day brightens, and the nagging pain emanating from the repaired collarbone subsides. “Try not to break anything else before you write the story.” I can’t really describe my reaction when he handed me a —- flashlight. Yes, you read that right – a flashlight. Didn’t see that one coming, but hey, some of the better surprises come out of nowhere, which is kinda where this ended up for me.

Duracell, makers of the coppertop battery, have now come up with their own flashlight, 3 versions actually, audaciously named The Daylite. With a name like that, it’s clear what they imply their product is capable of. Does it live up to its name? Let’s find out, but first, a little background.

To quote Rick June, Duracell’s Vice President and General Manager – “We’ve re-engineered the common flashlight into a more powerful tool that will help give professionals and do-it-yourselfers the vision to do their jobs better. The difference isn’t subtle, and we named it Daylite for a reason. It’s like bringing a beam of daylight to the job. It’s powered by Duracell batteries, but it’s another example of how the company is bringing more than battery innovation to the market.”

Duracell’s own research claims that typical LED flashlights, which use either a reflector or lens, capture less than 70% of the light produced for a 180 degree pattern. The Daylite employs Duracell’s Truebeam technology which has both a lens and a reflector to capture and project up to 100% of the light. In doing so, the dark, or dead spots in competitor’s flashlights are not seen in the Daylite’s light pattern.

We were supplied with the AA battery version of the series (sized appropriately to fit under your motorcycle seat along with your tool kit). With a 3-watt LED and two AA batteries, Duracell claims an output of 80 lumens, as does the AAA battery version, which also uses a 3-watt LED but uses 3 AAA batteries. The CR123 version, which uses a 4-watt LED and two 3v lithium photo batteries, has a claimed output of 160 lumens.

Indeed, in use, from spot, to flood, there are no dark spots in the light pattern, and we were immediately impressed by the quality and intensity of the light. The color of the light is bright white and intense, much more so than other flashlights that currently take up residence around my house, be they LED or regular bulb.

102408sideThe body of the Daylite is made of aircraft-grade aluminum, has a camera-inspired 3:1 spot-to-flood focus ratio, and is shock and water resistant, so you can drop it in the rain, but dropping it into a puddle probably won’t bode well for its service life. In my opinion, for proper dependability in the professional sector, it should be waterproof. Turning the Daylite on requires pressing the rubber-covered push button on the recessed back end of the body. If you’ve ever packed brand X’s flashlight, only to have it turn on knowingly because of its twist-to-turn-on activation, you’ll come to prefer the push button style.

For the sake of comparison, I went out and purchased -yes purchased – the AAA version of the Daylite. It is shorter, but larger in diameter, and it packs the batteries into a cartridge, which is then inserted into the body of the flashlight. The reflector/lens area is also a larger diameter, and so the light pattern is larger than the AA version for a given focus adjustment.

Curiously, when their light patterns are shown side-by-side, the AA version’s light color had a slight greenish tint to it, while the AAA version’s light was white. Whether this is a one-off production variance remains to be seen. The AAA version’s lens/reflector assembly was a little wobbly when adjusted fully to flood, while the AA version did not have this issue.

When compared to the light patterns of my existing flashlights, it was immediately and starkly apparent what an improvement the Daylite is. With Brand X’s light showing on the wall, the Daylite completely washes out Brand X’s light pattern. Brand X’s light pattern also is fraught with dark spots – not ideal when looking for that screw or fuse you just dropped in the road/trailside ruffage, or into the recesses of your motorcycle. As bright as our test unit is, I’d venture to say that you’d be able to guide the space shuttle in on initial approach with the 160 lumens CR123 Daylite.

In regards to form factor, the AA version is 144mm long by 36.55mm in diameter, while the AAA version is 131.4mm long, by 45.55mm in diameter. The CR123 version is 175.5mm long, by 36.55mm in diameter. I prefer the AAA version for its shorter length and slightly larger light pattern. How one of these may fit with your packing system is for you to determine, but make no mistake, they clearly – with bright intensity – raise the bar of flashlight performance.

Availability seems a little scarce at the time of writing. The well-known local home improvement stores did not carry any versions of the Daylite, while OSH (Orchard Supply Warehouse) stocked only the AA version. WalMart stocked both the AA/AAA versions, while Rite Aid, Walgreens, Radio Shack, etc. did not have any of the Daylites on their shelves. If Duracell hopes to make inroads into the competitive and already seemingly saturated flashlight market, they’ll need to be aggressive and persistent, but they have a product worthy of the effort and shelf space.

Retail pricing of the AA & AAA versions is $24.99, while the CR123 version is priced at $34.99.