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  1. Introduction The evolution of the torch industry has been steadily driven by advances in LED and battery technologies and while innovation is definitely present, it is rarely ground-breaking. A torch is a usually cylindrical item, with a button or two to control it and a clear lens through which one of more LEDs shine. Some torch companies though are more daring and innovative than others so when Wuben approached me to propose a review and I had a look at their inventory, I realized that it is definitely one of those companies. Looking through their inventory, I chose the most unusual and interesting torch they make and I am going to review it for you today: The Wuben X2. The Wuben X2 comes in 3 different material choices: Aluminium, Copper or Titanium. The Aluminium is offered in 3 different anodization options while the Titanium in 4. It goes without saying that I picked the funkiest of the bunch, the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash. But before taking a look at the torch, it is definitely worth it looking at the box that it comes in, as this unboxing is definitely a premium experience. Unboxing The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash comes in a square white box with the company logo over a suspicious looking slit on the top and some basic model and company information on the back. 2 of the sides show only the model name while the 3rd includes some marketing quotes and the 4th has 2 QR codes that lead to the company web site and their Facebook group but most importantly states that the warranty period is 5 years, which is great. The top of the box seems to be magnetically held in place and opens in the middle, offering a premium unboxing experience. The first thing to see is a white box that contains the user manual. The manual contradicts the box, stating that the warranty is only 1 year, but as their website also states a 5 year warranty, I feel confident in saying that the manual is wrong. Under the manual we find the torch, protected in a soft nylon sleeve, and the accessories. There is also a yellow sticker explaining that the torch comes locked for shipping and how to unlock it. The accessories are a red silicon diffuser and a lanyard. There are no spare o rings as the torch is not supposed to be opened by the user. The lanyard is actually very interesting as its end can be removed to reveal that it is also a USB A to USB C charging cable. The observant among you, may also have noticed that one of the lanyard's sides is a metric measuring tape. Very nice Wuben! The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash is definitely unconventional and unique. Its rectangular shape maximizes pocket comfort and will not roll off the table. It is also nice to hold in the hand as all corners are chamfered and perfectly finished, with no sharp edges. The Ink Splash colour scheme is definitely a riot and will get noticed! The design includes several oblong grooves that can be filled with glow in the dark epoxy, as the company prompts on their website, if the user chooses so. There are also 4 slots on the top and 6 slots on the bottom of the torch for 6mm x 1.5mm tritium vials. The bottom also features a very shapely and useful clip, which can be easily removed as it is held in place by 2 screws, but keep in mind that 4 of the slots for the tritium vials are actually on the clip. The top has a lanyard hole for the included - or any other (I was able to fit standard 4mm paracord through it with some effort) - lanyard, the operating button and the hidden charging port, which I will show you in a bit. The sides are less eventful but still very nice to look at and include some shallow cooling fins. The front end reveals 3 Samsung LH351D emitters in a row with a shallow, orange peel triple reflector while the rear end includes the serial number, the information that the battery capacity is 2000mAh and the warning to not disassemble. The torch is held together by 1.5mm hex screws and despite the warning can be taken apart (at the user's own risk) to service or replace the (proprietary) battery pack when it wears down in time. The button at the top is an innovative approach as it consists of a hinged metal slab that presses down on a plastic button underneath and can be lifted to reveal the hidden USB C charging port and battery level / charging indicator light. Very nice! The silicon diffuser can be placed over the lens to provide a diffused red light. Build Quality and Finish The build quality of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash is excellent. The machining is excellent, the fit is immaculate, the anodization is spectacular and perfect, there are no sharp edges and the product looks and feels premium in all respects - including the price. Size Comparison Here is the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash next to the Olight Baton Pro. The Baton Pro features a higher capacity battery but the shape of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash makes it more pocket friendly. Specifications The specifications of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash, as found on the company's website, are in the following table: The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash comes with the Samsung LH351D emitters that offer lower maximum output than the Osram P9 emitters but are warmer and high CRI, as opposed to the cooler and low CRI P9. User Interface The user interface of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash, as shown in the user manual, can be seen in the diagram below: From Off: Click to turn on. Hold to turn on directly to low mode, regardless of the previous mode used. Double click to turn on directly to Turbo, regardless of the previous mode used. Triple click to turn on directly to strobe. Triple click again for SOS and triple click again to go back to strobe etc. Double click to go to Turbo. Quad click to lock the torch. The torch flashes 3 times to indicate it has been locked. From On: Click to turn off. Hold to cycle through the main modes low, medium and high. Click and hold to programme current main mode (explained in Modes and Programming section). Double click to go to Turbo. Triple click to go to strobe. Triple click again for SOS, triple click again to go back to strobe etc. From there click to go to the previously used main mode (low, medium or high) or double click to go to Turbo. From Locked: Quad click to unlock and turn on in low mode. Click, wait 0.5 sec, double click, wait 0.5sec, triple click to reset torch to factory default. The torch unlocks and turns on in low mode to indicate a successful factory reset. The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash features mode memory for the 3 main modes, low, medium and high. Turbo, strobe and SOS are not memorized and the memory mode cannot be turned off. It also features an indicator LED near the bottom of the button. The LED lights as follows to indicate the battery level. Modes - Programming The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash has 3 main modes (low, medium, high), a turbo mode and 2 flashing modes, strobe and SOS. The output levels of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash can be seen in the following table. The numbers provided by Wuben are in black and my measurements are in orange. I do not own a multi thousand dollar worth integrating sphere, just a logging Lumen meter and a home made integrating tube. The array is calibrated with 3 separate, professionally measured lights and gives me consistent results, but there is definitely room for error and deviations are to be expected. My Lumen measurements show that Wuben is quite honest in their specifications for the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash as my measured values are well within the margin of error from the provided values. The Candela and Throw I measured indicate the same, as I actually measured them to be slightly higher than indicated in the specifications. A very interesting feature of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash driver is that the 3 main modes are programmable. The torch comes with all 3 modes set to their lowest values but each mode can be separately and steplessly adjusted within the value ranges indicated in the table below: The programming is very easy. Turn the torch on to the mode you want to programme and then click and hold. The torch will steplessly ramp up from its current output to the maximum value for the selected mode and then start ramping down to the lowest value and repeat endlessly until the button is released. The output level at the moment the button is released is saved for that mode. The top and the bottom of the ramp are indicated by a flash. Photometry I took some photometry readings with an Opple Light Master Pro. The results are in the following table. As shown in the table, the Samsung LD351D emitters used in the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash have a CCT of around 4500K and a slightly negative Duv. In my eyes they seem quite neutral or slightly on the green side, and as both my eyes and the Opple Light Master Pro are not spectrometers, you can take that with a grain of salt. In any case, here is a comparison photo of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash on the right and the Olight Baton Pro on the left. The white balance was locked at 5500K. It is obvious that the tint of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash is warmer and significantly more neutral than that of the Olight Baton Pro. Beam Profile The beam pattern of Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash is very floody and, similarly to the torch front, rectangular. Even though I found that strange to begin with, it is actually quite usable as the light is directed where you need it and not at the sky. Video Comparison I compared the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash with the Olight Baton Pro, both on turbo, in the following video. The distance from where I am standing to the end of the lane is 70m. Driver The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash uses a buck driver that provides fully regulated output regardless of the voltage of the 2 Li-Ion cells in series that power it. It also features thermal regulation, low voltage and over current protection. There is PWM detected by the Opple Light Master Pro but it is definitely in the safe range and neither my eyes nor my camera can see it. The only mode that seems to be pulsing at a low frequency is medium, but I still could not see any flickering. Here is what the camera saw: Battery and Charging The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash utilizes a proprietary, non removable (officially) battery pack, which incorporates 2 14500 Li-Ion batteries with a total capacity of 2000mAh. The included lanyard doubles as a charging cable! The USB C plug on one end of the lanyard plugs into the USB C charging port under the button of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash. The indicator LED lights up red while charging and blue to indicate that the charging has been completed. The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash can also be charged with any other USB A to USB C or USB C to USB C charging cable and any 5V charger, including Power Delivery enabled chargers. The following chart shows the charging of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash, after it had been depleted completely to the point where the torch turned itself off due to low voltage protection. The charging lasted less than the 3 hours declared in the specifications and was completed in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 31 seconds. It required 11.1245Wh of energy. As the current draw never exceeded 1A, any 5V 1A charger can be used to charge the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash at full speed. Runtime Charts The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash utilizes Samsung LH351D emitters and is rated at a maximum output of 1800 Lumens. I do not own a multi thousand dollar worth integrating sphere, just a logging Lumen meter and a home made integrating tube. The array is calibrated with 3 separate, professionally measured lights and gives me consistent results, but there is definitely room for error and deviations are to be expected. According to my measurements, the output at turn on was 1742 Lumens. Over the next 6 seconds it reached its maximum level at 1757 Lumens which is very close to the declared 1800 Lumens and definitely within the margin of error of my equipment. It was still at 1756 Lumens at 30 seconds (ANSI). The output started falling rapidly at 1 minute and 4 seconds, slightly exceeding the 1 minute declared in the specifications, down to about 700 lumens, which is lower than the 800 lumens declared in the specifications. It remained steady for about 1 hour and 17 minutes. It then started dropping and the torch turned off at 1 hour, 19 minutes and 12 seconds, exceeding the 1 hour declared in the specifications. The Titanium construction of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash coupled with the use of high CRI emitters make for some high temperatures that reached up to almost 60°C at the head of the light. The button was also hot as it is located on the head of the torch but the body was quite comfortable to hold. Here are the first 10 minutes of the above chart, in greater detail. I also did the full runtime graph on High. The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash turned on at 377 Lumens which is very close to the declared 400. It was quite steady, dropping very gradually to 367 Lumens at 2 hours, 56 minutes and 38 seconds. It then declined faster to turn off at 2 hours, 58 minutes and 10 seconds, exceeding the 2.5 hours declared in the specs. Here are the first 10 minutes, in greater detail. Conclusion The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash is a unique EDC torch with an innovative design and excellent build quality. The rectangular shape makes it pocket friendly while maximizing its output capability and battery capacity. The machining of the Titanium is perfect, with no sharp edges, the fit is immaculate and the anodization is superb. It utilizes a fully regulated buck driver with thermal regulation, over current and low voltage protection that provides stable output levels with no visible flickering. The driver is powered by a non removable, proprietary battery pack consisting of 2 14500 Li-Ion cells in series. The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash uses 3 Samsung LH351D emitters in a row with a CCT of 4500K, providing about 1800 Lumens of high CRI output at a neutral Duv. The beam profile is rectangular and very usable. The button is a bit mushy and less clicky than I would like it but it gave me no issues whatsoever. It lifts to reveal the USB C charging port. The charging took 02:37:31, which is less than the 3 hours stated in the specifications and a good balance to ensure the longevity of the battery pack. The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash includes 10 slots for 6mm x 1.5mm tritium vials which can decorate the torch and make it easy to locate in the dark. The Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash is a premium torch with premium features and, also, a premium price. For the month of May 2023, it can be purchased directly from the company's website at a 20% discount, for $246.40. On top of that, you can use the coupon code WUBENHB15 for an additional 15% discount, bringing the price down to $209.44. Is the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash worth the cost? For the features, material, funky anodization and build quality, definitely! But for the readers that want the features, quality and form factor but do not care for Titanium or the fancy anodization, there is also the Aluminium version that starts at $78.40, with the 20% discount, and using the coupon code WUBENHB15 brings the price down to $66.64. Let's list the Pros and Cons of the Wuben X2 Titanium Ink Splash: Pros + Innovative, pocket friendly, rectangular design. + Titanium construction with perfect machining and no sharp edges. + Immaculate fit and finish. + Superb anodization. + Fully regulated buck driver with thermal regulation, over current protection and low voltage protection. + High CRI Samsung LH351D emitters with a CCT of 4500K and neutral Duv. + Output levels measured very close to specification. + Throw and duration measured slightly above specification. + USB C charging port hidden under the button. + Battery level and charging indicator LED. + The included lanyard is also a charging cable and a measuring tape. + 10 6mm x 1.5mm tritium vial slots. + Red silicone diffuser included. + IP68. Cons - No moonlight mode. - Low PWM frequency on medium. - Non removable (officially) proprietary battery pack. - Mushy button.  TheLAB.GR Thanks to Wuben for providing the sample for review Polymeros Achaniotis 23/05/2023
  2. Introduction Having someone to hold your torch so you can have both hands free is useful in many situations, especially if they are good at pointing it where you want to see and of course, not in your eyes. When no such brilliant helper can be found, a head torch can do just as good a job. Head torches come in many different varieties, ranging from low CRI - high output, to illuminate large areas to high CRI - low output, for illuminating closer, with better quality light. Sofirn sent us one of their head torches to review, that can combine both: The Sofirn HS20. The Sofirn HS20 is a dual head lamp, with independent controls for a high output - low CRI and a low(er) output - high CRI emitter. This sounds like a brilliant idea, so let's delve into it and see how they've done! Unboxing The Sofirn HS20 comes in a generic brown box with the company logo stamped on the top and a sticker specifying the exact model it contains. The torch and all the accessories are tucked inside in no particular order. The accessories include a 1m (3ft) long USB A to USB C charging cable, 2 spare O-rings, the head strap and the manual. The torch itself comes protected in a bubble-wrap bag. There is a label on the torch, held with a rubber band, reminding the end user to remove the insulation paper from the battery (which is shipped inside the torch) so the torch can function. The design of the Sofirn HS20 makes it a dedicated head torch, as it is not convenient to operate in hand. It consists of a tube, with 2 end caps and a protrusion in the middle of the tube, which houses the 2 emitters and their optics. On top of the protrusion there are 2 buttons, to control the 2 emitters separately. The emitter on the left (as you face the torch) is a Cree XHP50.2 inside an orange peel reflector. Despite being marketed as a spotlight, this configuration with a large dye emitter and a shallow, orange peel reflector is not going to focus the light into a narrow beam and have a lot of throw. I consider it instead to be the high output option. The emitter on the right is a Samsung LH351D CRI90 behind a TIR optic, which is protected by a glass lens. This is marketed as a flood light and indeed the TIR optic makes it floody. It is also the high CRI, lower output option. One of the end caps is marked with the USB symbol. The other has the mandatory CE / RoHS / do not throw in the bin markings. Unscrewing the USB marked end cap reveals the USB C charging port. Unscrewing the other end cap reveals the battery, with the insulating paper on top. The battery is a Sofirn branded, button top, 3000mAh, 18650, Li-Ion battery. A brass puck at the back of the driver PCB makes contact with the positive terminal of the battery while a thick, good quality spring on the end cap makes contact with the negative terminal. The torch fits securely in the silicone cradle of the head band and the straps are soft and adjustable. Build Quality The build quality of the Sofirn HS20 is... OK. All parts fit together nicely and the anodization is uniform but there are some milling defects that can be seen under the anodization, especially on the edges of the milled grooves at the back. This has no functional consequences whatsoever, of course, but it detracts from the aesthetics. Specifications The specifications of the Sofirn HS20 as found on the company's website can be viewed below. The high output Cree XHP50.2 emitter has a CCT of 6000K-6500K and a CRI of 70 while the high CRI Samsung LH351D emitter has a CCT of 5000K and a CRI of 90. The USB C port facilitates fast charging with 2A current and can charge the included battery in 2.5 hours. User Interface The Sofirn HS20 features one switch per emitter, for fully independent control. From OFF: Click throw / flood button to turn on throw / flood emitter. Press and hold to select modes low / medium / high. Click to turn off. Double click throw / flood button to turn on throw / flood emitter on Turbo. Click to turn off. Triple click any button to activate lock out. The flood emitter will flash twice. Clicking any button while in lock out mode will make the flood emitter flash twice to indicate the torch is in lock out mode. Triple click throw / flood button to go out of lockout mode and turn on the throw / flood emitter. Press and hold throw / flood button to turn on throw / flood emitter on Eco mode. Keep holding for more then 1sec to go to and cycle through the standard modes: low / medium / high. Click to turn off. From ON: Click the throw / flood button to turn off the throw / flood emitter. Double click the throw / flood button to go to Turbo on the throw / flood emitter. Click to return to the previous mode. Triple click any button to cycle through throw / flood / throw + flood. Long press the throw / flood button to select modes low / medium / high on the throw / flood emitter. Click to turn off. The switches are also lit, to provide information on the battery level. Modes and Run Times The Sofirn HS20 has 5 modes for each emitter: Eco, Low, Medium, High and Turbo. The output of each mode for each emitter as well as the 2 emitters combined together, according to Sofirn, is shown in the following table. My measurements are in the table below in orange, while the company specifications are in black. It looks like the specifications of the Sofirn HS20 are quite accurate! Size Comparison Here is a side by side photo of the Sofirn HS20 with the Sofirn HS10. The Sofirn HS20 is quite compact for a dual emitter head torch with a 18650 battery. Photometry I took some photometry readings with an Opple Light Master Pro. The results are in the following table. The CCTs of both emitters seem to be warmer than spec. The CRI readings are what is expected. On the other hand, it looks like the Opple Light master pro has trouble reading the Duv of the Cree XHP50.2 emitter, which, as you can see in the following photos, taken with a white balance of 5500K, is definitely not on the rosy side. The photos show the Sofirn HS20 on the right, compared to the Sofirn HS10 on the left. The Sofirn HS10 uses a Samsung LH351D 5000K emitter, which is the same with the Sofirn HS20 flood emitter. On the first photo we see the Sofirn HS20 spot light, on the second the flood light and on the third, both. Beam Profile As there are 2 emitters with their separate optics in the Sofirn HS20, we have 2 beam profiles and of course, the combination of both. The first photo shows the beam profile of the spotlight, with the Cree XHP50.2 emitter and the shallow, orange peal reflector. The second photo shows the beam profile of the floodlight, with the Samsung LH351D emitter and the TIR optic. It is obvious that the first has a tighter hot spot than the second and as it also has more output, it is certain it will throw further. In the last photo, we have the combined beam profile of both emitters. Beam Shots Here are some beam shots of the Sofirn HS20 flood light, spot light and dual emitters, at Low, Medium, High and Turbo. The following video shows a comparison of the Sofirn HS20 to the Sofirn HS10, on Turbo, using both emitters of the Sofirn HS20. The distance to the end of the alley is 70m. Driver The driver of the Sofirn HS20 features thermal step down, reverse polarity protection and low voltage protection. It is a FET driver and uses PWM on all modes to control the output. The PWM is of high frequency and not visible to the eye. Here is the PWM when only the spotlight is on: Here is the PWM when only the floodlight is on: And this is the PWM with both emitters on: The camera can see the PWM but the eye cannot. Current Draw The following table shows the current draw of the Sofirn HS20, using the included battery. Charging The Sofirn HS20 comes with USB C onboard charging. The battery included with the Sofirn HS20 is rated at 3000mAh and I measured it at 3043mAh. The battery's internal resistance was measured at 50mΩ. It looks like the battery included with the Sofirn HS20 is of high quality. The torch has under voltage protection and turns off when the battery voltage drops to 2.88V. Charging the battery of the Sofirn HS20 is very easy. Just plug the included USB A to USB C cable and any USB charger that can provide the required maximum current of 2A into the USB C socket on the torch to charge it. Using a lower output charger will still work but the charging will be slower and take more time. There is also support for USB C to USB C cable charging. The indicative LED next to the USB C socket will turn red while the battery is charging and green to indicate a full charge. Charging the Sofirn HS20 battery from 2.88V to 4.12V, where the charging terminated, took 2 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds, which is in accordance with the 2.5 hours charging specification. The maximum current drawn was 1.7688A. Output & Runtimes The Sofirn HS 20 is rated at a maximum output of 2700 Lumen and a maximum throw of 136m. I do not own a multi thousand dollar worth integrating sphere, just a logging Lumen meter and a home made integrating tube. The array is calibrated with 3 separate, professionally measured lights and gives me consistent results, but there is definitely room for error and deviations are to be expected. Running the Sofirn HS20 with the included battery and using both emitters yielded a maximum output of 2616 Lumen at turn on and 2456 Lumen at 30 seconds (ANSI). That is very close to spec. The outputs of the spotlight and floodlight emitters were also up to spec. You can see the full runtimes of each emitter separately and both together, on Turbo, in the graph below. Here are the first 10 minutes, in greater detail. I measured the throw of the Sofirn HS20, using the included battery and both emitters, at 138m (4732cd). The spotlight was measured at 127m (4002cd) and the floodlight at 71m (1271cd). Conclusion The Sofirn HS20 is a value for money, dual head torch that includes a high CRI floodlight and a high power spotlight with independent controls and an intuitive and simple user interface. It comes with a comfortable, adjustable head strap, USB C 2A charging and a 3000mAh 18650 battery. The build quality is good and the design is very functional, but the finish could be better aesthetically, as there are some small imperfections in the milling, under the anodization. The driver uses PWM to control the output in all modes, but the PWM is high frequency and not visible or in any way tiring to the eye. The driver also has thermal regulation, low voltage protection and reverse polarity protection. If you are in the UK, you can purchase the Sofirn HS20 from Amazon for £56.99, minus a 10% voucher available at the time of this review. From anywhere in the world, you can purchase it from the Sofirn Website for $41.99 plus the tax for your country. For Greece, the tax is $5.46 and brings the total cost to $47.45. Let us summarise the pros and cons of the Sofirn HS20. Pros + Dual emitters, 1 high output Cree XHP50.2 and 1 high CRI Samsung LH351D, with independent controls. + Simple and intuitive user interface. + High and true to spec output. + Temperature regulation, low voltage protection and reverse polarity protection. + USB C 2A onboard charging with USB C to USB C support. + 3000mAh 18650 Li-Ion battery included. + Comfortable and adjustable head strap. + IP68. + Value for money. Cons - Small imperfections in the milling, under the anodization.  TheLAB.GR Thanks to Sofirn for providing the torch for review Polymeros Achaniotis 13/04/2022
  3. Introduction Things that try to do two jobs are often mediocre at both, so when I was offered a review sample of the Acebeam Rider RX I was sceptical. You see, this particular torch is marketed not only as an EDC torch but also a fidget toy. And the immediate thought that comes to mind is what compromises had to be made for it to be both? Acebeam is a company that thinks things through in their designs and implementations and I was interested to see how they went about it, so I accepted the sample and will be presenting my findings and thoughts in this article. Let's delve into this review and find out if the Acebeam Rider RX is a good EDC torch. Fidget toy. Both. Unboxing The Acebeam Rider RX comes in a simple white box, with a clear window at the front through which you can see the torch. The front of the box also states the brand and model while the back has the company information and various certifications and QR codes. The two sides have the company logo and the 5 year warranty, respectively. The top and bottom of the box are plain white. Inside the box, we find the torch, in a clear, moulded plastic that holds it in place and under that we find the accessories. The accessories include the user manual, a lanyard, spare o-rings and the short USB-A to USB-C charging cable. The manual unfolds to a single sheet of paper. One side of it is written in English and the other side is in Chinese. In the following photo you can see the English side. The construction of the Acebeam Rider RX includes an outer tube, made of stainless steel and an inner tube made of aluminium. The outer tube comes in 4 different finishes that you can see in the following photo, while the inner tube is always anodized blue. The sample that was sent to me is the blue version of the Acebeam Rider RX which is the most discrete one, as the outer stainless steel tube does not contrast with the inner aluminium tube. It is a very nice blue as well. The torch is very pocketable, as it uses a 14500 / AA battery and is well designed and appealing to the eye. The outer tube has cut outs through which you can see the inner tube. Very nice. The front of the torch shows clearly the double tube design while the back has the switch. The mid section is the most interesting part, with the cut outs that show the inner tube. The clip is large and bidirectional and to he honest does not look remotely as elegant as the rest of the torch. It is very functional and the size and shape are deliberate, as they are necessary for the fidgeting function. It is held in place by two screws. As you can see, the cut out for the clip allows for it to be moved to the side and then forward, as the arrow indicates. There is a spring loaded ball bearing that will engage into the 3 small holes to stop the clip assembly in specific places. The switch is simple, flat and allows the torch to tail stand. The lens comes protected with a film that must be removed before use. Once the film is removed, we can see the shallow, smooth reflector and the emitter. The emitter is a Nichia 219F at 5000K. In order to open the battery compartment, we first need to follow the arrow and move the clip to the side and then forward. This action pushes the inner tube to the front and exposes the front part of it. As a consequence, the switch is recessed inside the outer tube and is unreachable. This could work as a mechanical lock out as well. Now that the front part of the inner tube is exposed, we can just unscrew it to gain access to the battery compartment. The battery comes inside the torch, with the positive terminal insulated for safety. At the back of the battery, there is a thick, good quality spring, while the positive terminal at the front of the battery makes contact with a brass button on the driver PCB. Some of the electronics are on this side of the PCB as well. The battery that comes with the Acebeam Rider RX is a Li-Ion 14500 with a rated capacity of 920mAh. It also features a USB-C charging port. Very convenient. Build Quality I am certain that it was clear from the photos that the build quality of the Acebeam Rider RX is very good. The fit and finish are impeccable and the anodizing and painting are excellent. Specifications The specifications of the Acebeam Rider RX, as found on the company's website, are as follows: The Acebeam Rider RX features a Nichia 219F emitter, with a CRI >90 and a neutral CCT of 5000K. The output of 650 Lumens is not exceptional, but for a high CRI torch in this size it is normal, if you want any kind of duration on high. The smooth but shallow reflector throws to 96 meters, which is quite respectable for the size and adequate for EDC purposes. The size and weight of the Acebeam Rider RX make it very easy to carry. A great feature of the Acebeam Rider RX is its ability to use Ni-MH and Alkaline batteries, in addition to the Li-Ion battery it comes with, so you are never out of power. The output with the lower voltage batteries is, of course, also lower. User Interface The user interface of the Acebeam Rider RX is simple and intuitive. The switch is a forward clicky, which means you half press repeatedly to select the mode you want (momentary use) and full press to keep the torch permanently on at the currently selected mode. There are four modes that you can cycle through it that way, Ultra Low, Low, Mid and High and then the cycle repeats. There is mode memory, so the torch with start at the last used mode. A double half press will put the torch in SOS mode where it automatically shines an SOS in Mors code. Fully pressing the switch at that point will leave the torch running in that mode, while another half press instead will move forward within the normal 4 modes. Modes and Run Times The following table shows the output levels and respective durations of the Acebeam Rider RX with the included Li-Ion battery as well as with a Ni-MH and an Alkaline battery. My own measurements show slightly less brightness than the specs, but not by much. The Ni-MH battery I used was a white Eneloop. Fidget Factor The fidgeting function of the Acebeam Rider RX relies on the movement of the clip, which exposes the front part of the inner tube, as shown below. I was not sold on it to begin with, but when I got my hands on the sample and tried it, it quickly grew on me and I found it quite satisfying. I have not and would not fidget with the Acebeam Rider RX in the presence of other people though, as it is quite loud and I expect it would annoy them. Another point to consider is that the front of the clip slides on the paint of the outer tube, which seems to be of very high quality and resilient so far, but I am sure that with time and many repetitions, the friction will damage the paint. Size Comparison The size of the Acebeam Rider RX is quite standard for a 14500 torch. Here is is between the Lumintop Tool 2.0 and the Olight i5T, for comparison. This is a very pocketable form factor and that is why 14500 sized torches are a popular EDC choice. Photometry I used an Opple Light Master Pro to measure the CCT, CRI and Duv of the Acebeam Rider RX. The results for all four output modes can be seen below, from Ultra Low to High. The CCT is quite close to spec across all four output modes and the CRI is consistently above 90, as promised. Unfortunately, the Duv is positive, which means a greenish rather than a rosy tint. To visualise that, I took the following photo, with the white balance manually set to 5500K. On the left we have the Lumintop Tool 2.0, modified with a Nichia 219b sw45k R9080 emitter, which is very rosy. In the middle is the Acebeam Rider RX and on the right we have the Olight i5T which is known to have a distinctly greenish hue. Beam Profile The beam profile of the Acebeam Rider RX can be seen in the following photo. There is a defined hot spot, that guarantees some throw, and adequate spill. A well balanced beam profile for EDC. Beam Shots I tested the Acebeam Rider RX over a distance of 70m. The following video shows a comparison of the Acebeam Rider RX to the Lumintop Tool 2.0, modified with a Nichia 219b sw45k R9080 emitter and the Olight i5T. Driver Acebeam usually employs very high quality, constant current drivers with no visible or invisible flickering. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the driver of the Acebeam Rider RX. The Opple Light Master Pro shows high risk flickering in the Ultra Low and Low modes, while there is still flickering albeit non harmful on Mid and High modes. The details of the modulation can be seen below. This is how my camera sees the modulation of the Acebeam Rider RX. Current Draw The current that the Acebeam Rider RX draws in each of the four modes can be seen below. The maximum current drawn, on High, is 2.56A, so any button top 14500 battery that can provide at least that output, will work well with the Acebeam Rider RX. Charging The battery included with the Acebeam Rider RX is rated at 920mAh and I measured it at 955mAh. The battery's internal resistance was measured at 75mΩ. It is clear that the battery included with the Acebeam Rider RX is of high quality. The torch has under voltage protection and turns off when the battery voltage drops to 2.83V. Charging the battery of the Acebeam Rider RX is very easy. Just use the included USB-A to USB-C cable and any USB charger or computer USB port to charge it. Unfortunately, the battery does not support USB-C to USB-C cable charging (no PD support). The indicative LED around the positive terminal will turn red while the battery is charging and green to indicate a full charge. Charging the Acebeam Rider RX battery from 2.83V to 4.19V, where the charging terminated, took 3 hours, 13 minutes and 54 seconds. The maximum current drawn was 0.4362A, so any USB charger or computer USB port will be sufficient. A charger is not provided with the light but you can use your phone charger. Output & Runtimes The Acebeam Rider RX is rated at a maximum output of 650 Lumen and a maximum throw of 96m. I do not own a multi thousand dollar worth integrating sphere, just a logging Lumen meter and a home made integrating tube. The array is calibrated with 3 separate, professionally measured lights and gives me consistent results, but there is definitely room for error and deviations are to be expected. Running the Acebeam Rider RX with the included battery yielded a maximum output of 614 Lumen at turn on and 542 Lumen at 30 seconds (ANSI). The output kept dropping gradually until the 2 minute and 11 seconds mark, when it dove to 396 Lumen. From there, it gradually dropped to 370 Lumen over the next 6 minutes and then dropped to 302 Lumen. From that point on, the output gradually declined until it turned off at 1 hour, 14 minutes and 57 seconds. From the runtime graph we can deduce that the output level is dependant on the battery voltage and timed step downs. There is no thermal regulation as I was able to reset the torch to full output by turning it off and back on. Here are the first 10 minutes, in greater detail. I used a white Eneloop to test the Acebeam Rider RX with a Ni-MH battery. The output starts at 172 Lumen and climbs to 176 Lumen over the first minute of operation. It then drops to 123 Lumen for another 6 minutes and then to 76 Lumen until almost the 2 hour mark. Then there is a brief increase in brightness, while the driver attempts to compensate for the dropping battery voltage and after that the output drops to very low levels for another hour and 20 minutes before the torch turns itself off. It is obvious and expected that when using a Ni-MH or an Alkaline battery the voltage is boosted to be able to drive the emitter and therefore the output is more stable. Here are the first 10 minutes of the above graph, in greater detail. I measured the throw of the Acebeam Rider RX, using the included battery, at 94m (2190cd), which is close enough to the 96m declared in the specs. With the white Eneloop battery, the throw I measured was at 50m (622cd). Conclusion The Acebeam Rider RX is a 14500 sized EDC torch with a fidget function. It features a double tube design, with the outer tube made of stainless steel in 4 different finish options and the inner tube made of blue anodized aluminium. The quality of the construction, painting and anodization is excellent and fidgeting with it can be fun, but is also loud and may annoy some people in the vicinity. The beam profile and output are optimized for EDC use and the torch is operated by a forward clicky tail switch which feels rather mushy but is easy to use. The user interface is simple and the mode spacing is good. The emitter used in the Acebeam Rider RX is a Nichia 219F with CRI>90 and CCT=5000K which is above BBL in all output modes but not as much as other torches, like the Olight i5T. It is rather close to natural day light, which is also above BBL. My measurements of the output levels found them to be below specs, but not by much. The Acebeam Rider RX can be ordered directly from the Acebeam website and costs $54.95, including the battery and shipping. Let us summarise the pros and cons of the Acebeam Rider RX. Pros + Excellent build quality, painting and anodizing + Stainless steel outer tube with aluminium inner tube + Engaging fidget function + Impeccable and intricate machining + High CRI 5000K emitter + Low Voltage Protection. + USB -C rechargeable battery included + Supports Li-Ion, Ni-MH and Alkaline batteries + Simple and intuitive UI + IP68 + Easily pocketable form factor + Reverse polarity protection Cons - Flickering, especially in Ultra Low and Low levels - No thermal regulation - The battery does not support USB-C to USB-C cable charging - Above BBL  TheLAB.GR Thanks to Acebeam for providing the torch for review Polymeros Achaniotis 28/03/2022
  4. pol77

    Sofirn SC21

    Introduction There is a question that gets asked a lot in the torch world: Which is the best torch? Many would argue that there is no definitive answer to that, as it depends on the requirements and the usage scenario. The best answer to the question, as it is asked is this: The best torch is the one you have on you when you need it. To carry a torch at all times is a thing most people do not think about and only after one starts doing so, does one realise how incredibly useful it can be. But to do so, it has to be small enough to be inconspicuous and powerful enough to be useful. Another requirement for most users, except size and power, is low cost, so it can be affordable and not a big deal if it gets scratched or damaged in the line of duty. Today's review is about a light that ticks all those boxes, and then some: The Sofirn SC21. The Sofirn SC21 is a small, powerful and budget friendly light that also features a high CRI emitter and onboard charging. Intrigued? Read on to find out more! Unboxing The Sofirn SC21 comes in a generic brown box with a sticker that specifies the contents. Inside the box we find the extensive manual and the accessories. The manual is in many languages and the accessories include a clip, a lanyard, 2 spare O-rings and a charging cable. The charging cable is USB type A to USB type C and its length is 104cm, including the plugs. The light itself comes protected in a bubble wrap bag. Inside the bag, along with the light, there is an orange label, explaining that there is an insulator inside the light that prevents the battery from making contact so the light can be shipped safely. That insulator needs to be removed before the light can be used. The Sofirn SC21 is made of aluminium and features a side button with an LED charge indicator. On the opposite side of the side button there is a rubber flap with the USB logo engraved on it. The flap can be opened to reveal a USB type C charging port. The tail is magnetic and the magnet is strong enough to hold the weight of the torch in any orientation. There are also 2 lanyard holes and 2 respective grooves so the lanyard does not compromise the ability of the light to tail stand. The business end of the Sofirn SC21 features a glass lens protecting an orange peel reflector. The emitter used in the Sofirn SC21 is a Samsung LH351D 5000K 90 CRI LED. It is good to see a neutral white, high CRI emitter used in an EDC torch. I expect this till take a toll on brightness and run times, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make for better light quality. The torch unscrews around the middle to reveal the battery compartment, with the battery already installed. An insulator is covering the driver side, preventing the positive terminal of the battery from making contact with it. The positive terminal of the battery makes contact with the driver PCB through a brass contact point. The negative terminal makes contact with the body with a good quality spring. The spring is not very thick but it should be more than capable of transferring the power required without significant losses. The battery that comes with the Sofirn SC21 is a Sofirn branded 16340 Li-Ion button top battery, rated at 800mAh. The clip can be placed on the back side of the light, as shown below. It allows for lens down deep carry and is bidirectional, which some people like as it allows clipping the light on to a hat and using it as a headlamp, but others dislike as it is not as secure as a unidirectional clip. The end of the clip drags on the head of the torch when the two parts are unscrewed / screwed so I expect that over time it will damage the finish, unless it is carefully lifted to avoid that. Quality The milling quality and anodization are very good, without any sharp edges or visible defects. Even under close inspection the finish and knurling look good. Specifications The specifications of the Sofirn SC21, as found on the Sofirn website, are listed in the table below. The Samsung LH351D 5000K 90 CRI LED is a high light quality choice, rather than a high brightness / high efficiency one and I agree with it. The company claims a maximum output of 1000 Lumen, which is a bold claim. We will test that. The throw is rated at 135m. User Interface The user interface of the Sofirn SC21 is designed to please both those that prefer a stepped mode torch and those who like ramping. Out of the box, the light comes in stepped mode. The stepped mode works as follows: From OFF single click to turn ON. Press and hold to cycle through the main stepped modes (Low – Medium – High). From ON single click to turn OFF. To change to the ramping mode (or back from the ramping mode to stepped mode), you need to do 4 fast clicks while the light is on. The ramping mode gives you full flexibility to adjust the brightness steplessly from Moon to Turbo level and works as follows: From OFF single click to turn ON. Press and hold to change brightness steplessly (“ramp”). Ramping changes its direction when the button is pressed again within 1.5 seconds. The light flashes once when it reaches the lower or upper end of the ramp. From ON single click to turn OFF. In either stepped or ramping mode: From OFF hold for 1 second to turn on at Moonlight level. Double click to activate Turbo mode from OFF or ON. While in Turbo mode, single click to return to the previously used mode. Triple click to activate Strobe mode from OFF or ON. While in Strobe mode, single click to return to the previously used standard mode, or press and hold to cycle through SOS - Beacon - Strobe. The light features both electronic and mechanical lock out. The electronic lock out works as follows: From OFF, 4 fast clicks to activate lockout. Another 4 fast clicks to deactivate lockout and turn the light on at the memorized level. When the light is locked, the main LED blinks twice when the button is pressed to show the status of being locked. While in lockout mode, hold the button to use Moonlight mode momentarily. If you prefer a mechanical lock out, unscrewing the battery tube by 1/4 turn, will break the connection of the negative terminal of the battery to the driver. The Sofirn SC21 also features mode memory, so it will turn on at the last used level (except Turbo). Beam-shots The beam pattern of the Sofirn SC21 is what can be expected from a Samsung LH351D emitter in a shallow, orange peel reflector. It provides a balanced beam with some throw and flood, perfect for EDC. The hot spot is well defined and large and the spill is uniform without any artefacts, thanks to the OP reflector. I tested the Sofirn SC21 outside, over a distance of 70m. The following video shows a comparison of the Sofirn SC21 with the Olight Baton 3 and the Olight S1R Baton II. The Sofirn SC21 offers a more neutral and high CRI beam while the Olight torches have a cooler tint and low CRI but higher output. Driver The driver of the Sofirn SC21 provides constant current to the emitter on all modes. There is no PWM that my camera could detect on any output level. The driver also features Thermal Regulation, Reverse Polarity Protection and Low Voltage Protection. Tint and Size Comparison The tint of the Sofirn SC21 is neutral white, at 5000K. In the comparison photo below, you can see the Sofirn SC21 in the middle, compared to the much cooler and greener tints of the Olight Baton 3 on the left and the Olight S1R Baton II on the right. The Samsung LH351D 5000K emitter used in the Sofirn SC21 is high CRI (90). The photo was taken with the white balance set to 5500K. The length of the Sofirn SC21 is 73mm, which is 10mm longer than the two Olights. That is mostly due to the fact that it uses a reflector and a glass lens instead of the TIR optic used by the two Olights. This offers the advantage that the glass is much harder to scratch than the plastic TIR and does not burn like the plastic can if there is any debris on it, so I actually prefer it. The USB C port also takes more space than the proprietary magnetic charging that Olight uses. As much as I like the magnetic charging system, there is something to be said for not having to carry around a proprietary cable. Battery and Charging The battery included with the Sofirn SC21 is a 16340, rated at 800mAh and I measured it at exactly 788mAh. The light has Low Voltage Protection and turns off when the battery voltage drops to 2.5V which is too low and will wear out the battery, so it should have been set higher. The battery's internal resistance was measured at 79mΩ. These measurements show that a high quality battery is actually included with this light. The indicative LED on the switch of the Sofirn SC21 shows the level of the battery charge. Green means that the remaining charge is at between 100% and 70%, red that it is below 70% and flashing red that it is critical and the light will soon turn off. I would have preferred at least one intermediate indication between 70% and almost empty. Charging the Sofirn SC21 is very easy. Just lift the rubber cover and insert the provided (or any) USB type C cable to charge the light. Both USB A to USB C and USB C to USB C cables can be used as well as any charger, including the ones that support PD. This is very convenient as you can charge the Sofirn SC21 with any USB C cable and charger you have at hand. The indicative LED on the switch flashes red to indicate the light is charging. It turns green when the charging is completed, at 4.21V. The company advertises that the charging of the Sofirn SC21 takes 1 hour, with a 5V charger, capable of providing 1A. It actually took 1 hour, 28 minutes and 25 seconds to charge the included battery from 2.5V to 4.21V inside the Sofirn SC21. The maximum current drawn was 0.9541A, so a charger that can provide at least 1A is recommended. A charger is not provided with the light but you can use your phone charger. A charging current of almost 1A for a 800mAh 16340 battery is rather high and despite being convenient as it charges the battery fast, it will take a toll on the battery longevity. That said, most lights do the same, including the 2 Olights we saw earlier. Output & Runtimes The Sofirn SC21 is rated at a maximum output of 1000 Lumen and 135m of throw. I do not own a multi thousand dollar worth integrating sphere, just a logging Lumen meter and a home made integrating tube. The array is calibrated with 3 separate, professionally measured lights and gives me consistent results, but there is definitely room for error and deviations are to be expected. The output of all modes as well as the respective run times are shown in the table below. According to my measurements, Moonlight is 0.5 Lumen (instead of 1), Low is 17 Lumen (instead of 10), Medium is 93 Lumen (instead of 100), high is 323 Lumen (instead of 400) and Turbo is 848 Lumen at turn on (instead of 1000). The maximum output (at turn on) of 848 Lumen is short of the advertised 1000 by about 15% but still very respectable for the size of the light and especially the fact that it uses a high CRI, neutral white emitter. Output at 30 seconds was 798 Lumen and at 1 minute the output was still 786 Lumen. At 2 minutes the output had decreased to 744 Lumen and then started to decline faster due to thermal regulation to reach reach 206 Lumen at 00:02:51, where it stabilized until the temperature dropped enough and the output rose to 307 Lumen (High) at 00:10:34. It then stayed at that level, with the temperature slowly rising, until at 00:27:54 thermal regulation decreased the output to 254 Lumen. The light remained at that output level until 01:01:45, when the temperature had dropped enough. It then tried to increase the brightness to 307 Lumen, which only happened momentarily as by then the battery did not have enough voltage to support that level of output. Therefore, the light stepped down to 91 Lumen (Medium) for about 6 minutes and then to 17 lumen (Low). It then sustained that output for as long as possible. Unfortunately, the light will not turn off when the battery can no longer sustain the Low output and the brightness just declines with the voltage. It would have been much better if the light just turned off when the battery dropped to that level as that way we would see only regulated output and the battery longevity would be better. The following graph shows the first 10 minutes of the Turbo Full Runtime Graph in greater detail. Turbo is good and impressive but is hardly the mode that is actually most used in a torch. Therefore, I decided to make a runtime graph for High. The graph is self explanatory. The output is stable and regulated. It maintains High output for 58 minutes, then steps down to Medium for 6.5 minutes and then to Low for as long as the battery can sustain it. Again, we see there is no cut off when the battery can no longer sustain the Low output. The following graph shows the first 10 minutes of the High Full Runtime Graph in greater detail. The Sofirn SC21 is advertised to produce 4533cd and therefore have a throw of 135m. I measured 3488.16cd which means that the actual throw is 118m, about 12% less than advertised. This is to be expected as the maximum output measured was 848 Lumen instead of the 1000 Lumen advertised, which is about 15% less. Comparison with Olight Baton 3 & Olight S1R Baton II I was wondering how much of a disadvantage on brightness and efficiency does the high CRI emitter of the Sofirn SC21 introduce compared to lights that prioritize brightness and efficiency over tint and CRI. So, I decided to compare the above runtime graphs with those of the Olight Baton 3 and the Olight S1R Baton II. It was clear from the tint comparison that the Sofirn SC21 offers a much more pleasant, less green and neutral tint than the two Olights and also much better colour rendition as it is 90 CRI instead of the 70 CRI Luminous SST40 emitters the Olights use. As we can see in the comparative graph below, the Olight Baton 3 is by far the most efficient light, but also "cheats" a bit by setting its high output lower than the Olight S1R Baton II, to reserve power. The Sofirn SC21 did surprisingly well, both in brightness and in efficiency considering the neutral tint and high CRI. The following graph shows the first 10 minutes of the Turbo Full Runtime Comparison Graph in greater detail. What is even more interesting is the much more realistic scenario of using the lights on High rather than Turbo. That way, the much hotter Samsung LH531D of the Sofirn SC21 does not need to step down due to thermal regulation and sits between the two Olights in brightness. It also outperforms the Olight S1R Baton II in run time, albeit while being less bright. The following graph shows the first 10 minutes of the High Full Runtime Comparison Graph in greater detail. There is no winner here, just 3 very good EDC lights, each with its advantages and disadvantages, according to the emitter that was selected and the programming of the driver. It does speak volumes though that the Sofirn SC21 is standing as equal amongst equals, with comparative advantages and disadvantages depending on preference and usage scenario, with 2 lights that cost twice what it does. Current Draw The Sofirn SC21 has a low parasitic drain that is below the ability of the clamp meter to measure. The Moonlight Mode only draws 10mA. The Low, Mid and High modes need 60mA, 197mA and 788mA respectively and Turbo required 2.83A. Conclusion The Sofirn SC21 is an small EDC torch that ticks many boxes. It uses a Li-Ion 16340 battery to power a 5000K, 90 CRI Samsung LH351D emitter and produce a maximum of 848 Lumen and 118m of throw (measured). This is indeed an excellent performance for a high CRI light with neutral tint and even though it falls short of the advertised 1000 Lumen and 135m, it is very respectable and more than enough for EDC purposes while the quality of the light is more than enough compensation for the reduced performance. The driver is regulated and provides stable output with no PWM on any level. It incorporates Thermal Regulation, Reverse Polarity Protection and Low Voltage Protection. The only flaw in my opinion is that the low voltage protection only kicks in at 2.5V which is not good for the battery. It should turn off the light at around 3V. The build quality and anodization are very good and the user interface is simple, intuitive and versatile, providing both stepped and ramping options. The button is easy to press and incorporates an indicative LED which shows the battery level and also when the light is charging and when the charging is finished. The Sofirn SC21 uses a glass lens and aluminium reflector combination which is much harder to scratch than a plastic TIR optic and does not melt if there is debris on the lens. The tail cap is magnetic and the magnet is strong enough to hold the light at any orientation. The clip allows for lens down deep carry and is bidirectional so the Sofirn SC21 can be clipped to a hat to use as a headlamp. The Sofirn SC21 can be purchased directly from the Sofirn Website and the cost at the moment this review is written is $23.99, including the battery or $20.99 without the battery. Shipping costs $3.99 and tax varies depending on the country of destination. Let's list the Pros and Cons of the Sofirn SC21: Pros + Value for money. + High CRI. + Neutral 5000K tint. + No PWM at any output level. + Glass lens and Aluminium reflector. + Aluminium Alloy construction. + Very good anodization and fit and finish. + USB type A to C and type C to C charging. + Fast battery charging, in less than 1.5h. + Low Voltage Protection. + Thermal Regulation. + Reverse Polarity Protection + Well balanced beam. + 16340 Li-Ion 800mAh (788mAh measured) battery included. + Battery level and charging LED indicator. + Simple and intuitive stepped and ramped UI. + IP68. + Bidirectional clip, which some users like as it can be clipped on to a hat to use as a head lamp. + Compatible with all button top 16340 batteries that can provide at least 3A. Cons - Low voltage protection turns off the light at 2.5V which is too low and can damage the battery and affect its longevity. - Fast battery charging can affect battery longevity. - Bidirectional clip, which some users dislike as it is not as sturdy and easy to use as unidirectional clips. - The clip could scratch the finish over time. - The battery level indicator LED could have more levels.  TheLAB.GR Thanks to Sofirn for providing the light for review Polymeros Achaniotis 07/09/2021
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