Flashlights have been an indispensable tool since their inception at the tail end of the 19th century. Flashlights are such a reliable and ubiquitous tool that describing the benefits and applications of one is likely only necessary in the rare event that a cave man is unfrozen and starts to walk about, bumping into furniture in the middle of a power outage. Despite being commercially available for more than a hundred years, real innovation in design falls largely into three categories. Bulbs, Housings, and Switches.
Bulbs and Housings are constantly being refined and adapted to operator feedback, leaving us with halogens, LEDs, milled aluminum tubes, space age polymers, etc. There’s really very little innovation in switches though. Most flashlights use just a few readily available switch types, and tend to gussy them up by placing them in different locations or covering and sealing the in different materials.
So, naturally, Maglite has introduced the XL100 LED Flashlight. The rear mounted switch has five modes, selectable by rotating the marked bezel around the red button. Each of the five modes can then be further modified by rotating the flashlight along it’s axis in your grip. So, in the case of the Dim Mode, rotate it clockwise to dim the beam. It also features a lock out that can be activated by holding down the button and rotating the flashlight 180 degrees from front to back, and prevents the flashlight from being turned on until the process is reversed.
My immediate thought was “Neat!” followed swiftly by “That all seems kind of awkward.” After some consideration, I can’t see many of these features being helpful for much more than demonstrating to your friends all the new features your flashlight has. It seems like little more than added complications to a device that normally excels at simplicity. The lockout feature, in particular, seems pointless to me. I’m sure this technology increases the margin on a staple product for Maglite, but I just don’t see it as being anything more than a gimmick. Maybe I’m wrong though, I’ve never used one.