A brief Olight S1R review and comparison to the S1

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  • Confession time, I have thoroughly lost my much loved S1 after a new and altogether too enthusiastic cleaning lady "tidied" it from it's rightful and hard earned place on the hallway table and vanished it more profoundly than Lord Lucan.

    Despite the cleaning lady being to concept of sympathetic bachelor pad cleaning what Ghengis Khan was to the Chinese countryside, I was convinced that it had to be around somewhere and looked for about two weeks in vain for it before cracking and deciding to order another one.

    It is a mark of the esteem I held for the original S1 that I didn't feel the need to embark on my usual process of research/agonising that makes up the buying process, but I couldn't help but notice that an updated version with more output and a rechargeable battery was available in the form of the Olight S1R.


    Being a fan of the general design I ordered one from Torch direct and it arrived the next day with a couple of freebie keyring LED things thrown in, very good service. :)

    It comes with a lanyard, USB charging cable, special rechargeable battery and camel coloured moleskin type pouch to notionally store it all in.

    I think that Olight must imagine that their target audience is now composed of slightly camp fashonistas as the thought of taking it out into the mud and the blood did amuse me slightly.:D

    I excitedly unpacked it and set it on it's first charge.

    I have extolled at some length the virtues of the original S1 in my review on this forum and need not repeat the braod strokes of it here. I will however give comparison points between the two and assess whether they are progressive or retrograde changes for my uses.

    The first issue now became apparent, the supplied charging cable/docking station is very tiny and portable but the cable is a bit short at around a metre in length and the docking base too small and light to sit tight with the cable stretched and at an angle to the nearest power socket. It's a minor point which is offset to some degree by the ability to charge the thing in the car like a mobile phone. This is only a partial offset as it takes two hours or so to fully charge the battery and therefore this is something best done at home before you set off. There is a question of reliability also in my mind, as anyone who has worked their way through many, many apple charging leads may well understand. If you damage the wire then you have to order another from olight as the system is entirely proprietary.

    The second negative is also related to charging and relates to the fact that the charging system only seems to work with Olight's own RCR123 batteries as the negative charging battery contact on the inside of the tail cap is annular around the normal positive contact spring and therefore requires a battery to be specially modified with a corresponding negative terminal connection located around the positive button. You can use other brands of RCR123 but they cannot be charged with the supplied charger system.

    The battery supplied is a 550mAh battery and seems to be pretty good although run times can be a bit difficult to assess as the torch seems forever ramping down a bit on any mode from medium down.

    The ramping function is fussy to the point of being irritating and the UI has become more complex than is needed in my humble opinion. The burst mode of 900 lumens was a draw initially, compared to the 400-500 turbo mode of the original S1, but in my excitement I had forgotten my basic physics...

    900 lumens from a XML series LED means a current draw of ~3amps, assuming that the battery can maintain the discharge rate, a fully charged 550mAh battery ought to be able to power the LED for a little over 10 minutes. This is too short a battery life for me in situations where I would need full power (looking for lost things in the woods and fields) but the issue is moot as the turbo cuts out on a fully charged battery in 30 seconds rendering it a bit of a novelty rather than a usable mode.

    When the battery is discharged by around a half the battery can't sustain the current at all and the turbo mode lasts for a few seconds before ramping down again.

    This would not be too much of a problem except for the fact that the hi mode that it ramps into is noticeably less bright at 300 lumens than that of the S1 at 400 or 500 lumens depending on whether you use primary or rechargeable 123 cells.

    A further source of irritation is the tail cap itself. I reserve judgement on the aluminium and brass contact points as they are exposed to the elements and more corrosive influences like blood and sweat from the hands. Whether they corrode and affect the charging is something to be tested long term but I must admit to an irrational prejudice against the design. As a result of the charging circuitry in the cap the tail cap is both thicker and the incredibly useful magnet in the tail cap physically further away from the base of the cap.

    As the magnet has not been changed for a stronger on to compensate the force it exerts on ferrous surfaces has now been lessened and the bloody thing now specialises in falling off or being knocked off surfaces that is previously clung to like the proverbial on a blanket.

    Aside from these issues it's still a very useful torch but I will be buying another original S1 as I think it's the better design.

  • A nice look into the S1R and S1. I have no experience of the S1 but use an S1R daily and have found it very useful.

    I think it depends on what sort of thing you use it for.

    I can be using it in very low temperatures ( hence the need to be able to use lithium primary cells) or in the rain for hours on end ( hence the suspicion about the charging system and contacts) or both ( meaning that the UI lock out function, timer, stobe, etc get accidentally triggered with cold and wet fingers) and so on.

    for me the simplicity and dependability of the S1 outweighs the gimmicky additions they have made to the S1R.

    I have read this back and it sounds like a round condemnation of the S1R and it sort of is, but only to the extent where they have made changes that detract from the fundamental utility of the thing to give hobby flashaholics more things to play with.

    Take the tacky little pouch it comes with for example, why didn't they dispense with it and bring the price closer to the S1?

    Could they not have designed the charging circuit so that it can charge normal RCR123s?

    That sort of thing. :)