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NEXTORCH iStar review
NEXTORCH iStar specifications
|Brand & Model
|1x Spotlight, 1x Floodlight, 1x Red Light
|Spotlight: 450, Floodlight: 150, Red Light: 14
|Spotlight: 1600 cd (80m), Floodlight: 40 cd (13m)
|1x internal battery
|USB-C built in
|Red light flash
|Spotlight: Orange peel reflector, Floodlight/Red light: Diffuser
|Review publication date
NEXTORCH is a brand that is new to me, which comes as somewhat of a surprise given how many lights they produce and a history of 16 years. Marketed towards the tactical community mostly, they have a range of offerings of anything between standard tactical lights to LEPs to massive lumen monsters. The iStar is a newer offering from them of a more mainstream headlight, with its own very unique quirk. The iStar allows you to flip the front portion of the headlight up to expose the spotlight, whose brightness is controlled by how much you flip up the light. This is combined with a high CRI floodlight and red light which are passed through a diffuser. All in all, an intriguing idea, at least on paper.
The packaging is quite simple, a branded box like what would be present in a retail store, a plastic carrier, a manual, a cable, and the light! For a company like NEXTORCH that is more tactically oriented I think this is perfectly fine for packaging, no need to overcomplicate it.
- NEXTORCH iStar Headlamp
- USB-A to USB-C charging cable
Nothing surprising here, and the headlamp strap comes already installed. The cable is also quite short but it is not a huge inconvenience. The battery is fully sealed within the light and comes with plenty of charge on it. The manual itself is quite simple with some basic information on the light, different outputs and runtimes depending on the mode, and an UI overview. While nothing else is strictly needed, some more information on the LEDs would have been nice to see.
Flashlight in use
The iStar is styled like a standard headlamp, with a large diffuser and the button on top. However, it has a trick up its sleeve: open up that diffuser, and a throwy beam will automatically turn on once past a certain angle. This “flap” is easy to open up and has a nice amount of resistance, staying in place with no issues. The switch is also fine, it has a noticeable bump which makes it easy to locate on the light, even with gloves on. Nothing special here, and it really doesn’t need to be.
The band is a fairly standard elastic, branded with NEXTORCH logo. It feels pretty comfortable, however it seems a little oversized. I have a large head, and I had to tighten it almost all the way to get it to fit. I suspect this is meant so that you can place it over something like a hard hat, which is a very reasonable thought given NEXTORCH past. This may prove annoying for those who intended to use it without one, and I find the material is slightly scratchy on my forehead. Again though, it seems very reasonable for this light given its likely use case, so no real faults here.
A plastic flap protects the USB-C port onboard the light, something that I find can be incredibly infuriating on other lights. However, in this instance it seems to be better designed. It takes a nice amount of force to press it back into place giving it a good seal, and most importantly there is a sizable amount of material holding the cover itself attached to the light. It seems like it is unlikely to break or start to fall out of place over time, which is a very pleasant surprise.
However, there is one massive drawback with this light. While the idea of being able to flip up the diffuser for a spotlight beam seems like a great one on paper, it doesn’t translate quite as well to the real thing. When flipping up the diffuser, the light comes on automatically, a seemingly nice feature. Flipping up the diffuser increases the brightness of the spotlight. You can press and hold the button to also dim and brighten the light. Honestly this is a small issue to me, and pales in comparison to the massive issue with this light.
Because the spotlight turns on automatically, it turns off automatically. And this means that when you go to tilt it down, it turns off just late enough for you to blind yourself. Every time you go to use the spotlight, you have to remember that as you turn it off, you will be treated with a half second of blinding white light injected from point blank range into your corneas. Every. Single. Time. This is further exacerbated by the fact that as you tilt it down, the force is naturally tilting the light down further and increases how much light dazzles you. If you go to turn it off faster, you are in for a treat. However, if you decide to take advantage of being able to brighten and dim the spotlight, it will not turn off until the diffuser is fully closed. You will be fully blinded until you have it closed.
It amazes me how this issue did not come up in testing, as it seems to defeat the entire purpose of having a headlamp with this. When I do not want to see far away and would like to have better night vision, I have to first blind myself. This could simply be fixed in the firmware controlling when the spotlight turns off, which is why I am so amazed this was permitted. It would be so simple to fix.
Build Quality, and Warranty
As a brand with a tactical reputation, I would expect a well built light, and the iStar is no exception. It is made from a nice feeling plastic, allowing it to be both lightweight on the head but sturdy. The elastic feels high quality as well and seems to be resistant to fraying. The diffuser also seems to be very well built and is seamlessly integrated into the flap. The flap itself also seems very durable, however it does not stay fully shut and there is a very small gap. I would consider this to be negligible however, and the spotlight is well protected by it. Even the USB-C charging cover seems to be very durable. However, keep in mind the iStar is only IPX4 so avoid getting it wet as it may not hold up.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The iStar uses three types of LEDs: a spotlight, a high CRI diffuser light, and a red light. They do not state what the LEDs used in the spotlight and red light are, however the high CRI light is the SunLike LED from Toshiba-SSC. The tint seems to come in around 4000K evaluating it by eye, and is absolutely gorgeous. It is extremely even through the diffuser and feels extremely natural. Truly SunLike. Easily my favorite part of this light, and I hope to see them in other floody products in the future.
The spotlight is not quite as nice. While NEXTORCH does not state what LED it is, I suspect it is a Cree XP-G2 looking at the diode. It sits at the bottom of a very short orange peel reflector and has a rather large hotspot. The tint is around 6000K and is also extremely green. I think a TIR optic would have been perfect here instead, however it is a perfectly usable spotlight at close distance
Dimensions and size comparison
|NEXTORCH Istar Dimension
|NEXTORCH Istar Weight
NEXTORCH iStar vs RovyVon A33
Driver & User Interface:
- Spotlight, high floodlight, low floodlight, red light, blinking red light
From OFF: Flip diffuser up to turn on spotlight
- Press and hold: Turn on high floodlight
From ON: Flip down diffuser to turn down spotlight
- Press and hold: Stepless dimming of spotlight
- 1 click: Cycle through modes (high floodlight → low floodlight → red light → blinking red light)
Low voltage warning:
- Yes, LED at the top of the light blinks red blow 25%
- Yes, red light blinks
- Not visible
Batteries & Charging
The iStar uses an internal sealed 1100 mAh lithium ion pouch cell which charges through an external USB-C port. This battery is not user replaceable. NEXTORCH claims it will take 1.5 hours to fully charge the cell.
The elephant in the room: the internal battery is not user replaceable. On one hand it is nice to not have to worry about the battery, however should the battery go bad the entire light must be replaced. It is up to the user to decide if this is a “feature” they like and if they are willing to replace the $45.00 USD cost off the light should the battery fail. In my opinion, for a light that costs this much, it should be an option.
I used my MT-912 Lux Meter at three meters with the internal cell fully charged.
|Lumens @turn on
|Lumens @30 sec
|Lumens @10 minutes
The iStar seems to use some clever regulation, largely due to thermal issues. While the output doesn’t match the claims, it seems to be traded to more run time. As the body is plastic, heat conduction is an issue. Twice the light cycles down to a lower output to allow heat to dissipate, then ramps back up. This is very nice to see, as many lights skip the ramp back up and will stay at the lower level.
The throw is quite a bit higher then NEXTORCH claims, though this was measured 30 seconds after startup. However, the hotspot is not super tight and will likely be a less throwy than this calculation shows.
The iStar is being compared against the A33 by RovyVon, a very small penlight as I don’t have another headlight. The A33 has a single Nichia 219C at 4500K and has a much tighter hotspot thanks to its TIR optics. The floodlight on the iStar is beautifully diffused and looks absolutely fantastic.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by NEXTORCH . I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Multiple features in one light
- Easy charging
- Durable construction
- One of these features will blind you
- No replaceable battery
- High price
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues; almost unusable – 3: Average: some defects or issues; but still usable 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
3 stars: ★★★
The NEXTORCH iStar is conflicting for me. On one hand, it’s well built, has some nice features, and has an absolute gorgeous floodlight. On the other hand, these features can sometimes blind you. It also costs $45, which seems very expensive for a plastic headlamp. The regulation is quite good though at the expense of output. However, I can’t get past the issues and have to give it a 3/5