Nitecore Tube

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Nitecore Tube review: Keychain Flashlight

Table of contents

Specifications

Brand/modelNitecore Tube
LED5mm LED
Lumens45 lm
Beam intensity150 cd
Battery config.built-in
MaterialPlastic
Modes2
BlinkiesN/A
ReflectorN/A
WaterproofIP65
Review dateJanuary 2021

Introduction:

I bought the Nitecore Tube a long time ago, but wanted to see how it actually performed. I started the review, but soon realized it wasn’t something most people are interested in. Now, 1 year later I decided to finish the review and do some proper testing. I’d like to increase the number of keychain flashlights on 1Lumen.com

Package quality.

It’s a typical package for carrying at a brick and mortar store. Very simple and straightforward.

  • The Nitecore Tube
  • Keychain attachment ring

Handling of the light

The Nitecore Tube doesn’t look very high quality, and I have to agree. It’s made of plastic, and you definitely feel that. The switch has a rubber boot that is easy to press. And even in darkness, it’s pretty easy to find.

When the Nitecore Tube is on your keys, you won’t really feel it’s there, because it’s so lightweight. At the same time, I’m afraid I might actually break it, when it’s in my pocket.

Build Quality, and Warranty

When it comes to build quality, I think I can be pretty quick. There isn’t really much quality, because it’s made of plastic.

I still think it can be a nice gift to kids or your spouse though.

LED, LENS, BEZEL, AND REFLECTOR

I know too little about the LED to really say something useful. I’m just surprised it can actually reach almost 50 lumens from a single 5mm LED.

These types of LEDs were the beginning of the change. Now, almost 20 years later, we (flashoholics) don’t think about these LEDs anymore when it comes to flashlights. But here it is, a 5mm dinosaur LED.

The beam shape is of course terrible, but that is not what this flashlight is about. You can’t expect a perfect beam from a 5mm led without a reflector or anything.

Dimensions

  • Length: 56.33 mm / 2.2 ”
  • Widest part of body: 20  mm /  0.82”
  • Body thickness at switch: 9.3 mm / 0.368 ”

Weight: 

  • Just the light:  9.2g /  0.32oz
  • With keychain attachment ring:  11.2 g / 0.4 oz

Keychain flashlights

Size compared to other popular keychain flashlights:

From left to right: Nitecore Tube, Fenix E03R, Nitecore TUP

Driver & User Interface:

The user interface is easy, and there is 1 interesting thing about it.

Available modes:

  • Low, High

From OFF:

  • Single-click: Low
  • Double click: High
  • Press and hold >1 sec: Momentary High (turns off when you release the switch)

From ON:

  • Single-click: from Low to High.. another click for off.
  • Double click: off
  • Press and hold in Low: it starts ramping up, so you can increase the lowest brightness, simple but nice!
  • Press and hold in High for <5 sec: nothing, it just turns off
  • Press and hold in High for >5 sec: lock-out

Mode memory:

  • No. So even when you change the output of the low mode, it won’t be memorized, unfortunately.

Blinky modes menu:

  • No

Low battery warning:

  • No

Lock-out mode:

  • Yes, it has a lock-out feature. You can only enter lock-out when the light is in High mode. Press the switch for about 5 seconds, and the light will blink. The light is now locked out. You need to press and hold the switch again to deactivate the lockout.

PWM:

  • Yes, and pretty bad in low mode.

Batteries & Charging

One of the things about the Nitecore Tube is the USB port cover. It’s a rubber cover, but hard to remove without something sharp like a nail. But it’s also a necessity because it protects the port from water or dirt coming in.

Behind the little rubber cap, is a Micro USB port. Nitecore didn’t include a USB cable, but most people already have at least 1. This used to be the most commonly used USB cable in the past. These days, USB-C is becoming the norm, which is good. But the Tube still uses the Micro USB.

While charging, a blue LED light turns on, and when it finishes charging, the blue light turns off. That’s kind of an interesting feature. The charge speed is 0.1A

Performance

Lumen measurements:

All output numbers are relative for my home-made Integrating Sphere. It is set up with an Extech SDL400 Lux Meter for measurements including a Kenko PRO1D ND-16 filter. The base measurement is done with a Convoy S2+ that has been tested at 255 lumens.

Specifications:@ 30 sec@ start
1 lm1.131.13
45 lumens45 lm48 lm

Although my measurements for low are usually hard to do, because I am using an ND filter, it was still able to show 2 lux. That was 1.13 lumens in this instance. But 1 lux is the half o that, but in reality, the difference isn’t as large, because the lux meter doesn’t do .5 lux etc. In the near future, I will have a second home-made integrating sphere where I can do low-output measurements, without the 16ND filter.

Runtime:

The runtime test was done with the 50cm integrating sphere, including the Kenko Pro1D ND-16 filter and Extech SDL400 data logging Lux Meter.

This runtime graph is pretty boring. It went on for almost 60 hours. Even when the luxmeter only measured 0 lux, it was still glowing. At that point I just turned it off and recharged it.

The next graph shows the first 2 hours, which is more important.

From here you can see that it slowly drops in output till about 1 hour and 45 minutes. At that point I would stop using it and recharge its battery. In terms of ANSI FL1 standards, the runtime would have been less than 1.5 hours (10% of the measurement at 30 seconds).

Throw Measurement

Measurements were taken indoors at 2 meters with a professional Hagner E4-X Lux Meter, set to .1 lux.

ModeCandelaMetersYards
Low233.09
High92.41921.02

I had to set my luxmeter to the decimals setting (mine goes up to 1/100) and measured 92 cd instead of the claimed 150cd, which doesn’t bother me with this type of flashlight.

Beamshots

For the following beamshots, I used a Canon EOS 5D Mk2 with a 50mm lens. Manual settings: ISO1600, 1/30sec , F4, 5000K. The distance to the wall is about 4 meters.

Disclaimer: I bought this flashlight with my own money. Nobody paid me to review this flashlight, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects. 

OVERALL CONCLUSION

PROS

  1. Extremely light weight
  2. Simple UI
  3. It has a useful lock-out mode

Cons

  1. Fragile?
  2. Rubber cover USB port hard to remove
  3. Programmable low-mode not memorized
Author: Marco

4 stars: ★★★★★

I can’t really find any problems with this flashlight and it could be rated at 5 stars. The flashlight does what it needs to do and has a few nice features (lock-out and programmable low-mode). The only thing I worry about is its fragility and the USB port cover. Besides these, this is a fine flashlight, for less than $10.

Nitecore Tube for sale

Some of the following links are for the 2nd generation Nitecore Tube with 55 lumens.

The first generation (reviewed here) are available in many colors.

1lumen selects and reviews products personally. We may earn affiliate commissions through our links, which help support our testing.

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