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ASP Sapphire


ASP Sapphire Light, retail $14.95 (http://www.lighthings.com)
Manufactured by ASP (1-800-236-6243)
Last updated: 08-05-04


LED Light


The Sapphire Light is a neat little keychain-sized LED light, manufactured by ASP, a leading manufacturer of high quality flashlights for military and law enforcement. Sporting an unusual shape, this light has an even more unusual color that you will undoubtedly find attractive and radiant. The light comes with batteries already installed, and is ready to go right out of the pack.

The Sapphire comes in an attractive retail card which calls it "The Wearable Light" and an invitation to "Try It". I took them up on their "Try It" offer and tried it right in the pack even before I could run back home from my mailbox.
Once I got it out of the package - which took several long anxious minutes - I started having some fun with it.

SIZE:


To use this light, simply squeeze the black Santoprene Softouch (tm) button, and you've got light. Quit squeezing, and you don't.
Clearly, this section of the review is going to be short - as there is no preparation, no batteries or bulb to install, and no clumsy keyring attachments to put on yourself. Simple to own and operate, this light is truly maintenance-free.


Time for a what?
This flashlight is sealed and the batteries cannot be changed by you, the user. But despair not - the Sapphire comes with a lifetime guarantee - including the batteries and the "crystal" - meaning you will never have to fuss with that chore ever again. The only drawback here is that you must mail the light and $3 back to ASP to have them do it for you. And this means you will be without your Sapphire for approximately 1 month. So keep another light - perhaps another Sapphire - on hand and just rotate them. That way you'll always have a light with fresh batteries in it.

If you try to change the batteries yourself, the light will very likely become damaged - and your warranty (which includes battery replacement) will be shot to hell. So don't.

The "crystal" to which this light obtains it name is actually just an LED. Technically speaking, there is a tiny sapphire crystal inside the LED - but all of the newer LEDs (true green, aqua, blue, white, and ultraviolet) use artificial sapphire as the chip substrate; the actual light emitting portion is an extremely thin layer of fancy-pants chemicals and exotic metals on top of this crystal; so thin you can see through it.The whole mess is then sealed inside a glob of clear plastic.


The Sapphire Light appears solidly built and sturdy. Made from a tough, slightly springy polymer compound and anodized aluminum, it's doubtful it will ever become broken from the usual flashlight mishaps - dropping, falling, stepping on it, etc. It does not appear waterproof, but should work fine in simple rainfall. Dropping your Sapphire in a sink, tub or toilet is not recommended.
As with any LED light, the bulb won't become broken or get knocked out of whack if the light is dropped.

Additionally, the Sapphire's flat profile means it won't roll away and disappear like some cylindrical flashlights so often do if you set it on a table or rock.

The only potential weakness I can find is with the clothing clip. If the light is attached to something, take the time to unclip it - don't just reef on it since that will break the whole tail off, and although it will continue to light, you won't be able to clip it on to anything again. This will also end your warranty and your chances of getting the batteries replaced. ASP will repair damaged lights for "a minimal charge" though, so if you do have an accident, don't just throw it out.
As of 08-05-04, I've been informed by a user of lights with clothing clips like this that the clip can become broken with only a minor pull if the two ends do not latch.

LED Light
The vibrant, deep blue beam completely overloaded the camera.


The Sapphire's light is an extremely unusual, intense deep blue. In all the time I've been monkeying around with blue LEDs, I've yet to come across one with this kind of deep, rich vibrant color. The beam is wider than usual for LED flashlights, and illuminates a good sized area when shone in front of you. Because the human eye responds very poorly in the blue, it's actual light output is far higher than what it looks like. This kind of light also causes various paints & dyes to fluoresce (glow), much like a blacklight tube does. Shine it around and see for yourself. I wouldn't be surprised if I found out the LED inside is one of those new 450nm ultra blue models I've been hearing about.
You should also note that because of the way your eyes work, the Sapphire works best when you really are in the dark. If you shine it around during the day, it won't appear as bright as other lights.

Sapphire's claim as "The Wearable Light" is quite true indeed. The spring-loaded clip on the Sapphire's tail grips to just about anything you press it onto, even thin, borderless fabric like cut-off T-shirts. To hook the light onto something, just push the tail ring onto... belt loops, pockets, shirts, zipper pulls, purse straps, keychains, or whatever. It hooks on automatically, and stays put. You'd have to really be careless to lose one of these things.
To remove the light for use, just push the spring clip in and slip the Sapphire out. Easy.

TEST NOTES:
Wider beam than most other colored LED lights.
Deep, eye-catching blue color causes some objects to fluoresce (glow) as if under a blacklight.
Destructive testing will NOT occur, in order that I can continue to get replacement batteries whenever they're needed.
Any updates related to this review will be posted as they happen.

NOTE: I have since found the product is actually "sonic welded" together, which explains why it is so difficult to disassemble without leaving battle axe wounds on it. The appropriate changes have been made to the other text on this site.

In case you lose the package and it's time to send it back, here is the address you mail it to:

ASP, Inc.
2511 E. Capitol Dr.
Appleton WI. 54911
USA


UPDATE 06-14-00:
After digging up some older model Nichia blue LEDs and comparing them side-by-side with the one inside the Sapphire light, it appears the LED in this light is not a 450nm model after all, but is closer to 460-464nm, placing it in Nichia's bluest color sort. Guess I have to wait awhile longer before I see a true 450nm ultra blue LED. :(

UPDATE 06-24-00:
The batteries have pretty much died out. Since I don't have the $3 handy I decided to brave the daunting task of battery replacement myself.
The light is in three distinct sections: front & rear outer shells, and inner core. All three sections are sonic welded, so it took some very careful work with eyeglasses screwdrivers to get the light apart without damaging it. I expected the spring from the clip to go shooting across the room, but that did not occur. The spring & clip are cleverly engineered, and it was no trouble at all to remove or replace these parts.
A piece of cork is stuck to the batteries (presumably to prevent rattling); this was carefully peeled off & saved. The old batteries came right out and the new ones went right in. After replacing the square of cork (it is sticky on one side) and reassembling the case, a few dabs of Super Glue and black silicone RTV followed by overnight clamping finished the job.

Difficulty rating 0-5: 4. Do NOT attempt this at home. If you have the $3, use it and send yours back to ASP and let them do the battery change.

From what I can determine, this light is designed as a disposable flashlight - no jig in the world can open one of these things up without causing some permanent visible damage. My guess is that they recycle most of the metal components and the LED; and discard the remainder. The recycled components from your old light go into new lights, or possibly even into the specific light that ASP rebuilds & mails back to you.


UPDATE 08-12-01:
Note the retail price is $14.95, not $14.00.

Manufacturer also contacted me with the following information regarding the warranty:
"Guarantee is for life irregardless of what is damaged. If the clip is broken we provide a new light. We ship replacements the day they arrive."
"Some of the stories are great. 'Went through the washer...car ran over it....kids were fighting and it broke...one was even chewed by a dog'. All of them are replaced. The best part is if the light is logo engraved we replace the unit with a new engraved one."


Although hacking one open to change the batteries is still a "no-no", don't be afraid to send it back if the kid gets ahold of it or it falls into your roto-tiller.


PROS:
Wide-angle beam, pleasing appearance, handy clip attaches to almost anything, small size, durable, beautiful and unusual color.
Good warranty (added 08-12-01).
CONS:
User cannot replace batteries. Momentary-only pushbutton - light won't stay lit unattended.


          MANUFACTURER: ASP
          PRODUCT TYPE: Keychain/clip-on mini light
          LAMP TYPE: LED, Blue, 5mm. Avail. in other LED colors
          No. OF LAMPS: 1
          BEAM TYPE: Circular with several annular artifacts
          SWITCH TYPE: Momentary pushbutton
          BEZEL: None
          BATTERY: 2 CR-2016 lithium coin type, non-user replaceable.
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown/unable to measure
          WATER RESISTANT: Yes, resistant to occasional rain
          SUBMERSIBLE: No
          ACCESSORIES: None
          WARRANTY: Lifetime, limited. Damage covered on case-by-case basis.



                PRODUCT RATING: (Based on BLUE model)

                DURABILITY: 9
                BRIGHTNESS: 9
                USEABILITY: 7
                BATTERY LIFE: 7
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 1

                OVERALL SCORE: 33



ASP Sapphire Light * WWW.LIGHTHINGS.COM



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