PLW-3 (old type)

PLW-3 wide-angle, retail $??? (
Manufactured by (unknown)
Last updated 05-15-01

LED Light

The Pilot-3 is a black, 3 "AA" LED flashlight that uses wide-angle white LEDs. Whip this baby out of your bag or pocket, and never again worry about being stuck in the dark.

This light comes in a black plastic case, and has a clear plastic safety head that glows when the light is being used..


Since this is also a loaner (this is a familiar story by now, isn't it?), I don't know if it comes with batteries or not. If not, put in three "AA" cells (see below) and you're ready to roll.
To turn the light on, give the head a firm clockwise twist; to turn it off turn the head the other way. The Pilot is similar in shape and size to another three-AA light I've tried, but it has some distinct differences.
For one, the beam is exceptionally wide for a white LED light. The LEDs used appear to be Nichia's widest-angle model, probably a NSPW520BS or similar, which gives a beam angle of around fifty degrees. The light's broad cone of light easily illuminates a footpath, a good-sized room, car/boat/camper interior, or the map in your glovebox. The Pilot's beam shape and color are surprisingly even, with only a very faint, almost unnoticeable bluish ring about halfway inside the beam.

This light easily illuminates a large room at night, and its color is much better than any incandescent - and like any good white LED light, it won't turn all orange when the batteries start to poop out. I can't harp enough about the exceptionally wide beam angle. This is probably one of the best walking lights to have been produced so far.

The Pilot uses three "AA" cells, which are cheap and easily available. Like many other lights, you unscrew the head until it comes off, dump out the dead batteries, and drop in three new ones button-side (+) up.
The only loose part besides the end cap is the LED module, which is a small can-shaped thing that fits into the body of the light right above the batteries. So this is another light you don't open directly over the garbage can when it's time to change its batteries. After your batteries are in, simply drop in the LED module with the LEDs facing up, and screw on the cap. Done with that.

One thing to be careful of with this light is when you unscrew the head. This is because the LED module can fall out if you're not paying attention. Since the battery change is a tool-free process and the LED module only works one way, you should be able to do this in the dark - strictly by feel - if need be.

The batteries are rated to last approximately 40 hours at high brilliance, and 100 additional hours at a reduced level..
Battery life testing is still in progress, but during the short time I've had it, I have not been able to deplete them.

The Pilot appears to be a fairly rugged flashlight. The head makes some rather unpleasant noises when screwed down too far, so it could crack if you manhandle it.

This light should easily survive just about anything short of being run over, so I wouldn't worry at all about having it fall or get knocked to the ground. The Pilot will just keep coming back for more. It is also completely waterproof, and as such makes it a nice light for the great outdoors.
The LEDs are also sealed inside the light by the transparent end piece, giving them valuable protection from the elements and accidents.

If you are a nocturnal reader, you will especially appreciate the Pilot's wide, even beam. It easily illuminates a full page from fairly close-up, and because of its great white color, even photographs will look clear and natural in its light.
This is by far the best light I've ever used for examining glass insulators - my other love. Bubbles, rocks, and other garbage in the glass show up exceptionally well when this light is illuminating the insulator from below. I will be very reluctant to mail this light back to its owner.

LED Light
Notice the very wide-angle light from this nice 3-LED light.

The Pilot comes with a hanging loop on the end, so you can hang it from a tent ceiling or around your neck, to give you a great area light anywhere you need one.

Keep one of these on your nightstand, and you won't regret it.
Same with the first-aid kit, your disaster box, the car, the office; anywhere you need a bright, extra-wide angle light. The Pilot will serve you well in these cases.

Despite its size, if I had to choose only one LED light to live with for the rest of my life, this one would be in the running.

Much wider beam than any other tested white LED light.
As this is also a loaner, I can't severely punish or tub-test this particular sample.

UPDATE: 11-04-00 The original loaner has returned for another round of tests.
Check this out.
See the deep groove carved in the copper around the perimeter of this board? That groove is carved deeper every time you turn the Pilot on! The board you see here is the bottom side of the three LEDs!

Once this gets carved all the way through, your Pilot will begin to act funky and eventually quit working altogether.
As a result of these findings, this flashlight is going to lose a few points in its rating.

UPDATE 05-15-01: Note: This may have been fixed i the newer models; the ones I've been testing lately have not been eating themselves.
I'm also on a one-man crusade to have this wide-beam model brought back... stay tuned folks!!

Bright, wide-angle beam, cheap common batteries, hanging loop, waterproof, durable, illuminated safety ring.
Doesn't stand on-end unassisted. Yeah, that's probably nitpicking. If you must stand it on end and leave it unattended, use a drinking glass, candleholder, or a full roll of toilet tissue (slip the light in the tissue's center core) and stand it up that way.
Murders itself after extended use (see test notes & picture above).

          MANUFACTURER: Holly Solar
          PRODUCT TYPE: Handhelf flashlight
          LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm, white
          No. OF LAMPS: 3
          BEAM TYPE: Wide angle flood, with faint blue rings occasionally present
          SWITCH TYPE: Bezel twist-on
          BEZEL: Clear, with ribbed outer wall
          BATTERY: 3 AA cells
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown
          WATER RESISTANT: Yes
          SUBMERSIBLE: To at least 100 feet
          ACCESSORIES: Stiff wrist lanyard
          WARRANTY: Administered by seller as a return policy

                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: 3 (self-mutilates)
                BRIGHTNESS: 9
                USEABILITY: 9
                BATTERY LIFE: 9
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 10

                OVERALL SCORE: 40

Pilot-3 LED Light * (

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