Turtlelite 1

Turtlelite, retail $19.95 (URL no longer valid)
Manufactured by LEDCORP (1-888-394-2001)
Last updated: 12-05-09

LED Light

The Turtlelite is a stout and robust, 4-cell, single-LED flashlight. It comes with a compact body and a large reflector; and uses a commercial flashlight body.
As a retrofit, it is professionally done, right down to the silkscreening on the flashlight body.
It uses an innovative modified LED design (patent pending) that allows the Nichia 5600mcd LED to be used effectively with the flashlight's reflector!


My sample came with batteries installed - so yours will probably be ready to go right out of the box.
A Sanoprene rubber button covers the switch; push it to get light and push it again to not get light. What could be simpler? The switch makes a click that you can hear and feel, so it has a positive action you can depend on. Because it is slightly recessed in a cowling on the flashlight body, the chances of it turning on inside your bag are extremely low.

This flashlight is unusual in that it uses 4 cells. Most LED lights only use three, so you will use more of the battery chemistry and get a longer life in the Turtlelite than you might in a similar flashlight using only 3 cells.
Life testing is yet to be done, but I expect to see a longer life here than with any 3-AA cell, single-LED flashlight made (assuming the competitior is used in full-power steady-on mode).

Changing the batteries is a tad bit more complex than with some other lights. Unscrew the large reflector head until it comes off, and dump the dead batteries in the garbage can or recycle them. The battery compartment has springs in the bottom of two of the cavities; insert an "AA" cell, button-side facing up in both of them. The other two cavities with no springs accept the batteries button-side down. There is a large plastic flange on the base of the reflector and you will see it has a flat side. Line the flat side up with the flashlight's switch and lower the head into place, then screw it back on snugly.

This is one flashlight you may have some difficulty with if you must change batteries in total darkness, because you have to see some of what you're doing in order to get it right.
Unless you have average to smaller than average hands, you won't be able to get your finger (try your pinky) deep enough inside to feel for the springs; however you can "test drop" a single AA cell into a cavity, and tell whether it has a spring in it or not; and then be able to sequence the remaining batteries in correctly. To put the head on in the dark, you can place a thumb over the switch with one hand, and feel for the flat edge of the reflector flange with the other hand, and line them up that way. Difficult perhaps, but by no means impossible.

A set of batteries is supposed to last 100 hours, and I have little reason to doubt that figure. My Turtlelite has been used daily since I've had it, and I'm still on the original set of batteries. No noticeable change in brightness has yet occurred.

The Turtlelite appears to be built especially well, and withstands punishment that would make a Klingon warrior proud. Both the head and tail ends are fully rubberized, so this flashlight just bounces around a little when it hits the ground. The only possible weakness I can find is in a thick plastic collar that encircles the flashlight just below the rubberized head; it is possible that this collar could break or crack if it is struck just so. An "O" ring just above this collar helps keep the outside out, so even if this part were to crack, it would probably not affect water resistance very much.
The manufacturer guarantees the body of the flashight for 10 years; everything else (including the bulb) for life.

When this light does hit the water, it FLOATS. Even when loaded with "heavy" alkaline cells.
It floats at an angle (not straight up and down) with about half of the lens underwater and half above, making the flashlight easy to spot in the water if it is on.
Tests found the flashlight was indeed watertight, and did not leak at all. Although I don't have any idea of its depth rating, it will hold up just fine for foul-weather use and for boating when there's a chance it might go overboard. No problems there.
If it gets dirty or muddy, just take the garden hose to it or wash it with dishwashing liquid and cool water.

A large hanging ring is on the bottom, allowing you to hang the Turtlelite from a nail, hook, branch, or other convenient hanging place. The ring is easy to lift up, but doesn't always go all the way back down unless you pay attention to what you are doing. A little rubber nub prevents the ring from coming up when it is not needed.

Although the Turtlelite has an obvious anti-roll fin on the underside of the reflector housing, it is not at all effective. When the light is dropped and starts to roll, it makes this "thump thump thump..... thump thump thump....." sound like a car that has a flat tire, and the light rolls along the floor as if there were no fin at all. Fortunately, the head is so much larger around than the tail that the flashlight only rolls around in a tight little circle, and won't get very far away.
The fin is large enough to allow one to set the flashlight down on a level surface and have it stay put. So the fin isn't a total waste.
The flashlight can also be stood up on its tail to illuminate a room from its beam hitting the ceiling; this is always handy to have in a flashlight.

The Turtlelite is extremely bright as single-LED flashlights go. Because of a specially-modified LED, the flashlight's big reflector is put to good use, focussing the LED into an extremely narrow, round collimated beam. It easily outshines the PAL Gold at distances greater than a few feet, and according to the manufacturer, can illuminate an object at least 75 feet away.
An informal test conducted in my city showed this to be the only LED flashlight able to illuminate objects on a rooftop courtyard in a hotel across the street from me, and did so without my eyes adapted to darkness.
Estimated distances to various objects ranged from 55 to 80 feet. It will no doubt perform even better in areas without extensive light pollution and when your eyes have at least partially adapted to darkness.

There is a compromise here though. Because its beam is so narrow and tightly-confined, some people may find its usefullness handicapped by this. But the light also produces a very wide secondary beam that allows for the Turtlelite to be used as a "walking around in the woods at night" light at the same time.

Because this part of the beam is much weaker than the central portion though, your eyes may need a few seconds to adapt before you feel comfortable with it.

LED Light
Picture illustrating the very wide "spill" beam. Flashlight was held approximately 12" from the target.

Outdoors people will no doubt find this to be a nice flashlight because it throws a pure white beam so far into the night, making it especially useful to spotlight something far off, shine up a tree, or into areas of a cave that other LED lights would never reach.
The color is a pure and even white with only a slight blue tinge at the beam's edges. The dimmer "spill" light is even and consistent no matter how you hold the flashlight.

LED Light
Beam photo. Note the round, very tight central beam.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this flashlight.
USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.


This flashlight has been travelling with me, and as a result it gets beaten around a little in my bag. No problems to report.
Water test was in a sink full of cool water, drop tests are on bare linoleum.

Any updates related to this review will be posted as they happen.

UPDATE August 13, 2000:
The batteries in this flashlight continue to provide bright light even after frequent, daily (nightly) use for several weeks.
You know a flashlight has become a favourite when you actively seek it out, despite other flashlights being within handy reach - or when you think out loud, "Where's that Turtlelite?" while looking for it.

UPDATE August 14, 2000:
A major multiple disaster was handled well by the Turtlelite.
I use this flashlight every night to light my way to the bathroom, and early this morning, it fell in the toliet.
An ordinary flashlight would have to be thrown out (since you can't easily wash out the insides), and may have possibly even cracked the toliet bowl; but the Turtlelite just bounced around inside the bowl and came to rest floating in the water (thank gosh it didn't sink!)
The Turtlelite's rubber bumpers protected the fragile porcelain bowl, and the flashlight itself was easily washed afterwards.

UPDATE September 10, 2000:
After a couple of months of constant usage, I have made the decision to upgrade this product's rating by 1/4 point. The chances of one being stuck in darkness with dead batteries is so remote, it's barely worth mentioning. Plus, over the last couple of months, this flashlight has fallen or been knocked off tables so many times I've lost count, yet it still looks & works like new.

UPDATE: 12-05-09
I have finally performed a spectrographic analysis of the bulb from the Turtlelite.

Brighter than expected
Extremely narrow, confined beam goes for distance yet still produces wide secondary beam good for walking at night
Durable & well-made
Floats in the toliet or other water
Stands on its tail unassisted
Has hanging ring
Uses cheap and readily available batteries
Has very good battery life.

Some people may find the main beam is too narrow to be useful in some circumstances (see above)
Changing batteries in the dark can be mildly difficult.

          PRODUCT TYPE: Handheld flashlight
          LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm, white
          No. OF LAMPS: 1
          BEAM TYPE: Narrow spot with abrupt transition to corona
          SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton on/off
          BEZEL: Rubberized with clear lens, smooth reflector
          BATTERY: 4 AA cells
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 70 milliamps
          WATER RESISTANT: Yes
          SUBMERSIBLE: Yes. Depth rating unknown, positive buoyancy
          ACCESSORIES: Dorcy batteries
          WARRANTY: 10 years on body, lifetime on bulb

                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: 10
                BRIGHTNESS: 10
                USEABILITY: 8
                BATTERY LIFE: 10
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 10

                OVERALL SCORE: 48

Turtlelite * URL no longer valid

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