Lipstick Light of a More "Manly Sort"
Initial Impressions: I bought the Nitecore LA10CRI to compare to other, similar purpose lights - Nextorch UL360, Fenix CL05, Klarus FL1A, E15 with AOD-S diffuser, Fenix E05 with Chapstick Cap Diffuser. Obviously this is a wide range of lights with both differences and similarities. First impression was this is fatter than expected. The initial photo view suggests it was a bit more like other single AA cell lights in size, but the in hand and side views give a better perspective on the length and girth; as an "area light" only the Fenix E15 WITH its AOD-S diffuser is larger to pack. Second impression is that the diffuser concept works quite well in providing a "bare light bulb like" area illumination.... The Nextorch UL360 works well as a utility work light, but has no lower brightness comparable to 8 Lumens, and its envelop doesn't "fill" with light as much as the fully extended LA10; The Chapstick cap trick works well as a "candle in your hand" with AAA lights that give 4 to 100 Lumens in helping to look for something, light up a small room to look about, etc.; The Fenix CL05 does a similar job with 0.8 and 8 Lumen output, but is more suitable for looking under a theater seat or giving dim light in a small tent (color marker light ability a separate issue); The Klarus FL1A also doesn't provide a lower brightness, and its diffuser gives less "light bulb like" area illumination, rather a good amount of light goes out the front as a path illumination; The E15 with an AOD-S diffuser isn't as compact, although it can provide an even brighter area light output. Third impression is that the LA10 (CRI or cool white) provides a good beacon - a very short, very bright flash at about 2 to 3 seconds interval is what a beacon does... think of a one or more of these to mark your site visible from the air. The beacon mode isn't intended to be an effective marker for a pack or campsite as would be the CL05 or even the FL1A.
Design and Build: The LA10 is operated from a well lubricated, reliable end cap twist switch assuring no issues with accidental activation, failure as time goes on, or battery drain. So the LA10 can be stored away with confidence for "just in case" use with a Lithium Iron primary AA for years and years, or stuffed into your pack or camping gear for nightly use when camping or trekking with an Eneloop NiMH for good service life and recharge if that kind of gear is part of your loadout. The LA10 CRI driver provides four useful modes of operation - 8 Lumen low, 28 Lumen medium, 85 Lumen high, and 85 Lumen Beacon, with the reasonable run times that an AA NiMH or Lithium Iron can provide. (I rarely use Alkaline cells unless I intend to run them down during a single outing.) The Aluminum encased lipstick or Chapstick -like mechanical extending of the diffuser of the LA10 provides protection of the diffuser when lowered, and may have been intended to vary exposure of the diffuser surface as another way to control illumination beyond emitter power. But my informal darkened room testing suggests that after about 3/8" extended, there doesn't seem to be too much improvement - perhaps the effect would be more pronounced in the outdoors. On the worrisome side, the diffuser cylinder is a bit "loose" in the tube, but likely this is just how it must be to work; it suggests the IPX6 rating is appropriate, and makes me concerned about leaving this standing upright in a driving rain. The magnetic base is a great feature, allowing this light to be used in a darkened kitchen, mud room, work room, utility room, or electrical cabinet to provide good light in power outage or dimly lit places; only the Nextorch UL360 provides such a magnetic base, and due to its swivel base and mount can provide a more directed light... well, perhaps not more directed towards the work, but directed away from you. There's little doubt that working too near to a view to the LA10 can be a bit blinding.
Accessories: The Nitecore LA10 includes a spare O-Ring and lanyard. It doesn't include a small split ring nor that clever little wire pokey thing Olight does with their lanyards to help you feed it through the tiny lanyard hole in the tail cap. After wasting 5 minutes trying in vain to pinch and push the lanyard's fastening loop through that hole, I used an inch of bare 26 AWG solid wire to make my own "Olight Pokey" and fed the lanyard through. Instead of the lanyard I'll get a very small split ring from Ace to feed through, and clip a small "S-Biner" to that and tie a loop of reflective paracord through it, too, to give me a few ways to hand and tether the LA10.
CRI: Yes the light output is quite sunlight neutral in color, but the output of the Nextorch UL360 seems even more so. Can't say that the high CRI output is worth the price difference - it depends on the use and value you put on that high CRI.
Overall: The LA10 & LA10CRI make good "bare white light bulb" sources of area light illuminating about a 15 foot diameter area. Extending the diffuser beyond about 1/2" seems not to make a big difference. When fully retracted the LA10 works as a floody flashlight, the 8 Lumen level for looking under seats, couches, beds, etc., the 28 Lumen level for walking a trail at night, and the 85 Lumen level for really lighting up the pathway or area ahead out to perhaps 25ft. I'll put this with my Vehicle Ready Kit, using this as an area light for car camping, utility and work light on the vehicle, or as a warning beacon on the vehicle roof, and fuel it with an AA Lithium Iron cell.
ProsGood design and build quality; reliable mechanical twisty switch operation; lipstick/chapstick raise/lower design protects the plastic diffuser from damage.
Four useful modes of operation - 8 Lumen low, 28 Lumen medium, 85 Lumen high, and 85 Lumen Beacon, with the adequate run times that come from using an NiMH or Lithium Iron cell.
Makes a good small area "bare white light bulb" for power outages or camping in a multi person tent; Ok, too, for use as a worklight, especially with the magnetic base.
High CRI makes use as an area light more appealing to the eye, revealing more true to life colors.
Also makes an effective flood flashlight when the diffuser is retracted, the low for looking for something while not interfering with others, the high for lighting up the pathway ahead.
Bright, effective beacon mode for long run time marking your car or camp to be found from the air or elevated perspective.
ConsA bit plump for a single AA light; maybe not best for an EDC carried in your front pocket.
Light output seems to approach max with about 1/2" of diffuser showing, so remaining extended length may only increase "glare"
While magentic base allows easy use as an area light, just try not to mount it in your line of sight... mounting overhead seems the best method.
Beacon mode not as good as a solid or flashing marker light as a pack, tent, or campsite marker light, especially in heavily wooded areas.