One to Watch: Prometheus Flashlight AAA
Tony Sculimbrene 09.23.13
Citizen Kane, widely regarded as the triumph of American Cinema, was the first movie made by Orson Wells. Few people have made such an auspicious debut. But in the gear world Jason Hui has come very close to replicating Wells’ feat.
Hui’s first piece of gear was the flashlight now known as the Alpha Ready Made (my review is found here). His second piece of gear was an outstanding pen design, the Alpha Pen (my review is found here). The Alpha pen went on to become a Kickstarter phenomenon, raising $121,286 in less than two months. Its goal was a modest $16,500. Suffice to say, Jason is the Orson Wells of gear (not the older, fat Orson Wells, but the younger, talented one).
With a track record like that, what can Jason do to top his prior successes? See the picture above.
Both the Alpha Ready Made and the Alpha Pen were pieces of kit designed to target a very specific market. Few people (realize they) have a need for a 800 lumen flashlight. Similarly, most people think Bic and pen are synonymous. But even the most gear oblivious person has a flashlight on their keychain. It might be the positively dreadful Mag Solitaire or only slightly better the LRI Photon, but lots of people carry little lights on their keychain for daily convenience. Jason’s latest piece of gear hits that market.
The quick release AAA flashlight combines Jason’s awesome aesthetics with high end parts and an utterly simple and clever feature heretofore not seen on a keychain light–the quick disconnect. Its odd that all of these supposed keychain lights have never used the quick disconnect before (it’s a ball bearing device like those used on air compressor tools). It makes the light much easier to use while allowing it to stow on your keychain for convenience. That alone is worth a look, but because this is Prometheus, there is more to tempt you.
Jason’s aesthetics — the smooth undulating series of ridges and high polish metal — look great on a light or a pen, and scaled down to the 1xAAA format they look even nicer. The ridges also give the light (or pen) a bit of grip, and they invite you to touch the device. The gleam off an electroplated piece of Prometheus gear is positively seductive, the equivalent of insect pheromones for gear geeks. The combination of the ridges, the finish, and the polish give these pieces a liquid metal look and feel.
But the AAA is not all trick and treat — there is real substance here. First, the light hits 70 lumens on high, quite good for a 1xAAA light. It also has a Hi CRI emitter (92, if you need the number) rendering objects is near-sunlight quality light. Reds will be red and blues will be blue instead of the wash of bluish purple you get from many LEDs. Finally, because Jason pays attention to trends, he focused in on the low as an important part of the light. He is promising an extra low, low — a true moonlight mode capable of preserving your night vision while at the same time illuminating what you need to navigate in the dark.
AAAs are the hottest format in flashlights right now, as emitter technology has boosted performance of 1xAAA flashlights into the acceptable range. They also have a nice size and a universally available battery format. Seeing a gear designer as good as Jason Hui making a 1xAAA light is a great thing. Perhaps Orson Wells should have followed up Citizen Kane with a piece of gear.