When a simple flashlight costs as much as the SR90 expectations are very high. Thankfully, the SR90 is up to my expectations. The flashlight may be massive, but fit and finish is perfect down to the smallest detail. The anodizing is perfectly even and looks tough. In general, fit and finish is top notch.
Another indicator of build quality is the rattle test. I probably didn't shake the light as hard as I did some others (it does weigh 1.5kg), but nothing rattled or came loose. This may seem easy to achieve, but many flashlights, especially larger ones, are put together much less solidly.
The only flaw in the build quality is a minor one. The contact ring is a little off center and has something on it. This does not interfere with electrical contact.
The SR90 is rated as waterproof to IPX-8 standards. I did not test this, but the light is fully sealed with thick o-rings, and two extras are included.
The flashlight comes in a nice box, with metal edges and a stylish metallic finish. The custom padding is nice, and the box provides a convenient solution to the issue of transportation, which otherwise could be quite awkward with a flashlight this size.
The light is stored as two pieces, so Olight included a metal cap to protect the threads during storage, which is a nice touch. The threads themselves are unusual in that there are vertical grooves running the length of the threads. I'm not sure what this is for, but I'm guessing it makes it easier to turn.
Let me start by stating the obvious: the SR90 is HUGE. If it isn't the largest mass production LED flashlight to date, then it is certainly in the running. Thankfully Olight dealt well with the size difference. The switch is located on the side, making it convenient to use (a tailcap switch would have been a deal breaker). Also included is a shoulder strap. While I have no problem using the flashlight without it, I can see the strap being very useful if you want to carry the flashlight for long periods of time.
The SR90 is also quite heavy, but you can get used to it. After using the SR90 for a few days it actually feels rather light. The balance point is at the neck of the flashlight; the head weighs as much as the battery pack. I had no trouble holding the flashlight, but a non-flashaholic I lent it to immediately commented, "The head's too heavy! I expect more from a $500 flashlight." While that was said as a bit of a joke, it is true that good balance is not an unreasonable request at this price point.
A major concern with the SST-90 LED is heat. The 22W LED produces much more heat than smaller LEDs, so a flashlight running it full power (like the SR90) must be able to dissipate heat more effectively than almost any other LED flashlight. During a 15 minute walk with the light on 100% constantly the SR90 barely got warm; I would have no qualms running it at full power the length of its runtime. This, more than anything else about this flashlight, speaks of thoughtful design, and shows that Olight did a lot more than put more batteries and a bigger LED in the same tube.
On the tailcap there is a battery indicator, which consists of four LEDs and a white button. Pressing the button lights up a number of LEDs corresponding to the amount of power left. The indicator works well, and is a pleasure to have available. I wish smaller flashlights would incorporate this feature as well. It is possible to find the indicator button in the dark, although it might be better placed in the middle. Also, I might suggest indicating the lowest power level with one LED not zero, since if no LEDs light up the user isn't sure if the indicator is working.
Another well designed component is the battery pack itself. What could have been an 18650 nightmare it now very easy to use; just plug it in to charge. The case includes a wall charger, with an equally simple car charger available separately. Some people have commented that the rubber charging plug is a weak point. While I don't think that it will cause any issues, I do think the plug is unnecessary. I don't know if special circuitry is necessary to isolate the circuit, but taking WiseLED as an example, immersing the contact in water does not have to be dangerous for the flashlight.
As with many flashlights there is a small drain on the battery even when the light is off. However, thanks to the huge battery pack, the light is rated to be able to sit three to four months without recharging.
The styling is original and quite good looking. I especially appreciate the choice of large blocks instead of knurling, as they not only look better but also feel better and provide a better grip. The brass strap attachment rings and the blue button provide a nice constrast with the usual black anodizing.
The manual is good, not great. The grammar is fine, the explanations clear, and the information thorough. The SR90 comes with a two year warranty, after which they will still repair your flashlight but charge you for parts. It's no SureFire warranty, but a solid warranty nonetheless.
There are three modes, high, low (30%), and strobe, operated via a signal switch (a momentary switch that does not complete the circuit, but instead sends signals to the electronics to do so). The interface is very simple - hold the switch to switch between low and high, and double click for strobe. The light comes on in low or high depending on which you used last, but never strobe, so you won't accidentally strobe your friends. During use I never had any issues, and I never accidentally activated strobe.
As the first SST-90 flashlight the SR90 has high expectations and a real challenge to meet them. I can confidently say that the SR90 does the SST-90 justice. The spot is moderately wide and much brighter than any other LED flashlight I've seen or heard of, except a few of the best aspherics (which don't come close to the total output). The spill is also blindingly bright and wide, flooding the entire forward area very well. There is a clover-shaped corona around the spot, but other than that the beam is flawless, and appears entirely flawless in actual use.
After using this flashlight as well as many LED flashlights and a few HIDs and more powerful incandescents (although no high-end HIDs), I will confirm that the SST-90 LED has finally brought LEDs into HID territory, and that the SR90 fully utilizes this capability. The sheer output is truly a class removed from every other single LED flashlight (as is the size...), and brighter even than many HIDs. However, HIDs still get even brighter and focus tighter, so if you need the ultimate output, don't mind warm-up times, and are willing to spend even more than this light costs, HID is still the way to go. For now.
|Flashlight||Lux at 1m||Throw (m)|
|Olight SR90 Intimidator||118,550||344|
|JETBeam Raptor RRT-1||40,125||200|
|WiseLED Tactical 2000||34,925||187|
Since many of the above flashlights have large heads I measured lux at five meters and used that to calculate lux at one meter. See our standards for an explanation of throw.
Some complain that the low mode is too high. These complaints would not be present had they held the flashlight. This flashlight is far too large to use to walk around the house at night or read in the dark; as such there is no need for a night vision preserving mode. The low mode is there for times when the flashlight must be used longer than an hour and a half; its illumination purpose is the same, and indeed it is still bright enough to be used as a spotlight on low.
As a slightly amusing side note, the human eyes do a really good job of dealing with the amount of light present. It is always a good idea to judge a flashlight's brightness only relative to another flashlight. Point in case: after twenty minutes walking with the SR90 I was thinking, hey, this really isn't all that bright. When a car passed and the headlights were barely visible I decided to stick to my measly 500 lumen EDC until my eyes re-adjusted.
As the first SST-90 flashlight, it is tempting to think of the SR90 as an indicator of better things to come. However, the team at Olight has managed something rare in the flashlight world: they took their time and got it just right, the first time. The SR90 is the best one can hope for in a SST-90 spotlight, with nearly every issue handled thoroughly and elegantly, and a price that, while surprising for an LED, is fair for its performance. It will be remembered, not because it was the first flashlight to use the LED that proved HIDs would some day become outdated, but because it was the first flashlight to prove it.