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Gift Review - Wind-up LED Torch  

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Torches (flashlights) tend to combine usefulness with irritation. They're really valuable when you need one - but unless you are very prepared, at the times you need them most (when there's suddenly a power cut, for instance) - the battery has run out and you are stuck with finding a replacement battery in the dark, or worse with no battery at all.

One elegant solution is to build a dynamo into the torch, making it easy to recharge the battery if you find it's flat. And that's the appeal of this product. Give the fold-away handle on the base of the torch a few brisk rotations and it's ready to light your way out of trouble.

Like many modern torches, the light is provided by LEDs (light emitting diodes) rather than traditional bulbs. These are extremely long lasting, though the beam from an LED torch is never quite as satisfying as that from an old-fashioned model. For those who want to save energy, the first press of the button brings on just one LED, a second press lights up all three, and a third turns it off again. One minute of winding is enough for around 30 minutes use with a single LED, or 20 minutes with all three. In practice, like us, you might not have the patience for a whole minute, but a few brisk turns is enough for a typical couple of minutes usage.

The design of the torch is unusual. Fans of the original Star Trek series might be forgiven for thinking it is based on a mark II phaser - it's difficult for the older Star Trek viewer to use without getting a little buzz of excitement. A totally unscientific survey of a two 12 year olds gave a slightly more varied response. One thought it was cool looking, the other a little clunky.

In dimensions, it's bigger than a normal pocket torch at around 13cm in length and 4cm in width, but it fits comfortably into the hand (either hand - it has grips on both sides), and feels good to use.

Overall this is would make an ideal gift, and at under 5 ($10) won't stretch the budget. The styling is pleasing, if unusual (especially for Star Trek fans), and though the finish is what you'd expect on a product with this pricing, it doesn't feel particularly poorly constructed. A satisfyingly all-age present, with that touch of technical difference that makes it appeal to us. (And you can even feel smug that you aren't using those nasty, polluting (expensive) replaceable batteries, so green too.)

Gift category - bargain

Reviewed by Brian Clegg



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Last update 05 June 2007