March 17, 2010

Flashlight Adventures: Novatac 120T

I call this: tech,theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:28 pm

Getting a new flashlight has been something of an obsession of mine since we were in Pittsfield, MA, where the light board, SM desk and sound console were all in a row behind the back row of the theatre. At intermission, Devon, Matt and I all stayed at our spots and geeked out over flashlights, mostly Matt’s, and passed them back and forth.

Matt had the Surefire Aviator, which is very cool, mostly because of the intuitive way it works: push a little for a green (or red or blue if you prefer) LED, push a lot for bright white. Twisting the cap works the same way. However, it’s very expensive, even as expensive flashlights go ($239). It’s also just as big as the current Surefire flashlights I have (the 6P and the G2), which I don’t like because I can’t reach the tailcap while also shielding the light with my hand (which is rarely that important — the only situation in the entire theatrical universe I’m aware of where you need that much control over a light is when decking The Phantom of the Opera, but unfortunately if I’m going to drop that kind of money on another flashlight, that’s what it needs to be able to do.) While I greatly admire the Aviator, it’s just not for me at that price.

The other light he has is from a brand I was unfamiliar with: Novatac. They don’t make as many different models as Surefire, but they also provide tactical flashlights for law enforcement and folks like that.

The one Matt has, that I ordered, is the 120T — which is really small, only takes one 123A battery, and provides 120 lumens at its maximum brightness, but also has two other brightness levels of .3 and 10 lumens. It also has a “disorienting strobe” feature, which is great if you want to stun a perp so you can take him down, or if you’re doing a production of Gypsy in your living room.

Novatac also sells a highly customizable programmable version, which is controlled with a single button. I read the whole user manual, which is fascinating, but decided against it when they said “if your flashlight does x you may need to perform a soft reset.” I’m sorry, I’m a computer person, but my flashlight is one thing that should not ever need to be soft reset. The programmable one is also more expensive and harder to find discounted on Amazon. The 120T retails for $149, but is frequently offered for less on Amazon through third-party sellers, and now by Amazon themselves: NovaTac 120T Tactical LED Flashlight. When I finally purchased it, it was $100, which is the lowest I’ve seen it. I had planned to use my Amazon credit card gift certificates to pay for the whole thing, but they have been stuck in the mail for a month, and I gave up waiting.

To make myself feel better about this unnecessary delay, I took advantage of the quick shipping time predicted and had it sent to our hotel in West Palm Beach, where it arrived today, rather than having to wait until we’re on vacation.

Of course as this is our day off, I haven’t had any time to actually use it in a real-world setting, any more than I already have by trying out Matt’s. But I’m very excited to begin. Once I’ve had some time with it, I’ll add it to the tool reviews on the site.


While the flashlight is definitely bright and easily portable, one thing I’ve learned is that it requires good batteries to get the most out of it. 123A batteries are very expensive (about $7 each if you buy them in a drug store or something), and I have purchased mine at bulk rates of about $1.50 each for years without thinking anything of it. One day months ago, Matt ran out of juice and I gave him one of my batteries. He immediately noticed how cheap my batteries were. I can’t say it’s ever bothered me when using a Surefire or other high-end flashlight. I’m sure they don’t last as long, or shine quite as bright, but the Novatac really suffers and flickers with the lower-quality battery, and I noticed it right away the first time I had to change the batteries. Thankfully it only requires one battery.

1 Comment »

  1. […] I was also anxious because I got confirmation that my new flashlight would be delivered today. For more about that, read my flashlight post. […]

    Pingback by Travel Days: Iowa –> Florida « HeadsetChatter Blog — March 17, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

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