Flashlight Reviews

NiteCore Smart PD EX10

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NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is single CR123 battery based, programmable, Smart Piston Drive LED flashlight. Piston Drive (PD) technology is brainchild of legendry flashlight designer Mr. Don McLeish (also known as McGizmo at Candle Power Forums). The Smart PD system is enhancement of the original PD design, jointly created by Mr. David Chow (4Sevens) and NiteCore Tactical Technology. NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is designed to be one of the most compact and smallest single CR123 battery based, click activated EDC (Every Day Carry) flashlight. The NiteCore Smart PD EX10 has single light operating level which is memorized and is configurable through light programming. Also, there are two instant, easy to access minimum and maximum light levels. Apart from this at any moment of time, user can change the brightness of light by simple press & hold. LED used in NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is high efficiency Cree 7090 XR-E Q5 bin. Reflector of NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is built from solid Aluminium and has Light Orange Peel (LOP) reflector finish. The Glass lens in front is impact resistant with anti-reflective (AR) Dual-Coating™. Dual-Coating is the specialty diamond coating on outer surface of the lens over the AR coating. Smart PD uses digitally regulated, infinitely variable electronic drive circuit with Microcontroller (µC) based programming unit. The light operates through three switching options. It can work through twist, click and tactical momentary switching modes; thanks to the Smart PD system. The body of NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is built of military grade Aluminium alloy. Light is coated inside out with military spec type III hard anodized finish that is highly suitable for rough usage. HAIII anodizing makes NiteCore Smart PD EX10 durable and protects from normal wear and tear. Piston used in EX10 is machined from aerospace aluminium and has nickel plating. Battery contact spring installed inside the piston is gold plated ensuring very good connectivity with the battery. The positive contact on head is solid brass. There are O-Ring seals at various places for waterproofing, NiteCore Smart PD EX10 meets IPX-8 Waterproof Standard. The Overall build quality of NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is good. NiteCore Smart PD EX10 comes in nice cardboard box packaging along with accessories.

Note: This review is a result of more than 150 days of EDC carry. During this period, the flashlights were carried through 2 continents and 6 different locations. Some of the locations were environmental extremes. The flashlights went through temperatures as high as 50° Celsius in the dry desert environment to as low as 6° Celsius winter; with relative humidity of tropical environment in excess of 90% RH to as low as 10% RH in the desert. The flashlights were subjected to sand storms, rain & thunderstorms. NiteCore Smart PD EX10 was one of the flashlight that faced all environmental extremes with relative ease. For those, who cant wait to go through full review, rest assured that the Smart PD Design has proven itself to be very reliable if used carefully. NiteCore Smart PD EX10 falls in one of the best in its class category.

Light Features:
  • Specially designed Smart PD switching system
  • Digitally controlled, regulated drive circuit with infinite brightness adjustment
  • Cree 7090 XR-E Q5 binned LED
  • Can operate either on standard CR123 or on RCR123 battery
  • Multiple switching options
  • Programmable light level with memory
  • Instant minimum & maximum light level access through easy click combinations
  • Dual-Coating based AR coated glass lens
  • Solid Aluminium LOP reflector
  • Type III hard-anodized finish
  • Meets the IPX - 8 standard waterproof specifications
  • US MIL - STD - 810 F standard resistance to impact by dropping
Light Operation & Output:
Light Operation: The light can be operated through either of three switching options available. Firstly, it can be operated by simply twisting the bezel clockwise to switch on and anticlockwise to switch off. Secondly when light is in twist mode off position, pushing the piston from the tail end activates momentary mode. Thirdly, when head is fully tightened to the body, light enters in normal switching mode. In normal switching mode, light behaves as simple click switch light. Push the piston once to switch on and push again to switch off.

Changing Brightness: When light is operating in normal switching mode, from ON position, press and hold piston will start ramping up or down brightness level. When desired light level is achieved, simply release the piston. The light will remember the last used brightness level.

Instant Minimum & Maximum access: When light is operating in normal switching mode, from ON position, double clicking on piston gets light in to minimum light output level. Where as, from ON position, click & press will instantly switch light to maximum output level.

Light Output: Below is the chart showing total output levels* for partially used standard CR123 battery and fully charged AW RCR123 battery.

NiteCore Smart PD EX10
Level CR123 AW RCR123
Min 6 9
Max 1045 1546

*The total output levels are based on custom built Integrating Sphere with Gossen Mavolux 5032 Class B USB Light Meter as photometer. To convert total output readings in to approximate Lumen readings, simply divide the total output by 10.
Light Info:
General Info
    Light Model Smart PD EX10
    Manufacturer NiteCore
    Review Page & Image
 Smart PD EX10
Smart PD EX10
    Country  China
    Review Date 2008-10-15
    Review Update 2008-11-29
Light Vitals
    Length 75 mm
    Width / Bezel Diameter 21 mm
    Width / Tube Diameter 20 mm
    Height (if applicable)  mm
    Weight (without battery) 39 gm
Light Source
    LED Format Power LED
    Number of LEDs 1
    LED Name Cree XR - E
    LED Power 3  Watts
Light Management
    Lens Material Clear Glass
    Lens Coating (if any) Diamond Double AR Coated
    Lens Transperency (typical) 93
    Lumen Management Reflector
    Material Aluminium Metal LOP
    Beam Type Mostly Throw with good side spill
Power Management
    Converter Type Buck Boost
    Properties Regulated, Advanced Micro Controller (uC)
    Features Advanced User Interface
Batteries Supported, Output & Runtime
    Battery Size
    Nominal Voltage
    # Used
    Total Output
    Runtime to 75%
    Runtime to 50%
    Runtime to 25%
LiMnO2  Li-Ion  
Switch Options
    Switch Type
    Switch Properties
Piston Drive with Click
Smart PD
Body Material Options
Type III Hard Anodized
Light Rating
80 80
    Build Quality
80 80
75 75
85 85
70 70
75 75
    Bang for buck
70 70
    Overall Rating
In-Depth Review & Pictures:
Packaging: NiteCore Smart PD EX10 comes packaged card board box. There is a transparent window on front side of box reveling the glimpses of the beautiful product.

On the back side of box, major features are listed.

Inside the box you will find NiteCore Smart PD EX10 flashlight placed in black colored molded case. Below the molded case, there is operating manual, warranty card with unique identification number & barcode. Accessories include additional O-Ring and military grade 550 paracord based lanyard attachment.

Size Comparison: Pictured below From L to R: NiteCore Extreme, NiteCore Smart PD EX10 and Ra Twisty 100-T. Compared with other single CR123 based lights, NiteCore Smart PD is one of the smallest click switch based flashlight.

Another comparison From L to R: Standard CR123 Battery, NiteCore Smart PD EX10 and AA Battery.

Bezel Comparison: With Smart PD EX-10 in center, on the left is NiteCore Extreme, where as on right is Ra Twisty 100-T. The reflector in EX-10 is smallest in diameter.

Bezel: Looking at the bezel of NiteCore Smart PD EX-10 first noticeable thing is stainless steel bezel ring with sharp outer edge. If you look at the picture above, comparing bezels of Smart PD EX-10 with Ra Twisty, you will notice that Ra Twisty has fairly blunt edges. Edge of bezel ring in NiteCore Smart PD EX-10 is sharp enough to cut through paper and cloth if enough pressure is applied. This can be useful in situations where you need to cut some thing and do not have a knife around. What this also means is that it will be difficult to carry bare EX-10 in pocket without tearing of pocket liners. For this reason, we recommend carrying of EX-10 in hoister for pocket carry. Alternately, you can carefully sand off the sharp edges of bezel ring with fine sand paper. Placed behind bezel ring is AR coated glass lens which is cushioned by a rubber O-ring seal. Solid Aluminium LOP (Light Orange Peel) reflector sits behind the O-ring.

Reflector & LED: Let's have a closer look at the bezel of NiteCore Smart PD EX10. The premium binned Cree XR-E LED is aligned perfectly in center. The reflector in NiteCore Smart PD EX10 built from solid Aluminium. The reflector has Light Orange Peel (LOP) finish which ensures perfect beam. Beam pattern for Smart PD EX10 is moderate throw with defined hotspot and good side spill free from rings and any artifacts.

Here is a closeup of perfectly aligned LED & reflector.

Body: NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is built from military grade Aluminium. Almost entire body including the head has strong diamond knurl finish. Additionally, body is sandblasted to give a matt finish and has black color military specification hard coat type III anodizing for protection from wear and tear.

There is a band of non knurled surface on the battery tube where the manufacturer details and flashlight model number is laser engraved.

Tail: At the tail end, you can see the nickel plated piston. Piston is in flush with the tail cap. Piston forms an integral part of switching mechanism. There are four holes for lanyard or a key chain attachment. The tail end is designed in such a way that allows future accessories like pocket clip to be attached easily.

Overall the construction of NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is fairly strong.

Components: NiteCore Smart PD EX10 consists of three main components, head, battery tube and piston. Head houses reflector, LED, Microprocessor (µC) based electronics and part of advanced switching mechanism. Where as battery tube is composed of outer sleeve and a piston.

Side view of NiteCore Smart PD EX10 components. In the center of the picture below, notice the gold plated negative contact spring.

Head: Most of the flashlight action takes place in here. Head houses specially designed brass switch, electronic drive circuit with Microprocessor (µC), Cree XR E LED and solid aluminium reflector. The electronic drive circuit is controlled by Microprocessor (µC). A combination of switch design and programmed Microcontroller (µC) allows multiple mode of operation.

The positive contact is made up of solid brass disk. This ensures excellent contact with positive terminal of the battery. The brass disk also protects the exposed components.

Diamond shaped knurling on the head provides better grip especially when the light is in twist switching mode. Notice the thick silicone rubber based O-Ring sitting next to threads. It provides good seal and water proofing.

Piston: Piston is primarily built from aluminium and is nickel plated. At the tail end of piston there is a O-Ring. Diameter of piston is just enough to slide through the battery tube. Piston takes active part in switching as well as completing the electrical circuit. Contact spring is installed on inside at the tail end of the piston and is gold plated.

All edges on piston are chamfered. This design feature of piston helps in smooth operation.

Here is a 360 view of piston.

Note: For all the pictures of piston, we cleaned off the lubrication that was applied to it. For smooth operation, recommend use of combination of thin lubricant such as Nyogel 760G along with silicone oil. Also note that the piston should remain free from dirt and sand otherwise it may adversely affect the flashlight operation and may even permanently damage the inside anodizing of battery tube.

Battery Tube: The battery tube is anodized inside out. Battery tube does not take any part in completing the electrical circuit. It only acts as a sleeve to hold the piston. Threads on battery tube of NiteCore Smart PD EX10 are also anodized. The advantage of anodized threads is it prevents the thread wear during normal usage. This is due to the fact that anodizing provides hard surface of Aluminium oxide which is resistant to wear.

Beautifully machined band of diamond knurling covers almost entire battery tube of NiteCore Smart PD EX10 and it offers excellent grip. Battery tube has sand blasted surfaces at head and tail end making place available for laser engraving. Light model number, flashlight series, company name and website address are laser engraved on the head end of battery tube.

Here is a 360 view of battery tube with piston installed.

Beam Shots:
Beam pattern for NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is defined hotspot with a good amount of side spill. All beam shots are taken at f/8 aperture with varying shutter speed.
NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Min NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Max
Extreme Closeup Pictures: NiteCore Smart PD EX10
Here are a few extreme Closeup shots for NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Flashlight. Built quality NiteCore Smart PD EX10 is superb.

Bezel of NiteCore Smart PD EX10.

NiteCore Smart PD EX10 head & laser engraving.

NiteCore Smart PD EX10 battery tube.

Tail cap.

Super Extreme Closeup NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Bezel.

NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Laser Engraving.

NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Body Knurling.

NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Tail cap.

AW RCR 123: The runtime for NiteCore Smart PD EX10 with AW RCR123 on MAX light output is about 61 Minutes till 50%. NiteCore Smart PD EX10 runs in a combination of direct drive and complete regulation. For the about first 20 Minutes, LED is subject to partial direct drive once the battery voltage reaches certain threshold, the drive circuit regulates the light output. It should also be noted that runtime for NiteCore Smart PD EX10 for lesser output levels will be considerably more.

Buy NiteCore Smart PD EX10 Flashlight at www.4sevens.com
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