Nite Ize Inova Swipe-to-Shine Microlight

NiteIze Inova STS Microlight

I’ll be totally honest with you, I do not stay up to speed on flashlight technology. I have several reliable, small LED flashlights that I use as part of my EDC or for backpacking and they work so well for what I need that I have been able to essentially ignore this space. One of the rules of buying gear goes something like: “If you invest in high quality gear that will last a long time, and can be maintained, you’ll never have to worry about particular piece of gear ever again. One less thing to worry about.”

Because I ignore certain areas of gear development, I’m often amazed and surprised by some of the advances in technology that transpire with pieces of gear that have served me well for many years. The keychain LED microlight is a great example.

NiteIze Inova STS Microlight

Above are two Nite Ize Inova microlights. The one on the right is simple Inova microlight that I carry with me on my car keys. It’s been used hundreds and hundreds of times, it’s extremely useful, durable, and easy to use – squeeze it on, squeeze it off. It has all sorts of strobe and dimming functions built in, but all I need is on and off. I’ve tried plenty of other microlights and like the Photons, but always come back to Inova.

So it came as a complete surprise to me that Nite Ize had developed technology that allows you to turn a microlight on, off and change modes with the swipe of a finger instead of clicking or squeezing a button. They’ve appropriately named this new technology Swipe-to-Shine or STS. The microlight above on the left is the new STS version. It’s cool, very cool, but also notice that it’s bigger. Below is my Vine video showing the STS function in action. High mode (16 lumens), low mode (2 lumens), and strobe.

Buttons Work Fine…
You know me well enough by now to know that I am typically the first person who will be singing the praise of gear innovation and development, especially when it fixes an issue, improves functionality, or simplifies use, but I’m a little lost for words with this. I can’t help thinking “what was wrong with the push button microlight?” Is this a case of innovation for the sake of it and a manufacturer’s need to continuously update gear, or does this genuinely improve it’s functionality in some way?

NiteIze Inova STS Microlight

Maybe it’s just me. The microlight is a pretty simple piece of gear. A small, readily accessible flashlight that is there when you need it for those occasional small tasks. I personally don’t even need any other functions than on and off, so is swipe-to-shine simply overkill?

After weeks of use I have had several occasions where simply taking hold of the microlight or fishing it out of my pocket has activated it, once or twice it has come out of my pocket on strobe mode so chances are that it was on for some time in my pocket. That’s never happened accidentally with the previous Inova press-button version.

NiteIze Inova STS Microlight

I’ve noticed that when I swipe from right to left I can get the microlight to function, but left to right doesn’t seem to work for me despite the two-way pointing arrow on the swipe button. I wonder if that will be a problem for left handed people?

Wet hands are a problem for sure. The old version can be gripped and activated with dripping wet hands. The squeeze on/off method works just fine with wet hands because I tend to have to grip tighter when my hands are wet. The swipe is a little tricky with dry hands and very hard with wet hands.

Is Bigger Better?
Then there’s that obvious difference in size. I’m assuming that the increased size of the latest STS version is due to all the electronics needed to enable the fancy new swipe technology, or the larger lithium 2032 batteries. My old one takes two lithium 2016 batteries. It’s also heavier at 0.57oz, close to twice that of the older version at 0.32oz.

NiteIze Inova STS Microlight

Both of these LED microlights will get the job done. They are both water and shock resistant and super bright (16 lumens in high mode on the STS version). The body of the newer STS microlight has a textured rubberized feel to it that definitely provides an improved grip, and both have the large rubber thumb grip pads.

NiteIze Inova STS Microlight

Maybe I’m being overly harsh on Nite Ize for their Swipe-to-Shine technology. Is it necessary, no probably not. Is it cool, yeah but I’m not sure if it’s any better. It certainly is fun to play with.

What do you think about this new Swipe-to-Shine technology? Have you used it, do you think it has improved the microlight, or is it technology for the sake of technology? Leave a comment and let me know. I’ll pick one lucky person from the comments to receive this STS microlight by end of day Friday, April 12th.


Winner Announced!
Congratulations to the Peter Keefe for being randomly selected as the winner of the Nite Ize Inova Swipe-to-Shine Microlight. Peter, please reach out to me via the email address at the top of my blog and I’ll get this cool little light mailed out to you ASAP. Thank you to everyone that left a comment.


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  • twency

    Seems like a solution in search of a problem.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      That’s the phrase I was trying to think of – perfectly put. Thanks!

  • LNTCamper

    Bigger, heavier, harder to use when wet. What’s not to love! Twency’s comment above sums it up nicely.

  • Peter Keefe

    I think simplicity is best with such a simple product. On/off is all most people need, but as an engineer I understand their longing to try something new and cool.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Peter, congratulations! You were randomly selected as the winner of this little microlight. Send me an email with your shipping address to the email listed at the top of this blog and I’ll get it mailed off to you. Thanks for being a part of the community here! – Brian

  • Matthew Pittman

    While I like the multiple settings feature of the older Inova, I found it came on too easily in my pocket and would run down the battery: not a problem with my Photon, since it’s just a pinch to light-let go and it’s off. I’m afraid this new Inova would be worse. Plus the old Inova’s usually had the “rubber” pad stretch and wear out on me rather fast, requiring wrapping the whole thing in electrical tape to keep it dust- and water-resistant. The only Inova I’ve still got ready for use is a red LED one, buried in my emergency kit, with an AMK pocket survival kit and a Victorinox Farmer SAK.

    PS Is the Nite-Ize S-clip a standard addition to the new LED, or something you added later? The S-clip is one of their better gadgets, and grabbed a handful at my Target when they were marked down (clearanced) last month.

  • Snctool

    Brian,

    The fact that it turned on inside your pocket would only run the battery down unless it has a built in timer to turn it off. I have worked with engineers for years ans some are over-engineers…cannot invent in simple terms. I would have to try it to give an honest opinion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.nielsen.98478 Peter Nielsen

    I will agree that this seems gimmicky… however, they have removed a moving part that will fail over time. besides swiping is the new button push!

  • Garren L

    I could see myself connecting this to a strap on my pack and grabbing it when needed. I don’t like the idea of it turning on in my pocket. I used to use a small click on light that had a little hat clip so I could use it hands free but it only lasted two trips then failed. Now I use a light headlamp which is hands free and I know I can trust it.

  • herman

    I’m sure, that the technology behind this is elaborate, but I think I’d prefer a clicky flashlight over the STS. I actually thought exactly what you wrote before I read your article – namely, the part that it came on inside your pocket. Too easy to waste battery life, if you ask me.

  • JBizzle

    No moving parts to wear out is a plus, but not being able to use it with gloves would be a negative. I’d be worried I’d turn it on reaching into my pocket and not know it, but it’s probably just as easy to bump the button on the other one. Unnecessary but it’s something different.

  • Brandon

    The geeky side of me says, yes! The logical side says, what?? (In the minion voice from Despicable Me). I think it’s a cool concept, in that, it won’t get turned on accidentally, but I wonder about the long term wear on it.

  • Josh

    You all have good input. You all should leave feedback with niteize. It will help improve a product. Good business learn from their customers. In my experience of life is less moving parts is less breaking parts. Good idea swipe to switch. I have one on the way. It just may need improvement over time just like anything else in this world. A company that shows improvement is worthy of my money. As a small business like my self or personal improvement , I always look for improvement. It’s what makes you stand out from every one else or competition! Thank you for your review on the sts!