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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Related Links You Might Like:
- EMS.com: Nite Ize Inova Swipe-to-shine LED Microlight
- Reader Poll: Headlamp or Flashlight?
- Keychain Multi-Tools Revisited
- Memorandum Card | World’s Tiniest Notebook