Light Type: SSC P4 LED
Light Class: Outdoor / Rough Use / Pocket
The AmiLite Neo T5 is the next generation of the Neo T3, also produced by AmiLite. Like it’s predecessor, the T5 is a tiny pocket light that thinks it is a much larger flashlight. It runs on a single 123A lithium cell, is one of the brightest-for-its-size lights that I have tested, and has two levels of output. Inside you will find one of the recent SSC P4 LEDs, which are about twice as efficient as the Luxeon III of the T3. As a testament to its quality, Neo T5 has a glass lens, HA-III anodize, a lanyard connection point built into the tail, appears to be very well made, and provides good output regulation. It uses a click switch for activation, and the switch provides a low and a high level. There are two different tailcap switches, one with a low output of about 15 lumens, the other with a low output of about 30 lumens. The package includes spare O-rings and a nylon wrist lanyard.
Body: The body tube has a HA-III anodize finish for durability (much stronger than the common Type-II finish) and has flat facets around the body tube for grip. I did notice that in many places there was a sharp shelf machined into the body I could see a shiny reflection at its base. I do not know if this is because the anodize did not take well in these tight areas or if something else is at play here. At the base of the tail you will find a lanyard attachment hole and slots machined into the end.
Bezel/Head: The head has the same HA-III anodize as the body tube and has several rings machined into its surface. These increase its surface area and allow more efficient heat dissipation. There is also a ring of ridges machined into the surface near the base of the head for improving grip. At the very front, the bezel ring is scalloped so that you can see if the light is on or off when you set it down on its head. The glass lens is recessed in the bezel for protection. Behind the lens is a metal reflector, an SSC P4 Security Quality LED and a boost circuit for maintaining output.
Output: Output is big. Huge. Stupendous. The Neo T5 outclasses all of my 2x123A incandescent flashlights in overall output, yet is a fraction of their size. The beam is somewhat broad, so you won’t be spotlighting a raccoon in a tree 100 yards away, but it works great for close to medium distances and has greater distance-lighting-capability than the Surefire A2 according to my numbers.
The white light produced by the Security Quality LED is a high color temperature and produces good color rendition. Since LEDs produce much more light in the blue end of the spectrum, and significantly less light in the red/yellow end, things illuminated with an Security Quality LED can appear “flat” and lacking depth or texture to our eyes. This is because of the way our eyes work and the limited spectrum output of LEDs. Distant target identification is, to my eyes, always better with an incandescent bulb. LEDs really appear to do well in a close to medium range, which is what this light is designed for.
Runtime Plot: Like the Neo T3, You’ll get about 50 minutes of really good output from the T5 before it starts to decline and at around 1 hour you’ll hit 50% of starting output. I generally consider 1 hour to be about the minimum amount of “constant use runtime before 50% starting output” that is acceptable. The Neo T5 just makes it there. Considering the amount of light produced and the size of the cell used for power, this light does a fantastic job.
Switch: The T5 uses a reverse click switch. Click once for low, once more for high, and once again for off. The end of the tailcap is a rubber textured cap which protects the switch mechanism.
Two different tailcaps are available. The “normal” has the low switch setting adjusted to about 15 lumens of output, while the “double” switch has the low setting adjusted to about 30 lumens (which is about the overall output of a minimag with new batteries). Your choice – pick either one when you order the light. I prefer the 15 lumen low, but your needs may vary from mine.
The Neo T3 body assembly will fit on the T5 head making the overall light smaller, but it only provides one level of output.
Seals / Water Resistance: The light has O-ring seals at all the possible points of water entry. I did notice that the O-ring on the body tube is black while the O-ring on the bezel is clear. Spare O-rings are included in the accessory packet. The O-rings on the body are lubricated.
If it gets wet inside, just disassemble as much a possible without tools and let it dry before using again.
Ergonomics: It’s small, super lightweight and as a very comfortable to grip. The T5 is a bit longer than the original T3 and I find it to be just about the perfect length to hold in the hand. Unfortunately this means that it may be a little large to carry in the pocket, depending on your frame and your pocket. You may want to look around for a nice little belt sheath. Be sure to use the wrist lanyard if you are in a situation where dropping it would result in its loss or serious damage.
Batteries: A single 123A cell powers the light. I would recommend Titanium brand cells for £1.00 each or BatteryStation or Surefire brand cells for less than £2 each. I would not recommend purchasing these cells at retail stores since they cost £10 a pair or more in most retail stores!
To change out the batteries: unscrew the head (not the tail), drop out the old cell, place in new cell observing proper polarity. Reattach the head and you’re ready to go.
Accessories: Inside the package you will find a nylon wrist lanyard and spare O-rings for the seals.
What I Liked: Water resistant, Tough/impact resistant, Semi-Regulated, Really Bright, Two output levels, Easy battery change, Lightweight
What I Didn’t Like: What’s not to like?
Picky Little Things: Battery life almost, but not quite, too short, but the lower output mode makes up for it. Would like to know why it appears that the anodize is missing at the bottom of the machined ridges.
Conclusions: A tiny little pocket light with big output, the Neo T5 is the second offering of AmiLite and they have done a very fine job once again. I really like the size, the output, and the overall feel of the light. We have a winner!
Alex G. passed this on via e-mail. Thanks Alex!
There have been reports by some owners of the T5 that their emitter (LED) has turned brownish and the output is very purple after several weeks of use. This may be the result of those owners using rechargeable 123A cells (RCR123A) which are 3.6V. Normal 123A cells are about 3.0V. Rechargeable 123A 3.6V cells come in both Protected and Unprotected varieties, so being called one or the other is not an indicator of the voltage. The Amilite website makes no mention of the compatibility of the rechargeable RCR123A cells with the T5. My recommendation is to always err on the side of caution, and aviod using rechargeable 123A cells in your Amilite until we find out if their use is approved by the manufacturer. This should not be considered a defect of the light, but instead should be considered a possible incompatibility issue between the higher voltage/current from the RCR123A and the emitter in this particular application. I’ll continue to follow this issue and add additional information as more is discovered.
UPDATE: April 2007, from Amilite:
Amilite has contacted us about the reflectors and the 3.7V 123A rechargeable cells. Amilite does NOT recommend the use of 3.6V (3.7V) rechargeable 123A cells in the Amilite due to emitter degredation resulting from heat buildup. 3.0V rechargeable 123A cells should be OK to use.
Reflectors may be slightly off center. This is a trade-off that results from using the better quality, premade “McR20s” reflectors which are not perfectly fitted to the light body and emitter. Amilite does not want to glue the reflector in place (this would be the easiest solution) as this would prevent future potential upgrades of the light. The reflectors are hand-centered at the factory and may be slightly off. However, (per Amilite) this should not affect beam quality to any significant degree.