January 31 2004
From the 1W Luxeon, CR123A and tail switch, you can call this light a successor to the Arc-LSH. As the added words like + and Premium suggest, it has a better rank than a Standard. The Arc website states that brightness is approximately 50% brighter and the beam color is good. Bought directly from ARC, they are priced 30$ more than the Standard.
When viewed from one of Arc's policies of EDC (Every Day Carry), it is a big drawback that the Arc 4 weighs 10 grams more than the LSH. There seems to be space to reduce the overall shape (the aluminum is quite thick), and they have already proved that they can achieve this with the small lightweight Arc-AA or AAA. But the heavy duty looks and rugged feel in your hand has improved. Regarding the tail cap, it looks as though Arc was concious of Surefire lights, and this light may be more in that direction.
Taking a closer look at the light, you will notice the two screw holes. You can attach the included clip here. The clip is rather large and is rugged. You can also attach a lanyard to this clip, but would have been better if there was an exclusive part to thread a compact string. Those of you who are skillful may be able to make one yourself, but since Arc went through the trouble to make these screw holes, I hope they will provide us with an option to enhance its use.
The most distinctive aspect of this light is the numerous settings and features. This is the first time to see a handy light with so many. Take a look at the instructions showed above and you'll understand better, but the unusual operation of the light, double clicking and triple clicking as if you are using some computer mouse, makes it irresistibly fun for gimmick lovers like me. For usual operation you change between 2 modes(brightness) by double clicking. Pressing the switch while the light is turned on puts you in boost mode, and will shine at the brightest level. This is easy to understand and well thought out. Triple clicking will bring you to the dimmest brightness, but it is too dark to find any application for me. Maybe for use when star gazing? The 2 modes (brightness) can both be customized and have 16! levels. You can make the light to your liking depending on application or taste, for example prioritizing the runtime or brightness. But as the settings are done with a single switch, the operation requires several steps. Once you actually try it you will get the hang of it, so please try out all the features.
Instead of a NX-05 collimator lens, a reflector has been adopted this time. This reflector has a very lightly stippled finish. Owing to this, the nicely focused center and the surrounding area both have an even and beautiful beam pattern, in my opinion, preferable over the Arc-LSH. The brightness will depend on the setting, but the hot spot at level 1 is of the highest level from a 1W type Luxeon light. Since it is overdriven, the protection circuit will limit continuous use, and runtime at this level is limited (approx 20min) though. The manufacturer's site rates the runtime at the lowered level of 2 at 45 minutes, approx 2 hours for level 3, approx 3 hours at level 4.
This light really has a lot of features. Thus operating it may become rather complicated, and there will be likes and dislikes about this. Of course, you can use it simply by pushing the button for ON, pressing again for OFF. But it also is possible to mistakenly operate it and not know how to undo it (like cell phones), and some users may prefer the light without unnecessary features. The control chip is expected to have become more complex, so the reliability and stability under stressful environments bothers me. Anyway, it is an expensive light, and the people who want this kind of light are the ones who will buy it, so there may be no need to worry. Personally I like the many features. Once I got used to it, I might even feel as if I'm missing something when using other lights. The ability to customize the brightness is especially useful, and the single light has the versatility to handle various applications. I strongly wish that Arc will adopt these features when they release brighter lights in the future (for example the LuxeonV and CR123Ax2 packaging), and I think they will be utilized even better in high output lights.
I am really exited of what Arc will come up with next.
The early versions of this light had a bug which kept it from working properly with several brands of batteries. I thought it a bit embarrassing that batteries sold from their website did not work properly. The firmware upgrade (seems that the first upgrade is free. After that, 20$ + shipping) will solve this problem, but shipping to the US is expensive, and there is a possibility of more bugs in the future so I am thinking of waiting until the product matures some more.