Vortex TX100 and TX200 Flashlight Review

Preface

Vortex contacted me out of the blue one day, about these review lights.  I wasn’t terribly interested except that 1) their lights have orange accents and 2) the lights have a charging base.  Normally that might not be a big deal but as I understood it, the light would come on if there was a power disconnect to the base.  That’s a pretty big deal.  Read on to see if that’s how things went!


Official Specs and Features

TX200
TX100

Versions

Aside from the obvious two versions mentioned above, there are no complications.  Just the “18350” version, and the “18650” version.

Price

TX100:  US$79.90
TX200:  US$85.90
Though, to be honest, I’m not sure where these may be purchased at the moment!


Short Review

I was initially skeptical of these lights (cold call lights are not usually my favorite).  Aside from a few fairly glaring issues, these lights are actually ok for their intended purpose.

Long Review

What’s Included

These are two separate packages, but the contents are identical aside from the light.

  • Flashlight (TX100 or TX200)
  • Charge base (with screws for mounting in wall)
  • Charge cable
  • Orange diffuser
  • Proprietary cell (“18350” for TX100, “18650” for TX200)
  • Manual

ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-08.jpg

Package and Manual

The lights ship in a large, cardboard box, with a window for viewing the light.  The package and contents are the same – the only difference is the light contained in it, and light specific printing on the box.  The lights are held in a custom fit plastic tray.

Build Quality and Disassembly

These Vortex lights have a pleasantly high-quality finish, and are overall very well built.  I won’t say directly that that surprised me, but I will say (again) that lights which I haven’t heard of, who contact me out of the blue, usually don’t provide this good of an impression.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-38.jpg
As you can see above and below, the two versions of this light are exactly the same, differing only in cell tube size.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-39.jpg
The anodizing is very smooth and feels thick enough to not break down with minimal use.
And as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, Vortex has chosen the best accent color: orange.  The bezel is orange.

The cells are also orange!
Have a look at the parts of the head and tail.  Have a good close look.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-20.jpg
You’ll probably notice some strangeness.  That’s because these cells are proprietary.  The cells may go into the light in either orientation (I’ll show you later why).  So both the head and tail are built to accept this.  Is that a good use of space?  (Since this makes the light much thicker than it needs to be?)  See the “Power” section.

The threads are triangle cut, and anodized.  Quite a bit of lube on there, too.  The threads play no role in electrical contact.  To wit: the light will work with the tailcap completely removed!  That’s a product of the cell having both positive and negative terminals on both ends.  As a result, even with the tailcap completely removed, I can’t say that the light is physically locked out (!!!).

Size

Officially:
TX100: 92.6mm, and 83g.
TX200: 127.6mm, and 103g.
Both are 29.04mm in diameter.

As you can see, these lights are quite thick. T H I C C even.  The TX200 is also quite a b it longer than the Convoy S2+, but at least it does add charging.  The diameter is played well, though, since much more of the optic is revealed than on a Convoy S2+ triple.

Retention

There’s nothing included for carrying this light.  That’s reasonably passable, though, because this isn’t really an EDC light.  It’s meant to live in the power charging base.  As such, I can’t really ding Vortex in this regard.
There is a wall mount charge base, though.  Vortex provides screws and drywall anchor for mounting.  The mount has a quick release, too.  It’s a good charge base, but you’ll need to be sure it’s within reach of an outlet, so you can connect the micro-USB for power.  A wall wart isn’t provided, so you’ll need to supply your own.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-30

Power

Vortex provides cells for each light.  The lights are branded as “18350” and “18650” lights, but the reality is that they aren’t.  The cells are proprietary, with positive and negative terminals on both ends.  Regular cells will not work in the light, and of course may not be charged in the light.  The cells may not be charged in a regular charger, either.
The light has charging terminals on the tailcap.  The base has a springy terminal to match with the center positive contact.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-18.jpg
The layout of the cell does make them reversible, but I think that’s not important since the cells are clearly designed to never be removed from the light at all.  It is possible to purchase replacement cells.
Below you can see the cell terminal.  It’s the same on both ends.

ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-21.jpg

Below, the “18650” Vortex cell.  It’s massive, compared to a regular HG2 18650.  The actual dimensions of the “18650” are 20.7mm x 73.4mm.  The “18350” is the same diameter, but 40.4mm long.

ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-25.jpg
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-26.jpg
Now to answer the one huge question I had about these lights.  When I said “yes” to the review, my impression (not what I was told directly, just my impression about what I was told) was, that the lights themselves come on when power is cut to the charging base.  This wouldn’t be the first light to offer this, but they are certainly rare.  Many people look for this feature, too.
But.  That is not this light.  Big frowny face: 🙁  What actually happens with this light is that if the power goes out to the micro-USB charging port, and the light is in the charging base, some emitters in the charging base are turned on per your previously selected options.
Below, the green lit LED means the light is charged.
zeroair_vortex_tx200-10.jpg
If the power to the base goes out, and you have “on” selected (there’s a little switch), then the 3 white LEDs on the front will turn on.

zeroair_vortex_tx200-12.jpg
Or, solid red will turn on.  And not shown, a third option of flashing red.  (Slow flash, not strobe.  More of a beacon.)
zeroair_vortex_tx200-13.jpg
And the light still works when in the charge base.
zeroair_vortex_tx200-15.jpg
Now, is this a cool feature?  Sure, it’s not bad.  It could be useful, yes.  But it’s not the same as “the light comes on when the power goes out” type setup.
I don’t think Vortex is being misleading in their marketing.  I just misunderstood what they are offering and had my hopes up in the wrong way.
Below are some runtimes.
The TX100 High.  Output is fairly stable for the first couple of minutes, then steps down to somewhere over Medium mode.  The light shuts off with LVP, after giving fair warning with the indicating switch (flashing red).  Note that it’s possible to reset the light to turbo, and achieve essentially the same output as initial.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-40.png
The TX100 Medium run.  Very boringly flat after an initial stepdown.  Also shuts off with LVP, over 3V.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-41.png
The TX200 on High.  Very similar to the TX100, but with much higher output.  It’s possible to reset to Turbo here too, but the output suffers.  LVP over 3.0V is present here, too.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX200-06.png
TX200 Medium:
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX200-07.png
Here’s some detail on the charging base.  There’s a quick release, so that the wall mount may be left on the wall, and the charge base moved around. Reasonable since you absolutely must have it for charging the cell/light.
The ON/OFF switch is for telling the base what for the front emitters of the base to do when the power is out.  Those emitters may be turned off completely.  Cycling through the options:  Off/White (On)/Red (On)/Red (Flash).
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-30.jpg
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-31.jpg
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-32.jpg
As for powering the base:  one side has a micro-USB input.  Vortex provides a cable, but not a wall wart.  And you really need a wall wart – I don’t expect you’ll power this from USB on your computer, and have the thing mounted to your wall?  That just doesn’t make sense as a reasonable setup.  There’s also a tripod mounting point on the base.  This could be good for travel, coupled with the orange diffuser.

You’ll note that there’s a USB “output” on one side, too. The OUT works for passthrough, as well as utilizing the cell power as a powerbank. The highest output current supported is around 0.5A.
Charging from the base proceeds reasonably.  Both lights charge at around .85A, and the cells measure around 650mAh (“18350”) and ~2.5Ah (“18650”).  Not bad, not the best.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-42
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX200-05.png

User Interface and Operation

Each light has two switches.  They’re side, indicating, e-switches, with rubber covers.  They’re easy to find on the head, and
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-19.jpg
Here’s a UI table!  It’s the same for both lights.  The heads are exactly the same!  Actually the tailcap is exactly the same too.

State Action Result
Off Click Power Switch (PS) On (mode memory)
Off Hold either switch Momentary Strobe
Off Click Mode Switch (MS) No action
On Click PS Off
On Click MS Mode advance (HML direction)
On Hold MS Momentary Turbo
On Hold PS Ramp up or down (infinite modes)
On Double click either Strobe
Strobe Double click MS SOS

The indicating switch operates for a few (5) seconds after the light is on. Blue means power is ok. Solid red means cell is ~30%. Red blinking means the cell is lower than 30%.
Don’t let that gem of infinitely variable output to slip by you.  I don’t see it mentioned in the branding or the manual.  It’s a very nice feature!  And important for many users.

Modes

TX100 Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens
High 520 (100%) 40m 475
Medium “30%” ? 150
Low “10%” 315m 47
TX200 Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens
High 1300 (100%) 100m 1136
Medium  “30%” ? 118
Low “10%” 580m ~

LED and Beam

The emitters are Cree XP-G3.  That’s too bad, really, and one of my main complaints with the light.  Hard to fault a company for picking them, though, because they are some of Cree’s latest emitters, so they should be the best, right?
Also not sure if you noticed on the head teardown, but the mcpcb in this light is Wuben branded!  (In fact, the heads on these lights are eerily similar!  See the To10R review.  That light has XP-G3, too.)
The emitters are behind a clear optic, and the white mcpcb can be seen clearly.  XP-G3’s aren’t known for their great tint, and this is no exception.  There’s a lot of green, and compared to other tints I do like, this one isn’t great.  Of course, the orange bezel is something I really like.
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-17.jpg
ZeroAir_Vortex_TX100-24.jpg
TX100 Beamshots

TX200 Beamshots:

Tint vs BLF-348

Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

Vortex TX100
Emitter Cree XP-G3
Emitter Notes
Cell “18350”
Runtime Chargetime
LVP? Yes
Claimed Lumens (lm) 520
Lux (Measured) 229 lux @ 3.208 m
Candela (Calculated) in cd 2356.7
Throw (Calculated) (m) 97.1
Throw (Claimed) (m)
Vortex TX200
Emitter Cree XP-G3
Emitter Notes
Cell “18650”
Runtime Chargetime
LVP? Yes
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1300
Lux (Measured) 230 lux @ 5 m
Candela (Calculated) in cd 5750.0
Throw (Calculated) (m) 151.7
Throw (Claimed) (m)

 

Conclusion

What I like

  • Orange accents
  • Full package lights
  • They’re well built, even if I don’t like some of the design choices.
  • Powerbank functionality

What I don’t like

  • Proprietary cells
  • They’re very large in diameter

Up Next

I hope to wrap up my cell review this week, and I have more lights.  Friday I hope to have my Orange Lava review finished!

Notes

  • This light was provided by Vortex for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.wordpress.com.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. It’s possible to subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *