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Fenix PD32 Torch

[Short of time? Read the Haiku review instead]

It's hard to cram dozens of features into a handheld torch. I suppose I should call it a flashlight so as not to give our American cousins the impression that I'm reviewing a flaming torch lifted from a sconce in a medieval castle, or a hastily torn shirt wrapped around a length of femur and dipped in paraffin. [Sample quote: "the knee socket fits snugly into the palm of the hand but be careful to avoid droplets of burning fuel landing on your forearm.] To the nitty gritty: the maximum brightness is 315 lumens - bright enough to use for tattoo removal - but it'll toggle between different outputs and has a funky strobe setting for amusing local children or holding impromptu jungle discos. The LED is a Cree XP-G(R5), whatever that means, but other than that the housing design is where it's at: the PD32 has a pocket clip, anti-roll bevelling and the protruding flange of the beam socket is great for opening beer bottles, hence it is the perfect substitute for the trusty Bic cigarette lighter. If one could only focus the beam narrow enough to ignite paper, laser-like, we could dispense with lighters altogether. It's even waterproof to IPX8, which means that in the event of some bizarre bottle-opening accident, it'll still work under 2m of beer.

I could have done with this baby one night when I was stuck in the horrible industrial city of Gorakhpur in northern India. I was due to catch a two-day train down to Chennai (Madras) at some ungodly hour the next morning but without an alarm clock I was concerned I would oversleep. This worry meant that I would wake up repeatedly during the night to check the time, but the city was suffering a major power disruption that night and the whole guesthouse was pitch black. Worse, my watch didn't have a back light. This meant that every time I awoke, fretting that I'd missed my train, I'd have to dress, walk out of the room, down the corridor, down the stairs to the reception desk where someone had left a candle burning, and check the time. Generally it was barely ten minutes since my last check. Then I'd go back up stairs, undress, get into bed, doze off for another ten minutes, wake with a start and repeat the procedure. A torch would have been good that night, or a decent watch, or a decent city. Anyway, I digress. The poorest aspect of the PD32 is its usage of two CR123A lithium batteries. Who uses these anymore? Okay so they're frost-resistant, but even in the darkest jungles of Vanuatu one can find AA batteries, if only Won Song brand - generic Chinese cells of such dismal quality that they'll die after playing only one song on your walkman/discman/mp3 player. Good luck tracking down a CR123A though, even in Central London. The Fenix PD32 - a Zippo for the 21st Century, but one which runs on bat's blood.

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