Surefire Sidekick – Brightest Keychain Flashlight
|Battery Life (Max)||1.25 hr.|
|Battery Life (Low)||45 hr.|
Measuring just 2.5inches in length, the Surefire Sidekick is possibly the smallest, brightest keychain LED flashlight period. With a max output of 300 lumens, outfitted with Surefire’s MaxVision beam configuration technology, and with 3 modes of operation, this little devil will probably be the one and only EDC (Every Day Carry) flashlight you will ever need.
It also comes with a pretty hefty price tag for a flashlight of its size. If it was any other manufacturer that come up with a keychain flashlight at such a price, then I would have had second thoughts about it. Since its a Surefire and it comes with their trademarked MaxVision technology, you can be pretty sure you’re paying for something no one else in the market could deliver… at least for now.
MaxVision Faceted Reflector
With MaxVision, there are no distinguishable spots in the beam and it lights up everything within the field of your peripheral vision. This is great for lighting up stairs in front of you or just flooding a room with light. The best description for the beam is like “natural light shining in through an open window”.
There is however, one common complain for the low mode. It uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to dim down the light. PWM basically flashes the LED on and off very quickly to make it appear dimmer. PWM if done right at a high frequency will be barely noticeable, but if flickering is observed, then it probably isn’t going at a high enough frequency. Some people do find that the PWM on the Sidekick is pretty obvious.
This also happens when the light steps down to the low mode when the charge is low on the battery. Here’s how it looks like.
On the bright side (pun intended), there is no observable PWM for both medium and high modes. Overall, the light given out by this FOB-sized flashlight at medium or high can easily illuminate a room or anything within a short to medium distance with a nice even beam.
One weird thing though, is that the flashlight will go into ‘beacon’ mode once connected to a power source, that is, it will blink every so often. There is no explanation for this phenomenon, except for one of our guess, which will be discussed in the next section below. So if you do not wish to be disturbed by this unwanted ‘beacon’ mode in your sleep, do not charge it by your bedside at night.
Then again, perhaps this is to help people locate the Sidekick in the dark while its charging in the living room or something… who knows.
3 Modes of Operation
It has 3 different modes of operation: 5 lumens (Low), 60 lumens (Medium) and 300 lumens (High). The modes are cycled through the side power button. Press once for low, once more for medium and once more for high, press one final time to turn it off. If you leave it on at any mode for a few seconds then press the button, it will turn off immediately.
It comes default in that sequence, but if you ever want to reverse it, there is a hidden “code” much like the old Nintendo Contra secret code (up up down down left right left right B A start anyone?). The funny thing is it is not even documented in their manual.
So here’s how to reverse the Sidekick’s operation mode to high, medium, low:
- Plug it into a power source
- The Sidekick will turn on briefly, shut off and go into ‘beacon’ mode
- Press the power button 3 times, and leave it on for about 5 seconds
- Turn it off and unplug it
The order of operation will now be reversed! So is the ‘beacon’ supposed to indicate the Sidekick is in configuration mode? Who knows!
You can always reverse it again using the steps above. It is not known if this is an easter egg function or if more easter eggs are hidden in the Sidekick.
This is a great EDC flashlight. Small enough to carry with you around your neck, with your keys or just in your pocket. The flat design is great for that, not to mention also prevents it from rolling all over the place. In the 300-lumen ultra compact category, this is a great alternative to the Surefire Titan Plus for some.
There is just that one bummer with regards to the PWM on the Sidekick’s low output. For a flashlight with that kind of price, it should have used some kind of current regulation to control the brightness. The medium and high modes do make up for it though.
One final note, this could be the first of a few iterations of the Sidekick. Some folks have reported seeing it labelled as “Sidekick-A” in the packaging. Perhaps the easter-egg-mode-reversing function and mysterious charging ‘beacon’ will become actual features, with perhaps more to come.
Most importantly, the MaxVision beam is simply amazing. This is definitely an outstanding product in the category of keychain flashlights.
*All images courtesy of Surefire LLC. Videos courtesy of Surefire LLC, spe672 and run4jc.
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