Packed with quality components, the Trie TL3100 (http://goo.gl/653MYV) portable task light has several thoughtful design features that set it apart from its competition. The Trie company recently sent us a TL3100 for review; here’s what we discovered.
If Apple made a portable light, it might turn out something like the Trie TL3100. This is a premium product boasting a distinctive and well executed design. Any gearhead, grease monkey, or outdoors enthusiast would be happy to have this light in a garage, workplace, or campsite.
Trie’s attention to detail starts with the packaging. The TL3100 comes housed in an elegant black box adorned with a minimum of visual clutter.
Inside the box rests the work light itself, an AC/DC charging adapter, a sturdy lanyard cord, and a protective silk sleeve case. There’s also an easy-to-read instruction manual that explains the light’s features.
Like the packaging, the product boasts a similar minimalist design. Is it weird to call a task light beautiful? Perhaps, but that description applies to the TL3100. When the light assembly rests in the closed position, it appears to be a cohesive triangular block of crimson aluminum. It is slender and sleek and smooth to the touch.
The Trie feels solid in the hand. It’s not heavy, but it is substantial because it’s made from quality materials. There’s no shortage of metal in this product. The main housing is hard anodized aluminum. The end caps are coated aluminum die cast. The light reflector is polished aluminum. (The lens is impact resistant and hardened polycarbonate.)
All together, the TL3100 weighs 1.25 pounds. It has a low center of gravity that helps the base hold firm even if it gets nudged or bumped.
Rotating the TL3100 adjustable head (itself a clever design that has a patent pending) reveals the LED light bulbs, which by default automatically illuminate when open. If you prefer, the unit can be switched to a manual mode in which opening the head does not automatically trigger the light.
The adjustable rotational head is a key design feature of the Trie TL3100. The head can rotate 250 degrees, so users can direct light coverage where it’s needed.
There’s a program button on the TL3100 that toggles between “high” and “low” output modes. The button also allows manual operation of the light, if you’d prefer a traditional ON/OFF switch.
Along the bottom length of the unit are a couple of grippy rubber strips that help the light to adhere to smooth surfaces.
But the real grip for the TL3100 is provided by its powerful internal magnet. The base of the TL3100 contains a robust magnet that helps secure the unit to metal surfaces. The magnet is able to support up to three pounds – which is more than double the weight of the entire Trie unit.
The internal magnet is invaluable in the real world, where the light can be easily affixed to a truck tailgate, car engine, trailer hitch, electrical box, or anything else made of sufficiently ferromagnetic metal. The magnet works so well, we’re tempted to store our TL3100 on our refrigerator.
Of course you need to use common sense when attaching the TL3100 to a painted surface. Make certain there are no metal shavings or other debris on the Trie base that could cause scratches.
The impressive build quality of the Trie TL3100 continues to the heart of the unit, where three internal CREE XR-E Q5 LED bulbs reside.
These powerful CREE bulbs are bright LEDs that kick out either 335 lumens or 91 lumens of light, depending on whether high output or low output mode is selected.
As you might expect, TL3100 battery life depends on the operational mode selected. If you choose to run the light in high output mode, you’ll get 4 hours of continuous operational time. Low output mode offers 7 hours of continuous operational time.
By now, everyone should be familiar with the benefits of LED light. LED bulbs produce bright white light while consuming less energy than their old fashioned counterparts. They burn at a much cooler temperature than the old style too, no small consideration for a portable task light.
The Trie TL3100 power supply consists of four internal (non-serviceable) rechargeable lithium ion batteries. Recharging the light is a simple matter of plugging in DC power and waiting for the LED indicator to turn from red to green. When the batteries are exhausted, it takes 3 hours to bring them back up to full charge.
The Trie TL3100 not only feels solid to the touch, it is water resistant. The Trie light is waterproof to the IPX-4 standard.
If you aren’t familiar with IPX standards, these are ratings that represent exactly how “waterproof” a product in question might be. At IPX-4, the Trie should be safe when confronted with splashing water. In other words, water splashing against the surface of the unit should have no harmful effect. This does not mean that the light can be submerged in water without damage, so don’t try to take it scuba diving. But the occasional splash of water should have no ill effect.
All of these thoughtful design features add up to what the company calls “the ultimate portable task light.” Indeed, it’s hard to find fault with the Trie TL3100. This is a product that’s well designed and solidly built, an anomaly these days.
We’ve tried several portable task lights over the years. Most of those lights have been cheap plastic units with questionable build quality. By contrast, the Trie TL3100 resides in a class by itself. It’s a premium product boasting top notch design and build quality.
Our main concern about the Trie unit regards the long term lifespan of the internal batteries. We are uncertain with regards to the possibility of servicing or changing out the batteries in the future. The Trie TL3100 is such a beautiful unit, it would certainly be helpful to be able to replace the batteries when necessary.
The only other concern is price. This product isn’t cheap, but its price reflects the quality.
Trie warrants every TL3100 for one year from the date of purchase. If you appreciate a thoughtfully designed and well constructed product and are willing to pay for quality, the Trie TL3100 does not disappoint.