Written on: 01/11/2004 by johnead (7 reviews written)
Physically very durable
High beam setting is bright
Manual crank would offer some power in an emergency
Low beam setting rather dim
High beam setting rapidly consumes battery
Expensive for what it is - a torch
The Freeplay Sherpa Wind Up and Rechargeable Torch should be a great idea - a torch that backs up a rechargable battery (mains adaptor supplied) with a manual crank. This design can be found on some radios (thanks to UK inventor Trevor Bayliss) and on manual chargers for mobile phones and for the most part it works quite well. The high beam setting is bright thanks to a Xenon-filled bulb, and winding the crank for 30 seconds gives you around 5 minutes of power on low beam.
The problems: the low beam setting is dim which encourages you to use the high beam setting. But that eats battery life in 10-20 minutes and, to make matters worse, it takes up to 24 hours to fully recharge the internal NiMH cell. Using the crank would guarantee you usable power in an emergency but it would take you a LONG time to generate enough power for useful high-beam use.
All of this compromises the torch's usefulness in everyday situations and you end up wondering whether the wind-up feature isn't just an oversold gimmick. In conclusion, there is nothing actually wrong with this torch but at £30 ($45) it might be a better investment to buy a conventional rechargable torch for half the price.